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Stephen Elliott – Breaking light over Stanage

Blog Posted on 05 Sep 2011

It was approaching the end of august and I had been scheduled to do some filming for the ‘Visit Peak District’ website along with some other Destination Photography Partners. The brief was for an informal interview followed by some footage of us in action shooting the landscape. As you could probably guess when working to a set date and time the weather was far from ideal, dull leaden skies, strong winds and a fine drizzle, typical summer conditions for Derbyshire!

The location was at the eastern end of Stanage chosen as it was a relatively short walk from the lay-by when loaded down with heavy video equipment.

We did the interviews and with these out of the way were then left to wander round shooting the dramatic weather sculptured gritstone and views out over the Hope Valley, I was now feeling far happier being back behind my camera rather than in front of one, left to concentrate on the task of capturing images and ignore the video altogether.

On the top of the edge the wind had really picked up battering my tripod, whipping the heather around with dark angry skies producing short bursts of rain throwing droplets of water on the front of the lens, not the sort of day that you would normally pick to go out and shoot landscapes.
But looking over to the west there was a glimmer of hope; the wind was quickly moving the clouds and bright patches could be seen amongst the grey so definitely worth waiting to see what could develop later.

The top of Stanage is littered with some amazing shaped rocks and boulders interspersed with puddles and clumps of colourful heather, perfect subjects for using an ultra wide angle lens, these can make the most of an interesting foreground, by placing objects close the front of the lens and using the exaggerated perspective and large DOF that these lenses produce can create a wonderful sense of depth to an image.

So with my composition chosen, camera set, it was now just a case of waiting for the light, fingers crossed and thumb on the cable release ready for that moment when the elements are in your favour for you to get your shot, sometimes the preparation pays off and you are rewarded for your efforts and I was happy to get the following shot

Olympus E5 7-14mm f4, 1/25 f7.1 @ 7mm 200 ISO

From this point on the skies lightened and occasional bursts of sunshine would scud across the moor highlighting the landscape 

Olympus E5 7-14mm f4, 1/50 f8 @ 7mm 200 ISO

Puddles can make really interesting subjects, shot from a low angle they reflect the light and colour from the sky, perfect for sunrise and sunsets where they will help bring a dull foreground to life, a small puddle close to a wide angle lens can appear as large as a lake.

I came across a lovely one sat in the top of a chunk of gritstone so set up the camera so the puddle would run at an angle acting as a lead in to the picture and on to the distant hills, an inquisitive sheep had been getting nearer, probably wondering what I was doing standing behind a tripod on top of a rock and came for a closer look, I took the opportunity to shoot it as it popped from behind the rocks quite pleased that it stood in just the right place for a moment adding an extra element to my composition. 

Olympus E5 7-14mm f4, 1/40 f7.1 @ 7mm 200 ISO

It just goes to show that going out when the conditions look poor can be very rewarding, and you do need a bit of luck now and again, but as they say the more times you do go out the luckier you get.
The blog was brought to you by Stephen Elliott


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