A Monument to Mist
A lone alpine day-walk revealed an unexpectedly serene landscape. As I climbed the rough, sodden track, fast paced clouds gathered and shrouded the dolerite columns above me. Fine misty rain fell, the kind of rain that isn’t heavy enough to warrant a raincoat and hood, but enough to dampen the hair and face. So much rain had fallen over the past 48 hours that the track was a flowing river in places, cascades of water made the track borderline impassable without filling my boots. I managed an awkward dance up the sides of the track, hopping from slippery rock to precarious muddy foothold whilst grabbing branches and boulders for help with balance. A weighty pack on the back makes these kinds of movements a little risky, a slight overbalance can throw the weight of the pack off balance and send you toppling. I managed to make it to the plateau and marker poles that led me to the junction where I normally veer off to explore. The amount of water was astounding, I was well and truly in the clouds, the sound and feel of water flowing and falling overwhelmed my senses. Feelings of wonder & excitement built in anticipation. I felt that there might be some unique compositional possibilities that may present to me in the next few hours. In the back of my mind was also the awareness that alpine weather is a fickle beast, and those opportunities could be dashed as fast as they arrive. I had my tent, but the weather really was not conducive to camping, finding a well-drained pad for to set up was was going to be virtually impossible with the sheer volume of water that was around. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity I had to shoot looking for a campsite.
I walked through the moorland towards the main creek that flowed through the centre of the vale, zig zagging between scoparia and swollen tarn. A scene caught my eye, I knew that I had to capture the sense of envelopment by the elements I was feeling, along with the flow of water and mist obscured rock forms. Precipitation was relatively heavy, and the camera and lens was going to become quite wet. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though, I had already made the decision to make it a day trip, so I was not going to have to spend my time tent bound, drying lenses and film holders. Setting up the tripod near the outflow of a creek, I stabilised the camera and selected the lens I needed. Once everything was ready, I shielded the back of the camera with my raincoat and had a look at the composition. It is always a bit of a balancing act, the art of shielding the ground glass from light whilst trying not to obscure the view. A minor shift with the tripod to balance the composition, I then I set my focal point and applied a little back tilt to fill out the foreground.
Once I had measured my exposure, I cocked the shutter and waited. There were some interesting shapes of rock at the top of my scene, which were a little hard to see at the time. A prominent rock formation revealed itself to me, & then disappeared as the curtains of mist closed once again before I could make an exposure. I looked above me and watched the clouds passing with haste, thinning at times to allow a slight brightening of the scene. Lost in that moment of passing, I glimpsed cold grey blue above stratocumulus cloud.
Icy rain brought me back to the task at hand, the mist dissipated somewhat, and the wind eased as clouds parted. I felt that this was the opportune time to trip the shutter and so, a click and buzz of the shutter mechanism confirmed the capture.