Chasing the light

OK, not the most original title ever but it has the benefit of accuracy.

© Dave Whenham

As I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post today I “mis-timed” my departure this morning; or to put it another way overslept. I had checked and knew sunrise was 6.58am so, allowing for a twenty minute drive and ten minutes to set two tripods up and get cameras in place I calculated that I’d need to be out of bed at 5.45 to give me time to dress, make a flask of coffee and get the gear into the car. I awoke at 6.28 and although I moved quickly I was already past my ideal set-off time when my feet touched the bedroom floor.

Despite driving within the legal limits, of course, I was still five minutes from my intended destination, and still fifteen minutes behind schedule, when, glancing in my rear view mirror, I saw that the sun was just about to pop its head over the horizon.  Luckily the road up on the moors was quiet at 6.57am so I managed to pull over and grab the camera (Nikon D800E with my trusty Nikkor 24-70) for a couple of shots including the 10-frame panorama I posted when I got home.  I had no time to do anything other than grab the camera and shoot handheld with whatever lens happened to be on it; I would have preferred the 70-200.  Nor was there time to add ND graduated filters so I bracketed and hoped that the dynamic range of the camera and some judicious post-processing would come to my rescue.

© Dave Whenham

Handheld panorama (6 frames)

Still hoping that I’d get something at my chosen location I jumped back in the car. In the end, despite visiting two alternative shooting spots, the conditions just five minutes down the road were nowhere near as photogenic. I debated sitting with the flask and just waiting but realised that there was a totally clear sky above the scene and by the time the sun illuminated my view it would also be very harsh.

I decided to go back and chase the light and the rapidly dispersing mist back down the valley.

© Dave Whenham

I stopped just over the brow of the hill, swapped the 24-70 for the 70-200 and knowing that I had an image in the bag already took the time to get the tripod out.  The light in the upper part of the sky was much brighter than the foreground but with the sun almost bald in the sky creating huge variances within that upper area of the frame no amount of graduated ND filters were going to make much difference. I therefore bracketed by five stops but in the end only used a single frame choosing to crop the sun out on the computer.

pano_DWE2767

A tiny bit of post-production manipulation here. I applied a warm filter to the sky and a cooling filter to the landscape. The end result is closer to what I perceived at the time.

sunrise-moors-_DWE2720

Taken at the same time as the panoramas, this is a single frame.

30minsaftersunrise_DWE2774

I stopped three times driving back managing a few nice images including the tree above which sits just above the M62 motorway. The third stop, at the reservoir, yielded nothing unfortunately. Just as I got the tripod out of the boot, the geese, which had roosted overnight on the water and were my intended subject, suddenly rose and disappeared before I could even extend a single tripod leg.

However, I was not going to complain. I had chased the rapidly dispersing mist down the valley and captured a few nice images so all in all a good start to the day.  It was a shame my intended location wasn’t “doing it” for me this morning but as I’ve said before nothing beats knowing your patch and it was that knowledge that was my friend this morning.

One thought on “Chasing the light

  1. Pingback: Moors misty morning | Dave Whenham Photography

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