• Daniel Wretham

Landscape Photography Blog October 2021

This is an account of my landscape photography during October 2021, fresh off the back of a couple of soul destroying months, did October finally bring some luck ?


I had high hopes for October, its one of my favourite months to shoot as Autumn takes its hold and transforms landscapes into a colour explosion with shades of red through yellow signalling the change of the seasons and nature everywhere to start its slow slumber of winter in order to regenerate for the spring months.


The chance of some nice misty vistas popping up was very real and even the possibility of the first frosts would be here soon, the clocks would go back at the end of the month and it would signal a return to weekend only shooting so a big push was needed in October to make the best out of it.


Several obstacles had presented themselves for the month, the biggest by a mile was going to be time, My office was relocating in mid October and that meant at least one full weekend was gone as I had to stay and do that plus id be working crazy hours midweek in order to prepare for it so effectively 2 weeks were going to be photo free which wasn't really the start I wanted.

On top of this October is probably my busiest month for workshops and I was booked solid which meant in reality the only times I could shoot was before work in the mornings and this would have to be limited to local venues only on the way to work as the sun was coming up as late as 7.50 and I started work at 8.30 so time really was against me.


Despite these obstacles I was determined not to let the month go past without getting out.

My first trip was going to be to Lulworth Cove, I wanted to record a video as I hadn't been able to do one for ages and really missed it so a likely looking morning was picked and I headed down the familiar road to Lulworth.

The sky was looking quite nice but every time I looked up at it on the journey it seemed to be a touch clearer, the worst was happening, it was going to go clear and the familiar doubts crept in and I debated whether I was in fact cursed after my recent run of bad luck.


As suspected by the time I got to Lulworth Cove the cloud in front of it had completely gone and a clear sunrise didn't exactly fill me with inspiration for that shot, there was however another bite of the cake to be had, behind me was some cloud and I wondered if the clear path from the sun would illuminate it or not, I decided to take the gamble and ran up to Dungy head facing the opposite direction towards the cloud.


It was pretty windy on top of Dungy head and as I overlooked St Oswalds bay I wondered if I had made the right decision or not, only time would tell. One thing was for sure, the opposite direction was completely clear and not worth shooting so I was in the best place for the conditions.

A tense 20 minutes unfolded with very little happening but then the cloud just started to catch on the edge and it kept going and going, before long the whole cloud system in front of me was glowing pink and I finally got some shots.

It was extra nice as the sunlight lit up the cliff edges and my foreground and I cant tell you just what a relief it was to finally get some decent shots after a couple of months of utter rubbish, the month had started well !


I took a couple of variations in composition for the sunrise but they were all essentially similar just different focal lengths but I also waited till the light was striking the cliffs for one as well and even though all three pictures are similar they each worked for me so I was a happy man.


I did a video of the trip and it will pop up on YouTube at some point, you can visit the channel by clicking HERE.

St Oswalds Bay Sunrise
St Oswalds Sunrise

Jurassic Coast Sunrise
A Small Change In Focal Length

Dungy Head
First Light Strikes Dungy Head

My next opportunity to get out was only a few days later and there was a good bit of mist forecast so I decided I would head for Corfe Castle and hopefully nail a decent image.


I climbed up the all to familiar punishing path of West hill with all my gear and it was looking rather nice, small carpet of mist swirling round the bottom of the castle and some potential clouds to colour up ! Here we go I thought.


I should have known I was being played for a fool as the wind got up just a touch and that was it, the low level mist turned into thick fog and covered the castle.

I waited a good hour for it to clear and it didn't happen so I decided to go off elsewhere in search of a foggy forest instead.

I did however bump into landscape photographer of the year, Chris Frost so it was lovely to catch up with him before I left Corfe.


I headed for the forest and to be fair inside the forest didn't look too inspiring but there was nice mist on the open heath areas but I was too low down to effectively shoot it.

I had two options, call it a day and head home or put the drone up and get some nice footage of the mist, I opted for that !


While the drone was up the light came through and it looked really stunning and I was gutted I couldn't get to somewhere to get a good composition, then it dawned on me.....

The drone has a camera on it that I never ever use ! I have only ever used it for video so I quickly switched over to camera mode and got a picture I was really pleased with from a perspective that couldn't be shot with the regular camera, it was quite an eye opener for me and I vowed to use the drone camera a lot more in future.


Its a funny thing, you can get very stuck in your ways and forget something so simple but so very effective and now I have switched over to the DJI Air 2S I felt the camera was much better on it and felt comfortable using it for pictures.


Don't get me wrong it will never replace my DSLR and the quality is nowhere near it but it is however very useable and takes a decent enough picture to be printed reasonably large due to the 1" sensor so it was a viable option.


I have a love hate relationship with drones but on this occasion it was very much a love it moment and scored me a bonus shot and a new tool in the arsenal for future trips.

Id be interested to hear your thoughts on this picture to see what you think ?

Wareham Forest
A New Perspective

By now the dreaded office move was looming and my free time was about to go to zero, but I had one more roll of the dice to go before that happened.

