Let's face it, this year had been an absolute disaster in photography terms.
I had battled non stop to just get the time to go out and when I had the weather had just not played ball for me.
Work had been non stop this year and weekends were sadly spent doing the overflow of work or catching up on things that needed doing at home or in my personal life.
When I actually had free time I was inundated with workshop requests (Not complaining at that) but it had left me with next to no time to enjoy my landscape photography for myself and I didn't fancy another year of that to be fair.
December saw a slight bit of light at the end of the tunnel as I would be able to get out a few times, and book a week of holiday I just hoped the weather would play ball.
The only downside was I was once again going to be a weekend warrior only as the sun was rising around 7.30 and I had to be in work for around 8.15 so this gave no chance for a morning shoot anymore and of course it was going to be dark by the time I left work each evening.
I hate not being able to use free time to its best so I decided that I was going to explore a very large forest close to work for future shoots and each morning I spent 45 minutes walking different paths of this forest and doing the same at lunch time, much to the joy of the photo dog who was getting extra walkies each day.
It was a bit of an eye opener and I found some really good areas that would benefit me the following year, now I know this might sound odd, planning a year in advance but I cant stress enough that learning an area will really pay off for future visits, you will be focused, know the best spots to head to and if the weather changes you can adapt quickly rather than looking for another area you will instantly know where to go.
In short I felt I used my limited time to the best of my advantage and was already keen for next year when autumn hit and I could go back to all the locations I had seen.
I got a chance to get out on a Sunday morning and I went down to Lulworth Cove, and waited for signs of a sunrise, it didn't happen and the camera didn't come out of the bag.
My first trip out had not gone well and already November was making an enemy out of me.
Alright December, if this is the way you want it.....
That same Sunday I decided to go out for the sunset as well and it looked promising, My first choice of venue was simply too windy so I decided to relocate to Osmington Mills as it was low tide and far more sheltered as the wind was blowing from the North so the cliff walls would keep me nicely sheltered.
It turned out to be a good decision as the wind was far less substantial there, I got the camera out and set up only for disaster to strike, I had done something that I have never down in my 15 odd years of taking pictures, I had left my battery in the charger at home for the camera.
No problem, I will use one of the two spares I have with me I thought.
I put in the first one, it was dead ! The second one was holding just one bar of battery and I cursed my luck, I simply couldn't believe I had done it and not charged the others either.
Bad luck was following me !
I decided that I wouldn't take any pictures till sunset itself in order to preserve the little battery power I had and hopefully nail a couple of good ones.
Typically the light was lovely at the time and I cursed myself for not being able to shoot.
I kept looking out to the sea and at a cruise ship that was moored up in Weymouth Bay and the beautiful evening golden light was hitting the side of it with a backdrop of moody sky behind it, I was itching to take a shot of it.
I put the 100-400 mm lens on and decided it was worth risking the battery to get the shot.
Now this is very different from the normal shots I take but I have to say I rather liked it, it wont be making an appearance in my portfolio but it was a shot I enjoyed all the same.
As the sunset approached it looked like it would be quite nice so I prepared my composition and waited to see if it would pay off, I switched the camera on, took a shot and that was it the battery died and along with it so did my spirit too, I packed up and left early annoyed with myself that I was the reason I had missed the sunset.
Needless to say all batteries were charged to within an inch of their life when I got home !
I was desperate to shoot White Nothe for some reason, and it just wouldn't leave my head but I needed very specific conditions to do it.
It had to be wind free or low wind as its a cliff top location and always very windy, and it needed thick dark cloud behind it but a gap where the sun was setting, no easy feet to get those conditions all aligning.
Saturday came around and I was officially on a weeks holiday which was a bit of a spur of the moment thing and I had only planned to stay local and make the most of what I had on the doorstep.
The weather looked pretty decent, big dark moody cloud with bits of light popping through, perfect ! The only problem was the wind, there was a lot of it but I felt like this was my only chance so I was going to go for it anyway.
White Nothe is a bit of a trek to get too, about a mile and a half and through a field of killer mad cows, not my idea of fun !
Its not everyones cup of tea when you get there as essentially its just a cliff edge with chalk & limestone edges, but I had a fascination with it and thought it was one of the best views in Dorset especially when the light fell just right on it and that was what I was hoping to capture.
As I started the long trek to White Nothe it was looking good, light bouncing everywhere and I quickened the pace eager to see the cliff.
By the time I arrived there mother nature had switched off the light and all I was left with was dull grey sky and a fairly lacklustre view, plus it was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing the proverbial "Hoolie".
Undeterred I decided to wait it out as I was sure there would be a break in the cloud somewhere along the line.
I waited for what seemed like a lifetime but was in fact only about an hour and a half and I could see a small gap in the clouds moving towards the area the sun was, I got everything ready just in case it lit up.
