A fairly self explanatory title, this blog tells the story of an all too brief morning out with my camera. Totally unplanned and unexpected, I spent an hour in the Peak District, experienced almost every weather condition and light you could imagine, moving only about 10 paces during the whole time and creating several, very different images. I hope you like it.
A noise outside, or maybe just too much on my mind woke me up at 3:40am on the last Saturday of April. I was instantly wide awake and knew that getting back to sleep would be hard. I reached for my phone (at this point just to check the time) and almost out of habit clicked on a weather app. A nice day ahead was forecast but I already had a list of jobs as long as your arm to do around the house. Curious, I checked the forecast more specifically for Upper Hulme at around sunrise time, which was just two hours away. Sunny intervals, excellent visibility, low winds and very cold....mmmmmm that sounds good.
I knew my camera bag was packed and the batteries were recharged from my last trip to the Lakes, so I quickly dressed, grabbed what I needed and jumped in the car. Upper Hulme, the nearest Weather Station to the Roaches is the entry point to the Peak District for me, and because of that its become a firm favourite location over the last two years. It takes me about 65 minutes to get to the parking places, and from there within another 15 minutes there's photo opportunities a plenty.
All the way up the M6 I could see plenty of stars and not many clouds...that didn't look good. Then as I approached the Roaches the Fog descended, thick cloud rolled in and visibility was reduced to about 100yards. It was going to be one of those mornings of extremes. I parked the car and walked up to the high ridgeline of the Roaches, looking towards Hen Cloud. Im a huge fan of side light. If you look through my back catalogue you will notice the sun rarely features in my photographs. On this morning I knew the sun would rise over my left shoulder, so I looked for rocks that were angled to make the most of this. Visibility was still awful so I had plenty of time to search for the best ones. Then it was a matter of waiting.
After about 20 minutes the fog started to lift and the first light broke through. It wasn't direct light and it was still pretty murky but I thought there was enough drama to make an interesting image. I set up using a very wide angle lens to try and pack in as much of the scene in front of me, I really wanted to get Tittesworth Reservoir into the frame.
Moody I thought, I liked it but it wasn't what I was really hoping for when I saw that forecast a couple of hours ago. Visibility to the west was now pretty good. On a clear day you can see for miles from here. I noticed the satellite dish of Jodrell Bank in Cheshire was glowing bright orange, it was in full sun, now that was a good sign. The clouds overhead were moving quite fast and I could see a slither of light getting closer and closer, anytime now. Then bang! It was almost blinding. Cloud ahead of me and above, but where I was standing was lit up like a beacon. Conditions this good are rare, so I needed to make it count. I adjusted my location slightly, trying to incorporate a small pool into the composition and fired off some shots.
Great, but still not happy. I started to reconsider the inclusion of the Reservoir, feeling that cramming so much into the frame was reducing the impact of the light and the contrast between the bright rocks and the trees in the valley below. Could I change lenses quick enough and recompose? I had to give it a go. The longer focal length was perfect, and it made me switch from landscape to portrait aspect, something I really like with this sort of scene. I only managed a coupe of shots before the cloud rolled back in, blocked out the sun, the golden light was gone.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse. I checked the back of the camera to make sure I had something I liked from the previous 2 minutes of great light, it looked good. Glancing around me I couldn't believe how many different potential compositions I could have make in such a small physical space. I have been to iconic locations and struggled to come back with more than two shots (and thats usually one portrait and one landscape shot), but here I could have easily found 10 very different shots with very little effort. Heres a couple more that show what the changing conditions.
I have often read that the Author J.R.R Tolkien was inspired by the landscape of the Roaches when he was writing his Middle Earth books. It would be easy to see why, although I'm not sure just how much truth is in the rumours.
A short, sharp shower passed through, but was gone as quickly as it had appeared. The clouds started to disperse and the morning had officially begun. I checked my watch which now read 6:45am, I had been in this spot for almost exactly an hour. Aiming to be back home for 8am I decided to make my move. The sun was pretty high by now making balanced exposures tricky anyway, and I didn't want to be greedy. I knew I had been lucky that morning, and also that the beagle back home would be ready for his morning walk (and more importantly his breakfast).
It was obvious by this point it was to be a lovely day, but for me the best of it had been when most normal folk had been fast asleep in their beds.
Theres one more photo to come, which will round this blog off perfectly. Unfortunately you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for that one. Maybe you'll come back to check?