Over Christmas 2021 I was staying in Richmond, North Yorkshire for a few nights with my parents and family. It’s a beautiful part of the country that we’re lucky to get to visit regularly, at least in normal times.
I always tend to take my camera kit with me when we visit, but in recent years have rarely used it whilst there. Partly as we’re often only away for a couple of days and with two kids the focus is really on the family time. Especially with it being Christmas I thought the chances of photography would be even lower than normal, but given hints of snow on the forecast I couldn’t help hoping a brief opportunity might present itself.
Part 1 – Morning Snow
We didn’t have a white Christmas on the day itself, but on Boxing Day woke up to a light covering of snow. It was also raining, so the snow was melting quickly.
My brother is also into photography, so we grabbed the cameras and headed out the door on foot. We headed for a nearby field with a couple of specific twisted trees I had thought previously would make good subjects in the right conditions.
The snow was really slushy underfoot and not quite covering the grasses to give that really pure white landscape, but it was enough to transform the scene.
There was also a light haze in the distance, with the forecast promising much heavier fog later on.
I was stuck shooting with my 50-140mm as it was pretty wet and that’s the only weather sealed lens in my kit bag. In most cases that’s my go-to choice anyway, but here I often found myself stepping backwards to get the composition I wanted, so a slightly wider angle would have worked well.
I actually quite liked the subtle colour in some of these images, but to make a consistent set decided to stick with black and white throughout.
In the end whilst I got a couple of images I was happy with there didn’t seem quite as much potential as I’d hoped from this area. With the allure of much heavier fog later in the day I decided it was better to call it a day after a relatively short walk in the hope that a second trip that afternoon might be possible.
Part 2 – Afternoon Fog
As the day went on the forecast came good and we could see the fog rolling in from the house. It came and went at times, but by mid afternoon it had settled in with very little visibility.
I decided this time with the heavier fog that finding a location with more of a close woodland feel would make better use of the conditions. My first idea was to try some areas down by the River Swale. We jumped in the car and headed down the hill but quickly dropped below the fog. By the time we were at the planned parking spot there was almost no fog and no snow.
After plan A was a write-off we checked the map and found a small area of plantation woodland right up on the higher ground which seemed a better prospect.
Upon arrival it seemed clear that this was a much better choice. The fog was heavy and there was a reasonable amount of snow left due to the lower temperature. We set off down the track which just skirted the edge of the plantation. There were rows of pine and evergreen fir trees to one side, and an open expanse to the other.
Whilst being out with my brother I thought it would be good to try actually capturing a person in one of the shots. I lined up this composition with the two trees on the left leaning over one another and waited for him to have walked far enough ahead to make the shot work. Due to the lack of light at this time it was a fairly long exposure, so he’s rendered more as a soft ghostly outline with a little motion blur as he continued to walk away from the camera.
This was really my ideal sort of weather, dark and moody. The snow on the ground was a bonus and added a whole other element. There wasn’t a lot of light with sunset at around 4pm and it being almost 3:30pm by the time I took the first image.
It probably wasn’t my perfect choice of location, but with limited time and no real local knowledge I couldn’t complain. In total we only spent about 30 minutes there. In part the light was fading but also conscious of being too selfish out playing with the camera rather than spending time with the family.
Given such a short time I was really happy with the results. It’s always pleasing to get a single keeper from a trip out, while I’m not sure all of these will make the portfolio after spending a bit of time with them, I’m still pleased to have a decent crop of images to end what’s otherwise been a very quiet year for my photography.