I watched as if in slow motion for the clouds to drift over the sun and finally it blasted through onto the wrong cliff ! The cloud seemed to stop at that point and tease me as I just needed it to open up a fraction more in order to give my subject the light it needed.
Bit by bit the light crawled along the coastline until it was right in front of the cliff edge that I needed it to hit and just like that it stopped and the cloud covered the sun again, I cursed my luck and uttered a few unprintable words.
I was freezing cold and really felt like I had earned a shot but it wasn't to be it seemed, I debated going home but decided to hold on a short while longer just in case, this turned out to be the right call and blazing gold low winter sun came through a gap onto the cliff and I rushed around like a madman snapping away the shots and getting exactly what I wanted.
I was really pleased with these although they might not appeal to everyone, I was happy with them so that would do nicely !
I wasn't there for the sunset, just for golden light but a small sunset happened too so I made the most of it and took that as well !
I was so happy to finally get a decent shoot after so many failed ones, I was lucky enough to have recorded the session for YouTube too and you can see it at the bottom of the page.
Fresh off the back of a decent shoot I was keen to get out again but Sundays weather looked horrific, storms, high winds and heavy rain saw it written off completely, Monday however looked quite nice, in fact really nice !
There was a forecast of high level cloud and some sun, but again high winds, still I thought it was well worth a chance.
I settled on Lulworth Cove as I had been trying to shoot a video here for ages and had been very unlucky there in past visits so surely the law of averages said it would pay up this time.
I was please to be shooting midweek as it meant I could hit some of these more busy locations without quite so many people there.
As the day went on the weather apps all decided to change and each one said a vastly different thing and most of them weren't that good, but I set an alarm anyway just to be safe.
I woke up and looked out of the window and to be fair it looked 50/50 but I was off anyway so I thought id go just in case as I had nothing to lose.
As I got closer the clouds started to look pretty decent and a small red glow was forming, I raced to get into position and ready for the forthcoming light show.
The wind was pretty bad and it was really cold but I could see a sunrise starting to form and it looked decent.
I nailed a picture from the mouth of the cove but decided I was going to move in order to get a better exposure as the scene I was shooting was very contrasting.
I moved further up the hill in order to catch the sunrise then wait for the light to hit the cliff edge, but I had moved right into the teeth of the gale and it was ferocious !
The colour however was still there so I took my shot and was pleased with it, but what I really wanted was the light to come through onto the cliff.
I kept looking over to Stair hole and it was really looking quite nice and I was itching to get over there and take a picture but I didn't want to miss the first light hitting the cliff edge at Lulworth Cove, but I couldn't get Stair hole out of my mind so in the end I decided to race over and nail a quick shot then dash back and hopefully not miss anything.
Again I was really pleased with how it came out and I raced back to Lulworth Cove just as the light was starting to creep down the cove edge.
This was the type of landscape photography that I really enjoyed, lots of light, fast paced and rewarding.
I took two shots, one a standard image and the next was an 8 image panorama, while both are very similar I liked each of them enough to keep both.
The golden light was fantastic on the cliff edge and once again I had managed to video the shoot which you can see at the bottom of the page.
The weather took a turn for the worst over the next two days and while I managed to get out it was pretty pointless as conditions were terrible.
I was nearly at the end of my holiday as it was Thursday and the morning had been a washout and to be fair the evening looked no better but I headed out anyway as I just had a feeling the cloud would break.
I decided to combine a photo trip with a walk as a back up in case conditions weren't very good so I headed down to St Aldhelms Chapel which would mean a decent hike around Chapmans pool if the weather looked poor.
As it happened the weather apps were a million miles off again and it went virtually clear but there was still some cloud hanging around so I decided to stay for sunset as I had a feeling it might be decent.
There was some nice light on the chapel itself and that would do for a start so I set about getting an image or two while conditions were good.
The light was coming from behind me so it did make the shot somewhat challenging to get a good composition while keeping my shadow out of shot.
After a bit of trial and error I found a composition I was happy with and got my shots, all of them were very similar as there's not a lot else to shoot there to be fair !
The sky was really starting to look good and I was pretty sure it was going to catch so I waited it out and true to form the sky lit up and it absolutely made my trip !
I took a standard shot and a panorama for good measure and was really pleased with the images.
I videoed this shoot and will be putting it out in January on you tube if you wanted to see it.
This pretty much was my last reasonable shoot from December, I had 11 days off to look forward to over Christmas and fully intended to get out and do some trips but as we all know the weather over Christmas was just non stop rain and grey and it just never really materialised sadly so I didn't even get to go.
Fingers crossed 2022 will be a far better year and quite frankly I will be very happy to see the back of 2021.
As always, Happy shooting and Happy new year !
Landscape Photography Videos from December.