Archives for posts with tag: Dorset
© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

There are photo shoots that can be done at any time… almost. I’m talking outdoors, of course. Inside shoots really can be done at any time, when the photographer (that’s me) has full control of the lighting.

However, outside things do get a bit trickier. I can, for example, sit and wait for something to happen, which can be any time of day. I can also use the light I’m given and work with it as best I can, or add a touch of flash light to fulfill my brief. However,  sun set and sun rise briefs are altogether different. These I have absolutely no control over. No one does. The sun breaks the horizon at a set time for sure, but the atmospheric conditions are so random that you just have to get up and see what it’ll be like.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

Take my most recent foray as an example. Mid September in the UK, should be a time for misty evenings and mornings. That’s what I hoped for. I started with sun set as it was easier than getting at at 5.45am. The day had been warm, sunny with just the right amount of cloud cover. Come sunset though and a massive bank of cloud sat in the western sky. The sun dipped, the light got lush and then it all fizzled out like a torch with a dead battery. It faded and died. Oh well. There was always the sunrise.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

A misty morning was what I was after. I almost threw my iphone across the room when the alarm went at 5.45am, but I knew I needed to be up and out. Luckily my chosen location is a mere 10 minutes in the car. I got there as the light in the east was starting to glow. The sun was coming up and the clouds turned a lovely red and then puff, the sun came up and into another bank of cloud. A north west wind had also picked up and there was no mist, no magical hour. It was a magical 5 minutes. That’s all I got. My shot will have to stay in my head for the moment. I hope the conditions improve next week.

But then that’s why picking up a camera is easy, taking stunning pictures is hard.



© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

Sunrise is a romantic time so they say. Poets pontificate about it, writers get all lyrical describing the subtle hues and colour changes at the start of a new day. But when your alarm goes at 4.45am, the pontification and lyrical prose are far from the mind.

At 4.45am the world is a dark, cold, silent place. It’s not a time to be up and packing camera gear in the car. But off we set in search on the sunrise some 10 miles out into the English Channel. That’s roughly how far Portland Bill sticks out into the sea from the coastal town of Weymouth in Dorset. It is one of the haunts of my photo workshops.

Portland’s lighthouse is famous and it is so well photographed I could almost see the dimple marks of a million tripods in the rocks that overhang the rippling sea. But I set up my shot and waited. The sky was lightening and turning red and pink. It was a moment of anticipation, like waiting for a blind date to arrive.

It looked promising, like sitting in a bar watching the front door to see a stunning brunette walk in. But then metaphorically, the brunette stepped aside and behind her was my date who’d fallen out the ugly tree and hit most of the branches on the way down. All of a sudden, the wonderful sunset waned and vanished as a bank of cloud obscured the rising sun. What promised to be a marvel flicked and burned out within 30 seconds. I had grabbed a shot at the start, but it was not what I’d hoped for.

The cloud though stayed on the horizon and as the sun broke free from its shade the light gently kissed the lighthouse and rock face that tumbled to the sea. So we repositioned ourselves to make the most of the light and sticking on my 10 stop neutral density filter I made the most of the early morning light.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved


This well shot scene was never going to be a earth changing moment for me, but I do like to turn my hand, and eye, to many disciplines and the idea of a bit of landscape photography, was reason enough for the early morning.

I’d like to thank Samantha Dunnage for the suggestion of the early morning rise and I hope she enjoyed the excursion as much as I did.

Heathfire rescue

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

This week’s ‘Behind the picture’ has a bit of a sad tale. In 2011 a massive area of low land heath close to Poole in Dorset was deliberately set alight. Low land heath is one of the rarest habitats on earth. Rare habitats are, by their nature, inhabited by rare wildlife. Upton Heath, as it is called, is home to smooth snakes, adders, grass snakes, sand and common lizards, raft spiders and a host of others creatures.

As you can see the fire devastated everything. Two days before that picture was taken the man would have been lost in a sea of ferns, gorse and shrubs. Even the trees where destroyed. The area looked like the surface of the moon and I wanted to show the complete devastation.

I followed one of the reptile rescuers who was looking for adders and stayed back a little when he got to this tree as I could see its potential as a graphic image. As he walked passed it, he glanced at the tree and that’s when I took to shot. The person now has a face, and therefore a personality, but the moonscape landscape is as dramatic as when I saw it.

We saved dozens of reptiles, amphibians and insects over a couple of days and other teams saved even more. I captured the whole thing. BBC Wildlife magazine ran a story on it, but sadly only showed one shot – not this one. The rest of the news media ignored the story. So I thought I’d share it with you.




Yesterday and today have been a rarity. Snow has come to my little part of Dorset and when that happens, work on the renovations stop and I head out with a camera.

I haven’t had time to think about what to photograph or set anything up this year as I’ve been busy trying to finish the house so I went after my favourite plant which I’d already seen starting to blossom – the snowdrop.


For many years I’ve hoped to find snowdrops in flower at the same time as snow and this was finally my year. There is a small patch which grows about 5 minutes walk away so that’s where I went first. I’d seen them the day before and knew they were almost ready. So at 9.30am I was kneeling in cold snow as large flakes fell from the sky. As they hit my face I could feel pinpricks of coldness. It was a lovely feeling.


I manged a few shots of the extremely small patch of flowers and then went for an almighty walk in the snow. I photographed basically what I came across, which isn’t the usual way a pro does things, but I had no choice. Next time I’ll be prepared to photograph birds of prey, deer, garden birds and anything else my image libraries are crying out for.

Today I had to get to the small village of Compton Valance which is famed for its snowdrops. I went for a walk and found a few poking up through the snow. The light was tricky as it always is with snow, and I dialed in between +0.7 and +1 stop exposure compensation. Without doing that the camera will read the snow as 18% grey instead of white and will create a dark image.

The drive home was a bit tricky, but made enjoyable by finding a spot to photograph buzzards next time it snows. That may be later this year, it may be next year. who knows, but I’ll be ready.

Snow in Chilfrome, Dorset