Seeing images of sunsets and sunrises from elevation, and talking to the photographers that have taken them, I’ve come to realise that if I want to be making those sorts of photographs for myself, then I have two options.
The first is to get up early (and much of the time that means very early!), drive to the starting point of a hike, lug my gear up a mountain/fellside, make sure I arrive in plenty of time to set myself up pre-dawn, and then wait. If I’m lucky, I will have managed to grab a few hours sleep in the run up to the shoot, nature will play ball, and I will come away with some great sunrise shots.
In order to get sunset photographs from up high I will have the luxury of time to get myself to my chosen location, but then once the shoot is completed there is the prospect of getting my gear packed up in the fading light and hiking back down, inevitably completing in the dark.
This is all feasible, I’ve done it a few times, but at the end of all that effort I have a set of images of either a sunrise OR a sunset.
The second option therefore opens up some possibilities. It doubles the chances, or halves the effort. The alternative is to wild camp. On 6th July 2019, with two good friends, experienced wild campers, that’s what I did 🙂
After consideration of not only the photographic advantages of specific locations, but also my camping inexperience, we decided to spend the night on a little sub summit of Silver How, above both Grasmere and the Great Langdale valley.
I must confess to having a number of doubts during the planning stage about my ability to carry camping AND camera gear anywhere, let alone to the top of a mountain, however small. But, my companions gave me encouragement, reassurance and offers of help, and this was enough to allay my fears. I never really got over my anxiety of needing to answer the call of nature up there, but probably the less said about that the better 😃
Setting off early evening, from YHA High Close, we were able to make a leisurely climb to our proposed overnight spot. Sunset wasn’t until 21:50, so we arrived in plenty of time to set up camp, eat our snacks and share a beer. The conditions looked promising and we waited in excited anticipation. I can’t deny that in the end I was a little disappointed that a bank of low cloud smothered any light coming from the west, but the clouds, post sunset, did colour and there is no doubt that it was a beautiful and memorable experience to watch the fading light knowing that I had the mountain to myself, two dear friends and a few grazing herdies. And of course I was already on location with another chance to try again in the morning.