Here’s another couple of photos of a grnarled and twisted tree on the upper slopes of Padley Gorge. I’ve photographed it before, including this digital shot made on the same day. The whole area is filled with interesting trees to be photographed and, when the weather is right – especially with some mist present – the opportunities just seem to multiply.
Today was my last day off before returning to work tomorrow. Before Christmas I’d intended to go out with a camera on a few occasions but, apart from the day I made the shots featured here, I’ve not done any photography beyond making pictures of my family. I’ve instead just spent a lot of time watching TV and playing videogames. I do have the itch to get out and make new pictures, and today had some lovely winter sunshine I could have taken advantage of, but sometimes it’s nice to just chill out and relax with other things and I’m glad to have taken the time to do so this Christmas.
Another Padley Gorge photo today, again of a tree right up near the top of the wooded area where it opens out into heather and bracken covered moorland. There was another photographer making pictures of this same tree when I was there, so we were being careful not to get into one another’s shots.
Today was the day the Christmas decorations came down. I think the intent had been to dismatle them tomorrow but we ended up with a gap in the schedule this afternoon, so got it over and done with. I always used to find taking the decorations down a horribly depressing task, like it was making real the fact that the festive period and all the buid-up was done, and it was just back to work / school / wet and cold January days with not much to look forward to in the immediate future. It would really get me down and the house would look bare and empty with all the trees, lights, garlands and other trimmings packed away.
I don’t seem to feel it nearly so much now (and, if I’m honest, the excitement in the run up to Christmas either). I’m not sure exactly why this might be. Perhaps a sign of getting older? Maybe the fact that our kids are not so young and some of the magic has disappeared? Whatever the case, I don’t feel down like I used to. While I don’t want to lose my fondness for Christmas, losing the post-Christmas blues is not something I will complain about too much.
Both of my kids who still live with us have now tested positive for Covid-19. One late last week, the other today. Neither of them seem particularly ill – they have cold-like symptoms but not much else – and they’re still playing video games and watching the stuff they find entertaining. My wife and I are (so far) still testing negative. It’s actually something of a mystery how the first one managed to be infected – he hasn’t left the house since mid-December and the only visitor we had prior to him starting to feel ill was his big brother who came over on Christmas day (but he’s not been positive either). I’m assuming that either my older son, or my wife and I were infected but asymptomatic at some point and passed it on, or we’ve brought something contaminated into the house. It’s a bit of a puzzle to be honest.
A couple of days before Christmas I took myself out into the Peak District national park. The weather forecast showed fog, with rain expected later in the day, so I headed to Padley Gorge in the hope of getting some nice woodland scenes.
Padley Gorge looks great at pretty much any time of the year, being a steep sided valley filled with tumbles gritstone boulders, twisted and gnarled trees, and the peat stained waters of Burbage Brook cascading through the bottom on its way to Grindleford and it’s appointment with the River Derwent beyond. In the fog though, well those twisty trees take on a whole new level of character and the place feels like something out of a Tolkien story.
I shot a full roll of Ilford Delta 3200 film during the outing, as well as making a number of digital photos with my little Ricoh GRIII compact (the image stabilisation on this little camera is excellent, and I am able to drop the shutter speed down to 1/8 second handheld and still get sharp images, making it an excellent companion to other cameras). I decided to shoot the Delta a stop over at 1600asa and to then develop it at box speed. It’s a grainy film, but I thought that it might suit the murky conditions that presented themselves on the day.
I’ll be sharing a number of these shots over the coming days, and here to start us off are a couple of eerie looking large trees that stand at the head of the gorge.
I had to pause before making the photograph in todays post. The sunlight was getting increasingly bright when I found the tree and the contrasts of light and shadow were pretty strong – perhaps too much? But it caught my eye and I felt there was a picture to be had. I think I’d have ignored it if I’d been shooting digital (and definitely if I was using slide film!), but I had HP5+ in the camera back and I thought it would handle the extremes.
It didn’t let me down and, despite the dynamic range of the scene, there is still detail in both highlights and shadows.
