After 13 weeks it's eventually happened, a designated morning outing. Woohoo!
Summer has been a drag, not helped by the particularly poor Scottish summer weather, but now as we emerge out the other side into pre Autumn the changeable weather is welcomed with open arms, with more reasonable sunrise times and more colour variations in the landscape.
With an unexpected opening where my only time constraint was to be back in time to get the kids from school meant I frantically checked the weather forecast the night before for locations I'd wanted to visit or return to, that were just a little bit further than my usual local stuff.
Glen Trool in the Galloway Forest was to be my choice with the weather looking like it could be favourable early on. It was a location I had only visited once before, back in January 2015 where I walked the Merrick Trail to Benyellary. The Galloway Forest is a vast area with lots of locations to explore, it benefits from being tucked away in the south west corner of Scotland where many will bypass on their way further north to the mountains and scenery beyond the Central belt, leaving the whole area more isolated, much quieter and more remote than the more popular spots further north.
About 1hr 45mins from my house the hardest part of getting there is travelling along the wonderful Newton Stewart Road from Straiton to Glentrool that runs along the outskirts of the National Park. It's not a difficult drive but there is one major obstacle and that's resisting the urge to stop and shoot the ever changing scenery as you pass through the hills and forest areas with barely another car on the road to disturb you. Luckily for me it was mostly dark when I travelled down although as dawn approached patches of low cloud/mist began to hug the dark landscape testing my resolve to stick to my original plan and head straight to Glen Trool and capture any kind of sunrise over Loch Trool and the surrounding mountains.
I resisted though and as I approached the car park near Bruces' Stone I began to feel glad I did.
Mist was swirling around the Glen, coming in from the west over the Loch and along the dead end mountain slopes. The benefit of my previous visit meant I knew where I could go to gain a higher vantage point and look down over the Glen and the low lying mist as it moved around. I found a point where I was happy to set up and start shooting as dawn slowly lifted.
I felt I was struggling for some foreground interest and was conscious of not just capturing the wonderful conditions, I wanted a shot that could give depth and not just the Glen and it's atmosphere. It was a hard task and I'm not sure I ever managed it although watching the landscape change by the second was a wonderful spectacle to witness and helped distract me from my concerns.
The sun never really broke through which in a way was a slight disappointment but for now it was time to head down towards the woodlands that surround the Loch and the Glen floor and back along the road to Glentrool Village. Mist and fog was still around but it was moving about so quickly it soon became a game of cat and mouse as I tried to get to wooded areas that I expected to be engulfed with misty goodness, only to find it had moved back to the area I'd just left. This was more like what I was used to and it did bring a few chuckles to my cheeks as it played out. Eventually I just decided to explore some woodlands I'd never been to and asses their worth for future visits.
I found a few areas that I enjoyed and took a few shots but the lack of misty atmosphere meant they will mostly be used as reference. I did pin and note a few spots on my phone for the future.
As I was in the woods I noticed my filter pouch and my 0.3 grad was missing from my bag and I figured it had to be in the boot of my car or up on the trail where I'd been earlier. When I got back to my car the pouch and filter wasn't there so I thought I'd quickly head back to Bruces' Stone car park and go for a quick look up on the trail. When I got to the spot I'd been at earlier it didn't take long to find it, lying soaked through and getting a wash in a wee burn (stream). How it got there I'll never know but luckily this place is so quiet it had been left undisturbed all morning.
The hunt for the filter had been an unplanned distraction but it ended well, not only by finding it again but when I turned around to view the hills I'd been shooting earlier the term 'Every cloud...etc' has never been more apt when there truly was 'a silver lining'.
The Sigma 70-200mm came out the bag for the first time in a long while and I watched as defused light filtered through creating golden wisps of cloud that danced around the tops of the mountains. I packed up and headed back down with just one more stop at a waterfall I'd captured on my last visit in 2015, just for the sake of it.
The sun was breaking through now and so before heading home there was one more area I wanted to see that was close to the Loch. I took the Infrared converted Nikon D80 with me for this quick recce in the small woodland to see again if there was anything worth noting.
So it was time to leave Glen Trool and head back home and collect the kids from school. I nearly made it all the way without stopping but had to succumb just before Straiton when a small bunch of Hawthorns caught my eye just as I left the National Parks boundary. The IR camera to hand I jumped out for a few shots.
A wonderful day in the Galloway Forest, one I'll remember for a while and it has lifted my spirits for the upcoming months ahead.
Later in the week I had one more chance to get out briefly in the morning with mist and fog again a strong possibility. This time I earmarked a few local spots but on this occasion it was more true to form. My first planned stop was the woodlands I'd visited in My Ordinary Week #11 with fog forecast there. Even when I got to the spot the Met office said it was foggy and would be until 10am, the realtime view was very different, flat grey cloud and no light or atmosphere, but in the distance I could see there was low cloud/fog around further on. As usual I went on the chase but cutting a long story short I never found any in the locations I wanted to explore. So after 120 miles of going nowhere except around road diversions and chasing my tail all I managed was a stop at the Pass above Muirkirk on my way home, I'd been drained of all motivation by this time but managed a few shots.
Two contrasting days which just goes to show you can always plan something but it's never guaranteed to pay off. One thing is for certain though, it can only pay off if you're there so mornings like the latter will always be part of the process but these just help heighten the enjoyment you get from the good ones like mine a few days before.
One final play was from work on Saturday morning where I went for a short wander around the rail yard with the wee Sony looking for shots to use in a multiple exposure I could work on later. An on going part of my development where I've been experimenting with this form of work.
Using these 3 shots I played around in Photoshop and eventually settled for something I was happy with. Like Marmite I'm sure there will be contrasting opinions on these types of shots.
It was a week with a high image count and I hope you have enjoyed my experiences. I'm already half way through next week and I can confirm there will be far less on show but there's still a few days left so who knows.
So until then, thank you once again for reading and I do hope it was not to much of a drag. Please feel free to comment or get in touch through any of the means given.
Until next week......