In landscape photography, one has to take a gamble all the time. It’s amazing when it pays off, but not so great when it (continually) doesn’t. The weather remains one major factor which simply cannot be controlled. And in many cases, it’s almost impossible to forecast some conditions with great enough certainty to know in advance whether an early start, or a long drive (or both) will be worth it in the end.
Corfe Castle in the mist is one example for this.
Instagram is littered with amazing images of this castle ruin in Dorset engulfed in morning mist rolling in and out of the valley surrounding it. You’d be forgiven to think it can’t be too difficult to capture this phenomenon. It seems “everyone” has already photographed it.
Well, no they haven’t. I, for one, have lost count how many times I was absolutely sure that conditions the next morning would be perfect, set off at a silly time in the morning, climbed West Hill in the dark, only to be rewarded (ha..) with either a flat or non-existent sunrise, or just another hazy morning at Corfe.
I’m mean, really. How is it even possible that ALL the weather apps are wrong!? High cloud or no cloud cover – check. A minor difference between temperature and dew point – check. Humidity in the high 90s – check. These are only some of the signs I was told to look out for on my Clear Outside app. And yet, even though the numbers were pretty much exactly the same as the previous morning which DID produce wonderful rolling morning mist for a couple of hours, nothing.
Although I do expect that there must be a trick to reading the conditions more reliably, as this morning, none of the local photographers who usually crowd the hill opposite the castle ruins, were anywhere to be seen. That should have been a telling sign quite early on, to be honest. But hey, I had been up since 1am, it took me 2 hours to drive down there from Reading, I was determined to get something. Anything.
Thankfully, after an initial flat start, the thick low hanging clouds finally gave way to the first rays of the morning sun about an hour or so after the official sunrise time. And it filled the valley with a warm hazy glow that, especially from the top of West Hill, with an unobstructed view of the area, looked absolutely stunning.
It was a tricky scene to capture though, as the sun was already quite high up in the sky that it was almost too bright. Yet the castle was still firmly in the shade and surrounded by a bright haze which means it does get a little bit lost in the image.
But equally, I don’t think taking a more narrow and zoomed-in view of the scene would have improved the photograph. All that beautiful colour and structure would have been lost.
My set up for capturing the featured image of this post was as follows:
Sony A7Riii camera with super-wide angle 12-24mm lens, NiSi S5 150mm super-wide angle filter holder with landscape circular polariser, and ND3 + GND3 glass.
The image is a panorama stitch of 4x 5-bracketed photos taken in landscape format at 24mm, f18, ISO200.
Initially edited in Adobe Lightroom, I added the finishing touches in Color Efex Pro 4 (part of the DXO/Nik Collection), and a few final tweaks (mostly dust spot removal and a bit of dodging and burning) in Adobe Photoshop. This is probably my most used workflow at the moment. I quite like the way you build up your image in Color Efex bit by bit without the knowledge of masking and layers, trying out different filters as you go.
Actually I’d love to know what you think of the final image, so if you’ve read this far (hello, and thank you!), please do leave a comment with your thoughts on the featured image!
So while I didn’t achieve what I originally set out to achieve that morning, for the first time, I actually managed to capture a beautiful sunrise up here and I’m happy with my resulting images. The journey hasn’t been a waste of time or sleep after all 🙂