Getting above the clouds
Let me tell you a short story. A story about a passionate photographer, who is so stubborn that when he gets something into his head, he will shoot it. And that guy is … surprisingly, me :-). In fall 2020 we went to family holidays to Bohemian Paradise. One might argue that going for holidays in November doesn’t make much sense – days are short, weather unstable, usually overcast with a lot of rain and wind, at least in the Czech Republic. Well, yes, but due to covid restrictions we had to change our Azores plan to something else and this sounded better than going to the office. And in the end, it was – I had my gear with me (I pretty much never go for holidays without it, so it wasn’t a surprise), and I went to several amazing sunrise shootings, expanding my fall gallery.
At the very end of that week, I had a thought – why don’t I go for sunrise to the Jested Mountain? It’s not that far away, weather forecast models predict cloud inversion and if I get lucky, I can get over the clouds… Well, no matter how much I liked the idea I decided not to go as we had to pack the day after, and everything would get way too complicated timing-wise.
I checked Facebook during the following day and saw a post from the Jested Mountain from that very morning with an amazing shot, very close to what I wanted to take, with perfect conditions, and I wanted to tear my hair out. We went back to Prague, unpacked our stuff and in the late evening, I checked the forecast for the following day again. The conditions were supposed to be the very same! I packed my stuff, put drone batteries on charger and set up an alarm clock to get up early…
…I slept in.
I don’t need to tell you that I checked Facebook and there was one guy making a live footage from the Jested Mountain just when I opened the app, and that the conditions were just perfect again. The only issue was that I wasn’t there, I was in my bed, tearing my hair out once again. Never mind, I told myself, there is always a next time. The forecast on national TV for the following day promised a weather change, the anticyclone was supposed to be moving to south meaning that the cloud inversion would end soon, but it should not happen until noon – good news for me. But there was one more thing on TV in the forecast channel – that guy who went to the Jested Mountain in the morning shared a photo with them and they published in the prime-time airing, letting millions of people know that there are perfect conditions for such view. The following day I got up early, drove 100km north, drove up the mountain to the highest parking area where it was packed with cars! I could barely find a free spot. The last kilometer of walking was like walking to a rock concert how crowded it was, on the top of the mountain there was at least 200 people, maybe more…
… it was foggy.
The inversion ended sooner than the forecast expected, and all the people were freezing there for no reason. Most of them just because they saw a photo in last night’s weather forecast on national TV. Me because … I slept in the day before!
I’m stubborn, I wrote that already. I gave it another try. And another, and another. When the forecast looked promising, I just took my gear and drove there for sunrise, each time ending up having a romantic breakfast with my camera, sitting in the car, and staring into either a never-ending fog, or into a never-ending freezing fog.
Many attempts ended a year later, in November 2021. The forecast was promising, so I just went there again. When driving up the mountain, I thought – wait a second, the fog is too light, it shouldn’t be that light yet. Oh, wait, was that a star?!
Yes, it was.
I got to the top, parked my car, grabbed my gear, and went shooting. It was a miracle, one of the best moments in my photography career. I met two other photographers there, which was just a perfect number of people to have someone to share the enthusiasm with, but still being able to enjoy the moment on my own. I had to decide whether to shoot on camera or on drone, but it would have been such a waste not to use one of them that I ended up multi-tasking. With my camera fixed on a tripod, I set long exposures and when exposing, I was flying my drone and taking aerial photos, videos and timelapses.
When the golden hour ended, I had a romantic breakfast with my camera again, this time enjoying the sun and one of the most beautiful views possible, knowing that I have dozens of perfect shots in my camera and in my drone. During the day, I sent one of the photos to national TV weather forecast, got published in the evening prime-time news, with millions of people seeing my photo.
I just hope not many people went there the day after, because the inversion ended again during the following night, and it was foggy again in the morning the day after. But who knows? Maybe I inspired another stubborn photographer…
Interested in the outcomes? Check out the full gallery here, here are some sneak peaks: