Sunset on Stanage Edge

All week I had been constantly comparing the BBC weather forecast with my social plans and trying to come up with a date to get out into the Peaks with my new MeFoto Roadtrip Tripod. Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and head out no matter what the weather was, and I finally settled on a location- Stanage Edge; this photographic hotspot lies along the northern side of the pretty and easily accessible settlement of Hathersage. Only £3.55 for a student return by train-bargain!

After jumping off the train I started heading northwards uphill towards Stanage Edge, taking in the views of the rolling, dry-stone wall laden, farmland as I went. I had forgotten how photogenic the peaks were, I could have stopped at virtually every fox glove stood proud against the grey boulder walls. But I had a sunset and a train to catch, so I decided to save my camera for the main event.

I gradually started to realise how much wildlife was around me as I started hearing the warbling of the local curlews (for me the defining sound of the Peak District), and finally getting  a proper look at a swallow for the first time in 2014; a bird so obviously absent from inner-city Sheffield to my rurally calibrated mind. Blue tits and chaffinches chirped and chattered my presence as I meandered past pastures of buttercups until I finally approached some moorland, sending hares and red grouse bolting from the undergrowth. I ultimately had landscape on the mind, and decided to not attempt to pursue the shyer animals around, but this siskin perched politely up on a bare tree branch forced me to swap lenses.

It wasn’t long before I reached Stanage Edge and finally got up high to see the stunning view. Meadow pipits hopped and hovered around the rocky ledges as I began to walk south along the old rocky track.

peak district meadow pipit

Being a landscape photographer and having lots of farmers in the family (as well as working in agriculture myself during the summer), the weather is everything. Whether it’s for lighting conditions, if we are going to be able to harvest barley, or if I am going to get drenched, I am serial weather app checker- and I still wasn’t sure what the clouds were going to do next. There was a haze hung in the air decreasing the visibility, and thin clouds filtered much of the sun, which while not great, did at least mean there weren’t any harsh shadows. Some larger stormier clouds helped add some interest to the sky, which I wanted to capture in this shot (which is actually two vertical shots stitched together, because it’s a lot cheaper than buying a wider angle lens!) along with the scruffy path heading back up along Stanage Edge.

peak district stanage edge bleak stormy path
The interesting gritstone rock formations and beautifully green view are what really makes this place.

rock natual frame landscape

What I really came for was foreground interest, because Stanage Edge isn’t short of it, and because who can get enough of foreground interest!? As you will see I could barely take my camera out of its portrait position on my tripod for most of the day! Once again I took this shot as two portrait shots and stitched them to give a slightly wider angle of view without having to step back from the foreground cracks and pools. One of the many friendly rock climbers stands in the mid-ground surveying what he had just climbed!

rock climber peak district foreground interest stood edge

As the lighting still wasn’t golden I walked further down the path trying to remember where potential photos could be for later. The thinner clouds began to fade and blue sky started to puncture the clouds, here’s where the circular polariser really comes into its own.

peak district black and white Hathersage
I noticed the sky had cleared particularly well with some wispy white clouds and aeroplane trails at a right angle to the sun, so was going to really work well with a CPL filter. I hunted for a composition which would include this patch of sky and eventually noticed the reflection in this small pool. I included the sky, but not by pointing my camera upwards!

reflection peak district rocky blue
rock pool reflection black and white

Heres another black and White I got from further down the track where the edge began to level out, allowing me to get below some of the big rocks.

DSC_0118BW2

Back on top of the edge, the sun had lowered, we were comfortably in the golden hour, and the ambers of the setting sun had started to glow!

stanage edge sunset

I realised the real show was about to begin so I decided to go and chase the light…. Not in a metaphorical romanticised way, I literally speed-walked, with interspersed jogging, back to where I knew there was better foreground interest and shot away. I took the following 6 shots within 20 minutes during some of the best light of the evening; it really was a beautiful moment on these ancient rocks, even if I was just running around taking photos!

stanage edge sunset landscape

sunset stanage edge

rock climbing climber sunset stanage edge

layers of rock sunset

peak district rock layers sunset stanage edge

Stanage edge flowers life rock landscape
As the sun sunk below the horizon and I needed to start thinking about heading back to the train station, I took this one panoramic shot of the wider scene. I attempted to capture a little bit of movement and soften the sky by adding a 3-stop ND filter to the mix. All round it was a really enjoyable evening out ‘togging, and a great goodbye-for-now for this little part of the world, before I headed home to the comparatively flat Lincolnshire for summer.

stanage edge panorama sunset long exposure

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