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  • Scott Read

Fleeting Moments in the Peak District

Winnats Pass | Padley Gorge | Higger Tor | Stanage Edge


A large part of photography for me is the discovery and capture of regions new to me as a photographer, and the forging of friendships that transpire as a result of shooting with other photographers. I was recently invited to shoot in the Peak District by fellow Vanguard Ambassador Chris Nowell of the Peak Photography Project, a trip that was a first time visit to the region for me….and I could not have had a better guide for the day!!



The initial plan that was put into place was to shoot from Sunrise to Sunset, taking in many of the key locations within the Peak District. Like any good photography trip plan, the date of the visit was moved due to the ever-changeable UK weather, a problem compounded by the effect more mountainous / hilly regions can have on weather systems. Having finally settled on a time window, there was still a risk of a wet day, but I was chomping at the bit to get shooting in this beautiful part of the country.



It was a bleary eyed 4am start to the day, that saw me and my wife scrabbling to get the hotel room coffee machine working as I attempted to get myself ready to go and pick Chris up, and to get the day underway…. something that was more challenging as the caffeine did not materialize!

The first stop for the planned day was sunrise ‘Winnats Pass’, a very popular spot but one that was pretty high up on my location list of area’s that I really wanted to shoot. After getting parked up we were joined by another member of the Vanguard Ambassador Family, Paul Millard, the three of us setting out in light drizzle and pitch black. A walk across a couple of sheep filled fields ensued, our head torches picking out peering eyes in the darkness, punctuated with the comical interlude of me trying to get my abnormally short legs over high wall styles with my full kit on, finishing up with a now very slippery path and a sheer drop to our left.

This honestly is pleasurable!!!



The efforts of the morning were worthwhile, with the pass every bit as captivating as I had envisioned. As the drizzle started to subside and the first shafts of light started to unfold the new day, we were uncertain as to whether we were going to get the sunrise we had hoped for, with the sky looking quite flat and nonchalant in regards to our want of great conditions. As every good photographer knows you never just leave, you just wait it out as you just never know and this time it paid off. There appeared to be some high-level wind effecting the cloud cover, the shape and texture adjusting, flirting with the rising light levels.

As we made the walk back to the car I was already looking forward to getting what I had captured onto my computer and starting the editing process…Winnats Pass had set a high bar for the day!



Much like other regions that have such outstanding natural beauty, you are surrounded by photographic opportunities no matter where you go, and it would be easy to be stopping the car every couple of minutes if the time allowed, but could not resist a recommended lonely tree near to Owler Bar roundabout. We then made a short stop at the Calver Weir situated on the River Derwent where the conditions where just right for capturing a riverside house, perfectly reflecting in the almost still river.



Still revelling in what we were managing to capture, the weather was deciding to brighten up and a far cry from the early drizzle. We made our way to Padley Gorge, a location that surprised me by the amount of diversity of subject matters, from open areas, waterfalls and woodland walks that could have been lifted straight out of ‘Lord of the Rings’ (apparently it was location scouted for this). We tried a few different spots throughout the valley for compositions, shooting a whole manner of things in this fascinating location, but for me personally it was the macro photography that was the real takeaway for me in this area.



Moving on after a short coffee and creaky leg break, the next stop on the itinerary was one of the dominant landmarks of the Peak District, Higger Tor. The winding drive to the parking area gave an impressive first look at this gritstone tor which sits overlooking the Burbage Valley and the Iron Age Hillfort of Carl Wark, with Stanage Edge peering in from the opposite side of the road.

A short, steep walk to the top of Higger Tor opened out to an almost lunar landscape, a puzzle of the aforementioned gritstone rocks that become a game of giant steppingstones as we made our way to the far of the tor that overlooks Carl Wark. This Tor provides interesting photographic opportunities in every direction, large vista’s distracting the eyes, whilst under feet are some of the most fascinating rock formations I have ever had the pleasure to stand on, truly a kid in a sweetshop scenario! Much as I was enjoying this location, a looming weather front across the distant valleys was threatening to spoil the party with indistinct, featureless, rain filled clouds.



Conversations soon switched to the likelihood of a sunset even happening, but for the time being we pushed on to photograph the famous millstones at the base of Stanage Edge. Another short walk across the rolling environment to the base of this gritstone escarpment provided an early look at the valleys that were likely to become the centre point of the upcoming compositions. Tucked in with this rock formation at our shoulder, conditions were not wanting to play ball as flat, lifeless skies took hold…these things are sent to test us as photographers.



Conversations soon switched to the likelihood of a sunset even happening, but for the time being we pushed on to photograph the famous millstones at the base of Stanage Edge. Another short walk across the rolling environment to the base of this gritstone escarpment provided an early look at the valleys that were likely to become the centre point of the upcoming compositions. Tucked in with this rock formation at our shoulder, conditions were not wanting to play ball as flat, lifeless skies took hold…these things are sent to test us as photographers.



It had been a long tiring day for all of us, though very rewarding on so many different levels. I had got to shoot in one of the most iconic and beautiful regions in the UK for the first time, and lucky enough to have Chris as a tour guide. I feel privileged that he was willing to share his knowledge and passion for the area that he calls home, what more could a person ask for than great landscapes to shoot in, and great company for the journey? Thanks again to Chris for being such a wonderful host, and to my wife who done all of the driving and waiting around patiently to make this possible.

As it happens, we were luckier than we thought weather wise, as it seemed like a constant downpour across the country for the rest of the week.



KIT FOR THE TRIP

These sorts of days where you are going to be on your feet for long periods, including some light ascent, it is crucial that you pack the right gear to save trips back to the car, and to make sure it is protected at all times whilst remaining comfortable throughout a long day.

Firstly, my backpack option was my trusty Vanguard Alta Rise 45. I cannot stress enough how much I love this bag; it is roomy in the main section and has enough pockets & additional storage for someone like me who has ‘Over Prepared’ syndrome! The design of the padded areas of support are second to none, with a level of comfort I have never had in a bag before, especially over extended periods.

Tripod wise for this trip I decided to go with my Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264CT with an Alta BH-250 Ball Head. This is a tripod that I know I can truly depend on for stability. and seeing as a large percentage of what I shoot is bracketed, stability in the most adverse of scenarios is absolutely vital. On top of this the versatility and amount of setup options available on this product are amazing, making it perfect for a very wide range of photographers. Coupled with this I use the Vanguard Alta Action 80 Tripod Bag, more affectionately known in my household as ‘The Tripod Sleeping Bag’. It’s perfect for protecting my Tripod whilst walking (attaches conveniently to side of camera bag), furthermore in the boot of the car.

Sometimes the little things in a camera bag are just as useful on this type of trip as the larger items. This in mind, my go to / always with me products are the Vanguard Vesta TT1 mini Tripod and Vanguard Alta Battery Case for helping to keep things tidy.


Filter wise I use an always reliable Kase 'Wolverine' filter set up, which consists of the Kase K8 Filter Holder, a magnetic Circular Polariser, accompanied by a 100mm 0.9 ND Grad Wolverine Filter & Soft Reverse Grad Wolverine Filter. These are truly remarkable filters that have virtually no colour cast to affect your images, extraordinary resilience to damage when in the field, and repels water which is really useful as a landscape photographer!


Thank you for taking the time to read. If you need any kit buying advice or want a bit more information about the equipment discussed, then don't hesitate in reaching out.


Scott


www.vanguardworld.co.uk

www.kasefilters.com

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© 2020 - Scott Read