With the sun rising behind Wray Wood and the promise of a hard frost and possibly mist, the Castle Howard Lake seemed like a good bet last Wednesday. I set the alarm for “early” and woke up to a reasonable covering of ground frost, but as we approached the car park near the lake the frost had faded to almost nothing. The sky was dull and un-inviting at first, so we stayed in the warm of the car for a while, before venturing out. Despite it being mid-week we were surprised to see that several other photographers had had the same idea and the place was almost crowded! As we walked round the lake path, the colour in the sky suddenly appeared, but the light on the castle was dull and un-interesting. The initial burst of colour soon faded leaving us with a very blank sky, so we headed home very disappointed.
The weather forecast for Friday morning looked marginal with the sky clearing around dawn, so we hedged our bets and headed up onto Egton moor in the hope of more altitude meaning colder temperatures, but once again we were disappointed by the lack of any ground frost.
However the forecast for Saturday looked even better with much lower temperatures being predicted, so we set the alarm for early again and headed back to Castle Howard and this time we were greeting by lovely sparkly frosty ground. So game on and what to do? With the sun rising to the left of the castle and no mist, I decided to stay at the bottom of the lake whilst Janet headed back round the side path where she captured this image of the castle plus a nice pastel image of the cow parsley.
My pitch at the end of the lake looked promising, but lacked the reeds I wanted as foreground interest, so I spent some time looking for better vantage points. I’d even gone to the trouble of wearing wellies so I could wallow in amongst the reeds, but all to no avail. I have to admit I was getting frustrated and my camera started playing up as well (it was taking over 30 seconds for each frame to write to the card), so I wasn’t in good humour!
I eventually gave up with the exploring and headed back to my original vantage point just in time to see another photographer vacating it. Once set back up, I had to make some decisions on how to handle the scene. The light was rising rapidly and despite the lack of cloud, the colours in the sky were really gorgeous. By now the light on the lake and behind the castle was very strong, so filtering was going to be a nightmare. I used a 3 stop soft ND grad pulled well down to reduce the glare from the lake, then added a 3 stop reverse ND grad to reduce the brightness of the rising sun on the horizon. I’m usually shy of using this much filtration as it can look very false, but on this occasion it worked a treat, bringing much needed light into the foreground and holding bright sun back nicely and all topped off with a sunburst that I think works well in this image. So all in all I came away happy with my morning’s work.