This morning it’s another old favourite from the Caledonian Forest. I had this image, or something like it, in my mind for several years before finally finding the right conditions to make it happen.
Here in the Highlands the birch forests start to turn from green to gold in late September, then really hit their peak around mid October. it varies a little from year to year depending on the weather, especially the wind and temperature. If it’s cold and windy the the trees may lose most of their leaves before you get a chance to see a really good display, but if the summer hangs on juuuuust a little bit and it stays calm, then you can be in for a really good autumn.
I wanted something more than just photos of golden birch trees however, and had to wait several seasons for the first really cold snap of the winter to coincide with the autumn colours. There’s nothing - absolutely nothing - as transformative to light as frost.
Taking the dog out for his morning walk I realised that today might be the day as soon as I stepped out into the frosty morning mist. I was immediately kicking myself for having not kept a closer eye on the forecast as the sun was already up and I knew I might have already blown my one chance. So we piled into the car and headed straight for the moor overlooking the forest and the Cairngorms - my favourite place on earth. It’s important to have locations you know intimately for photography as it informs your decision making and can really save time. But more significantly, if you know the place well then you know when you’re really seeing it at its most special.
I jumped out of the car and knew straight away that I was on to a winner, though I did worry I might have missed the best of the light. But from the position of the clouds beside the sun I could tell I still had a few minutes. No time to waste, I went straight to the scene that I had scoped out so many times in the past, yet just never quite felt it looked right. Today was the day, with the frost overlaying the brown heather with silver - the perfect counterpart to the golden trees. In the distance, a sliver of white mist hung over the forest, separating it from the dark mountains.