Sometimes muted grey skies can be a blessing in disguise, as was the case with this shot. High contrast full summer light can be tricky to contend with during the day. This soft pastel palette of sea lavender in Holkham bay was only possible thanks to some heavy leaden grey cloud skies creating soft even light conditions. Taken with the new Olympus 300mm pro-lens.
I was spoilt for choice in picking December’s photo of the month, having enjoyed a repeat festive trip to Cologne Weihnachts Markt (blog followers, the piano man was still there playing) a beautiful walk at Cley beach as well as having a multitude of landscape photos from my second visit to Los Gigantes in Tenerife. Yet it was this simple, stark shot of a lone pine tree in a blasted lava landscape on the flanks of Mount Teide volcano that has stayed with me.
Perhaps because it simultaneously represents both the fragility of nature and its stubborn resilience. The barren lava flow depicts the sheer magnitude of devastation that nature can unleash – despite Man’s hubris these are forces well beyond the power of humankind to influence or control. Yet in that small, vibrant splash of green the image also contains a germ of hope. However bleak the landscape may become, nature soon starts to fight back; this young little pine tree is the first tree in a slow process of recolonisation of the lava-blasted the volcanic foothills centuries after the violent 1798 eruption that created this strange landscape.
Autumn is a capricious season, with shortening days cloaked in gold, rust and greytone. Some days dance lightly, soft and still, cloaked in a gentle warm haze, lulling us that summer’s still close by. Others lurk darkly, oppressive and leaden, lumbering irrecovably on towards winter.
On my last landscape trip I witnessed a truly beautiful natural phenomenon. As I arrived at Hunstanton beach and gazed at the sunset it appeared as if there were not one but two setting suns in the sky, both positioned low on the horizon, the second with a hint of a rainbow-hued glimmer in an arc shape. This optical atmospheric effect is called a parhelion, or sun dog and is one of many types of ice halos caused by the refraction and reflection of sunlight through small ice crystals high up in the atmosphere. I discovered that the atmospheric conditions had also created the faint sun pillar in the photograph, which is not caused by a vertical ray of light at all, but by the glinting of many tiny hexagonal-shaped plate ice crystals, the same shape of ice crystals that create sundogs.
Many thanks to atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley for his assistance in identifying the specific type of atmospheric optical effects I observed and photographed in this image and to the clear scientific explanations provided by his website of the many unusual atmospheric phenomenon that can be observed by day and night. Click here to see a scientific diagram explaining the optical effects in my image
We seem to be having April’s weather in May this year all of a sudden, which has given me some amazing big sky scenes from my own doorstep. Here’s a very simple composition, a “skyscape” image of nothing but clouds brewing into a full on storm that I took on the verge across my road in quite magical evening light.