It’s 3:15 in the morning, what sort of time is this to be awake?
Well for me, it’s the time you need to be up in August if you are heading out in the hope of capturing the sunrise in the New Forest on the way to Dorset. Living near London Heathrow airport, if I’m on the road at around four o’clock I should be looking for a spot to set up for sunrise, with a bit of time to wait before the most amazing display of my life happens. But, of course it doesn’t. There was a bit of colour hidden by a bank of dense cloud just above the horizon. Oh well, maybe next time.
As I return to the car I discover a £10 note on the seat, it must have worked out of my back pocket while I was searching out a previous location possibility. Checking the back pocket I discover my previous nights lottery ticket is missing, now floating around among the purple heather where I was roaming. Oh well, maybe next time.
As I head back to to the main road to carry on to Dorset I decide to take a look down a road that is new to me. From the Ordnance Survey map it seems there are a couple of fairly good sized pools along the road that could provide some nice reflections. Yes, the possibilities are definitely there. Oh well, maybe next time. Yes, that could be a really good location the next time.
An hour or so later I pull into the car park for the RSPB Arne reserve. Although I’ve covered a fair amount of Dorsets Isle of Purbeck looking for photos, for some reason Arne has escaped that search. And from first impressions it looks like it could be a good spot.
Heathland can be a wonderful place, and in August it can be a special place. The heather is in bloom, and the different colours of the different heathers can create a carpet of pinks and reds. As the weather is slightly overcast the heather and the heath will be my subject for now, and I soon find a spot with promise.
Above are two views from about the same spot, taken with two different lenses, 24mm and 90mm focal lengths. You can easily see the difference in aspect of the two views, taken from nearly the same position, although the 90mm shot needed a bit of backing up to keep the grasses as a foreground interest. The 90 also brought both the the ridges and the trees closer together.
There were two reasons that I chose this spot.
Number 1 was because I saw some people with tripods ahead of me, possibly birders, and I didn’t want to create a disturbance by walking into their area and scare off any possible subjects. So I stopped to look around, and this view was behind me.
Number 2 was because of the grasses growing among the heather. The grasses give a contrast of colour, creating some foreground interest. Also the green of the pine trees provide another colour to the scene. But, for me, these are basically record shots. Maybe a little bit nicer than that “record” suggests, but certainly not spectacular.
Try and make sure to get a horizontal as well as a vertical of any subject, here’s my horizontal, actually taken before the verticals.
Why take shots in both formats? Well it can be surprising to find that you will eventually prefer one view over the other. And, perhaps more importantly, you now begin to look at your view more. That little bit more attention to the subject can open up new ideas, and develop the scene in front of you.
Also consider the differing lighting on the scene, the shot above had a brief spell of light breaking through, whereas the first scene was devoid of light because the cloud had blocked the sun. Subtly different views, but different nevertheless. On occasions the softer light of overcast can be preferable, but in this case I feel the brighter light gives the second image the edge.
Moving on, the drizzly rain that had been threatening on the road between the New Forest and Purbeck turned into rain proper, and the view of the landscape on the drive towards Corfe Castle became obscured through the car windows. Now was a good time to head to the abandoned village of Tyneham.
Tyneham is described as the lost village or ghost village of Dorset. The village was evacuated during the Second World War by the War Office as the area was needed for training. It was supposed to have been given back to the villagers after the war finished, but was retained by the MoD as part of the ranges. There is more information on the history of Tyneham in an web article by the BBC here:
BBC Tyneham Article – Opens In A New Tab or Window
It is possible to visit the remains of the village, and that was part of my plan for the day. When I arrived the rain had calmed down a bit, and I headed to the farm buildings area. Here there are a number of buildings and you can explore quite freely.
As I headed over to the village area the rain began to pour again, so I got out my small folding umbrella, pressed the button and gave it a shake to open it. Standing with the handle section in my hand and the rest of the umbrella at my feet, I gave the couple drinking a cup of tea in their camper van a good laugh. Quickly retrieving a bin bag from the backpack, I slipped it over the camera and tripod. It’s always worth carrying a bin bag for this purpose, you can continue to move around with the camera still attached to the tripod. The bin bag can also come in handy for kneeling on when the ground is damp.
Most of the buildings in the village are now roofless shells, but the village school has been restored as a small museum and gives a nice opportunity for photography. I found the bookshelves of interest and took a few different compositions.