Wester Ross Hills, Scotland

Capture the moment
Nature might throw at you any kind of situation and any type of light conditions at any given time. The point is, will you be ready to capture the moment?

As every other dedicated landscape photographer would do, I found myself on location at the crack of dawn on the 23rd of that December morning. Well, I might be exaggerating a bit as the crack of dawn in North Scotland happens quite late during winter, but anyway, you do see my point.

After a disappointing sunrise due to the dreaded low cloud on the horizon, I was ready to call it the day, or perhaps I should say call it the morning.

But let me tell you about the dreaded low cloud on the horizon first. Many other photographers like myself will testify that even though sometimes the sky might be cloud free above your head, there is cloud cover just above the horizon and only there. It makes no difference if there are mountains on the horizon or simply a flat line of sea, the dreaded beast will be there. This prevents the sun rays from creating a nice display of colour on the higher thin clouds, cirrus clouds as some people call them, or even create a pre-glow effect on the horizon, which many times looks stunning. That’s the dreaded UK cloud but I’m sure landscape photographers from other countries share the same experience.

Now, and this is the worst part. That dreaded cloud is always out there, waiting for landscape photographers to take position, and then they just act in order to spoil our plans and mood. Here is an example; sunrise with the dreaded cloud. The rest of the day develops with completely clear sky – not a single cloud. Just before sunset, that same dreaded cloud seems to have moved from east to west, preparing for a second display of laughter in your face. It is obvious that this cloud was created in order to torment landscape photographers, I’d like to know by whom.

On track again, digression over. Just as I was ready to call it the day that morning or call it the morning that day, I noticed that the slightly higher clouds started receiving some colour from the sun, which by that point was above the horizon. I must admit that I loved the snow covered distant mountains of Wester Ross and I wanted to capture a panoramic view of them earlier on, but the light at that point did not inspire me. However, as the clouds were changing colour and some form of interesting light was developing, I felt that I should really set up camp and compose a frame. After all, if something happened I would be able to capture it. If not, well, been there before, head back to the hotel for breakfast and a hot cup.

As you can see from the featured picture, it indeed happen, and I was ready to catch every bit of it.

For this picture I used my old working horse, the Canon 5D II and a lens I used to own back then, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. I actually found this lens extremely sharp and almost as good as the Canon equivalent L lens, but not as good on built quality.

The moral of the story? Even if you experience the dreaded cloud during your shootout, be patient, you never know what nature might throw at you at any given time.

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  1. Avatar
    Carlo Didier on

    Been there, done that (or should I say “seen that”?).
    That could has something in common with the scottish sheep: stubbornness … but sometimes, with luck and patience, you can beat it with its own weapons and integrate it in a nice moody picture.

  2. Avatar

    I think we ALL have seen this cloud Dimitri…and in actual fact I am of the belief that it is the SAME clouds which patrol the skies actively looking for landscape photographers…..:-)

  3. Avatar

    Yes I know that feeling all to well. You head out hoping for that glorious sunrise and a lot of time it will be that and other times nature throws a kink into your plans. That’s when patience comes in handy. As you have mentioned never leave too soon for one never knows what nature comes up with next. It might not be a spectacular sunrise but it might be a subtle and moody shot or one with drama.

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