Shooting a popular location differently by Dawn S. Black ARPS

05 December 2017

SIG: Landscape

Image: Pen-y-ghent, (c) Dawn S. Black

I’ve been to North Yorkshire Moors many times, but not the Yorkshire Dales. Having just returned from a weekend there I am asking myself “Why not?” and trying to work out the logistics of going back again. It is a fantastically beautiful place and having just moved back to the UK from 13 years overseas I am full of appreciation for the British countryside. It also means I am late to the party for most of the UKs popular landscape photography hotspots.

As an active member of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) I joined the Landscape SIG whilst still living in The Netherlands, even though I was unable to join some of the inaugural events. When the Conference was announced in March for November 2017 I booked immediately, knowing I would be back in the UK by then and need to get out to meet some like-minded photographers. The group turned out to be a very likeable, open and friendly bunch from all walks of life, which always makes these events interesting and inspiring. Despite working in photography, I find it helpful to join such events to relax and simply enjoy photography for photography’s sake rather than always chasing work. You gather energy from those around you and it’s always good to hear what the professional speakers have to say, to take inspiration from them and even be challenged by some. As photographers we should never stop learning.

As part of the programme, Jim Souper had organised a landscape shoot and we were led off to a well-known and well-photographed spot: Winskill Stones. Here a lone hawthorn tree sits in the limestone pavement with gorgeous views wherever you look (at least there would have been had we not been in the cloud - thankfully the mist lifted after a few hours). When you go to such a hotspot how should you approach it? Recreate an iconic shot? Find the angle that you’ve seen shot so well by another? Or skirt around the subject, looking for an alternative to try and give your own unique take? The latter is definitely the way I go. Before even thinking about setting up the tripod and taking the kit out of the bag, I’ll wander around, taking in all the possibilities, drinking in the atmosphere and feel of the place too. The weather can contribute greatly to this and if you are restricted to having to shoot what’s in front of you on the day you just have to work with it.

On arrival the hilltop was shrouded in mist but this showed potential of moving quite quickly. It lifted and settled back in a few times but those glimpses allowed me to see some potential shots. While most others set up to shoot that tree I turned my back on it and set my sights on a different tree with mist behind and the shadowy outline of a mist covered crag that seemed to echo its shape. Pre-visualisation helps here as well as perseverance and patience.

Image: The Other Tree, Winskill, (c) Dawn S. Black

Finally the mist really started to lift and some shafts of sunlight began to break though. All around there were wide views into the valley below and the peak tops emerged from the cloud. Everything that says “Yorkshire Dales” was encapsulated in that view: peaks and vales, picturesque villages nestled in the valley, craggy limestone outcrops, fields surrounded by drystone walls and sheep. It was an ideal spot to take 16 photographers as we could spread out and rarely did anyone encroach on another’s field of view. There is little worse than having a row of tripods legs interlocked, jostling for the best angle at a location.

Image: Quintessential Yorkshire Dales, (c) Dawn S. Black

And did I shoot that tree? Of course I did… eventually!

Image:That Tree, Winskill, (c) Dawn S. Black

Dawn S. Black ARPS is a professional photographer based in the North East of Scotland offering photography workshops and courses, interiors and architectural photography services and fine art landscape and landmark print sales.



Twitter: @dawnsblackphoto

Instagram: @dawnsblackphoto

Comments (3)

03 March 2018

Really interesting to read how you approached your photography. More please!

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Armando Jongejan
06 December 2017

Great Dawn a next step !

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05 December 2017

Thanks for your report, Dawn. It was interesting to read of your approach to photographing the landscape and to see your photographs. You must have some great landscape in NE Scotland, too...

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