First Shoot of 2018: Colmer's Hill

Getting Back into Gear

Landscape photography in January can always be a bit of a hit or a miss but after a two-week break from photography, I was itching to get out again.  I had been editing my Winter Solstice Adventure video over the festive period and despite the obvious ups and downs of that day, it had inspired me to get back out with the camera as soon as possible.

During winter my ability to get out with the camera is limited and for the first weekend of January, I only had the possibility of getting out on Saturday morning.  Typically though, the weather across the south-west was dubious.  To get any decent conditions I would have to travel further than I had time for, and depending on where you looked, the local forecast was everything from blue skies to fog on Dartmoor.

Though I couldn't get a concrete forecast for the Bridport area, there was a chance that fog would be there first thing in the morning so I decided to take a risk and head out to Colmer's Hill.  I'd always wanted to capture the peak of Colmer's Hill poking out from mist covered landscape.  Maybe this would be the morning!

At Colmer's Hill

 An early morning shot from my normal dawn spot.  The light wasn't great.

An early morning shot from my normal dawn spot.  The light wasn't great.

I've photographed Colmer's Hill a number of times now.  You can read about some of my previous visits, here, here, and here.  With a vision of photographing the hill in fog or mist, I headed straight for the viewpoint at the bottom of Quarry Hill.  This lower elevation viewpoint places the top of the hill just above the horizon making it ideal for the type of shot I wanted.

Once there, there wasn't much in the way of low lying fog, but there was still enough interest in the sky to potentially make a good image.  It soon became apparent though that light from the rising sun would be slightly later than the documented sunrise time due to a large bank of cloud.  So as I was waiting, getting colder, I looked to my left and noticed the hill Eype Down.

Same Location, Different View

 A slightly different viewpoint, but still terrible light!

A slightly different viewpoint, but still terrible light!

I had originally become aware of this viewpoint when reading Mark Bauer's excellent book Photographing Dorset.  So rather than stay where I was and get a shot similar to some of my previous efforts, I decided to grab my bag and tripod, and head to the viewpoint in Mark's book.

It was interesting to see Colmer's Hill from a slightly different angle.  Unfortunately, the conditions hadn't improved much, and direct sunlight hadn't made an appearance, but at least I had checked out another viewpoint of one of my favourite locations in Dorset.

Practising Perfect Panoramas

If you watched my recent video, Developing a Passion for Printing, you'll have seen me print a panoramic image of Glencoe.  In the video, I also promised myself that I would attempt to take more panoramic images.  Though I had learned more about the technique while on a workshop in Glencoe, I was still a long way from being proficient at creating them.  So as the conditions weren't ideal for the photograph I was hoping to make, I decided to practice my panoramic technique.

Nikon D850, Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 at 110mm, ISO 64, 1/80th second at f/8.  The light was better when I took this image, but my composition options were limited by a line of trees just below the edge of the frame.

Don't Leave Too Early!

After getting a couple of shots from my new viewpoint and practicing my panoramic technique I decided to give up and head home.  It was nearly 9 am and I didn't think I was going to get any decent light at this stage.  Just as I packed my tripod up and started to head down the hill, I started to see some nice light on the side of Colmer's Hill.

It was spectacular light, not by a long shot, but better than I had seen all morning.  I quickly ran back up the hill and set my camera up again.  Fortunately, I hadn't need to use filters all that morning so it didn't take too long to get back to a shooting configuration.  

 Nikon D850, Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 at 1145mm, ISO 64, 1/50th second at f/8.  Better light for this shot, but still nothing to get excited about.

Nikon D850, Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 at 1145mm, ISO 64, 1/50th second at f/8.  Better light for this shot, but still nothing to get excited about.

While those images were only marginally better, it did remind not to leave a location until you are really, really sure you're not going to miss anything!

So how has your photography been in 2018 so far?  Have you ever left a location a little to early and regretted it?  Let me know in the comments below.