Last Sunday saw me out and about in the Peak District again aiming to capture a sunset at Shutlinsgloe. Shutlingsloe is in the Western Peaks and it’s distinct shape can be seen from miles around but will be a familiar sight to anyone who has drove along the Cat and Fiddle. Shutlingsloe has a nickname of “The Matterhorn of Cheshire” due to its narrow looking nature and distinct shape that apparently resembles the Matterhorn in Switzerland. Make of that what you will, but it’s certainly a good hill to look at.
Being March, usually the snow is long gone by now but a recent cold snap saw us having more of the white stuff and I thought it would make a good opportunity to get out and capture perhaps my last winter image of the season.
Now I chose Shutlingsloe because it had been on my radar a long time. I first walked up it a few years ago and was very impressed by its small summit with panoramic views as far as the eye could see. I attempted a sunset once before but I wasn’t happy with the results so they never got posted.
If you search for images of Shutlingsloe there are very few out there (in my opinion of course) that do it justice and photographers don’t seem to go up there. These are the kind of locations I love to shoot. I always strive for something “different” in my work, it may not sell the best and people may not immediately recognise the location but i’d much rather be somewhere a little more remote, with me being the only photographer up there capturing a scene that no one else could capture again. I find it very rewarding.
While of course I have my shots of very well known locations, they’re obviously a must do for the right reasons I do try and put my own spin on them, but for the most part I hope you can look through my portfolio and find a variety of scenes and locations and maybe even think “why did I not know of this one?”. I do photography for myself first and if people appreciate it afterwards, it makes it more worthwhile. If I inspire people to get out to these locations, then I really feel I’ve done a good job.
Some may call me stubborn trying to capture these locations, they are usually certainly harder to capture but I think my love for something different comes from the fact I used to do a lot of walking in the Peak District. I used to visit these places on walks and think at the time “wow these would make a great photograph” and keep them on my radar since then.
By nature, these locations do tend to need a little more effort in getting to also and Shutlingsloe is no different. You can go up mainly from either Wildboarclough or Macc Forest but I chose the former. The initial ascent is pretty steady, but at the half way point it becomes a lot steeper and in wet conditions the “path” becomes a mudslide, I was thankful for the sub zero conditions on the way up and down making the walk a little less treacherous.
I had actually arrived at the carpark a little later than anticipated, but a brisk walk saw me to the summit just in time for golden hour and so far there had been no light. However, what was immediately apparent was that the conditions were going to be very tough. The air temperature was around -5 but it was the wind that made things a lot more difficult. Wind chill was at least -10. Not only was it the chill factor though it was the fact I could barely keep the tripod still to take pictures and looking through the viewfinder became difficult.
Not one to be defeated, I waited around patiently and could see that light was starting to break over on Shining Tor in the distance (Cheshire’s highest point) and hoped it would be with me soon. That was the advantage of the wind, it was at least blowing the clouds quickly although each time a cloud passed it was usually with a dumping of snow on me and my equipment. I took some test shots and could quickly see a base ISO of 100 wasn’t high enough to avoid camera shake and get a sharp picture so I had to up the ISO to 400. I don’t like doing this, because you introduce noise into an image but it was a necessary evil.
As hoped though, the light came in and flood the landscape including my foreground. It felt magical to me, it had been a while since I had been out in good light and the fact my hard work and patience were paying off made it all the more worth while.
This first shot was taken from near the summit trig point looking along the moors over to Shining Tor, some pretty special light as you can see and you can see the evident storm clouds:
Once I had captured this, a little bit more of a wait was in order for some more light but I faced the other way into the sun just metres from where the above image was taken. I set up a composition and felt it was a little bland so I got really low down and found a rock I thought would be a good anchor point for the image. I waited for the sun to get low enough and orange enough, with a little cast of light on the snow and ended up with the below image: