A Windy Day in Derbyshire
Photographic Location & WORKSHOP
Last week I was a budding participant on one of Doug Chinnery’s landscape photographic workshops. Doug is a professional photographer that just so happens to live not far from where I live and whom I met at my local photographic club in Worksop last year. I was much impressed by Doug, not just his superb photography, but with his down-to-earth approach and willingness to share his knowledge with fellow photographers, something that many other expert photographers’ seem almost reluctant to do.
Sadly for our foray into the Hathersage area of Derbyshire that day we weren’t blessed with good weather and my 5:00am pickup in the dark for sunrise seemed somewhat in vain. Our rendezvous with two other fellow photographers just below Higger Tor ended up in a rather hasty retreat to Grindleford station for some shelter from the rain and wind, and chat about photography and a welcome cup of coffee. With no abate in the weather one member decided to call it a day. However after fuelling up with a hearty, full English breakfast in Hathersage a second attempt was made at Higger Tor, but high winds prevented any photography on the top and grey skies and eventual rain brought that sessions to a close.
Doug then took us down to an area of birch trees above Lawrence Field well away from the windy tops and by now patches of dappled sunlight were starting to appear. This was quite different photography from what I’d normally attempt and to be honest I was well out of my comfort zone here. However Doug encouraged us to shoot tree trunks, grassy tussocks and I even and a few (albeit unsuccessful) attempts at some macro photography.
After a lengthy spell there it was off back down to the rather quirky, but excellent Grindleford Station Cafe for some hot chocolate and cake. Whilst gorging ourselves on some inordinately well proportioned slabs of date and walnut cake, Doug took the opportunity to download our CF cards direct to his iPad and proceeded to present us slideshows of our efforts. This was really useful as we got to see each others work and discussed what worked and what didn’t. The iPad is a really neat device, has a great screen and is ideally suited for viewing and backing up RAW files in the field. It beats devices like the Epson P-7000 viewer hands down in my opinion, and there are already RAW editing apps around too (that’s another gadget to add to my wish list). It’s a pity they don’t make one with more than 64Gb memory, but I guess that will come eventually.
By that time the weather was beginning to look quite sunny so we went to Padley Gorge and spent a couple of hours trying out all sorts of shots. What a great place it is and believe it or not it was the first time I’d been there. The leaves are just starting to turn, so it’s not quite the best time, yet but there’s not doubt I’ll be returning here soon. One of the classic shots is off a large old mill stone underneath an oak tree. I tried many compositions of but none that really worked when viewed on my monitor back home. The sunlight was quite strong and I ended up with many many shots with burned out highlights. I should have waited till the the sun was hidden by the clouds. If you want to see how it should be shot check out Doug’s version here. I did however get a rather nice but querky shot of a curtain of moss/weed behind a small water fall which made an almost abstract image.
We decided to set off for Stanage Edge for sunset, but spotted some fantastic light and sunbeams (Crepuscular rays as Dough pointed out!) over the hope Valley on our way. We stopped on Fiddlers Elbow road off the A6187 about 3/4 of the way up to Higger Tor but sadly the sunbeams and gorgeous light did not reappear.
My favourite image of the day is the one at the top of this blog of a small gap in the wall and out of focus trees behind. Nothing spectacular or compositionally great but juts one I like. Maybe I’ll attempt it again well the autumn leave are in full colour and use a slightly wider aperture blur the background even more.
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I can’t say I came away with any memorable images, but I certainly came back with many new locations to try, an improved compositional knowledge and a list of new subjects to try. If you’re a budding photographer and want to take your skills to the next level and learn more then workshops are a great way forward, and fun too.