So many photographers talk about their 3.30am starts, getting up early so that they are able to catch the sunrise. This got me thinking that it was time I looked for a good place to visit for a sunrise with a difference. Amateur photographer had a recent feature on places to visit in the UK whilst interesting, they were a long road trip away, so I searched on the Internet for more suggestions closer to home. On my search, a 2016 AP article came up from Stu Meech who lives near Charlecote park, a National Trust property in Stratford upon Avon. What a great read and Stu advises where to park and how to access the public footpath in the park. So I got ready, packed the gear and went to bed early. I woke up before the alarm went off at 3.30am and got dressed. The dog took a while to settle down as I had woken him up, but I eventually got out of the house but silly me, I made the decision to go down on the M42 and M40. It was the fastest route, but I had not factored in night time roadworks. Eventually I got off the motorway and then the misty wonderland was all around me. The village of Barford looked marooned by an eerie white carpet which was flowing around the old bridge. I nearly stopped but Charlecote awaited.
Passing through the village of Charlecote, eventual I came across the lay-by described in the article about 50 metres away from the West Gate to the park. Time 4.35am and all looking good so far. Once through the gate, there is a recent sign that informs you that you must rigidly stick to the footpath and not to enter other parts of the park. You may only do so if you have registered with reception (which opens at 9.00am). Not possible this early in the morning so sticking to the public footpath is the only option. Everywhere I look the park has a beautiful carpet of mist. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement and a herd of the resident fallow deer have picked up the noise that I am making. Do I stay here, do I take pictures of the deer or do I move on? Moving on has to be the best option and I eventually come to a hollow where the path opens up to show the beautiful Charlecote House.
The sun is impatient and already the beams of light are pressing through the mist. I find a good spot as the intensity of the sun increases. Excitement rises. Do I put a filter on such as my half grad filter. Wide or telephoto lens? Decisions, decisions. Settling down I switch my lens and filters as I see sunshine hitting the tops of the trees. Then it starts to lower gradually becoming stronger and stronger. I place the sun behind a tree, close down the aperture for a potential starburst and take pictures. The light is magical. Whilst this is going on, there is a procession of deer and goats passing through my line of sight. There is too much to take in and I take as many pictures as I possibly can. My kit bag falls over spilling lenses etc on the dewy grass but luckily, no damage done (I thought). It was about 6:00am and I had been taking pictures since sunrise at 4.45am.
I moved further along the path and then looked over to some trees and saw the deer frolicking in the mist. Telephoto lens on and more pictures. One of the pictures of a deer in the mist got a big reaction on my social media. Reflecting I should have brought my 100 to 400mm lens but then I could have brought the kitchen sink as well! Photographers are never happy.
My next steps were to follow the footpath towards the village of Charlecote. Everything was very quiet in the village and entrance gates to the park were locked. The church was catching the sun and there were some super photos to take which normally I miss when you are rushing to park and get to the house during a day visit.
Then it was time to slowly retrace my steps back to the car. There were a few more photographs but the mist was gone, having been burnt away by the sun. The time 7.00am and the day was starting. An enjoyable drive back home through Stratford and Henley in Arden. The only drawback was that I left my lens hood in the park. It was broken and loose on the camera so no regrets. Leaving bits behind is a photographer’s lot in life but what I took with me was some wonderful pictures of the park.
Did you enjoy this article. Then please follow these links for other articles of taking pictures in the mist and fog. Please comment if you liked it too!
The Fog creates a Black and White Landscape describes a walk in the fog with my camera
Mist at Packwood is about a misty morning at this local National Trust Property