For some time I have wanted to visit the Yorkshire Dales in early summer and last week I did just that. A few days were first spent with my partner in Harrogate with a visit to York and while she caught the train back home to the southeast I travelled an hour north to Askrigg where I stayed for a further 5 days. As well as photographing for my own personal work I intend to lead a workshop to the region the same time next year and as always I did a lot of research and purchased maps to help me along. Ultimately, however, no matter how much preparation you do (always remembering the 5 Ps!) you still have to get out there, drive distances, get out early, stay out late and, of course, walk!
The weather wasn’t great, it has to be said, and compared to the south it was pretty cold. In fact, what struck me most was how advanced trees and, indeed, the countryside as a whole was 290 miles further south. Ramsons, herb Robert and some early purple orchids were still in flower whereas in Kent they had long since gone over. That said, it was wonderful to see the fresh, lime green vegetation again and it really is a beautiful part of this isle of ours. The weather was inclement throughout. Mostly cloudy with showers and some sunshine, albeit fleeting. Thankfully, when the sun did pop out I was out also, and in position. There were no great sunrises or sunsets to speak of but, as is always the case, you simply get on and keep an open mind to other possibilities. My time was divided between the northern section: Wensleydale and Swaledale and the southwest: Ribblesdale and Dentdale.
I always enjoy looking for patterns, whether close-up or in the landscape and the Dales suited this side to my photography very well indeed.
The fields were full of buttercups and other wildflowers and were not far from being mowed as was evident as I drove and so I was eager to secure images incorporating barns and stone walls set in the landscape as quickly as possible.
Four images stitched in Lightroom 6. A great new feature in this version which produces a RAW file instead of a Tiff. Worth the money just for this feature alone I think.
As is so often the case when I visit somewhere new, I tend to spend the first couple of days madly dashing around getting what I can. It’s only when I am happy that I have secured a number of reasonable images that I begin to settle down and seek out more interesting and thoughtful compositions.
Buttercup meadow. Double exposure.
Nikon D610, 28-105mm @ 28mm, ISO 200, 0.8 sec. f/18.
Thank goodness, for the most part, that many of the roads were quiet as I found myself constantly stopping, jumping out of the car with the engine still running (yes, the light was that fleeting sometimes!) and taking photographs hand-held or frantically scanning either side of the road for a pull-in after spotting (what I thought at the time) was some incredible view. Of which, by the way, there were many!
A stop-the-car-with-engine-running moment.
Nikon D610, 70-200mm @ 150mm, ISO 200, 1/60 sec. f/9.
Abandoned lead mine. Wheatears were everywhere as I walked towards this old mine. I’ve photographed them before at the nest in a slate quarry in Wales and this habitat must suit them very well, providing lots of nest sites and with the stream close by, plenty of food, too.
Nikon D610, 20mm, ISO 280, 10 sec. f/16.
It pays to always have a pair of wellingtons in the car as it makes life so much easier when shooting streams and waterfalls since you’re not restricted as you would with walking boots.
As I returned to the car having photographed the previous scenes I saw this. It was very windy and leant itself to blurring the trees as they moved. In order to accentuate this I used a Lee ProGlass ND Standard filter which extended the exposure time to 1 minute.
Capturing the limestone pavements was a must and I visited three. Each had their own unique qualities and I found myself transfixed by this incredible landscape. Some were easier than others to traverse and I swear, given how sharp some were, you could easily ruin a pair of boots after just a few visits!
Limestone pavement and hawthorn Nikon D610, 20mm, ISO 100, 0.8 sec. f/16, Lee 0.6 ND grad.
Rigid buckler fern
Limestone pavement and ash tree
All in all, my time spent in North Yorkshire was both productive and very enjoyable and I’m, already, looking forward to returning next year or, perhaps, sooner!