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Alport Castles - Playing hide & seek with the sun

24.08.2017

Alport Castles is home to one of the largest land-slips in the U.K. From afar it doesn't look very intimidating but up close the boulders are large and dominate the landscape. We were accompanied to this location with our friend Kim, the walk was fairly long (about 6 miles if memory serves me correctly) with some parts being more of a scramble than a walk. The weather was changing all the time when we arrived; it was sunny, cloudy, overcast then raining. 

 

Alport Castles gains its name because the outcrop of rocks and boulders sort of look like castles from the valley below. We arrived early since we knew the location was a bit of a slog. The main viewpoint I was interested in was of an unnamed pool close to 'The Tower'. We struggled to locate it and had to resort to sending the drone on a bit of a scouting mission. It was a tactic we had used with mixed results in the past, on this occasion it was a success. 

 

We scrambled around the rocks for an hour or so, struggling to find a composition that worked. The biggest problem by far was that the sky was completely overcast where the sun was, the sky behind us was almost clear blue but no matter how hard the wind blew the cloud covering the sun didn't budge. It meant that the landscape looked flat and fairly uninteresting and other than green, there wasn't much colour to be seen either. We tried some long exposures and played around with using the boulders for foreground interest but it was tough-going. To give you an idea of the struggle, we took this:

 

It wasn't what I had in mind and I have to admit, we were really struggling. I recalled some advice I heard from popular YouTube Vlogger Thomas Heaton about when to choose black and white over colour. The colour in the landscape before us certainly wasn't adding anything to the image so I thought it would be worth a try. We stuck the circular polarising filter on as well as a 6-stop ND filter and took some shots down towards the pool. We haven't really done very much with black and white and considering how disappointed we were with the shots we had, we felt that we had salvaged something from the day:

 

It was a long afternoon/evening and the wind battered us about considerably, we got rained on a little bit but nothing too much. The conditions weren't ideal but the day had been worth it. Tracy even got to face her fear of cows :)

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