Sunday, 15 December 2019

Rain, hail, rain, snow, rain...

I'm sure I saw an old bloke building a large wooden boat surrounded by pairs of animals when driving around the other day. It certainly feels as if it's been raining for forty days and nights. With the land unable to soak up any more water it has at least allowed me to get out and add to my half-baked 'Waterlogged' project.

One late afternoon I went for my usual circular walk when the rain had stopped, only to get caught out in a hail shower, driven by a stinging bitter wind. No wonder there was no cricket practice in progress...

Another apparent let up in the rain yesterday saw me take a detour from an intended shopping trip to look at the marsh. Crossing the river I'd seen that the level was high with a combination of tide and run-off. When the tide is this high the area looks totally different to when the sheep are grazing the marsh. The character completely changes.

The wind was so strong I had to brace myself against it's force and use a high shutter speed to get anything like a sharp photograph. Walking along the top of the flood bank was nigh on impossible. I was glad I'd given the sheep dog trial up in the hills a miss. When the hail blew in I dropped down the leeward side of the bank where progress was more bearable and it felt an overcoat warmer.

Sunday was, unbelievable, predicted to be dry - even sunny - so it was no surprise to wake up to rain! Eventually that cleared away and I pondered going out for some more aimless snapping. After prevaricating for too long, as usual, I set off in two minds as to where to go. One strange visual effect of clear sky after snow is that distant hills appear to be closer than normal. All around me it was snowless but afar the higher ground was white. So that was the direction I headed. First stop being to photograph the Bowland fells from Jeffrey Hill, a view I've taken in before. The scene was almost perfect with the valley below almost snow-free but the near distance and fells beyond snowy. All I needed was some sunshine. That was where the plan fell apart. I really do dislike the way landscape photography is so dependent on what the sun does. All I got were a couple of snaps before the fell tops were shrouded in cloud and the sun behind more of the same.

Oh well. There were plenty of sheep around and maybe I could grab a sheepscape with a snowy backdrop. Almost.
The next plan was to head up the Forest proper. There's a bridge that is worth a look every time I drive over it, but it never seems to live up to its promise for me. Again there wasn't quite enough light in the right places.

What the bridhge does do, if the sheep play ball, is give me a drone's eye view.

Mostly the sheep were not moving. Saving energy, and chewing their cud. Exposing for snow scenes can be tricky. A little overexposure usually does the trick, but there are situations where even I have to get a bit technical. My first shot of the sheep with the farm sign on the bridge resulted in an illegible sign. Underexposed. I brought my favourite flash into use. The one that pops up on the camera! Automatically it's set (I think...) to provided balanced fill. Whatever the actual case it worked. Not a great picture, but one that might come in handy for something one day. Or not!

By now the clouds were congealing and the sky turning that shade of grey which hints at more snow. Time to have a look up the Trough before it gets hopeless. There was nothing worth stopping up there for, less snow than I'd imagined there would be and no sheep within camera range. Home beckoned.

However, as I headed up the valley I was surprised to see the lying snow getting thicker. Maybe there'd be something to shoot if I could find a parking spot. Luckily I found a layby which was clear. There were sheep by the road too. It's a funny thing, but when  there's snow on the ground sheep assume that anyone who looks over their gate is bringing them food. Under other conditions they look at you, then walk away. when there's snow they come running towards you!

There were a few views which looked promising for landscape shots. My ineptitude with this genre (which I really ought to dismiss from my mind) meant that I failed to make anything of the possibilities. Still, the colours were pleasing in a Bruegelesque way.

Coming back over the big fell I would have stopped in one of the pull-ins if it hadn't been obscured by snow. There was no way I was going to chance driving off the road into unknown territory. As I came over the top and descended into the river valley day became premature night and the rain started again. It's been like this since late September and it's starting to make me irritable.

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