How Stean Gorge at Nidderdale makes for an excellent year round photography location. A bit different to your normal landscape photography locations due to being in a beautiful limestone gorge with steep sides stretching 1 km in length and up to 20 meters deep. There are no wide vistas to speak of, just spectacular rock formations and the meandering River Nidd to focus on.
Due to the gorge being very sheltered you can pretty much photograph throughout most of the day (opening times between 10am and 5pm, 7 days a week) and anytime of year as only small areas are affected by direct sunlight at any one time. Times of the year makes a difference in surrounding vegetation, water levels and ice in winter.
Not a fantastically easy location because of the shape of the gorge and you really have to find the right subject. Its not a case of can you get it all in, rather than finding shapes, patterns, colour and how the water rushes around the smooth rocks. A tripod is absolutely essential, as even on the sunniest of days, you are mostly shooting in open shade, and also you want some longer exposures to capture the movement of the water.
I find that small apertures work best as I like the whole frame to be in focus from the foreground rocks into the distance. This also lends itself for longer exposures which record nicely the swirling bubbles on top of the water, but also to smooth the water so that the fantastic greens shine through next to the dry rocks.
Look out for the details, you can spend as much time as possible looking for patterns and colour and you will be amazed at what you can find. Its a good idea if you have a longer lens so that you can get in close to the subject.
Footwear with good tread is essential and a sturdy tripod is a must as it can get very slippery around the edges. Also a cable release to avoid any unwanted camera shake.
Its a good idea to contact the folk at the gorge before visiting as they have many adventure groups and daily activities who you might not want in your frame. Ask when it will be at its quietest which is often first thing or later in the afternoon. There is an admission fee, and details can be found at their website, here… http://www.howstean.co.uk/
Its also a good idea if you can make the most of your day, so before the gorge opens you can perhaps head out to Upper Nidderdale and capture the fantastic views all around.
Lastly when the gorge closes take the (fairly) short drive up to Angram Reservoir to capture a superb sunset by the magnificent dam.