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Derbyshire On Your Doorstep

Blog Posted on 12 Oct 2011

Living in Derbyshire I feel myself lucky to be so close to lots of great landscapes and definitely don't take it for granted. However, sometimes I do forget what's closer to home and usually end up heading off into the heart of the Peak District.

However, I have become a little stale with photographing the same Peak District scenes as everyone else and wanted to get some different, fresh pictures I could put my name to. So after recently purchasing a new camera I set myself on the task. I decided to shoot some scenes more local to me, more on my doorstep and Matlock and the surrounding area is perfect for me.

My first location was Black Rocks, so after work and only just having got my camera that day I set off for Black Rocks in hope of a sunset.

Now Black Rocks has got to be one of the most visited spots of the area and come to think of it, I bet you'll be hard pushed to find anyone within a 30 mile radius who hasn't visited the spot. With easy accessibility and spectacular views as well as great gritstone climbing routes its popular with walkers, climbers and just the general public. I have never been up, even late at evening without at least a few people being there, though never another photographer.

When I set off, I was in doubt as it was very dull with no signs of light anywhere and didn't look any more promising when I was sat on the outcrop. However, it was a good opportunity to get to know the camera and figure out what I was going to shoot if the light came.

After patiently waiting through the so called golden hour, I could see there was the slightest of gaps between the horizon and clouds and low and behold after composing and getting ready the light revealed itself in such an intensity I haven't seen for a long time. It cast great defined light on the rocks, on the trees below and far into the valley beyond. It was a truly magical sight giving such depth to the scene.

After capturing this image as the light was dying I dropped down on the top of the escarpment knowing from previous experience of the location the gritstone can catch the last light causing it to seemingly glow. I was pleased to get down in time to capture the last moments of this happening, bringing together an image probably not recorded so often.

So it was a satisfying after work jaunt that at first looked unpromising but was well rewarded after much patience and persistence.

My next planned shoot was for a sunrise before work. I woke up bright and early one morning after noting before sleep that the skies were clear and the temperature had dropped, perfect conditions for mist if it held up throughout the night. Upon waking up I could see from my window a slight layer of mist with the stars just managing to show through, Perfect conditions I thought.

I wanted to go back to black rocks and shoot a sunrise scene from here, I had visions of a composition similar to before but with the sun coming up in frame and mist lying in the valley's below. It would have been perfect. Driving to location I kept dipping in and out of the mist offering tantalising views. However, actually on turning up at the location the mist was unusually high and the view from the top was actually non existent, I remained persistent and stayed around 10 minutes after sunrise but left concious of getting to work on time.

Driving down the hill from Black Rocks into Cromford I dropped out of the high mist to reveal a great scene below with some pastel hues from the sun that had just rose, I could see Black Rocks only just in the mist and knew it would soon blow clear but knew rather annoyingly I wouldn't have time to go back up. I drove through Holloway to really see the mist thick in the valley below near Whatstandwell and tried to find a vantage point to get a shot but was unable to do so.

I carried on my journey home until I got to Wingfield Manor, which is a fantastic ruin steeped in history. Time and time again I've drove by this location thinking what a good subject it would make but after trying to mentally plan a shoot I thought it would make a good evening shot as the setting sun cast a glow on the manor, but never got round to shooting it and never found a good image on the net to convince me it was worth trying. However, as luck would have it the mist was clinging to the cold ground in front of the manor and the sun which had only just rose was just above the manor creating a nice silhouette of the location. I quickly parked up and set up, I fired off a few shots before the sun got too bright, some of them had thick rolling mist with the manor rising above but I eventually settled on an image where the mist had started to disperse and you could see detail in the trees and the light cutting through the mist as my final image.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed shooting these new locations, I look forward to doing more in the future.

This blog was brought to you by James Grant


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