• Daniel Wretham

Landscape Photography Blog, November 2020

This is an account of my landscape photography in the month of November 2020, the success, the failures and everything in between.


October had been a funny month for me, I had some mixed success but in truth I was pleased to see the back of it and looked forward to better times in November, or so I hoped.

My plan was to go out and capture the very last of the Autumn colour in the forest but the weather and the government had other plans, but more of that later.


Sunday the 1st of November


There was no other word for it, it was desperate times, Lockdown was coming in 5 days and I needed to get as much landscape photography trips in as I could before the 5th, There was one big problem though, The wind.

It was absolutely blowing a gale out there with gusts of up to 50 mph and I really didn't fancy it, sure there was a chance to photograph the big waves that were crashing into the rocks on the coast but frankly I was so over that and didn't want to do it.

To be honest I find it uncomfortable, stood in the teeth of a gale while getting blown around all over the place shooting at super fast speeds in order to avoid camera shake and getting covered in sea spray, potentially ruining my gear and even worse possibly risking danger of getting hit by a wave and the unspeakable happening.


It really didn't leave me with much in the way of options to be fair, the sky was just a sheet of solid grey that looked less than inspiring.

I simply had to get out though as I felt the pressure to enjoy it before we couldn't go again plus I had just started vlogging and wanted to keep the channel putting out content each week rather than stopping as soon as I had started, but equally I had to be enjoying it otherwise there wasn't any point in going.


I wracked my brains for ideas of where to go and what to shoot, the first things that jumped out to me were buildings, after all these wouldn't be affected by the heavy winds as they wouldn't move even if the camera did, but I had photographed most of the nice structures in Dorset over the years and really didn't want to keep revisiting the same locations over and over again.


My next thought was waterfalls as dull weather would actually be a bonus in that situation but Dorset only had a handful of these and most of them were right on the coast, so they had to be avoided due to the heavy wind.

There was however one I thought of that could have real potential, it was in a valley and that would mean it was hopefully out of the wind, so it seemed logical choice for a decent shoot.


The gear was packed and I headed out to Littlebredy, a beautiful ornamental garden which had a gorgeous waterfall in and after several weeks of heavy rain I was fairly certain it would be in good flow.

The added bonus was it was still Autumn and there was a superb acer tree there which had amazing autumn colour on it and the leaves drop down to the waterfall and give you loads of features to go at.


The drive down was interesting to say the least, several heavy showers and wind really doing its best to blow you across the road, and then worst of all about 5 miles from Littlebredy and the road was closed and I had just driven an hour to get here, fortunately I knew the area pretty well and diverted and soon found myself right down in the valley and because I was so low and shielded by the valley itself there was hardly any wind, result !


The walk into Littlebredy is always special, beautifully scenic and in full flow with its autumn colours, walking through the leaves which were carpeting the ground in autumn tones of yellow & gold and hearing that delightful crunch underfoot of them, I knew I had made the right choice.


I got set up and the wind was a bit of an issue still as I wanted to include the tree in my composition but it meant shooting at a very high shutter speed in order to freeze the trees movement but at the same time I really wanted to have a slightly long exposure in order to get the milky water effect on the waterfall.


I tried a mixture of shutter speeds and combinations and eventually got a shot I was pleased with.

Littlebredy Waterfall
Littlebredy in its autumn glory

The wind was getting up a bit more and once again the rain started to come so I got under the shelter of the tree for a while in order to shoot a bit closer up to the waterfall.

Here I was able to utilise a much longer exposure as there was no foliage moving in the frame to worry about, It had been quite a while since I had done long exposures and I really enjoyed doing it again, Im not talking minutes, more a few seconds but it was very satisfying to get the water blurred on the waterfall once again.

Littlebredy
A closer view of autumn at Littlebredy

After nailing a couple of images I felt far happier and decided to try and experiment a bit more with close up shots and focus stacking a few bits with the spectacular colours of the leaves that were all over bottom of the waterfall.

