Love the Outdoors First

Dawn on Dartmoor

I rarely go out on shoot without at least half a plan. At a minimum I will check the weather so I’ve got a chance of getting some favourable conditions. Yesterday morning was different though. I needed to go out to a specific location before the end of August, and given Saturday was the 31st of August, I had little choice but to go. I therefore decided that there seemed little point in checking the weather as it wouldn’t impact my decision to go.

One thing that was supposed to impact my morning was the proposed roadworks on the A38. As they would be in place until 6 am I had to plan a minor detour which would add about 15 minutes to my journey. As it turned out there was no sign of the roadworks when I got to Haldon Hill so I was able to get to Dartmoor using my normal route. This did mean I turned up a little earlier than planned. The good news was that my friend and fellow photographer Andy Hobbs was already there.

Another One of Those Mornings

As always it was really good to be out with Andy. Sometimes it’s good to have company while your standing in the wind on some dark Dartmoor location first thing in the morning. We had both assessed the weather when we left our respective homes and things looked good. By the time we were on Dartmoor things were a little different. There was a fair amount of heavy cloud about. However, experience has certainly taught me that the weather can change quickly on Dartmoor. Not always for the best though!

I do like to stay positive and for a short while I thought my positive thoughts might pay off. Through the breaks in the heavy low-level cloud I could see a glorious sky above, full of blue sky and pink clouds. As we stood there scoping out various compositions we just kept hoping that the cloud would break in the right areas to give us a photograph.

However, as is normally the way (or it at least feels that way sometimes), that break in the cloud never transpired. There was a lovely, but very small and brief break in the cloud near Haytor which gave us a tantalising glimpse of what could be.

Haytor on Fire, Dartmoor, Devon - Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, f/11, 1/10th sec at ISO 800.

As the morning progressed it soon became apparent that we had missed the best of the morning light.

Looking at the Positives

From a photographic point of view this is of course a bit of a disappointment. No one likes getting up at 4:30 am (or 3:30 am in Andy’s case) but for me at least, those early starts aren’t driven just by the desire to capture images. I have a real passion for the outdoors and even in windy and cloudy conditions, there aren’t many things better than watching a new day start from the hills of Dartmoor.

Houndtor, Greator Rocks and Holwell Tor Panorama, Dartmoor, Devon - Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, f/8, 1/40th sec at ISO 64, 8 image panoramic cropped to 6:17.

The morning was also made better by having Andy there for company. It was great to have someone to chat to about life, cameras and to obviously complain about the weather. And the best bit about the morning? The full cooked breakfast we had at Tinpickle And Rhum. It comes highly recommended!

As we ate our breakfast and discussed the morning we both agreed that to really enjoy landscape photography you have to love the outdoors first.