Sunday, 22 February 2015

Mother Mountain

I've decided to concentrate a little on my much neglected landscape work for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean I will be forsaking my wildlife portfolio in the meantime...On the contrary because I usually always pack my larger lenses when on a shoot for fear of missing something unexpected!
Yesterday the plan was to walk up to the summit of Mam Tor (Mother Mountain) high in the Derbyshire Peak District and hopefully capture the sunrise along the Great Ridge...
I left home around 5.45am to give myself plenty of time to drive to the location, get up to the summit and set up my equipment in anticipation of what nature had to offer. Unfortunately with best laid plans and all that, things didn't go quite the way I was hoping for!
The drive in darkness to Derbyshire was uneventful until I reached the elevated village of Chapel en le Frith and it was at this point I realised I might have to change my plans due to the first flurries of snow that were falling and causing what I call the 'Star Wars' effect...This is when the snowflakes bounce off the car windscreen in a unrelenting manner and in the darkness give the impression that you're driving through the opening titles of the classic sci-fi movie! At this point I was in two minds about what to do because the weather in this part of the world can be unforgiving and unpredictable at the best of times, but I decided to carry on to the location and then access the situation.
I arrived at the base of the mountain at around 6.30am and by this time there was a blizzard blowing. I got out of my car to weigh up the scene and the -8c wind chill factor helped me decided that this wasn't perhaps the best of conditions to tackle Mam Tor's slippery slopes in the dark.
I poured myself a cup of hot green tea (life saver!) from my flask and watched a while as the battle between the wind and the snow unfolded with the ultimate prize for the snow being the chance to settle on the mountain.
Soon, night time became twilight and I set my camera up at the base of Mam Tor to capture a record shot before heading off to a more accessible location. 

Mam Tor base in twilight
I decided to head off towards Sheffield and had a very nice couple of hours capturing Owler Tor in beautiful early morning winter sunshine...Results of this shoot will be published on another occasion!
Pleased with my early morning results from Owler Tor, I pondered for a while about where to go next to make the most of the good light and decided to drive back to Castleton because it offers many different options.
The option I decided on however was to head back to Mam Tor and although disappointed not to get the sunrise shots earlier, I thought I owed it to myself to get at least something from the mountain.
The snow on Mam Tor wasn't as bad as it had threatened to be earlier, although still slippery underfoot and bitterly cold I managed to make it about 3/4 of the way up before deciding not to go any further.
From this altitude I shot the summit...


 Mam Tor Summit

The above image is still a couple or three hundred feet from the top and the bleakness of the landscape doesn't really give any clue to this sense of this scale.
From this same height, I panned my camera around to the other side of the mountain and captured a view of some isolated trees on the down slope...

Mam Tor Trees

Finally, the main point of putting all the effort of reaching these sort of vantage points, in all weathers and at hours when a lot of people are still in bed on a Saturday morning is the views.
Here is a shot of the Hope Valley from the lower slopes of Mam Tor, with the famous cement works chimney puffing out smoke to the right of the image...

Hope Valley From Mam Tor

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

More Tits

Well I've been itching to get out with the camera all week, but unfortunately a combination of work commitments and truly awful light conditions have laid to rest any plans I may have had to get out there and satisfy my desire.
I'm pleased to report that all as not been lost though and I've spent the last couple of evenings processing some photographs which have remained overlooked for the last few years.
I've actually got an archive of unprocessed shots running into the tens of thousands and its actually been a pleasure looking and sorting through some of those.
Today I'm going to carry on from where I left off at the last post and present you with some portraits of a few different varieties of Tit.
All these images were taken in the Derbyshire Peak District on a lovely late winters day in March 2010...

                                                                         Blue Tit

Coal Tit
Great Tit

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Back With A Renewed Passion

Its been a while to say the least since my last post...Over 4 years in fact!
The reason for this I guess is because I became a little disillusioned with the wildlife genre of photography and needed a fresh challenge.

For the last few years my photography has been infrequent and limited to street and urban type stuff, but recently the call of the wild has become overwhelming and the urge to go back to what I love and know best has gotten the better of me.

Yesterday I took a walk to a local wildlife haven and for the first time in ages I was armed with my trusty Nikon and 500mm lens.
My God, I've missed it! I cant explain how much I've missed it.
It was a bitterly cold morning and my fingers were frozen to the bone before I was finished, but I'm so glad that I made those tentative first steps back to be with nature.
The sights, smells and just the sheer utter tranquillity of wild places is something I don't want to be any long time away from again...My passion is renewed and I feel I have to make up for lost time.

Anyway...The photography!

To say I was a little ring rusty would be a massive understatement and it took me a good couple of hours to get my eye in and take anything like a half decent image.
The first shots I fired were of a Treecreeper spiraling up a tree in very bad light and the results were I'm afraid disappointing.
My next encounter was with a fleeting one with a Dipper feeding in the river and again I have nothing to show from that.
Finally while heading back to my car (frozen!) I spotted a small flock of Great Tits in a farmers field.
I spent a little time observing their behaviour which consisted of chasing each other and occasionally landing on a barbed wire fence; So really it was just a case of setting the camera on the tripod and waiting.
I managed to get a sequence of fairly pleasing portraits of these tiny birds and all in all I'm very happy with my first day back shooting wildlife.

                                                                      Great Tit