2nd June 2016 – Roche Rock

HeaderRocheRock

It’s 4.30pm and the weather forecast is great for this evening. But England are playing. #dilemma

Decisions, decisions. If I did go out, where would I go? I have to be up early for work in the morning, so I don’t want a late one. Maybe I should just watch the footy tonight? It’s supposed to be nice tomorrow anyway. I can go out tomorrow.

Bet tomorrow will be horrible 🙁

Undecided, I fire up Google Maps for inspiration. First thought, a sunset over the sea. Somewhere with a nice rock formation in the foreground maybe? Maybe not. It’s half term so best avoid the beach. What else is about? Roche Rock is just up the road? I’ve wanted to shoot a sunset their for a while.

For those unfamiliar with this location, Roche Rock is an ancient ruined chapel built into the side of a large rock formation. It looks dramatic, eerie and it’s shrouded in folk law. It’s supposed to be haunted and was a set for the movie, The Omen III.

Back on Google Maps, I start to scout the area. I look at the aerial view, then street views to get an idea where I’d like to shoot from. I can see two angles that look promising. Where will the sun be? Time for The Photographers Ephemeris…

The Photographers Ephemeris showing the angle of the sun on Roche Rock at sunset.
The Photographers Ephemeris showing the angle of the sun on Roche Rock at sunset today.

If you’ve not tried The Photographers Ephemeris I’d definitely recommend it. It’s an interactive map that shows the angle of the sun and moon in any location at any time. Best of all, it’s free to use on a desktop computer. The dark orange line is what I’m interested in today. This is the direction of the sunset tonight.

The sunset angle looks good. If my online scouting of the Rock isn’t far off, I should be able to find a good image. Maybe. Hopefully 🙂

It’s now 5.00pm. As it stands I’m off to Roche Rock. I think I’ll keep an eye on the weather, have tea, watch the first half of the football, then head out at about 8.30pm. Sunset is at 9.22pm, which gives me plenty of time to frame up.

Unless the footy is good…..

It’s 8.30pm and I’ve just watched the first half. The sky is starting to change colour already. Time to photograph a sunset.

We drive down to Roche Rock and park in the football grounds car park, just in front of the structure. There are paths leading off towards the Rock, but these turn out to be dead ends. The actual entrance is further up the road. Here’s a map:

Map of around Roche Roch
Map of around Roche Rock – Click image to open in Google Maps

We wander along the road and into the grounds. Time to find a good spot to frame up. The area is quite overgrown at the moment, but easy enough to navigate. I pick a spot facing the Rock from the left. My longest lens is currently a 24-70mm, which on a full frame body limits my options today. Claira is in a better spot further left and further back. She’s using her 70-300mm. I really need to buy a longer lens 😉

I set up my tripod, attach the camera, adjust my framing and take a test shot. With the Rock exposed correctly, the sky is 3 stops over exposed. I decide against a grad filter here, as the Rock will be darkened as well as the sky. Exposure bracketing it is. In aperture priority mode I adjust the exposure compensation 1 1/3 stops under, then I’ll take 3 shots at a time. One correctly exposed, one 2 stops under and one 2 stops over. I don’t want camera shake, so attach my cable release. A final focus and we’re good to go.

It’s quite cloudy with orange accents in the cloud. With 20 minutes to go before sunset, I start shooting.

Roche Rock
Roche Rock – Click image to enlarge

After a little editing, I’m happy with this image. Just as well really, as a few minutes later a thick band of cloud appeared on the horizon (out of frame), killing all the colour.

I know there will be no colour in a sunset image now. Maybe a black and white image would work? This is where I get lucky. I look up from my camera to see a female figure, standing right on the top of the chapel. No time to change my settings, I zoom in as far as I can, focus and press the shutter.

Roche Rock B&W
Roche Rock B&W- Click image to enlarge

Again, I’m happy with this image after minimal editing. By now it’s getting quite dark and there’s very little detail in the sky. We walk back to the camper and head for home. I’ll leave uploading images to the PC until the morning. I watch the second half of the England game, then get some sleep.

One last thing.

While I was editing these images this morning, I zoomed in on the female figure above Roche Rock. This image is heavily cropped, but the silhouette hasn’t been manipulated at all:

Roche Rock Figure
Roche Rock Figure – Click image to enlarge

 Spooky huh….

Thanks for reading. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions please post them below. All the best, David.

 

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