We were confident enough of the weather forecast to leave behind (most) of the umbrellas and make sure we’d packed the sunscreen instead when we set out for our June workshop at Malham. We settled in to the snug at the Lister Arms once more for a welcoming cup of coffee and our introductory talk about the day ahead, along with a look at some landscape images with ideas of what to look for along the way, before heading off in the fine weather, with a pleasant cooling breeze, across the meadows to the woods and Janet’s Foss. A few passing clouds and the natural shade of the valley provided a few moments of nice even, diffused light for photographing the waterfall and surrounding woodland as we got the cameras set up on tripods and started to get used to exposure settings and histograms.
From the woods we headed over the lane to Gordale Scar and straight up to the top of the ravine to do a bit more moving water photography in the shade before the sun came round and made exposures too difficult. By now the sky was blue with brightly lit white clouds passing by, which made the backlit view out of the ravine quite spectacular, but very difficult to expose well, so provided good practice for multiple exposure blending.
Back out in the valley we found a nice grassy spot by the beck for lunch and watched the clouds roll by – one minute fluffy white clouds against blue sky and the next darker banks of grey cloud above the scar providing a more dramatic backdrop as the photography resumed after lunch. From here we headed up the hill, stopping numerous times on the way up to catch our breath and admire the view as the perspective on the landscape below changed as we gained height.
At the top we were treated to some glorious light over Malhamdale (top) and fantastic views down into Gordale Scar and across to the meadows surrounded by dry stone walls running up the hill on the other side of the valley. The fast moving clouds provided rapidly changing lighting conditions, great practice for working with the light and observing how the colour of the landscape below differs so much with the direction of the light.
From the top of the scar we headed across the rough moorland to the lone tree on its own patch of limestone pavement which always proves a favourite and is a great subject to practice different approaches to composition. The cloud formations moving behind the tree provided an ever changing backdrop, and the lead-in lines formed by the grykes in the limestone made some really strong images, especially with black and white conversion in mind at the post-processing session the following day.
After the tree we strolled down the lane, and across the fields to the top of Malham Cove and found the nice grassy mound above the limestone to set up and capture views of the pavement below leading off to the sheer cliffs of the cove and Malhamdale beyond. Heavier grey clouds had rolled over, but a brief break in the clouds gave us some nice light to work with for a short time, before descending the steps at the side of the cove.
Down below the cove we rounded off the day’s photography at the side of Malham Beck with the sheer limestone cliffs looming above us and soft, diffused lighting interspersed with occasional sidelighting on the trees by the beck, making them stand out against the steely grey rock behind. From here it was just a short walk back to the village and the comfort of the Lister Arms for a well earned refreshing drink before the trip home.
We were very pleased to see so many great images at the post-processing session the following day – the rapidly moving clouds and changing light had been tricky to keep up with at time, but when the shutter had been released at the right moment the results were magical!
If you’d like to join us on this workshop, take a look at our Malham and Gordale Photography Workshop page.