It was 3:30am when my alarm went off last Sunday morning, the weather forecast had looked promising the night before so I decided to head over to the coast to catch sunrise. On the road the first glimpses of light started to appear in the sky and it looked good with a pale pink hue lighting up the sky. That was until I headed up over the North Yorkshire Moors and suddenly found myself surrounded by a thick fog and a visibility of about 30 yards, I was hoping this would not be a problem when I headed back down to sea level but much to my disappointment it was still present when I arrived in Whitby and completely masked the sunrise.
Given that I had got up ridiculously early and driven about 90 miles I wasn’t going to give up that easily and might as well make the most of it, I parked the car and headed down towards the pier. There is a nice feeling about being out in the landscape before the vast majority of other people, the only exception were three photographers who were wandering round looking depressed at the cloudy weather. After about half an hour the cloud started to lift and some texture and colour had started to appear in the sky all be it rather subtle, I composed a shot using the dark graphic shapes of the piers to offset against the soft warm hues in the sky, the final photo is shown below.
It was amazing how much the conditions improved in just a short space of time so it was definitely worth hanging around for, unlike the other photographers who had given it up as a bad job by this point – oh well their loss.
During the day the weather improved although Whitby was full of tourists so I didn’t do much more photography just a couple of long exposure shots for a new project. Typically as the day started with heavy cloud it ended the same way and there was no sunset to speak of either.
On Monday morning despite the cloud cover I headed up to Staithes about ten miles up the coast, this is a location I have never really explored so I decided if the worse came to the worse it would be a worth while recce. The cloud was heavier this morning so the chance of a sunrise was non-existant, again not perturbed by this I headed down the steep winding road from Cowbar into the harbour at Staithes.
Whilst exploring for potential shots I noticed the nice line of fishing boats on the far side of the harbour, I worked my way around and on to one of the outer piers that allowed me to photograph back in land with the fishing boats in the foreground. I tried various lengths of exposure but partially liked the blurring effect created by the boats bobbing around and the contrast with the sharp lines of the buildings on the shore. I used a 10 stop ND filter to reduce the exposure time down around a minute which allowed the sea and boats to appear soft and blurred.
With the weather still not looking any better I decided to head back home and although the weather had not been great I still made a hand full of good shots and recce’d a new location so in my opinion it was worth the early starts.
Swaledale is situated towards the north of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on the B6270 and about 2 hours drive from Leeds and Manchester. I have found it to be one of the quieter locations in the dales when compared to places further south as Malham in Malhamdale and even Hawes in Wensleydale, which is essentially the next door dale – this makes it a great spot for photography even when the tourists are out in force.
If you are visiting for the first time I would suggest you explore the area surrounding Keld, Muker and Thwaite as there is plenty variety from barns to waterfalls.
The above photo is taken between Keld and Thwaite looking towards to Thwaite and is a wonderful example of the dales landscape. There are some road side parking spaces (unmarked) along the road and many of the shots can be grabbed from the road side.
During the summer months the meadows throughout Swaledale are full of wild flowers, a really special sight. Some of the best examples can be found at Thwaite on the public foot path that runs past the village. Parking in Thwaite can be tricky at weekends but there is a pay and display car park at the entrance to the village. The photo above is taken just outside the village and shows the wonderful colours.
Muker has a more flower meadows although some are harder to get access to due to streams and fences, still well worth a nosey. I found the above shot just inside a farmers field off the main road.
Some other locations worth looking at are around Keld, there is a car park in the village and a couple of waterfalls in short walking distance which are worth a visit if the water levels are high.