Burrow Mump, Somerset
My first encounter with Burrow Mump happened completely by chance. Several years ago while driving home from a family visit in Bridgwater, a road closure caused me to take a diversion through deepest darkest Somerset. After following the diversion through many winding country lanes, I eventually stumbled upon the intriguingly named Burrow Mump hill. It was too late and dark to stop and take photographs, but I logged the location in my memory banks for a return visit one day.
That trip came in 2009. After keying the location into my satnav, I returned early one morning in May, in preparation to catch a misty sunrise at Burrow Mump. Unfortunately, thanks both to my clueless satnav taking me down dead end roads, and my absolute foolishness in not carrying a road atlas I became lost on the Somerset Levels! To make matters worse thick mist hung low over the countryside, and a pink sunrise was developing overhead. Wonderful location planning Mr Burton!!
I returned the next morning more determined and better prepared. Unfortunately on this day, the mist decided not to turn up. But Burrow Mump had made the effort; it's little ruined church standing proudly on the crest of this solitary hill, ready to welcome the impending sunrise.
I headed towards a viewpoint that I had earmarked from the previous day. The composition I had in mind would feature the Rivers Parrett and Tone meandering towards the hill crowned with its little church.
I attached my 24-70L lens and locked my camera onto my fully extended tripod. It was a tricky process to achieve the composition I wanted as foliage and a wooden fence barred visual access to the river below. But after several minutes of manoeuvring my tripod I managed to obtain a clear view to both the river and distant church. Ideally, to further strengthen the visual interest in the image I would have liked to include the churches reflection in the river, but the opposing bank prevented this.
All I had to do now was wait for some light. The sun was already shining but not quite high enough yet to illuminate the river banks in front of me. I practised my patience and waited, while enjoying the beautiful early morning that was emerging over the tranquil landscape. I am often asked which end of the day I prefer to take photographs; my answer is always dawn. There is something simply magical about early mornings, especially at this time of year when the unsocial sunrise times means you will barely see another person.
Eventually, the morning sunlight bathed the whole scene in warm tones, while the clouds above painted a sky full of interest. Although only a ruin, the little St Michael's Church looked magnificent as it commanded attention over the surrounding landscape. I took several shots both landscape and vertical orientation, then packed my gear and headed up the hill itself.
Once on top of the hill, I fitted my 17-40L wide angle lens and turned my attention to capturing the architecture of the church from a closer viewpoint. It's rare to be able to photograph a church (or any building) without the distraction from other objects, trees and plants partially obscuring the view. No such problem exists at Burrow Mump; with the church's elevated position you can easily fill the frame without any other distraction. I decided to compose my shot at a low viewpoint, which would feature the church with a backdrop of nothing but sky. With the sun still low, I photographed the church as it was glowing golden in the sunlight, in front of a beautiful blue sky.
I stayed for a while longer, and photographed several alternative compositions. Before long the sun was higher in the sky and the light less special so, happy with my efforts I decided to head home, but not before stopping off somewhere to buy a much needed road atlas!
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