On our first Stainforth workshop last year we were faced with a gloomy wet summer’s day so we were wrapped up in waterproofs and Ribblesdale was filled with low cloud. We were expecting something completely different this time during the current heatwave!
We met with the group in the comfort of the Craven Heifer in Stainforth for our introductory talk and a look as some images with ideas of what to look out for during the day over cups of tea and coffee before setting out from the village up Goat Scar Lane. Here we had our first stop (apart from a brief respite from the climb up the hill in the heat!) and got the cameras set up on tripods. It’s a fine view from here but we would have preferred a few nice clouds in the sky – these were to prove few and far between throughout the day!
At Catrigg Force the summer sunshine provided tricky lighting conditions for woodland and waterfall photography. The waterfall itself was somewhat depleted with the lack of rain, but the low level of the beck made clambering over the rocks to the base of the falls quite easy where it could be photographed nicely reflected in the splash pool in the shade – and some long exposures could also be achieved.
In the open shade near the waterfall a group of fresh vibrant ferns made a great little subject in the lighting conditions with close-up studies of the fronds making striking geometric images.
From the waterfall we headed up into the open meadows where the light, though quite harsh, was much easier to work with. There were subjects to be found in all directions, with a lovely view towards Pen-y-ghent, a great lichen covered boulder, dry stone walls and a few nice thistle flowers, if you were prepared to lie down in the grass to photograph them. At one point, a fluffy white cloud or two scudded by, causing great excitement!
At Winskill Stones the lone tree looked great with fresh green leaves though the surrounding landscape looked more like Tuscany than the Yorkshire Dales – we could do with a drop of rain! We spent quite some time here amongst the limestone considering different compositions for the lone tree and thinking about black and white conversions.
Tearing ourselves away from the tree we headed down the lane towards Winskill and stopped briefly to admire the view over Ribblesdale before descending the steep path through the woods back to Stainforth village. It was great just to be able to admire the view – on last year’s visit we could just see low clouds moving up the valley from here! The backlighting through the dry grasses was lovely and longer lenses could be used to pick out the meadows in the distance on the other side of the dale.
Back in the village it took some effort to walk past the pub again in the heat (we’d had a cooling breeze up at Winskill but down here it was mighty hot) but we managed to make our way to the last stop at Stainforth Force. With the level of the River Ribble being so low the waterfalls were quite tiny and in direct sunlight so proved tricky subjects. They were also littered with people in their bathing costumes, cooling off in the water – which isn’t the usual sort of exposure problem we encounter on our workshops! We concentrated our efforts on reflections in the still water and the beautiful old packhorse bridge over the river just above the falls.
Finally, we headed back to the village for some well-earned cooling refreshment at the Craven Heifer before setting off home. All in all it was a great day out in The Dales with some very challenging light for landscape photography, but we still saw a few great images appearing on the backs of cameras!