Out of the coner These twists of wooden lightning Spark up from the earth
This follows on directly from my post a couple of days ago about my walk over the fields near Aston. Another four photos from the middle(ish) section of the walk.
It was dry on the day of the walk and the ground was firm, but there were reminders of how the conditions can change when wet weather has occured, both in the shape of these tractor tracks, and also the signs of footprints in the dried surface of the footpath.
Across another field the path splits – turning right and heading south along the western edge of the mortorway, or left where I walked up an incline to the bridge across the M1. Just before crossing the bridge I made a photo of a farm track where it ran through a stand of trees.
Crossing the motorway in the crisp spring light, I made another picture, this time of the road heading north. A little further up is the junction where the M18 splits to take drivers north-east to Doncaster, Robin Hood Airport, and on to Goole. The M1 itself bends westwards to split the gap between Sheffield and Rotherham, crossing the River Don over Tinsley Viaduct close to the Meadowhall shopping mall, before turning back north to Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds.
After crossing the motorway, the footpath cut to the right and south towards a nearby farm. The farm had a large open-sided barn which made opportunity for another couple of pictures.
I did make one final photo on this roll of Delta 100 a little further on where a line of poplars framed a nice wooden door and cottage. Sadly the film snapped while loading it onto the spiral and so that frame was lost.
I’ve more photos still to come from this walk, but they’re colour pictures so I’ll post them another day.
A big wooden barn It’s sides open to the wind Contents blown away?
A week ago I posted a couple of photos of trees stood beside a drystone wall at the edge of Padley Gorge. In that post I mentioned that I had another photo made at the same location yet to come, so here it is today.
A gap in the wall Reveals an excited birch Waving its branches
While out in the Peak District the other week I took a brief wander into the birch trees close to Surprise View to look for potential photos. There are countless pictures to be had, but it’s not always easy to eke them out. I didn’t stay in the arera long and made just three or four photos including the two here today.
The first is of a bird-box affixed to one of the trees. There are a number of these boxes throughout the place, but this one has been damaged somehow – whether by human, animal, or natural forces I do not know. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper now though.
While I was making the photo of the bird-box I could hear the trees creaking in the wind around me, but it was only when I looked up that I noticed the soun was coming from a tree I was stood beneath. It’s trunk was broken partway up and a significant section of the upper part of the tree was swinging in the breeze. I don’t think it was at imminent risk of breaking free and landing on my head but I moved out of the way nontheless.
A broken tree trunk Swinging and creaking above I’m glad it stayed put
A few weeks ago (although I would swear it wasn’t that long ago!) I posted a picture of a structure built of sticks. Today I have another couple of photographs of the same twiggy building plus a photo of another, neighbouring edifice.
I’ve still not come across anyone actually building these things – not that I spend that much of my time wandering through the trees – and I’m still curious as to whether their construction is some sort of organised activity, or just groups of kids making dens? Few of the trees around this area are suitable for treehouses, so perhaps these make an alternative?
The other option is that the second of the three little pigs has decided this would be a good place to build a fortress against the Big Bad Wolf. I didn’t see any wolves, just a few dogs being walked. Nor did I make any attempt to see if I could huff and puff and blow the house in.
Mister Wolf is here So little pig, little pig Please let me come in!
Over the past few years, when walking in wooded areas, I’ve noticed a number of structures appear. They appear to be rudimentary shelters made from branches, although they probably do little to keep the elements out. I’ve seen them in a number of different places, but have never seen anyone building them which lends them a slightly spooky Blair Witch Project air.
The branches used to build them, in my local area at least, seem to be from woodland management – lots of trees have been trimmed in the last year or so. In a lot of cases these cuttings are left piled up like lumber, perhaps to be collected at a later date, or maybe to form an environment suited to small mammals and invertebrates. Some of the cuttings go on to create these structures though.
I’m sure there’s a perfectly mundane reason for them, but I also kinda like the idea of a miniature Stonehenge / Easter Island type mystery about them.
Who might sleep inside A home made of drafty sticks Little pig maybe?