Morning Mist over Marshwood Vale

Five o’clock in the morning is a horrible hour, and I loathe trying to get out of bed then. Deeply loathe it. But half an hour before dawn is a magical time, when the peace of the countryside and the unfurling light of the new day make you forget, almost, your tiredness.

This is how I felt yesterday morning, standing next to Coney’s Castle with my camera, waiting for the dawn. The remains of this Iron Age hill fort sit high above Marshwood Vale in Dorset, which this morning was layered with thick mist. To be honest, I had hoped for a little light mist, hugging the ground, so that I could capture the raking light of the rising sun over Marshwood Vale’s hedgerows and gently undulating fields. This, however, was much thicker. Would the sun break through?

There was no high cloud to catch the light of the sun over the horizon, so I busied myself with taking photographs of the mist-shrouded fields down below. The silhouettes of the trees against the lightening sky were magnificent too, and I tried to capture some images of these before the sun rose. Then, before I knew it, a pale orange disk rose through the thick mist, separating the world into pinks and blues above the sun, and greys and browns beneath it. The light was beginning to get a bit challenging, so I played safe and bracketed some shots, taking images at two stops under the camera’s preferred exposure, and two stops over. I could combine these later on my computer to create an image that should be much closer to how I remembered it.

By now the sun was too high to take any more photos of the farmland beneath me, so I turned my attention to the trees around me and lining the ancient rampart of the hill fort. After my little rant a couple of weeks ago about rectilinear pine trees you may know how much I love the twisted shapes of deciduous trees in winter, the more gnarled the better. Well, my friends, I was in heaven. More twisted, gnarled wood than you could, well, shake a stick at. The early light showed off the shapes and textures of the trees beautifully, and I spent a happy half hour clicking away on the ramparts. The few photos I have included here will, I hope, give you a feel for what I saw and felt.







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