Photographing at the Lone Tree above Malham

Workshop Report: Malham August 2013


Enjoying fine views over Malhamdale from above Gordale Scar
Enjoying fine views over Malhamdale from above Gordale Scar


After last month’s blisteringly hot outing to Malham we were hoping for something a little cooler with more cloud interest in the sky this time, but were watching the weather forecast carefully in the week before the workshop, hoping we were going to miss out on the heavy rain and thunderstorms!  Fortunately, the heavy rain fell overnight and by the time we’d had our pre-workshop chat and slideshow over tea and coffee at the Lister Arms we were setting out in pleasant, fresh conditions across the fields toward the woods and Janet’s Foss.  We had a quick stop at a barn before entering the woods to get the tripods set up and get everyone comfortable with ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings before heading into the woods and up to the waterfall.  The morning had quite a lot of cloud cover with the sun just showing through occasionally, so there were opportunities for some diffused light shots of the woods and moving water.

From here we made our way round to Gordale Scar and up to the top of the valley to have a look at more moving water before the sun (which was now breaking through the clouds at more regular intervals) came round.  The waterfalls in the scar looked great in the open shade and we were pleased to see some fantastic moving water shots appearing on the backs of cameras.  This proved quite a cold stop in the shade, with the wind whipping round the limestone cauldron that forms the top of the valley at Gordale Scar, so after a while we were happy to leave the climbers to their limestone cliffs and head back down to a sunnier spot and have lunch on the grass by the beck.  Clouds were moving quite quickly over the scar in the breeze, so soon the cameras were out again capturing the dramatic scene.

Above Gordale Scar
Above Gordale Scar


The walk up the hill was somewhat more comfortable than in the July heat but we still sat for a breather at the top, admiring the view down into Gordale Scar and back down into Malhamdale.  Shortly the cameras were set up again capturing a variety of subjects across the valley from details of field barns in meadows, geometric patterns of dry stone walls and wider views of the valley.  With the moving clouds and rapidly changing light, working quickly was the order of the day, so this was great practice for making compositional decisions and accurate exposure settings in response to the conditions – one of the challenges of landscape photography!


From here we moved on to the lone tree on some limestone pavement between the Scar and Malham Cove.  It was quite breezy up here too, so this was a real tripod test!  Getting down nice and low for stability seemed to be the best approach, which led to some interesting compositions using the grykes as lead in lines to the tree.  The breeze meant the clouds where moving past quite quickly, so some interesting cloud movement images were possible with longer exposures, especially for participants with a “big stopper” filter at their disposal!

The walk down the lane dropped us out of the wind so we had a pleasant stroll across to the top of Malham Cove for the last few stops of the day. After exploring the expanse of limestone pavement at the top of the cove, we made our way down the steps to enjoy the view of the vast limestone cliff from below.  With heavier cloud around, we had periods of diffused light which worked quite nicely with the beck and trees against the dark grey of the rock interspersed with sun giving some nice sidelighting on the trees against the backdrop of the limestone – a fitting end to the day’s photography.  After a short walk to the village we were back at the Lister Arms enjoying a drink on the lawn outside – which we finished just in time for the first shower of the day to arrive – excellent timing!

It was really pleasing to see so many great images at the post-processing session in Harrogate the day after the workshop – we were spoilt for choice when it came to selecting a few shots to use to illustrate the Lightroom and Photoshop workflows, and one of our participants had set a new Natural Light Workshop record for the number of images taken in one day with over 700 exposures made!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s