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Moel Famau Dawn #4

Clouds lit by dawn light over the Jubilee Tower at the summit of Moel Famau, North Wales

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The story behind this image

It took me a lot of effort to heave my fully laden LowePro camera rucksack and tripod all the way up to the summit of Moel Famau, my local hill and the highest point in the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

So I was hoping for a reward for my efforts, especially as the climb involved getting up at 3am in order to be on the summit before sunrise, which occurs very early at these northern latitiudes in July.

When I finally reached the summit, panting and sweaty, things were not looking promising, with a bland, colourless pre-dawn sky devoid of any interest except for a band of heavy cloud on the eastern horizon which risked killing the sunrise.

So more in hope than expectation I set up my camera and tripod, pointing towards the sunrise, with the ruined stump of the Jubilee Tower in the foreground, while hoping for some action in the sky above.

One of the notable features of North Wales and its undulating topography as just how fast the weather can change, and it wasn't long before some clouds blew by overhead, forming as the moist air coming in off the Irish Sea to the northwest was forced upwards by the Clwydian Range, cooling and condensing as it did.

These clouds arrived at just the right time to catch the light of the rising sun, still just below the horizon, and gave me the brief window of opportunity I needed to capture the transient beauty of the twilight scene laid out above me.

There was no way I could capture the extremes of contrast between the sky and ground in a single exposure, even with a neutral density graduated filter fitted to my lens, but thanks to my using a tripod I was able to quickly take five seperate exposures, each one stop apart, capturing the extreme tonal range of the scene for a subsequent high dynamic range (HDR) blend in Adobe Lightroom.

I'm really impressed with the way the latest Lightroom creates an HDR blend, with a very natural appearance compared with earlier versions of the software, very close to how I actually remember seeing the view with my own remarkable eye/brain processing system.

A lot of fuss to go to just to get a photo you might think, but experiences like this are well worth making an effort for!

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Image data

Filename - moel famau dawn 04.jpg

Camera - Canon 6D

Lens - 17-40mm zoom @ 17mm

Exposure - Various @ f16, ISO100

Filters - None.

Location - Moel Famau, Clwydian Range AONB, North Wales

This image - 800x533px JPEG

Conversion - Adobe Lightroom

Comments - Image is an HDR blend of five seperate exposures.