Is there anybody that doesn’t love a pleasant surprise? An early morning start in the winter landscape of suburban Manchester recently provided some unexpectedly pleasing photographic surprises.
The forecast had been for extremely low temperatures and a morning ground frost so an early visit to the local woods seemed a worthwhile prospect. The parked cars in the street showed initial promise too, glistening in a dusting of overnight frost all seemed perfect for some great winter images.
However arriving at the woods things did not seem so hopeful. The ground frost was not as widespread as anticipated and only the wispiest strands of mist were drifting low along the river.
Being already there, a little perseverance seemed the way to go, after all there might as well be some reason for my freezing breath and fingers. This may explain any lack of focus in the images, my suffering for the sake of art.
The scene did not resemble the winter wonderland hoped for but walking along the riverbank as the sun began to rise it did begin to look more picturesque. Bathing the landscape in a warm auburn glow, the higher branches of the trees and even the urban scenes seemed to soften in rich hues almost golden or terracotta in appearance. The sun was becoming an ally in the search for photographic excellence.
There were further surprises waiting discovery, an abandoned motorbike with a sugar-coated frosting lay on its side, a symbol of modern-day urbanity providing welcome variety to the rural appearance. Sunrise over an aging footbridge painted another spectacular scene, the darkness of the sky slowly receding against the bright light of dawn contrasted pleasingly with the peeling paint of the rusting metal span.
Heading back home, I disturbed a resting heron, it immediately took flight and a couple of snatched shots as it flew low along the opposite bank tested my reactions and camera settings. It hadn’t been expected but just seeing the magnificent bird stretch it’s wings made the early start and uncomfortable chill worth it.
Enjoying the first coffee of the day, while editing the images, was particularly appreciated. I was soon equally happy with them, with a few tweaks, adjusting the contrast, bringing out the colour and sharpening the RAW files, completing an impressive transformation. An initially unpromising morning provided some pleasing results. revealing an unexpected winter wonderland.
It seems likely that many a photographers ‘once in a lifetime’ or iconic shot has been the result of curiosity in their local area and sheer stubborn perseverance. While these aren’t that spectacular, they’re pleasing none the less.