A Dawn Mission
Derbyshire Life|February 2017

Paul hobson on ‘that golden moment’ – the despair and the delight.

Paul Hobson

THERE are many magical hours of the day but few can surpass the moment when the sun makes its first appearance every morning.

As a wildlife photographer I must spend at least 50 per cent of my photographic time during this single, golden hour. Dawn can be frustrating, especially when you work in the Peak District. Getting up in the dark is never easy and I usually have to drag myself out of bed. A quick brush of the teeth, clothes rapidly pulled on, then I head for my van and drive to whichever project I am working on. This can be red deer during the rut, singing spring birds or butterflies roosting in the dew-laden grasses of a summer meadow. I always try to plan my arrival for at least an hour before the sun breaks the horizon so that I can find whatever I am looking for. I then move into position so that I can either get a silhouette or take advantage of the sun’s first reddish rays as they bathe the subject with new light.

This all sounds fine in theory but it can be incredibly frustrating. I estimate that about 70 per cent of the time I never even switch the camera on and find myself heading home an hour later, pictureless and ‘well cheesed-off’.

The most obvious problem is that I live in the North of England. I am never one to criticise our weather forecasters (I must admit that I live by them), and their accuracy has improved immensely over the last few decades, but they don’t get it right all the time. Often, on arriving at my chosen place I find that the sky has already clouded over.

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