Mist Opportunity

I'm in the Yorkshire Dales. Swaledale, Wensleydale, Wharfedale... you know the shots. Rolling hills and stone barns with mist rolling along the valley floor and backlit autumnal trees tinged with the first visit of early winter frost.

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However, that's not the current reality. I have just spent the last seven days avoiding flooded roads and washed out locations and even the normal bad weather favourites of woodlands and waterfalls are proving problematic as the usual atlantic storms have ripped the branches bare, and the waterfalls and rivers are just too swollen, slippery and dangerous. To cap it all the water looks like someone has dunked a giant tea bag in it, further upstream.


So what to do? There are only so many tea rooms, pubs and cooked breakfasts you can get through whilst watching the rain slam against the windows, and once you have done a few location searches and got soaked through to the skin life is suddenly not fun. I have decided to cut my losses and go home. You just have to sometimes.


It's six a.m. and I'm off. I paid my hotel bill the night before and I'm leaving early, as I have a seven hour drive back to the warmth of Dorset and I'm doing a series of talks tomorrow for which I have yet to prepare, so I must must leave early. I've not checked the forecast as there's no point as I shall be sat in the car all day and so I step outside the hotel.

I'm met by a heavy frost and a thick blanket of mist. Oh, bugger!

I rush back to my room, dump my case, unpack my tripod and rush off and defrost and demist the car with one eye on the swirling mist – it can disappear all to easily. Once I'm defrosted I whizz off to a vantage point I had scouted out earlier in the rain sodden week. I park in the only available spot for miles and peer over the dry stone wall to be greeted with the village church protruding from the mist. You have to react fast with mist, it can be gone in minutes or become so thick that pea soup would look runny in comparison.


My trusty Nikon D700 with Zeiss 50mm f1.4 is mounted on my beaten up old Manfrotto tripod with Linhoff ball and socket head. I meter, place a LEE N.D. grad, two stops, hard edge on the top third of the image and shoot a few frames. That's the panic shot done so I can now settle down, relax a bit and think about the shot. The mist swirls around the church, I shoot a panoramic, to be stitched later, and the mist swirls some more. The church is clear of mist and I shoot some more as the warm morning sun marches across the dales toward the village. I shoot some more, mostly panoramics and then the mist is gone.


It's now 9.30 and my early start home has long gone, but happy with a stunning morning session in the can I get in the car and head for the motorway.

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