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The alarm wakes me up at 4am. Not only do I realize that I have fallen asleep on the sofa again, I also hear the heavy rain hammering on the window. Disappointed I decide to go back to sleep and doze off again. When I wake up at 7.30 I hear birds singing. I get up and see clouds and blue sky. What a crap! Now I’m seriously angry at myself, but it should get even worse.

On the days before nothing really nice was happening at this time anymore and I decide to go and get some breakfast. When I arrive at the store, I see rainbows in the bay in front of St.Michaels mount, but it’s too late now to get my gear which I left in the apartment. Talking about being totally pi***d off.

I go down to one of the causeways and run into local landscape photographer who is, as opposed to me, talking pictures from that place. We have a little chat and she gives me a few tips on some locations on the west coast, near St.Just. It is this moment when another rainbow shows up. I hate myself by now, as this would have been the shot I came here for, not knowing now that I will have a second chance.

Annoyed I go back, but with the knowledge of a few new locations, get my gear and take the bus to St.Just.

I arrive at St.Just and head out to the coast. It’s still early in the day and I try to find the location I heard about. The weather is still mixed. Some blue skies, rain, clouds and heavy winds. Just as I arrive at the coast it starts to rain heavily. Much to the amusement of some people sitting and waiting in their cars for the bad conditions to pass, my just purchased 1.99£ umbrella, gets severely tested for stability, bent and beaten up but somehow it survived.

The rain was short, but heavy and I start to explore the coast line. Again, another very beautiful location but somehow I can’t find the place the photographer was tipping me off to. As I later found out, I was already rather close. Well, next time. I’m exploring the cliffs and set up for a shot and as I turned around I realized that I got some visitors. You never know where you meet friends 😉

The weather doesn’t improve much, it seems to get just more cloudy. I have some ideas, and get some interesting frames. To wind was so heavy though, that I could only take images on the right side of the coves where the cliffs were blocking the wind.

It starts to get dark and knowing that I will take at least a few good frames from here back home, I go back to St.Just, have a nice dinner in a pub and take the bus.

The last day – Lady Luck is with me:

The alarm rings at 5 o’clock again. My plan is to go back to St.Michaels Mount again as the tide should be right today at sunrise, not too high to cover up the causeways. I leave the apartment and see stars and some clouds. So far everything looks nice.

At St.Michaels Mount I try some long exposures, but the light of the street lamp casts a unattractive shadow and light on the first third of my frame. It becomes brighter very fast again I go down to the causeway and do some exposures there. Now the sun creeps up the horizon and illuminates some of the clouds.

I try some different angles one the castle and everything comes together nicely. The tide is right and the light also. Perfect! Instead of trying to do some frames on the other causeway I decide to go to do that panorama shot that I had in mind. In fact, it was a panorama made by David Noton which I saw and which ultimately motivated me to go to this location and I planned to do a similar image.

I set up my tripod and try to get it as level as possible. To get the best angle I unfortunately have to pull out the middle post of the tripod to raise the camera a bit. Something I usually try to avoid as it is not so stable.

Camera and filters attached I wait. The scene is just beautiful. The sun rising on the left and some clouds show up on the right. The scene is a little difficult to meter for a whole panorama but the with the help of my filters it should work. I check the exposure on the left and right and try to find an exposure somewhere in the middle.

I do a first panorama image to test. 9 images all around. Some more clouds show up and I do another one. Then a little rainbow appears…. Quickly I do another one with the rainbow in the frame. Just to make sure I take another series. Just in the middle of it the card is full.

Quickly I change the CF-cards and set up again. The rainbow is now gone and it starts to rain slightly. I protect my camera with my torn umbrella and wait but nothing seems to happen. The rain stopped. Thinking this is the end of this shoot I start taking the filters off the lens. While I just take off the first one, I see a little bit of another rainbow showing up again. Quickly I put back the filter and focus the camera. But the rainbow is still very weak. And then it all happens very fast….

Some clouds must have passed and the sun throws much stronger light on the scene and one big, nice and colorful rainbow appears, and while I try to meter the changing conditions and frame the shot, another rainbow appears. I do a panorama of 11 images. By the time I reach the “other” side of the frame the rainbows have disappeared.

A quick look at the display on the back of the camera shows me that I got what I came here for! Yes! Something I didn’t even dare to dream of. Now it’s up to Photoshop to merge all the frames hopefully nicely together.

With the feeling that I got something very nice I go and get breakfast.

Back at the apartment I have to pack all my stuff to get back home. Since I leave in the evening I decide to go back to St.Just to explore the scenery a little more before taking the train home.

This time I decide to go to another cove. The Priest Cove. It’s a beautiful day now, but the sun is too bright for me to take some images. I wait around and as the light gets softer I do some exposures, but before the sun actually sets I have to leave to catch the bus. The nice sunset I only see from the distance, but I don’t mind anymore.

The rest of the trip is uneventful and the biggest challenge was to get out of the Apple Store in Regent Street, London without doing any major damages to my credit card limit. About 20 hrs later I arrive in my apartment and import the images to my computer. The first thing I do is to check whether or not the panorama worked out. And it did.

Resume:

It was a fantastic trip and I have learned a lot about photography here. First of all I realized that even though my preparation for this trip was rather decent, it wasn’t as good as I thought. Next time I should have as much key viewpoints as possible already, based on existing photographs from this area. This would help a lot, and then try to find even more once I’m here.

Also I will need to rent a car. Even though those locations are not too far away from each other they’re still to far away to walk or take a bus. On my last day for example I would have been better off to go to Lands End again, but walking there from St.Just wouldn’t have been helpful. With the car it would have only a matter of a few minutes.

I also had to learn that the light here fades and comes in a lot faster as here in Finland. Something that I didn’t really consider. The golden, warm light of the setting and rising sun last a lot longer up here in the north.

I will definitely come back here and I already now think when I will have the chance to do so. Most likely it will be next year as this summer is already full booked with trips to Lapland and Norway and some more exploring here in Finland of course.

This now was my last little article on my trip and I hope you enjoyed it.

  1. Excellent photos. How lucky you were able to see 2 rainbows and even luckier to capture them with the camera.
    I learned a lot reading about your experience. I'm taking a trip to Italy in April and after reading your article I feel I should prepare more for it.
    Thank you.

  2. Great to read the background to this shot Sven, I too love Cornwall and I envious of your skill with the camera. Have photographed the same scene almost I can fully appreciate the work you put into the shot. Fatastic shot and well done.

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