One of the biggest struggles with this challenge has been the logistics of getting golden hour photographs and fitting that in with work & general life. To add to that, August is a busy month for us both; we have a wedding to attend, it's Tracy's birthday, I have a big project on at work and it's our first wedding anniversary. We needed to get slightly ahead of schedule, we needed a plan and it needed to be ambitious.
There are a few locations within 'Peak District - Through the lens' (our guide book) that are listed outside of the golden hour. Some locations were meant to be shot late at night, some in the late afternoon and some in the early morning. We checked the weather forecast, it predicted a clear night and a clear morning. We cross referenced the book with Google Maps and organised our weekend to shoot as many locations in two days as we could. It would mean staying out in the Peak District all afternoon, all night and most of the morning, but could we do it? We had to try.
The first two locations of the afternoon were close together, they were Monsall Trail and Water-cum-jolly (a ridiculous name, I know). We arrived at Monsall Trail at about 5PM, the view was impressive but because we were in the middle of summer everything was green, it was also extremely windy which made it difficult to shoot because of the movement of the trees and foliage. The best bit about Monsall Trail? The ice cream van at the top, it was delicious! We packed up our things, devoured the ice cream and moved on to Water-cum-jolly. We encountered the same issue here, SO MUCH GREEN! There were a lot of climbers making the most of the good weather and the fantastic limestone rock. It was tough to find a nice composition, especially with the cloudless sky. We made friends with a local cat, took our shots and got back to the car. These are the two shots from the afternoon, I'd definitely like to go back in Autumn, the difference in colour will make a huge improvement:
Our next location was one of the tough ones, Win Hill. It was described as a 'lung buster' and rated 4/5 in terms of difficulty. We parked up in the lay-by and looked ahead to what we were about to ascend... it was steep, very steep. There is no defined path on the way up, just a lot of mud, rocks and tree roots. It's not a walk, nor a hike, it's a scramble. We were both out of breath within the first minute, our calf muscles felt like they were on fire, not a good sign but we had to keep going, the sunset was happening within the hour regardless of our fitness level. We took a few breaks on the way up, we had to, we were both absolutely drenched in sweat (sorry, it's true). It took us about 45 minutes to reach the very top of the hill, it was very exposed up there and very windy! We quickly found a composition we liked, set the tripod up and started shooting.
Win Hill is another area of the Peak District that is absolutely covered in heather, it was the perfect time of the year to be taking photographs here. The view from up top was 360 degrees of beauty and as the sun got lower it made the purple heather glow, it really was a glorious site, I hope the photo does it justice:
After the sun had set we packed up our things and started the descent. It took us nearly as long to get down as it did to get up. It was extremely slippy, very steep and by now, very dark. We were careful, we took our time and helped each other down. We got back to the car at about 10 p.m, after all of that excitement we were pretty hungry so headed to the nearest fast food place we could find. We had just under 2 hours until the sky would be at it's darkest. We were aiming to photograph the Milky Way, what we came back with was much much more significant.
To be continued.