A lot of being a landscape photographer is being in the right place at the right time. For every amazing vivid sunrise you see photographed here there will be a trip where the cloud never lifted and the camera never made it out of the bag. Being out very early in the morning doesn't come easily to me, I'm not really a morning person, I sit in the car with my coat pulled up wishing I was back in bed for at least the first half an hour of an early start, this feeling is made worse when you realise you've wasted your time and the light and weather isn't going to play ball. Still, it is nice to be out and about and eventually I wake up and enjoy being the only one moving about.
Days can be the same, it is often said that a good landscape photograph can only be taken in the first and last hours of daylight, and whilst the light tends to be better at those times I believe that if you work at it, and luck is on your side, you can get good shots in the middle of the day.
Thursday I set off from my new home of York (I moved on the 27th December, just to make things more exciting) for the Yorkshire Dales. I took my mum for a run out and we left her house at about 9.30. We initially headed up the A59, for once I had no fixed plan in my mind of where I wanted to go, just that I wanted to get back out with a camera, having been a little ill, having moved house and with Christmas I'd not been out for a while.
As we passed Harrogate and on to Blubberhouses Moor (no, really!) the fog began to close in. The interesting thing was that I could see the top of the fog, checking the temperature gauge on the car as we climbed up the hill I realised there was an inversion, at low level the temperature was 1 degree celsius, at the top of the hills it was 3 or 4 degrees.
I tried a sideroad off Blubberhouses which resulted in a shot of a tree in a hoar frost (I'll post that some other time) but I couldn't get above the cloud like I wanted.
I set course for the Yorkshire Dales, still hopeful I might get what I wanted.
As we climbed out of Settle and Langcliffe onto the tops through the cloud I could see the sun beginning to break through as the temperature rose back to 4 degrees. As we burst out of the cloud into a beautiful sunny day I realised I would get what I wanted, a cloud inversion. A fellow photographer, Terry Abraham, explains a cloud inversion far better than I could on his site
I quickly got set up and captured these two;
After I'd taken these two I jumped back in the car as the cloud had risen. I was on a race against the clock to get some more shots before the sun burnt through the cloud. Further towards Arncliffe I stopped again, at this bottom of a valley is Cowside Beck, the valley was steep sided and it was a slightly dangerous scramble down to get the composition for this one. With its variety of textures I thought colour would just confuse this one so went for a black and white conversion;
Taking this shot I could see trees at the edge of the cloud peeping out, a short run down the road saw me greeted with this sight.
For this shot I used the longest lens I had with me, a 135mm F2, coupled to a 1.4x converter to give a focal length of 189mm. This compresses the scene. Having taken this shot I could see a sheep grazing on the field in front of me. This field was bathed in light whilst the trees and fields behind were both shrouded in mist and in shadow giving an interesting contrast;
I kept the same setup as the previous shot but with a much bigger aperture, f2.8, which meant the distant hills and foreground were both defocussed and concentrated the eye on the sheep. I had to clap, wave and whistle to get the sheep's attention!
All in all a great day out and truly a case of being in the right place at the right time.