A [failed?] search for the sunset

If I drive about an hour from home, I can get to any number of wonderful locations in the UK's Peak District National Park. It's a stunning area of upland moors and rocky edges with many photographic opportunities. I'm very proud to be a Photography Ambassador for Let's Go Peak District and to help promote such a beautiful part of the world with my images.

As it's the summer, the heather is starting to bloom and so I headed out for an afternoon hike and sunset shoot, in the hopes of catching some golden light on the purple moorland flowers.

I left home under bright skies, but as I crossed the Peak I could tell it had been raining heavily not long before. I parked up, and as I got out of my air-conditioned car I was immediately struck by how humid conditions were. Within a few hundred meters, the sweat was dripping off me (not a pleasant mental picture for sure!).

As I climbed the path to Derwent Edge, I could see that the humidity was affecting the whole area - even in the late afternoon, low clouds and mists were forming in the valleys, especially over the reservoirs, and lifting up to catch the sunlight.

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-10.jpg

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-6.jpg

The air itself was heavy and hazy, with great shafts of sunlight and shade beaming down from the broken clouds.

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-5.jpg

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-11.jpg

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-7.jpg

I arrived at my planned destination - an iconic rock formation known as the Salt Cellar - just as the sun went behind an enormous bank of cloud. I had a strong suspicion that would be the last of the light for the day, as the cloud looked to stretch out to the horizon with a suggestion of heavy rain in the far distance.

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-12.jpg

Half of the enjoyment I find in Landscape Photography is sticking with the hand we're dealt, and working with location and conditions to find a shot that can still give a viewer a sense of what it felt like to be there.

As the clouds moved overhead, I set about looking for a vibrant patch of heather to make a strong composition. I've shot looking out across the valley before, and didn't want to repeat that angle, so I found a different spot which looks along Derwent Edge to the north. A small dry stone wall added a boundary to the scene.

The setting sun was still able to catch the tops of the clouds above me, and a slight chink in the lower layers allowed a slight orange glow to break through for just a moment.

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-9.jpg

I have learned the hard way that we should never give up until darkness falls, so I kept the camera in position and waited to see if the sun might find an elusive gap on the horizon and burst through at the last push.

That didn't happen.

However, something else did, and it made this an utterly memorable evening.

A bright patch to my left caught my eye, and turning round I saw a wall of fog being driven by the wind up the hillside from the reservoir, right in my direction. I grabbed a quick video on my phone while it advanced (and stopped recording just before it came into the shot I'd set up).

I then shot a number of images as the fog rolled over me, and then up and over the edge onto the moors. (Low quality gif)

But in that sequence, I caught a few moments which I am very happy with, and which show the progression of the fog across the scene.

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig.jpg

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-2.jpg

- © Kieran Metcalfe BdrSig-3.jpg

As with so many trips out, I didn't get the conditions that were forecast, but I often find a forecast is nothing more than a kick up the backside to get out of the house. The joy of photography is documenting what I find when I'm there and presenting the beauty that's there in all conditions.

All these images were taken on a Canon 80D with either EF 70-200mm f4L, EF-S 17-15mm or Tokina 11-16mm. Most used a Formatt Hitech Firecrest polariser to help cut through the worst of the haze, and the shots of the Salt Cellar used a 3-stop Formatt Hitech Onyx Soft Edge Grad to balance the brightness in the clouds.

3 columns
2 columns
1 column