Brentor Church

A Bit of Inspiration

I often look for inspiration using my personal locations map that I created using Google Maps. One evening I was looking for something local to shoot when I noticed a map pin on Brentor (St Michael de Rupe) Church on the edge of Dartmoor. I've shot the location a few times but never got an image that I was really happy with, so I thought this would be a good time revisit the old church on the hill.

The weather forecast was for broken cloud and no rain, and the direction of the sunset was favourable for good lighting along the side of the hilltop and church.   I had been stuck in the office all day and I was looking forward to getting outside into the fresh air and taking some images.

Wild Dartmoor

The weather at home that day had been very summery so when it came to outdoor clothing I decided to keep things light and I left the thermals and down jacket at home.

When I arrived at Brentor things were a little different than they were at home. Why I should be surprised by this I don't know!  It is Dartmoor after all and having four seasons all in one day isn't exactly unheard of.  Certainly not to be put off I got my bag out of the car and made the short walk to the viewpoint.


To say that there was a bit of breeze up there would be an understatement!  It's not necessarily the height of the location but more that it is very exposed.  It wasn't long before I had put on my lightweight jacket, shortly followed by hat and gloves (which I always keep in the bag, fortunately).  With the skies being overcast and my body temperature dropping, I was soon feeling uncreative and considering making an early exit and going home.

Game On!

If there is one thing you can count on when photographing Dartmoor is rapidly changing conditions. While I was sitting there gradually getting colder I was keeping an eye on the weather behind me.  I could see in the distance some significant breaks in the cloud which I was hoping would lead to more interesting skies and give the sun a chance to break through. So I toughened up and waited!

I got the camera all set up and ready. Breaks in the cloud and splashes of light can be fleeting, so I needed to be ready. I then waited patiently and watched with eagerness as the rays of the sun that were breaking through the cloud gradually got closer and closer.

When the weather did break over Brentor it did so for only 10 or so minutes. I captured a few frames keeping an eye on the cloud converge over the old hilltop church and how the light was breaking on the hillside.  

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-34mm f/4 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/6 second, f/13, no filters.

The quality of the light can change dramticaly over a short space of time.

The quality of the light can change dramticaly over a short space of time.

The quality of light can really make or break an image and without light from the setting sun as it broke through the cloud this image would have been much flatter. It's not to say that this image is perfect, far from it, but given the conditions I was working with I was happy with the results.

I tried a few variations on my composition and I even tried increasing the ISO for a shorter shutter speed. I thought that the shorter shutter speed would freeze the grass blowing in the wind, but I decided that keeping the movement of the grass better reflected the mood I was looking for.

So my evening up on Dartmoor was a bit of a roller coaster. Nothing hampers your creativity more than being cold and I really should have known better to head up to Dartmoor without a warm jacket!  But I'm glad I stuck it out as at the end of the day as I got some nice images and a lung full of fresh air.

So have you photographed Brentor church before?  Would you like me to make a 5 Minute Photo Adventure video there?  Have you ever been out with the camera without suitable clothing?  Let me know in the comments below.