Peak District - March 2014

I managed to make it up to the Peak District for one day on a cloudy and windy March weekend. I had booked to go on a workshop in the afternoon with Peak District based photographer Duncan Fawkes, I had only recently come across Duncan's work and his website etc through following a re-tweet on Twitter and seeing a couple of his images in the 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' book, I applied some simple logic to my decision to go on the workshop though: his photos are much better than mine, therefore it's pretty much impossible for it not to be worthwhile to go! This was my first workshop and I viewed it as a good time to dedicate some hours to photography and being outside in the fresh (it was fresh indeed!) air.

After a morning at a local waterfall that I had scouted on-line (and took my 3rd picture in the #Project 32 series, see here) I joined up with Duncan and the other participants in a wind swept car park outside Hathersage. It was a very relaxed yet informative environment and after a few greetings etc we headed to the first location, atop Higger Tor. The wind was absolutely howling up there and it was a challenge to focus the mind, let alone the camera. Coupled with the wind was a flat dull grey sky which made grandiose sweeping vista shots pretty impossible but does give at least even diffuse light, so trying to find some interesting shapes in the rocks was the order of the day for me. Duncan was very helpful and informative, his encouragement to find a rock to 'love' was a good way to try and not be overwhelmed by the size of the scenery but to find something smaller to focus on and really find some interesting compositions within the landscape.

There were a couple of shots that I wanted to share from this session, neither I was totally blown away with, but one in particular below that I see some potential in below:

I was attracted by the strong lead in lines on the rocks in the foreground, this is hopefully complimented by the path in the far distance that the lines lead to, and onwards from. There's something that I'm not totally sure about, perhaps if the sky was more interesting it would have been nice to include it in the upper part of the shot (I omitted it due to the dull grey colour), also perhaps the perspective could be improved by moving up/down to take the shot. I wish I took a video of my position at the time of shooting though as I was being battered by the wind and literally half hanging off Higger Tor above a rocky drop below, there was no space to whip the tripod out and the wind would have made it redundant so I chose to hand shoot.

The other shot which I took up on Higger Tor is flawed in many ways but I like something about the atmosphere of it, it's dark and a bit 'into the unknown' it sort of encapsulated the often dark Peaks and inclement weather - see below:

Whilst there are lots of technical issues with this picture there's something I like about it still...comments welcome on this one!

As the afternoon passed we decided to head down off Higger Tor (and out of the wind!) and make the short drive to Stanage Edge. This popular 'beauty spot' is quite iconic in the Peak District and certainly makes for a pretty photography location, it also seemed to be pretty popular with the rock climbers who were scrambling up the sun bathed west facing rocks.

Atop the Edge there are many interesting rock formations, most of which point in the direction of the setting sun making for ideal foreground mterial. As I wandered up and down the Edge I was really trying to find a compelling composition, with the shot below I think I was close if not spot on.

Due to the brightness of the sky in comparison to the darker ground photographers often use graduated filters, on this occasion I did have mine with me but only 2 of the 3 as the third one I had snapped in half in the afternoon whilst wrestling to get it out of its cover in high winds. Because of that you can see in the image below the sky is a little too bright around the sun, you can take multiple exposures and then blend them together in post-processing, this could have been a way to salvage the sky but the warmth of light glowing on the rocks still makes for a pleasing picture in my mind:

Stanage Edge - Nice light on the rocks, shame the sky is a little 'blown' in the highlights

It certainly was a great location for image making, I'd also like to say how helpful and informative Duncan was on the day. He gave some very useful technical advice and also stimulated my mind with regards how to approach composition and balancing of elements. He also took time the week after to converse with me via email about the images I took on the day providing some very insightful critiquing of what worked and what didn't really.

I'll leave this post with an quick snap taken on my iPhone of some of the other workshop participants above Stanage Edge. We were all quite engrossed in our camera settings, positioning, waiting for the light etc...I looked up at one point and saw such concentration, it was actually nice to take a few seconds just to look around and take in the overall scene and atmosphere atop the Edge, not just through the frame of the camera.

Workshop participants with Duncan Fawkes on Stanage Edge in the Peak District. Trying to snap that winner sunset.

Workshop participants with Duncan Fawkes on Stanage Edge in the Peak District. Trying to snap that winner sunset.