This is the first of a new series of blog posts I'll be doing reporting back on some of my wanders through the landscape. Don't worry, I won't be writing about every time I step out of the door - Just the more noteworthy excursions. The 1st of September was certainly noteworthy.
The Start of Autumn
1st September marks the beginning of the meteorological autumn, and while the date means little the season itself is an exciting time for landscape photographers. The sunrise times are getting more socially acceptable (although some would argue that getting up before 5am is still insane,) the light is improving, and the colours are changing in the landscape.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy summer, and I'm not one of those photographers who packs the camera away for months at a time during summer. Autumn is simply better though, and you'd be hard pressed to find a landscape photographer that disagrees.
Destination - Torver Commons
A check through the weather forecasts confirmed what I had suspected. Mist was likely. A fairly wet day was followed by a slight clearing of the sky overnight, and unusually the wind speed was low. This is the holy trinity for misty conditions, and while it was far from a certainty I was optimistic as I set my alarm for 4:45am.
I had two plans in mind, both of which involved a drive to Torver. If the conditions looked misty I'd head up onto Torver Common, check the conditions there, and then drop into some woodland on the edge of Coniston Water that I've been meaning to explore. The other plan is irrelevant, because as soon as I hit Broughton I knew my luck was in!
I arrived at my parking spot about 20 minutes before sunrise and began the short ascent up Torver Back Common. Past Kelly Hall Tarn, stopping for a quick shot of one of my favourite trees, and up towards Long Moss before climbing up to the highest point of the fell. You couldn't have written it. The first day of autumn and one of autumns most spectacular sights presented itself - A stunning cloud inversion over Coniston Water.
I'll be honest, I found it difficult to get a shot that did the scene justice. I eventually settled on a composition with some rocks in the foreground and Long Moss just visible in the middle. I ended up sitting around for about an hour admiring the scene and waiting for the light while I had my morning coffee. This is actually one of my least favourite shots from the morning, but the fact I didn't get a photograph I was completely happy with does little to detract from the experience.
Once the sun made an appearance the conditions started to change rapidly. The inversion was burning off and drifting down the lake, and on occasion a thick fog came over me and I could barely see. I waited around to see if it would clear before heading down towards the woodland below.
As anybody who has ever been out walking with me can testify, it often takes me some time to get to my destination. Things just distract me, and if I wonder what's over that hill to the side of me I have to go and check it out. Unsurprisingly, this morning was no different.
As I edged closer to the woodland the sun started to burn through the mist a bit, shrouding the whole scene in an ethereal glow. Couple that with some extremely photogenic lone trees and you have a recipe for a long journey. It worked out perfectly though, because by the time I reached the woodland the sun had just risen high enough to penetrate the mist down there.
I had never visited this woodland before. Every time I had come over this way I'd either stuck around Long Moss, returned to Kelly Hall Tarn, or wanderers the fells looking down on Coniston Water. I had an inkling it would be a nice little patch, and it turns out I was right.
These trees were some of the first I saw as the woodland thickened. Their twisted, curved limbs instantly drew my attention, and with the light already streaming through and the mist burning off fast I had to work quickly. A quick scramble down a muddy embankment and a precariously balanced tripod later and I had one of my favourite shots of the morning.
After admiring this scene for a while I had another scout around. The mist was burning off incredibly quickly and drifting further up the fellside so I knew I only had about ten minutes before the photographic potential was lost. I managed to get one more shot that I liked, but in all honesty I wasn't trying that hard. I already had a couple of shots I was excited about from the morning and this is an easily accessible woodland that I can and will return to over the next few months. Now was the time to simply enjoy my surroundings.
With the mist drifting and my feet soaked to the bone it was time to return to the car. As you might expect, that in itself is a long process full of distractions. One thing I always find fascinating is the dew ridden spider webs on the long grasses up the fells. They look incredibly beautiful, but up until now I've never been able to fit them into a composition.
Walking back up the pressure to get any shots was well and truly gone. I had a number of photographs that I was very happy with and any more than one shot is a fantastic haul from a morning out. This relaxed, no pressure approach often yields some of the best results too, and despite all the drama of the cloud inversion and the illuminated, magical forest I actually got one of my favourite shots as I was heading back home.
Back at Home
To say I was satisfied with my morning out would be an understatement. This well and truly heralded in the start of autumn, and it was by far my most successful outing with the camera since winter. There's plenty more to come over the next few months.
The freezing cold mornings up beautiful mountains contrasted with a warm fire at home make these my favourite times of the year. Exhibitions and workshops are approaching fast and promise to make it a busy few months, not to mention the excitement of mine and Emma's honeymoon in Tuscany at the start of October! I'll probably get a fair few more excursions in before then, and one of them could possibly make it into another one of these reports. I do like to ramble on a bit.
Beware, from now until the end of the month I'll be plugging my calendar pre-orders in almost everything I do! You can now pre-order my stunning (humble as always) Lake District Calendar straight from this website using Paypal! Although if you'd like to use a different payment method just get in touch via my contact page, or through one of my social media channels below.