Early Morning Hopes – Just a Recce in the End

Bruce Little / landscape, photography / / 2 Comments / Like this

Its been some time since my last blog posting. Mainly because I’ve not done much photography of late. Time to redress the balance …

A lot of my photography in Devon has been either at the coast or up on the moors. One place which I don’t photograph enough is the scenery within the 10 mile radius or so of where I live – The gentle rolling East Devon countryside. I don’t know why that is; possibly that I’ve not really explored the tiny lanes and footpaths enough since we moved here 8 years ago – certainly it is very tempting to go straight for the many “obvious” places around here when on a day out, perhaps ignoring some very promising photographic viewpoints.

With that in mind, a few Sundays ago I decided to do a photographic recce drive, and found a view point of a local hill from the other side of a valley. Its been a frustrating time photographically as I’ve not been up and about much in the summer. Partly due to laziness with the very early dawns, but also because the weekend weather has not been great (getting up early mid-week and then going to work after a photography trip is a step I’m yet to take). The other advantage, of course, with shooting locally is that there is not far to travel, so yet more reason to get up early. Therefore, faced with a combination of not having to go to work, and a reasonable looking forecast, I decided to get up early and go for a good shot of my new found viewpoint.

The result is somewhat disappointing, and the main reason may be a bit of rustiness. I did the prep and spent the time the previous evening making sure that the camera battery was fully charged; the CF card formatted; the tripod quick release plate on the camera; and all lenses and filters cleaned. The camera aperture was set to f/16, and ISO set to 100. Alarm set for 05:10, and an early night was taken. The result is posted below, and my comments come afterwards:

I think the most obvious comment to make is that I’ve done too much Photoshop work trying to make something out of a very flat photo. However, I think that there are several other factors at play, and I’ve listed them below:

  • The obvious problem is that the light isn’t right, and the sky not interesting enough. This is partly due to my timing. The sun didn’t hit the fields in the middle distance until a good 30 minutes after sunrise, by which time any interest in the sky had gone. It was a red sky before dawn, so maybe I should’ve got up earlier (but then, with no direct sunlight, would the shot just have not worked in another way?)
  • Therefore I reckon that the main problem is time of year. In about a months time, the sun will rise a) later, so I have longer to sleep, and b) from a more southerly location, meaning that I shouldn’t have to wait until it rises above the hill behind me.
  • The final problem is one of forgetting a quirk of my camera. I’ve taken, of late, to composing in “Live View” mode, using the LCD screen on the back of the camera rather than squinting through the viewfinder. This is really useful as I find it much easier to avoid sloping horizons this way and I somehow seem to get a better view of the overall composition. Unfortunately I’d forgotten that it goes into some kind of “auto ISO” mode and as a result, despite manually setting my ISO to 100 the night before, this shot is taken at ISO 1600 and is very grainy. A quick read of the manual later and I think I have this problem solved.

So, I’m not giving up on this location. The compo works and is open to a little tweaking (although there is a telegraph pole just out of frame to the right), and in the autumn on foggy mornings, or with a dark brooding sky with low sunrise light, I reckon this could be a winner. Watch this space, I’ll be back.


  1. Ann Courtney  —  24th July 2011 at 20:26

    It’s a very mellow scene. Did you try it in B & W?

  2. brucelittle  —  24th July 2011 at 20:58

    Yeah, but it still doesn’t really work. I know what I wrote above, but I’m in 2 minds as to whether to heed David Noton’s advice and revisit. I know I should, and I think I will, but I’m not holding out too much hope.


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