I wanted to just show small parts of the waterfall rather than the whole thing, it just felt right for the particular moment, its not the sort of shooting I normally do but I have to say I really enjoyed it and in fact added the images to my gallery, ill pop a few of them up here for you.

Autumn Leaves
Focused stacked
Autumn
A more intimate look

I did a vlog from this session which you can watch below if you fancy it and see the session as it played out.


Tuesday the 3rd of November


Mondays weather was much like Sundays and to be fair there didn't seem like any point in going anywhere before work on Monday morning and it turned out to be the right decision as grey sky and high wind & rain was all we saw but Tuesday & Wednesday looked like they could be quite reasonable so I booked a couple of days off work in order to try and get some vlogs done & keep my sanity by getting my outdoors fix.


I decided to go to Lulworth Cove for sunrise, The weather had potential although it was raining heavily when I got up but it was forecast to stop before sunrise so I was feeling good about chances.

As I pulled up conditions were going exactly as I wanted, rain had stopped and some good cloud was circulating the only negative was the wind, it was pretty heavy and very very cold.

It was about 50 minutes till sunrise and I started getting set up, it took a maximum of 5 minutes and in that time the cloud had almost vanished such was the ferocity of the wind.

There was a tiny bit of high level cloud circulating, but not much at all, On a wide angle lens it would just disappear frankly and wasn't worth it.

I was really disappointed and knew the shot wasn't going to happen, I had two choices, go home empty handed or turn round and shoot Stair Hole where the light would fall on as the sun came up, no brainer.


I walked the short distance up to the top of Stair Hole and the sun was just starting to come up and it caught on the top of the cliff and looked pretty nice so I took a shot and was pretty pleased with it to be fair.

Stair Hole
Light at Stair Hole

The light was really nice and although it was a seriously windy, a short shutter speed nailed the shot and to be fair I was pretty pleased with it.

The wind started to drop a little and I thought I might have a play around with a long exposure as I had really enjoyed doing it at Littlebredy.


The end result was essentially the same shot as the previous one just a longer shutter speed of around 25 seconds but I again really liked it and was pleased with the end result.

Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove
Same But Different....

It's funny how something so similar can equally be so different, but each shot would have its place.

I did vlog this trip too and it will be out in the first week of December.


Sunset looked like there was a possibility too so I decided to head to the coast to Osmigton Mills as it was low tide and the ledges would be exposed, with the back up of the small coastal waterfall that was there too.


I arrived at Osmington Mills and one direction was clear, and the other was seriously cloudy and it was blatantly obvious that rain was on the way and I needed to get prepared for a soaking.


The ledges were out and on display but they just didn't look that great to be fair, I mean there was nothing wrong with them but you know when it just isn't appealing to you for some reason ?

I opted for the waterfall as the overcast cloud coming in would block the light and it would help with the waterfall picture.

Again it looked ok, but not amazing but the more I looked out towards the cloud which was really threatening now I could see a small gap at the end of it which would mean the sun would eventually shine through it, That was if I was prepared to wait out in the rain for it to happen.


I got the waterproofs on and waited, I felt the first splash of rain on my followed by another and another and then the heavens absolutely opened and chucked it down.

This lasted for about 5 minutes and I kept watching the gap which was getting larger by the minute and I knew the sun would come through this and in my head I thought that a rainbow may well be a possibility.

I took my waterproof jacket off and set my camera up and put the jacket over it so I could be ready the second the light came through.

After a minute or so it did exactly that and poured onto the waterfall and I started getting few pictures and kept everything crossed for a rainbow, then it happened and came through !

I couldn't believe my luck and happily snapped away getting few pictures.

I was ecstatic to have got a few of it and although I have shot a rainbow over this waterfall before this one was far more intense.

Rainbow
The sky really was that dark
Osmington Mills Waterfall
Rainbows & Running Water

I have to be honest, the pictures were ok but not amazing, I couldn't put my finger on quite why I wasn't happy but there was just something that bothered me.


