As a photographer it can be quite tricky to shoot images that aren’t cliché and overdone, it’s usually even harder to shoot them better than anyone has done before. Mam Tor at sunrise is probably one of the most shot locations within the Peak District and as such it’s really hard to get something different and exceptional from there. It’s obvious why its so well shot, easy access with great iconic views with a valley that often fills with mist.
It’s not to say I’m against shooting the popular locations, I always quite like to have one shot from that location which I’m proud of and hopefully with my own take on it. But it’s also very nice to shoot locations where you know your not going to bump into anyone, you have the area to yourself and you know the conditions you experienced at that particular time in that particular moment are witnessed and captured only by you. It’s also a great feeling when you shoot somewhere that’s rarely been photographed before knowing you’ve come back with hopefully one of the best photos from that area. Oh I must sound so unsociable by now!
I know the Peak District very intimately and having done a lot of walking it gives me a certain exposure I believe to areas less visited that I’ve always thought “ah that would make a good photo”. However, sometimes I guess you have to give in and shoot something you’ve seen countless times before.
So on to my sunrise on Sunday at Mam Tor. To be honest, one of the main reasons for not visiting again photographically was really because almost 2 years ago I got a full on cloud inversion from Mam Tor where the cloud was right up to the summit. A rare occurrence, as many photographers proceeded to inform me about how they had been going up for years, even decades and not witnessing anything like it. I felt lucky and that I wouldn’t be able to get much more from the location and I was glad to have my own take from the location.
But after a frustrating sunrise on the Saturday, even if the end results were good I had set my alarm for sunrise on Sunday. I wasn’t sure where to go and thought about Curbar Edge, a location I hadn’t done at sunrise yet. However, I woke up on the Sunday morning, knackered and proceeded to turn the alarm off, then I noticed I had a text from Stephen Elliott, a fellow photographer who lives in the Hope Valley saying “Hope you’re up for sunrise, thick mist and clear skies above, Mam Tor would be epic”. Unfortunately for him he was at work but I got up, bleary eyed and headed out.
It was a tough decision on the way, I got to surprise view, looked back towards Curbar and saw the mist would either be to the top of engulfing it. I decided to stick to my golden rule today and stick to the planned location instead of rushing around and carried on to Mam Tor. I arrived and decided I’d walk down to the infamous gate to get the shot seen so many times before. I bumped into Andrew Yu, a photographer I had been speaking to for a while but never had the pleasure of meeting. I had told him before how I tried to avoid Mam Tor so imagine his surprise when I turned up.
We waited around and were quite pleased with the sunrise, here is the shot that I have so hard tried to avoid taking but glad I didn’t resist on this morning:
Being in my stubborn mode though, I was determined to get something a little different so I turned around 180 degrees and shot Mam Tor, a photo and view that isn’t quite as recognisable, but the colours and light at this point was fantastic:
The next shot is actually just before the sun come up, the mist kept rolling over the hill before Back Tor, so I got a telephoto attached to my camera and zoomed in to concentrate on the detail:
So after what was a successful sunrise at Mam Tor I decided due to the mist not burning off it may be worth going to Padley Gorge to try and get a shot of the suns rays breaking through the trees and mist with some nice Autumnal Colours. The mist in the woods was actually very thin and the rays breaking through were only in certain places, I was quite pleased with this shot though:
In the end it turned out to be a good and successful day. The shot from Mam Tor of the gate has turned out to be one of my most popular photos to date on Facebook and gone down well on Flickr too. Perhaps I should shoot popular stuff more often and not be so stubborn. Popular is popular for a reason I guess!