Photographing at Lower Aysgarth Falls

Workshop Report: Aysgarth and West Burton March 2014

Photographing at West Burton Waterfall at the end of the day
Photographing at West Burton Waterfall at the end of the day


We met in the cosy and welcoming Fox and Hounds at West Burton in Wensleydale on a blustery March morning, eager to get out on the first workshop of the year.  It was great to be back out in the Yorkshire Dales and the weather couldn’t have been more different from the severe snowfall last March which had forced us to postpone this workshop until April. Despite the chilly wind, the weather was just about spot-on for a day concentrating on waterfall photography. After a warming cup of coffee and an introductory talk about the various aspects of landscape photography we set out across the fields toward Aysgarth, stopping on the way to have a look at a difficult to photograph barn and the imposing church at Aysgarth, where we got all the cameras set up on tripods and got used to shooting off auto mode and paying attention to the histogram before heading down to the River Ure to photograph the waterfalls.

Below the Lower Falls at Aysgarth
Below the Lower Falls at Aysgarth


We started at Lower Aysgarth Falls and spent some time out on the rocks of the riverbed below the cascade.  The overcast sky gave perfect diffused light for getting in on lots of details in the stepped waterfall which was looking at its most impressive with the slightly lower river level than usual, after a spell of dry weather.  The dry rocks also made getting around easier than usual, as it wasn’t as slippery as it can be after rain!

Above Lower Aysgarth Fall
Above Lower Aysgarth Falls


After spending quite some time here we headed back to the path and up to the viewpoint above the Lower Falls, which provides a great zig-zag view of the top part of the waterfall, before walking back to the picnic area by Upper Aysgarth Falls for a welcome spot of lunch.  After lunch we spent time photographing the Upper Falls which were much more gentle than the Lower Falls with the lower river level but still provided many options for moving water detail image and abstract patterns.

Photographing barns near West Burton
Photographing barns near West Burton


From the Upper Falls we walked back along the River Ure on the opposite bank to the rapids where the river widens out a bit downstream from the Lower Falls.  Here the lower river level helped as we could get out onto the rocks a bit further and photograph some little cascades in the river that aren’t normally so easy to get at, which was a nice bonus. We left the rapids and the Ure behind and headed across the meadows to an attractive line of barns which provided a nice change of subject matter and produced some great image opportunities, especially for panoramics and black and white conversions.

Checking the Histogram after a Long Exposure at West Burton
Making a Long Exposure at West Burton


Approaching sunset we arrived back at West Burton and spent the rest of the daylight photographing the spectacular West Burton Waterfall (or Cauldron Force) which proved to be the highlight of the day.  The dry spell meant that Walden Beck wasn’t as fierce as it can be and the waterfall was in its gentle mood with lots of individual drops rather than being a mass of white water, which made it particularly suitable for the long exposures that resulted from the fading light.  As sunset came the sky above cleared a little and some lovely pink light reflected off clouds above giving a nice glow on the water.  This rounded off the day nicely and just left time for a quick drink back at the Fox and Hounds before the trip home.

We’d been very happy to see some good looking images and histograms on the backs of cameras during the day, so we had plenty of material to work with in the post-processing session the following day where a few adjustments with Lightroom or Photoshop made images worthy of hanging on the wall.

If you’d like to join us for a day of waterfall photography, we have two more trips to Aysgarth this year in June and October.


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