Chobham Common

WHEN: 16 August 2018, 07:30
WHERE: Chobham Common, UK (Google map)

I had a few days off work and had been keen to visit Chobham Common for some time. It is a short drive from home, but can be frustratingly bad for traffic on the M3 so I needed a slot when I didn’t have to get straight to work. I had hoped for a nice sunrise and some interesting shots due to the recent heathland fires on the common. The sunrise was damp to say the least but the aftermath of the fires certainly delivered.

Chobham heath

Nikon D500, Sigma 18- 35 at 18mm (27mm equiv.) – F5, ISO 800, 1/60 sec.

I parked on the north side of the motorway and didn’t find much evidence of heath fires apart from a few small areas of burnt gorse. Spotted a Hobby hunting over the heath, I wasn’t quick enough to catch him on camera however. After about 30 minutes of wandering I realised I had left my tripod back at the car, so decided to collect it and head south of the motorway.

Cremated Gorse

Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm F4 PF (450mm equiv.) – F4, ISO 500, 1/400 sec.

I find it a bit surreal that whilst in the middle of a pristine heathland environment you have to walk under a motorway to connect with the other half of the common. Within a few hundred metres of the tunnel I found a small area of burnt heath that held more than enough photographic interest.

Leaf in the ashes

Nikon D500, Sigma 18- 35 at 35mm (52mm equiv.) – F10, ISO 100, 1/2 sec.

I started out with some close up shots trying to capture the extreme contrasts between the burnt ground and the remaining life. The leaves that had fallen across the ground stood out in amazing clarity and made a nice macro shot.


Nikon D500, Sigma 18- 35 at 22mm (32mm equiv.) – F10, ISO 500, 1/80 sec.

Capturing the wider scene was somewhat more challenging. Poor light and strong winds meant I had to keep my ISO settings high to give a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the trees. Also the dynamic range created by the contrast between the black ground and the stormy sky made getting the right exposure tricky.

Samsung S7, 4mm lens (26mm equiv.), F1.7 ISO 50, 1/332 sec

The rain started to get a bit more serious and taking pictures with the DSLR become really challenging. OK my D500 might b weather proofed, but my wide angle Sigma lens is not and I was only willing to subject it to so much rain before packing it away. Also keeping a wide angle lens with it’s shallow hood free from rain drops on the front element is almost impossible I had to forget about using any gradient filters as well. Turns out my pone takes a pretty good picture in the rain, also much easier to shot handheld with in cramped conditions. Very pleased with the above result.

Deciding to call it a day I put a telephoto lens back on for the walk to the car, perfect for a quick macro shot on the rain. This lovely nursery web spider was keeping dry whilst guarding her babies.


Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm F4 PF (450mm equiv.) – F4, ISO 800, 1/4640 sec.

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