The big weather system went over and I had a feeling it would catch with the light coming from the other direction at sunset so I waited it out a bit longer and true to form the clouds caught and they looked pretty decent so again I took a few pictures and I actually preferred this one to the rainbow although I had to heavily desaturate the sky as it was just so intense and looked false, funny how it goes.

Osmington Mills Sunset
Sunset at Osmington Mills

This session was also recorded and you can watch it on the vlog videos below.


Wednesday the 4th of November


There was an interesting forecast for the morning, the wind had dropped and the humidity was up and there was the chance of mist I felt.

As I kept an eye on the forecast there was a lot of changing going on and the wind had got up then it was down etc... so I figured I would just go in the morning and see how it was but I wanted to give myself a bit of an edge and make sure I was going somewhere that I stood the best chance of decent conditions, this left me with the River as the best option as from experience Rivers will produce mist when all around it won't.


I headed down to Wareham to the River Frome to capture the boats in the mist at sunrise.

As I arrived there was a decent head of mist on the river around the boats.

The sky was pretty clear so there wouldn't be any decent sunrise colour but I felt if I shot on the 400 mm close in I would maximise any colour from the sun glow coming up, that was the plan anyway.


Again I was blogging this trip and it proved to be a nightmare as cars kept going past me as it was close to rush hour but I ploughed on through.

The mist was quite short lived and I managed to nail a shot that was reasonable but again nothing special, I had shot it better in the past frankly.

River Frome Sunrise
As good as it got

I waited out for a while but the mist didn't really get any better so I settled for what I had got and just enjoyed watching the wildlife swimming down the river.

I had in interesting moment as I was filming a drone sequence just after sunrise, I was simply flying it down river quite high up when a crow came along and flew right beside it and so I slowed down and let the crow go in front and it made a beautiful sequence flying alongside it.

The crow showed no signs of distress or displeasure otherwise I wouldn't have carried on but it was almost like two children playing together and then just like that it headed off, it was this moment that absolutely made my morning.


Again this was filmed and you can see the Vlog at the bottom of this page.


Thursday the 5th of November


Lockdown started today and I knew my photography was over for a while.

I hated the prospect of another month locked up but it was what it was.

This lockdown wasn't going to be quite the same as the previous one, they had said you could go out for as much exercise as you wanted, so I knew I wasn't going to be completely stuck but what they hadn't said was about the travel element of it, could you drive to a location to exercise there ?

It was all so unclear, I decided to wait for a while and see what everyone was doing before I ventured out.


The wait didn't need to be too long, it looked at business as normal to be fair ? People were everywhere, it was as if there was no lockdown, this actually made me quite nervous and I decided to stay home for at least a couple of days.


Most of the photographers I knew all said they would still be going out and a few I watched on youtube also said the same, it seemed as if everyone was still going out and doing pictures but it didn't feel right to me that early on but equally I didn't want to miss out.


I flip flopped over and over for the next few days and in the end decided if I was going local on foot then I wasn't breaking any rules and all would be well but at the same time the local area wasn't exactly exciting to be fair.


I really wanted to drive to a decent location, and within a ten mile radius I had quite a few but I just wasn't sure how we stood to drive or not, it was torture.

No matter where I searched there was different interpretations of the rules and some people said its fine and others were really against it, again I was more confused than when I started.


Essentially I didn't go for a couple of weeks, instead just having some time relaxing and catching up with bits and pieces that needed doing around the home so the blog is going to be a bit sparse this month but for December I will be going all out to make up for the period of lockdown.

I hope you are all well and staying safe and I hope to bring you something a bit more exciting for next month.


As my next blog will be out in January I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support you have given this year and to wish you all an exceptionally merry Christmas and a very happy New year.


In view of the Covid situation I think it certainly can't get any worse !


Print of the month this month is my absolute favourite picture I've ever taken and it looks stunning on fine art matte paper, grab yourself a bargain by clicking HERE

Stay safe & Happy shooting

Daniel


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