Just a week after our delayed Aysgarth workshop we were setting off on the first of our spring workshops at Bolton Abbey and Strid Wood in Wharefdale, one of my favourite areas in the Yorkshire Dales. We started the day as always with a chat about photography and the day ahead over tea and coffee at the lovely Tea Cottage at Bolton Abbey. After a short slide show with some ideas on what to look our for during the day, we set off down to the River Wharfe to get used to tripods and camera settings at the marvellous view across the river at the stepping stones toward the abbey. The forecast was for a fine spring day and this proved to be the case, so we had nice light on the priory ruins with some reflections in the breeze rippled water to work with before heading up to the higher viewpoint to give a different perspective on the abbey looking down through the trees.
After a pleasant stroll along the River Wharfe we arrived in Strid Wood and stopped to photograph reflections in a shady inlet by the river and the bright, fresh green leaves of the wild garlic plants around the tree trunks. A few white clouds were moving across the sky so we had a variety of different lighting conditions to work with, from strong sidelighting to nice even diffused light.
We had a welcome lunch stop at The Strid so we could admire the waterfall over our sandwiches before setting up tripods for some abstract water photography using the rushing water just above the main falls and the swirling waters between mossy rocks further downstream. Again, the light changed rapidly and we had periods of great diffused light, perfect for moving water shots but also blue sky and sunlight reflected from a carpet of golden fallen leaves on the opposite bank brought fantastic colour into the ripples in the river looking upstream above the falls.
Sadly the long cold winter meant that the bluebells were barely up so there were no bluebell flowers to photograph, but on the return leg of the walk along the opposite bank as the path rises up above the river we had some great light on the silvery twigs on the trees yet to come into leaf and on a group of silver birch trees visible across the river. Add to this the intense blue of the sky reflecting off the river in the valley below us and we had all the ingredients for some great photographs.
The plantation of pine trees along this stretch of the walk, which has been a good example for making impressionstic images with intentional camera movement has now been felled and replanted but fortunately back down by the riverside we found a group of birch trees with similar groups of parallel trunks and interesting colours to make a few abstract images with a vertical movement of the camera, which everyone took to with a great degree of success (except Sam!).
As we’d missed out on the bluebells we had a quick stop on the way back to photograph a stream tumbling down through woodland carpeted with swathes of wild garlic plants before we arrived back at the abbey at the end of the day to see how much the scene differed from the morning and photograph the ruins from a different angle making best use of the available light. In all, the day provided a good mixture of lighting conditions so we were pleased to see some great histograms on the backs of cameras during the day, and even more pleased to see some of the great results during the post-processing session on the Sunday where some of the abstract images in particular were really brought to life by a few simple adjustments to tonal range and contrast.