A misty morning was forecast and I wanted to go and see an old friend, Horton Tower.


Now I'm incredibly guilty of overshooting this place and if I said id been there hundreds of times it wouldn't be an exaggeration, there's something about it that I just love.

Its not an especially attractive place but I always enjoy shooting it and there has been one shot that has eluded me there for years, mist !


I had chased this shot for ages and never managed to get it just how I wanted it, I have it in pretty much every other weather condition you can think of but the mist shot had never been exactly the way I had pictured it.


The shot presents a variety of problems, first you need mist ! Not something that is common at Horton Tower, so its hard enough already but when you do eventually get it then it has to play ball and be not only in the right place, but also high enough to reach the bottom of the tower itself but not too high as to obscure it.


You need next to no wind at all as the moment that happens the mist will clear quicker than you can blink.

You also need a day where the sun isn't obscured so it can throw light onto the tower, but that has the result of burning off the mist rapidly so you really need all the elements to play ball and a huge slice of luck to get the shot just right.


In order to shoot it you need a super long telephoto too, I opened for the 100 - 400 mm special, you need to get high enough up the hill to be able to shoot over the mist so it meant a long focal length would be the only way you could effectively get the shot, no place for wide angles here.


I arrived and true to form the mist was there, there was however a little more cloud than I wanted and it was moving towards where the sun was coming up from so potentially the shot might not happen.


I got myself into position and put on the long lens and went straight to the 400 mm end.

The one advantage of this shot was I could shoot with a fairly wide aperture as the only subject I needed in focus was the tower itself, the the remainder of the shot was mist & cloud so it didn't matter.

A nice sharp aperture of F8 was selected which was really good on this lens and a bit of a sweet spot I composed my shot and then waited for mother nature to do her bit.


The mist was rolling around nicely and at a fairly decent height but the cloud was building and had now started to cover the area where the sun was coming up.

I could see some colour starting on the clouds but I was facing the wrong way to include it which was frustrating but nothing could be done about that.

I was now looking like there would be no light on the tower so the shot I had dreamed of wasn't really on but I could still get close as the other elements were looking reasonable.


I had two shots I really wanted, a single frame landscape orientation with the tower surrounded by mist, and then a larger panorama of the same and if there was a chance I would get a portrait version too for a magazine cover that was coming up.


As I said the conditions weren't perfect but I felt I made the best of them and got the landscape & panorama shots that I was happy with, but I know i'll be back to get the tower with golden morning light on it as it has become almost an obsession for me, maybe in my heart of hearts I don't want to get the shot as I know my love affair with Horton Tower will be over and I really don't want that to happen just yet.

Horton Tower Mist
So Close But Not Quite....

Horton Tower Panorama
Horton Tower Mist Panorama

I decided not to video this shoot as it was a personal quest and it felt right to just concentrate on what I was doing rather than trying to video it all and missing the moments.

I love doing YouTube but it takes a serious amount of time and effort and can sometimes lead to you not enjoying the shoot as much as you would if you were just out on your own with you verses mother nature and able to give full focus to the task in hand without any distractions so I have been far more selective with my shoots recently, Plus I had already done two videos from here so a third seemed a little much for now.


The office move was now about to happen and I was working some seriously long hours and sadly there was no more time for landscape photography for the next two weeks so I was happy that I had some snatched moments in amongst all the mayhem and got some ok shots, nothing ground breaking but ok.


The weather seemed to be very up and down so I'm not really sure how much I missed to be fair ? but I know there were a couple of days where the sky lit up and I cursed my luck that I was working and couldn't do anything about it.


As the month was closing I had the prestigious task of doing a product video for a brand new filter system from Kase Filters, I was very excited about it but it was very time sensitive and I knew I had to have a great picture for the video.

The final weekend looked pretty rough, 40 mph winds and heavy rain ! there were set to be odd patches of sun coming through so I thought there might be a possibility of a rainbow so I headed down to Corfe castle to do battle with the elements


To cut a long story short the wind was very serious, several trees down on the route there and it made shooting very difficult but after hours of standing in it and waiting it finally happened, a rainbow came up right behind the castle and I nailed my shot, To say I was elated was an understatement and a huge pressure lifted from my shoulders.

I wont say too much more as the new product is very secretive but it should be launched in November and you can see the full video then hopefully !

But here's a teaser picture from the day.

Corfe Castle Rainbow
Part of the Kase Filters Video, A rainbow at Corfe Castle

November was looming and it can be a hit or miss month, the weather can be hugely unpredictable and storms could rage all month and put paid to shooting but equally there could be tranquil moments of mist and frost so we will have to wait and see what unfolds and hope to get a little slice of luck from mother nature.


Until then, Happy Shooting.

Daniel Wretham


Print of the month this month is a seascape from St Oswalds bay as a huge sunset lights up the sky, Grab yourself a bargain by clicking HERE


Dorset Pictures
Grab a bargain

Seascapes
St Oswalds Bay Sunset



Landscape photography blog

Landscape Photography Blog