Photographing the Waterfalls at Gordale Scar
Photographing the Waterfalls at Gordale Scar

Our first visit to Malham of the new season had a weather forecast following a typical pattern of rain early on and some possible bright spells later in the day so we were confident of some good waterfall photography in the morning and hoped for some nice light at the end of the afternoon. We settled in to the Lister Arms in Malham for our introductory chat and look at some images over coffee before setting off on the stroll across the meadows to the woods and Janet’s Foss. It was indeed still raining but with no wind and the shelter of the woods the area around the waterfall looked great with the fresh wild garlic leaves an intense green in the damp conditions. After spending quite a bit of time in the woods we made our way over the lane to Gordale Scar and up to the top for the shelter of the rocks and more waterfall photography.

Photographing above Gordale Scar
Photographing above Gordale Scar

After lunch under the rocks we made our way up the hill to the viewpoint above Gordale Scar. The rain was easing a little but drizzle in the wind meant keeping a close eye on lenses for water droplets and lens cloths were employed regularly! A few lighter patches of cloud passed over and we watched the light change subtly across the valley.

Meadows and Dry Stone Walls rise up the hillside at Gordale Scar Malham Yorkshire England
Meadows and Dry Stone Walls rise up the hillside at Gordale Scar

In fact, this was probably (once again) the best stop of the day, particularly the lovely colours in the meadows running up the hillside opposite.  Longer lenses were the order of the day here, picking out the patterns formed by the dry stone walls.  The soft light produced exposures with very compressed histograms which looked very flat and lifeless on the back of the camera compared with the view in front of us, but a quick levels adjustment to pull in the black and white points was all that was required to produce the example image above.

Checking the Histogram at the Lone Tree
Checking the Histogram at the Lone Tree

Round at the lone tree the sky was still pretty flat and grey, which was less than ideal as shooting the tree requires a nice sky as a backdrop, so very careful checking of the histogram was required here to make sure there was still a bit of detail in the clouds that would be useful, particularly for black and white conversions.

Above Malham Cove
Above Malham Cove

After this we headed over to the top of Malham Cove where the rain had pretty much stopped but the clouds were still heavy and it looked unlikley that we’d get some nice end of afternoon light. So we had a quick look at the view from the cove out over Malhamdale but then concentrated more on the limestone pavement as a subject on its own.

Limestone Pavement at Malham Cove Malham Yorkshire England
Limestone Pavement at Malham Cove Malham Yorkshire England

The surface of the rock, still wet from the rain, glistened with reflected light and longer lenses came into play again, picking out abstract patterns formed by the clints and grykes.

Photographing Moving Water Details in Malham Beck
Photographing Moving Water Details in Malham Beck

Finally we made our way back down the steps to the base of the cove and set up again by the beck. The view of trees alongside the stream with the cove as a backdrop works better with nice sidelighting, but the strong shapes of skeletal trees still looked good against the light limestone cliff. However, the conditions were more appropriate to moving water, as at the start of the day, so to finish off we turned our attention to details in the fast-flowing water.

Abstract patterns formed by fast flowing water over a submerged rock in Malham Beck near Malham Yorkshire England
Abstract patterns in Malham Beck

Some lovely abstract images appeared on the backs of cameras – the submerged rock in the example above adds a welcome touch of colour to an almost monochrome image.  So the late afternoon light never put in an appearance, but we were happy on the walk back to the village that we’d made the most of the diffused light conditions with our choice of subjects along the way.