Beating the Battleship Grey...

25th February 2011
Its so good to get back out into the fresh air of the early morning – it seems an awfully long time since I was crouching beside the tripod waiting for the sun to hit the horizon, light up the layers of mist and get the old pixels fizzing again. In fact theres a bit of a race going on this morning – its difficult to tell whether the sun will be up before the mist retreats from the river or whether we’re going to be treated to a spot of liquid gold. My money is on a mist free outcome, but its a bit too early to be sure.

We have a mission this morning – not a situation I’m used to. I’ve got very used to shooting what I want when I want to – but this morning I’m shooting with a definite outcome in mind. A major local Gallery has asked to see some of my photos with a view to having them printed onto canvas, much larger than I have ever done before - and pegging them on the wall with all the other original artwork that they have on offer. The tricky part is that the images have to be of the (very) local area and I really want to give them the best I can. A new set of riverbank & sunrise images will hopefully provide a different perspective, and freshen up the existing set nicely. The recent words of another gallery owner are ringing in my ears as I hop from foot to foot by the tripod to keep warm – I was told that he would never have photos as images in his gallery “because everybody can take photos whenever they want”. I seem to have the place to myself this morning though and can only assume nobody else wants to see this particular show. Me - I’m very happy to have a ringside seat.

It also occurs to me as I stand here waiting for some solar awakening that this is only the third time I’ve been here at early o’clock, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had exceptional weather each time. The weather plays such a huge part in any landscapery. The recent outbreak of battleship grey from sun up to sun set is not conducive to taking stunning photographs. Even the use of filters and inventive if unrealistic use of Photoshoppery after the event can’t really hide the fact that it was very very grey when the photo was taken. Not attractive. This morning is wonderfully cloud free though but, and I hate to sound ungrateful, its probably a little too clear. Great because the atmosphere is clear of haze – but theres no excitement going on above the horizon and I’m going to have to be very careful about avoiding flare as the sun starts to bore into the front of the lens. We’re all set up and ready, and the shutter starts firing for the first time in 2011. Magic!

I win the bet with myself about the mist – its all gone from the river well before the sun gets near to the horizon, although there are pockets still lurking in the meadows to either side. I concentrate on getting reflections of the sky in the still water of the Alde, and shoot for both panoramic and upright images as well as the more conventional sideways shots. In a matter of a few minutes its all over. The sun is too strong to allow it to be in shot, and theres not much to shoot on my part of the river without it. I head off into the woods and the turn in the Alde that faces Iken, and carry on for another hour or so – but know that the best bit has already captured. I just hope I got something worthy of those Gallery walls.

Back at base, with the images all processed and printed and ready to be taken to the Gallery, I’m happy that I made the trip to Snape. It was a great morning – a real motivator as the first of the year, and its given me a lot more to show off when I go to see them. Fingers crossed – for more amazing sunrises in the next month or so, and that what I have will be suitable for the Gallery wall.



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