One month, one picture

 British weather

 When the sky above Stanage Edge explodes with colour, Pete Bridgwood, caught off guard, is reminded of the tantalising unpredicability of the British weather

It was a blustery overcast evening on Stanage Edge with no promise of any tempting tints at dusk; some other photographers had left before sunset, equally confident of a lacklustre finale. As time passed and darkness developed, I became convinced I would be leaving without an image. Eventually, I packed away my gear and started to walk back to the car. Within minutes, the sky ahead became tinged with pink, then I looked back over my shoulder and saw that colours were rapidly developing.

I cursed myself for giving up so easily, then ran back up to my position. Shooting such a scene would normally be a calm and controlled experience, both myself and the shot would be ’for a long time before releasing the shutter. This time, however, because of the rapidly changing conditions and the transient nature of the light, I had to work quickly.

 British weather

I decided the trig point obelisk would create a useful focal point, then chose a composition that emphasised the textural and colour relationships between the shapes of the sprigs of heather and the clouds on the horizon. What I had predicted to be a less than memorable dusk had unexpectedly transformed into the most mesmerising display of colour.

Weathered landscape photographers can often predict an impending crepuscular spectacle. We spend hours waiting for the optimum light, often with eventual disappointment, but occasionally with the euphoric rapture that comes when all the elements magically come together like this. All these experiences help us build confident pattern recognition skills. In relatively stable weather conditions, we are expert at predicting the impending quality of light and colour in the landscape as time passes.

We could be forgiven, therefore, for believing that we are instinctively good at deciding whether itworth hanging around at the end of the day, or if dusk is already and dusted’, but there is a problem with such resolute confidence. Ittrue that when the weather is unchanging, we possess impressive predictive skills, but the problem is, our British weather is far from ’. My experience at Stanage Edge highlights an exquisite unpredictability in this game of landscape photography. I witnessed the most unexpected and spectacular display of vivid colour suddenly develop in an otherwise uninteresting sky. There is value in patience and humility.

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