Fast-flowing water at Lower Aysgarth Falls
Fast-flowing water at Lower Aysgarth Falls

 

We arrived in West Burton early enough to have a quick look at the delightful West Burton Waterfall and found the beck at the highest level we’ve seen with a raging torrent of peaty water tumbling over the falls. The peat added a touch of colour to the white water so we were immediately looking forward to Aysgarth Falls later in the morning. But before the stroll over to Aysgarth we met up with our group in the cosy comfort of the Fox and Hounds and had a discussion about the day ahead over tea and coffee, along with a slideshow with examples of the sort of this to look out for to make best use of the light on the day.

The light was looking great for waterfall photography, so we made good progress across the meadows with a quick look at the impossible-to-photograph barn and arrived at Lower Aysgarth Falls to set the tripods up on the (rather narrower than usual) strip of flat rocks alongside the River Ure below the lower force. The fast-flowing water gave lots of opportunities for capturing abstract details as well as the full width of the river with the added entertainment of a salmon occasionally breaking through the surface near our feet!

Waterfalls and autumn colours at Upper Aysgarth Falls
Waterfalls and autumn colours at Upper Aysgarth Falls

 

Up above the lower falls the varying shades of yellow, orange and dark brown in the peaty water were even more evident providing a rich source of subject matter for colourful abstracts and shutter speed experimentation. When we’d exhausted the opportunities at the lower falls we were getting pretty hungry so headed off to Upper Aysgarth Falls for our picnic lunch. After lunch we spent some time photographing the upper falls with more dramatic moving water surrounded by some lovely autumn colours. A fallen tree trunk against the rocks over the upper falls made an unusual subject for the longest lenses, isolating the fallen tree against the stripes of peaty water.

Photographing at the rapids on the River Ure
Photographing at the rapids on the River Ure

 

We left Aysgarth Falls behind and walked back past the church and through some woodland with densely packed vertical trunks where we had a brief interlude trying out intentional camera movement images before carrying on downstream to the rapids where the River Ure widens slightly with gentler falls but some great shapes in the rocks just under the surface. From here our walk left the riverbank and headed back across fields, giving some welcome peace and quiet after the roar of the wild River Ure!

Checking the histogram at the barns near West Burton
Checking the histogram at the barns near West Burton

 

On the way back to West Burton we had a break from waterfall photography looking at a row of barns which make a great panoramic image with some careful attention to exposure. The near barn also houses an old piece of farm machinery which makes a great detail subject, particularly as a black and white conversion.

West Burton Waterfall and autumn colours at the end of the day
West Burton Waterfall and autumn colours at the end of the day

 

We arrived back at West Burton and the fabulous waterfall about half an hour before sunset and set about putting into practice everything learned during the day about long exposure waterfall photography. As the exposure times lengthened and the sun went down a touch of pink light came in the sky giving a lovely warm glow over the waterfall and made some great reflections in the beck below the falls. The level of the beck had also dropped slightly since the morning, revealing more shapes and lines along the stream bed which resulted in some fabulous images for our post-processing session the following day!

If you’d like to join us for a workshop at Aysgarth and West Burton we’ll be back the for our first workshop of 2015 in March.