in focus

The tranquility of effort...

sunrise at hengistbury head

It still surprises me how many great landscape images are taken so close to car parks - but I guess the car parks are where they are because there’s a beautiful view to be seen!

This view of Cranborne Chase is slightly different. While perched on the grassy incline framing my image, I can see the viewpoint marked on maps a few hundred metres to my left. There is also a National Trust car park a hundred metres or so further up the hill behind me catering for the visitors to Win Green and the great views on offer from up there.

This view is also different in the fact you need to make an effort and leave the Win Green car park, head through a gate and then walk across and down the sloping field - you can already see this natural amphitheatre from up top, but as you move position it really seems to open up in front of you - the further you go, the better it seems to get!

Taking it all in...

just me, the view and a skylark...

This view is finally different in one more way… I’ve never managed to capture an image that really does justice to the incredible view, or that I’d happily print out and hang on a wall at home, until today! Numerous visits over the years have ended with drab skies, unexpected rain, howling wind, remote control gliders (quite spectacular to watch), etc etc.

Sometimes, the “rules” of photography just don’t suit the scene. Yes, I’d usually like a lead-in line coming in from a bottom corner to guide the viewer to the main subject of the scene, with strong foreground interest that adds depth and an almost 3D feel.

Multiple compositions later and here we are with what you see in this post - just Cranborne Chase in all its glory. A fairly simple capture really; my usual f/11 aperture dialled in for good depth of field. Then a 0.3 neutral density filter with soft gradation was added to balance the sky and ground plus a circular polariser to help pick the clouds out from the sky and saturate the colours on the ground. After some test shots, the histogram suggested 1/60s was a good shutter speed to keep the exposure ‘to the right’ of the graph so retaining maximum detail in highlight and shadow areas.

While waiting for the clouds to move and any potential changes in light, I was enjoying the peace and quiet and just taking in the view. All I had for company was an airborne skylark singing his heart out - and miles and miles of amazing view. 

My long-suffering wife had long retired to the car and the comfort of a flask of coffee, the track to and from Win Green was busy with visitors and the official viewpoint seemed to have regular visitors, all be them fleeting visitors as they seemed to pull over, take a snap and quickly drive off. All the while I’m sat enjoying the scene in peace and quiet - I literally could have sat there for hours!!

So, when you’re visiting a famous view that’s next to a car park, take a wander and look around, there could be something spectacular waiting to show itself to you - the effort really is worth the reward.

I’ll be revisiting this very spot in a month or so - I can’t wait to see what’s growing in the recently ploughed field or what crop has replaced the more distant yellow rapeseed. I might need a second flask of coffee for myself…


Exposure information:
1/60 sec at f/11, ISO100

Filters used:
0.3 Neutral Density Soft Graduated plus Circular Polariser.

Post processing:
RAW file processed in Adobe Lightroom with small tweaks to Black & White points and a small Contrast boost.

To see a larger version of this image, please click here.


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