• Daniel Wretham

Landscape Photography Blog, June 2021

June was always traditionally a mixed bag with conditions generally being blue sky and very little else so it was always approached with caution and venues were carefully selected to allow for this should it occur.

It was also poppy season towards the end of June, something I really enjoy but had left out for a couple of years as it had become stupidly competitive and that just really isn't my thing but a break had fuelled a desire again and I wanted to have a go this year.


My enthusiasm for landscape photography was back in full force, but the amount of time spent working was also the highest its ever been and I was finding precious little time to get out in pursuit of light and landscapes so I had to make every trip count and a keen eye was kept on the weather every day just in case something interesting developed.


Mornings were always my preferred time for landscape photography as it generally meant fewer people out, more chance of conditions like mist and I always felt the light was better in the morning for some reason but 3 am starts and then a full days work were really not an option so sunrise would be reserved for the weekends only.


I had been chasing a shot for a couple of weeks now in the evenings and every time I went the conditions looked great and would change at the last minute before sunset and when I couldn't go it always kicked off, it was very frustrating so I decided to shelf this shot for a while and go back to it when I was in a better frame of mind to tackle it.


Saturday morning was fast approaching and I fancied visiting an a favourite location that I hadn't been to for a year, Old Harry Rocks.

The forecast was for lots of high level cloud for sunrise and it looked really promising so a 3 am alarm was set and the evening spent checking the weather apps every five minutes until I eventually managed to sleep.

The banshee wail of the alarm woke me at 3 am and I was up in a flash to look outside and was met with disappointment, it was completely clear and I debated whether I should even go or not but I had moved heaven and earth to have a free morning so a decision to go was made and I headed off on the familiar drive down to Old Harry.


I arrived at the car park and it was all clear unfortunately but I headed down the winding track to Handfast point which usually takes 15 minutes or so, During this walk there was a small bit of cloud starting to form but it wasn't in front of the area I had planned to shoot, I looked at the two hero shots and it was fairly uninspiring to be fair, completely clear and just not what I had in mind for either of these shots.

I instead turned my attention to the Pinnacles area of Old Harry Rocks which was showing some potential.

There was a small bit of hugh level cloud drifting through and after watching for a few minutes it seemed that it was headed in the general direction of the Pinnacles and I thought it may well catch as the sun comes up so a gamble was taken to set up in this area.


As I waited for the sunrise the cloud started getting a bit better and was nicely floating over the pinnacles and then it started to catch and that familiar hue of pink started to form right above the Pinnacles, it was on.


I took several shots and variations of shots mixing up focal length and compositions and of course the obligatory panorama shot that I seem to just have to take nowadays such is my love for them.

The clouds looked great as they caught the colour and I was pleased that I had called it right and gone for the "Lessor" shot but caught better conditions, I looked over my shoulder at the hero shot and it really didn't look any good at all so I was again pleased I had taken the gamble.


The finished shots weren't really portfolio worthy but they were nice all the same and I had enjoyed my time at Old Harry Rocks as I always do but the light started to get a bit harsh and a truckload of tourists had turned up at 5am and to be fair my patients had reached a limit with their noise and running around making a general pain of themselves so I took myself back on the walk to the car pleased the morning had gone quite well.

A video of this shoot can be seen at the bottom of the page.

Old Harry Rocks
Mother Nature flashing her colours
Old Harry Rocks
Sunrise Over The Picnnacles (Panorama)
Old Harry Rocks
Sunrise Over The Pinnacles

The following week was awash with high pressure and clear sky forecasts so it didn't look too promising to be fair which as it turned out was a blessing as I got stuck working each evening trying to keep up with the relentless barrage of work that just refused to stop coming.

I saw a couple of really good skies that kicked off at the last minute and I had already decided not to go out but winced as I watched it all unfold.

The weekend was rapidly coming around and the sunrise forecast was clear everywhere and there was very low humidity forecast too, except for one area, Sturminster Newton.


I kept a close eye on it and thought it looked a possible so once again an early alarm was set and an evening spent watching the weather.

First look out of the window and it looked pretty poor in terms of cloud, there was none but I knew that the shot I wanted to get of Sturminster Mill would enable me to not include the sky so it was still on.


The drive up there is about 50 minutes and I didn't see any signs of mist and I was getting a bit anxious but as I pulled up to the mill I realised the weather gods had been smiling on me and there was indeed mist rolling along the river and surrounding fields. Shot ON !


I headed for the bridge end of the mill which doesn't really get shot much as people instead prefer to go directly opposite the mill which is a lovely shot but it has been done to death so many times and the sun would be coming up directly behind it causing shadows in the foreground which would be no good at all.


The bridge looked pretty reasonable, it has a lovely curve to the river which was lined with spring flowers and looked really appealing and while the mist was rising and falling there was defiantly an opportunity for a shot.

What I really needed was the mist to hold till the light was on the mill, I knew this would be a big ask as it takes about 20 minutes from coming up to strike the mill which is plenty of time for the mist to burn off.

Without the light I just didn't feel as inspired with the shot, while the mist looked nice I wanted my cake and eat it too with a side serving of mist and golden morning light.


