It was edging towards 3am when we left the Unimog that had just transported us back from Spurn Head and a warm bed at the Crown & Anchor in Easington was beckoning. The original plan had been to shoot the sunset and the sunrise on the summer solstice, but heavy storm clouds had meant a very dark night and shooting anything had been a challenge.
The clouds had parted briefly allowing me to shoot an image of the lighthouse with a starry sky behind it, but now it was decision time. I’d spotted some groins with the waves crashing over them as we travelled back and the light in the sky was just starting to strengthen, walking back to capture them was starting to look very tempting. The Sun was due to rise at 4.30, so conditions from 3.30 onwards were likely to be interesting and I was here to try and capture something out of the ordinary, so sleep would just have to wait. After fifteen minutes’ stiff walk along the soft sand, I could see the groins looming out of the gloom. I wasn’t going to see the sun rise for the heavy cloud, but suddenly I was in groin heaven as the gloom was going to produce some lovely pared down images! This was much more to my taste than a blazing sunrise! I spent a happy 30 minutes or so shooting the waves crashing over the groins until the tide got so high it almost covered them, then headed back up the sandbar happier with my night’s work.
It just goes to prove the old adage, “If you don’t go, you won’t get”. So, I was able to retire back to my room in the Crown & Anchor to get a few hours’ sleep then a great full English breakfast, feeling very happy with my night’s work and ready for the two-hour drive home.
A stroll along the banks of Pickering beck is one of my favourite local walks, but one I’ve neglected for a long time, so when I spotted a patch of bright yellow in the distance, I just had to investigate. We’d just returned from a day out in Swaledale shooting the wild-flower meadows, so it came as quite a surprise to have such a riot of colour on my own doorstep. Much as I do enjoy travelling, I derive a great deal of pleasure from finding scenes like this in my own patch. One of the many things I enjoy about photography is that it does teach you to “see”, so you can derive a great deal more pleasure out of your surroundings.
I must admit that shooting iconic well known scenes is not my favourite photographic genre, I tend to do it more for commercial reasons than artistic fulfilment. However, our continued association with The Old School Gallery in Muker has seen me grow to enjoy the delights of Swaledale more and more, so I couldn’t resist the chance to have a go at shooting the wild flower meadows.
We tried shooting the machair on Uist last June and found it a very hard subject to master and we’re finding the same here in Swaledale, it takes time to adjust to an unfamiliar environment. But hopefully with a bit more familiarity we’ll get further into it and produce some work that we are pleased with and by the time the winter comes we should be sufficiently au fait with the area to produce some of the simple monochrome images that we love to shoot.
With the arrival of summer, we ventured over onto the Wolds in search of wild flowers and were very disappointed to find that the track to our favourite patch of red & white campion at Fridaythorpe now has a Private sign on it, so I could only shoot it from a distance from the public right of way.
However, all was not lost as a “Road closed” diversion at Thixendale took us to the end of Brubberdale and treated us to some lovely dappled light on some typical rolling Wolds landscape. I think the combination of the light, the rolling hills and the big sky really capture the true essence of the Wolds.
Weather permitting, we’ll be back next week in search of poppies and oxeye daisies.
The week before Easter saw us take a trip to Swaledale to meet Richard & Polly, the new owners of the Old School Gallery in Muker. We had decided to stay in the dale for a couple of days, but an appointment I couldn’t re-schedule in York on the Monday afternoon meant we had to leave earlier than we’d originally planned.
We travelled over on the Sunday morning on what turned out to be a lovely bright, warm day with fluffy white clouds, just right for stock photography, if a little hazy in the valleys. Whilst I’m a big believer in finding my own locations, being on a flying visit and not familiar with the area meant we were relying on my copy of Long Valley Books guide to the Yorkshire Dales and using this guide found us Wain Wath Force, which proved to be a lovely place to have our lunch.
I spent a happy hour shooting these falls, then decided to check out Crackpot Hall. By the time I arrived at Crackpot, the lovely weather had turned even hazier, but using my sun compass showed that not only would this site would make a great evening location on a clearer day, but it also had promise as a morning location.
Once back to the car we shot a few images of trees in the haze at Keld, then headed off to our accommodation to get ready to head to the Keld Lodge to eat. The growing gloom meant we were in no rush to dine and whilst I set my alarm for early in the morning, I didn’t hold out much hope for early morning light. As it turned out, the moment I opened the curtains, I saw the land swathed in glorious golden light, so I rapidly sprinted back up to Crackpot just as the sun was coming over the hill top. Whilst it’s always going to be a better evening location, it was pretty good as a morning shot and you have to take what’s on offer while you’re there.
However, reviewing our images from the weekend has proved quite interesting. Whereas the light was pretty good for landscape, it was the mono images shot in what would normally be considered poor conditions that have proved to be our favourites.
As artists living and working in Ryedale, we are lucking to not only live in a beautiful place, but we also have the benefit of support from a remarkable Creative Economy Officer in Yvette Turnbull whose enthusiasm for and nurturing of creatives is infectious and her support both active, constructive and generous. We have been lucky enough to benefit from Yvette’s support over the years and for that, we are eternally grateful.
As an example of this work, Ryedale District Council have produced a map, called RyeScape – the map is designed to help make the most of all Ryedale has to offer culturally – it shows Galleries, Artists’ Studios, Public Artworks, Theatres, Art Centres, Museums, Heritage Attractions, Festivals and Events. It also highlights landscapes of particular cultural importance and Ryedale has many!
In addition to the RyeScape map, twenty of the Ryedale artists are holding an exhibition to support and promote their work, also called RyeScape. Ryedale District Council have worked in association with Ryedale Folk Museum, who will host the exhibition in their gallery at Hutton le Hole. The show will be on during Easter and the May Day Bank Holiday, so it is a great time to visit this beautiful area.