I simply love being out in nature early in the morning. Every moment (with the exception of the alarm clock) is an absolute joy. From the trip to the location to standing in the middle of nowhere, no one else in sight, watching the acts of nature play out as if you're the only person in a theatre and the entire play is held just for you. The colours of the pre-dawn sky dance across the horizon, accompanied by the crescendo of the dawn chorus signalling the awakening of the animal world, and announcing the arrival of the sun.
I don't know how to catch this experience in an image. I don't think that I can, at least not yet, but I'll keep trying, and it will keep me going out to find it. For the time being, it will have to be fleeting moments. Capturing the first beams of light as the sun appears over the horizon, or the way that the chamois will stand in those rays to warm themselves after a cold night.
This trip to Hohneck started off interesting. While driving there I saw two adult foxes, two pine martens and one deer run across the road, one fox cub playing on the verge, a herd of dear in a field, and one rabbit run along the road. It was on the correct side and appeared to pull over to the verge to allow me to overtake! I feel that I should finish off that list with a partridge in a pear tree, but it's the wrong time of year.
At this time of the morning in this forest, I often see animals on the roads, and for this reason, I tend to drive half of the permitted speed. If I hadn't I would have surely hit one fox, one deer and one rabbit!
On to Hohneck. I'm not sure if I'm just really lucky with finding chamois or whether they are always at the top of Hohneck. Each time I've been there, I've gone to a slightly different place, but each time I have found a herd straight away! This time it was the same.
I walked out across an open field and there they were. I slowly and steadily moved a bit closer. I was dressed head to toe in camouflage gear, which makes it a lot easier to get closer, but I still feel very self-conscious when wearing it (I doubt the chamois picked up on that though). It's not too bad out in the field, but getting from the house to the car attracts a few interested stares. I got close enough to reach with the 150mm and include some landscape as well as having a good reach with the 300mm, so I decided to settle in where I was and wait to see what would happen.
It was the right choice. After a short while, part of the herd made its way towards me and another small group that I hadn't seen behind a small rise moved in from behind. They seemed unperturbed by me lying in the grass until I pressed the shutter button! I quickly changed over to silent and continued. The silent mode is great, you can barely hear a thing. I do have one problem with it though, it's so fast that I don't know how many pictures that I'm taking.
The next two images were taken about 20 minutes after sunrise, the light was still a little low, but I'm gaining more experience with the E-M1 and was still able to get a sharp image. These were taken as a few from the group started to come towards me, they were taken with the 300mm and the 1.4x converter.
This image is of the first chamois that popped its head up from the rise behind me. It looks as if it has a strangely elongated neck as if a periscope popping up to survey the surroundings.
A short time after this, I was surrounded. This is a popular area for people to visit, so I think that they must be used to a lot of people being around. This is, of course, one of the reasons for being able to get close, but not this close. The other is the camouflage gear and lying in the same place for a while. By lying down I didn't have the typical human form. I've been to Hohneck several times, but they haven't treated me like this before. It wasn't as if they were ignoring me, they knew that I was there, especially after the shutter mistake. They just didn't seem to care or didn't see me as a threat.
Well all apart from 'Crazy Eye' to the right! This image was taken when I was heading back to the car. I think that the chamois didn't see me until the last minute, just as I didn't see it until the last minute. I only managed to catch the tale end of the expression. The start was a lot better!
What I take from this is that even chamois give me a strange look when I wear camouflage!
The rest of the images are from the group that came over the hill from behind me.
Next time that I go to Hohneck, I'm going to have to go a little bit further than a few minutes away from the car park as it has a few drawbacks. Although there aren't many people around when I arrive at 0430h, as soon as the sun is up, they start to arrive. The other issue is an interesting backdrop, I'd like to have a little more in the images than just grass, sky, and a goat!
I'll have to follow the chamois in the final image!