I took a few shots before sunrise while the mist was there just in case it went and they were ok but nothing special, the first bit of light hit the trees at the back of the scene and started rolling down the tree line, it seemed to take forever and all the time the mist was getting a little bit more sparse.

Finally it hit the mill, just the top and I started taking my shots and they seemed to come out pretty well, I went for the pano image which was what I was really after and it was my shot of the trip so I was really happy and once again super pleased I had made the right call, Karma was finally paying up it seemed and I couldn't get enough of it.

This one was recorded too and you can see the video at the bottom of the page.

Sturminster Mill Mist
Before the light came
Sturminster Mill Mist
When the light hit (2.5:1 panorama)

The weekend weather had been a bit poor to be fair but as Sunday evening rolled round I took the hound out for his usual run and looked over towards the Purbeck hills and was greeted by a sight that made my heart beat fast !

Fog was coming in from the coast and was cascading over the ridgeline, I was in the car in a flash and headed towards an area I knew I would be able to take advantage of these conditions.

I have been shooting this area for 15 years and have only ever seen this occur once before and it was amazing !

As I arrived it was clear the wind had got up a bit and was now pushing the fog further over the ridge and I knew photographing it was going to be out of the question as it was too thick at ground level, even on top of the hill but I decided to send the drone up to get above it and see if I could get some interesting footage.

Up it went till it hit the fly zone height limit and it was barely above the fog which was really dense so it came back down again and I went home with my tail firmly between my legs.


There were about two hours till sunset and the fog looked set to destroy any chances so I called it a day and went home, with around 15 minutes to sunset I watched it disappear in minutes only to have an epic sunset unfold which I missed, karma had been kind twice, she wasn't going to have a third time in a row !

I used to get really annoyed when I missed good conditions, now it was just accepted and the reminder of there will be others was uttered and forgotten in the same breath.


The next trip out was a rushed affair, I got home after a punishing day at work and looked at the high level cloud in the sky and knew it was going to be a good one so without thinking I grabbed the bag and headed out to a spot on the coast I had been chasing for a few weeks.

In my haste to go I had broken my golden rule, always check the tide times.


The failure to check this simple metric would cost me dearly and I arrived at my location only to find a super low tide and in this instance I needed the exact opposite, I could have kicked myself !


Panic was now starting to set in as the sky was clearly going to blow up so I drove to another venue which just wasn't quite at the right angle to catch the ensuing sunset so again I rushed off to another venue which again was a poor choice and the sky erupted, I was gutted but very annoyed with myself that I hadn't followed my own rules and planned a bit better, a golden opportunity squandered sadly.


The weekend arrived and brought with it super hot weather and I put the landscape photography on hold in order to make sure my dog was comfortable in the horrendous heat that was filling many others with glee, My dog however wasn't liking it one bit and nor would I if I was effectively wearing black jumper in direct 30 degree sunlight !


A weekend of paddling pools, doggy ice cream and general play time was had with him and he enjoyed himself so it wasn't a wasted one, precious moments and a happy doggy.


by now we had hit the middle of the month and a few evening trips out to drive around and hopefully spot a poppy field or two was in order and the photography took a back seat in favour of this.

The first few were unsuccessful and I had covered around 200 miles so it was a little frustrating but I knew if I kept at it I would eventually get lucky, or so I hoped.


The weekend arrived and with it came torrential rain and generally rubbish conditions.

The forecast had given potential conditions for Saturday morning but as usual they were way off and I arrived at Swanage seafront to a barrage of grey cloud and very little else, I waited for a while but it soon became clear it wasn't going to change so I headed back home.

Sunday looked no better so I seized the chance to have a much needed lay in, I didn't miss anything as it was just murky and lack lustre conditions to be frank.


The week started much the same as it had ended, full on rain and largely unfriendly conditions for landscape photography, and certainly not too favourable for poppies either, I still hadn't found a field and it was usually around now that they would start showing so I was hoping the rain wouldn't put paid to them.


Rain seemed to be a fairly persistent theme for June and it seemed every time I had some time spare to go out it would be hammering down with it, couple this with a run of bad luck with the times I did get out and it finished up being a pretty poor end to a month that had started reasonably well.


I suffered from many things, people being at the spot I wanted to shoot being a popular one which was very frustrating but nothing I could do about it but annoying when driving a distance only to find out the shot you had sole focus on was now being chased by many others, this happened on at least three occasions and there was no other really worthwhile locations close by so I went home empty handed.


Another occasion saw me going out for guaranteed mist according to the weathermen only to find none at my chosen location so rather than miss out I diverted to another location and watched as the mist all disappeared in front of my eyes just before sunrise, it really was incredibly bad luck and hugely frustrating so I decided to just stop chasing it.


With the weathermen calling it wrong more than they called it right I just took a back seat and decided not to shoot again till next month and take care of some other business that needed dealing with.


Sometimes you just can't force these things and need to walk away, I hoped July would be kinder to me but knew that July brought with it its own challenges, namely the hoards of holiday makers that would descend upon Dorset and turn it into hell for the next month and a half.


here we go again....


Until the next time, Happy Shooting

Daniel Wretham


This months print of the month is "Portland Light" which was taken as golden light cascaded through a stormy sky and gave me a morning I will never forget, Grab yourself a special off bargain by clicking HERE

Dorset landscape prints

Portland Bill Lighthouse












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