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May 2015

 

 

Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Yorkshire Dales

 

 

I spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales this May.  What a treat!  The trees were bursting with green leaves, the breeding birds on the moors were busy with their young, the barns and dry-stone walls provided lots of interesting shapes and scenes and when the conditions were dreadful for everything else, the waterfalls provided a great source of photographic fun and games... until or unless I spotted a Dipper!

 

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Dry stone walls were nearly the death of me.  Landscape photography is not my strongest suit. Sometimes I can see a composition straight away but more often than not, I stand and look and look and look... desperatately trying to see patterns and shapes that I can convert into images.  The landscape of the huge valleys in the Dales is on such a massive scale that it's often really hard to capture it, especially if the sky is bland and uninteresting so, focussing in on dry stone walls is a good way of conveying some of that Yorkshire Dales magic. But then you have to find a composition that doesn't have trees in the wrong place, big modern barns in the wrong place or... sheep in the wrong place!

On this trip, I wanted to create a portfolio of images that conveyed 'spring in the Yorkshire Dales' and so the gallery that I've put together is rather an eclectic mixture. Birds, flowers, walls, valleys, trees, limestone pavements etc etc

As we drove around the Dales we frequently crossed over the tops of the hills were the birds were in their full breeding plumage and often accompanied by little chicks.  We certainly saw Lapwing, Golden Plover and Red Grouse chicks.... ahhh!

 

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Waterfalls provided endless amusement when the weather wasn't suitable for the big landscapes.  I was taught a new skill... the art of getting expensive camera equipment and self into the middle of a fast flowing river over slippery rocks, without falling over!  Think 'granny with zimmer frame' and you get the idea!  It works and I really don't care what I look like (just ask my mother!!)  With my newly learnt geriatric skills, I blurred, swirled, smoothed, multiply exposed and variously cheesed those waterfalls for all I was worth.  In case you haven't tried it, Adobe Lightroom has a new HDR photomerge tool.  Even more cheese!  So yes, I deliberately over-processed and HDRd a few images... just because I can!

 

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But all these waterfalls get blown out immediately as soon as I see the flash of a passing Dipper or spot the characteristic bobbing up and down on the rocks just by the side of moving water.  Did I get the shots that I wanted?  No, of course not!  I'll just have to go back, won't I?  But I had a wonderful time photographing the acrobatic antics of a juvenile Dipper calling out for a parent to come and feed it.  I also managed to get one shot of an adult Dipper posing on a favourite rock in front of a blurry waterfall.  As soon as I had got the shot almost right, the bird flew away.  Blooming wildlife!!  

 

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Huge thanks to Guy Edwardes for a fantastic trip, for driving me all over the Dales, for cooking such amazing meals, for teaching me the zimmer frame trick and for drying out my iphone when I dropped it into 6" water.  There's a Swaledale sheep and lamb in the gallery that provided the biggest laugh of the trip for me when they photo-bombed the Wheatear that we were all photographing.  There we were lying on our tummies by the side of the road, patiently photographing a Wheatear who was as intrigued by our antics as we were with him, when along came 2 sets of sheep legs... right into the frame!  You should have heard the muttering and cursing.  Hilarious!  

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