Saturday, 21 June 2014

Sunrise at Stone Henge 2014

Every year I hear about folks going down to Stonehenge for the solstice and I kick myself both for forgetting it was coming up and simply for not going.

This year, I vowed, would be different!
This year, I swore, I would be there!
I was!

I had a few problems.
I was mostly stood up at the last minute by everyone who said they were interested in going*.
* - Whilst they all had perfectly reasonable and understandable explanations for not being able to go I will be visiting each of them individually in the dead of night and reproducing the summer solstice to their inconvenience by gradually shining a tablelamp in their sleeping faces.

By the time I'd given up on people joining me and got myself ready to go I was set to arrive at around 01:00am.
On arrival I was directed to a parking spot to the side of one of the fields towards the rear. A great number of people had already arrived, a significant number of which were loitering around their vehicles rather than heading down to the stones. (Sunrise being at 04:43'ish, I guess there was no rush)
Not sure what it was going to be like I decided to minimize my gear, carrying only my camera and a second lens. I can't imagine what I was thinking but somehow I reached the rationale that I should leave the tripod behind.

"If i need it..." I thought "... I can just come get it."
It was the most regrettable decision I made, with no stabilisation I had to pump my ISO quite far and I could only do so much to avoid hand-shaken shots. I could have done so much better but what I didn't realise was that the stones themselves were over a mile and a half away from where they had me park. The path was quite indirect and not uncomfortably hilly, I think it took somewhere along the lines of 30-40 minutes to walk.

Once in, I proceeded to clamber over all the sleeping solstice goers, carefully pick my way through the crowds and just get as up and close to the stones as I could, making sure to take full advantage of the fact that I could be so close.
As I did so I snapped away as best I could.
I was happy that in some of these shots, even though they are handheld, I did still manage to get some stars in the background, something I wasn't sure would be possible with all the floodlighting.
I decided to leave before sunrise as I had responsibilities at home to deal with for the remainder of that day and have a couple of hours sleep would be needed and I didn't want to get stuck behind a queue of several thousand people trying to lave the carpark. Overall though the evening was very nice. Not quite what I expected with there being food vans there with flashing signs and everything was floodlit(for safety).
There were a lot of people there when I was there 01:00am-3:30am and the numbers were steadily growing as I left. The atmosphere though was friendly and even though I was nervous about my gear before leaving the car I was more than comfortable once I started snapping.

If the weather is promising I'll be back next year, if not again this year for the winter solstice... fully equipped this time though.