Another stag weekend, another visit to the Lake District! I’ll never complain, I’m always happy to get over to Cumbria whatever the reason. We had a bit of unplanned time on the Saturday morning and as the weather forecast was not promising a decent sunrise, I decided to head for Stockghyll Force, which was a short walk from our cottage in Ambleside.
The weather was overcast but reasonably bright, which was ideal for photographing water under the cover of trees; bright sunshine can create too much contrast.
I’ve been to the falls before, a long time ago, but then I only visited the main top section and didn’t see the lower sections, so I explored up the footpaths from the access gate at grid reference NY380045, making note of possible vantage points on my way up to the main falls at the top of the woods.
The river runs in a deep ghyll, so it is difficult to get down to the river’s edge in the higher sections. The are also a lot of overhanging branches to interfere with the views from the path. With these restrictions, it is difficult to get a clean shot of large sections of the falls. My favourite location was near the top on the northern bank, where I took my time fine tuning my position and framing. I selected ISO 100 and f11 to maximise the image quality from camera sensor and lens. I captured this image using a Lee 0.9 pro glass neutral density filter to lengthen the shutter speed by 3 stops to 0.6 seconds, which blurred the water nicely. A solid tripod was vital for keeping the surrounding rocks sharp.
Ideally I wanted to find an image of the whole of the main falls but I couldn’t find one from a safe location that I was happy with. In particular I found tree branches intruding into the composition. The best view I could find of the whole of the main falls was this one on the southern bank, which I took handheld without a filter as a record shot to give an impression of the full cascade. For reference, the first image in this post concentrated on the upper left section of the falls.
As I returned to the town, I called in to work on one of the locations I noted on the way up, which is just above the access gate. Again, I used the 3 stop ND filter to blur the water.
Ambleside is a popular destination in the Lake District with many amenities and sees a large number of visitors each year. This location is a short walk out of the town centre yet offers a wonderful photographic location to work on those days when the weather isn’t quite right for shooting those desirable sweeping Lakeland vistas. Maybe next time…