2016 03 - Ian Daisley

25th March 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
17th March 2016
Images by Ian Daisley

Peak District Beauty

Photographers who have captured the beauty of the Peaks have been among our most memorable speakers, so Ian Daisley was eagerly awaited and he did not disappoint. He proved to be a very generous speaker, sharing not just his techniques, but also his locations. For our group where some are fit enough for the of heroics much beloved of some landscape photographers through to those for whom significant physical exertion is not an option, it was interesting to hear that for once the majority of locations were within easy reach from a car, or indeed in one case actually from the car.

The Peak District includes a very varied landscape. Ian began with an overview of the scenery including a moorland plateau through the dramatic limestone edges to the more serene, green places such as Monsall.

Ian structured his talk in small stories around how images were taken, beginning with a set of six images taken with his camera fixed on a tripod over a period of about 20 minutes. He set up a composition which pleased him with a disused stone grouse butt in the foreground and a tree clad hillside beyond timed to capture the sunrise. The sun was behind him and he was waiting for colour to appear in the sky. The first shot was cool with foreground shade while the sun just caught the distant hills and coloured the clouds. As the sun rose the sky colour disappeared and more of the foreground was tinged with colour, culminating in a final image where the light appeared quite flat and only the background trees were golf tipped.

Ian showed the six images together, explaining his preference for an image with colour in the sky contrasting with the blue foreground shade, showing up the frosty heather. He returned to the theme of waiting for the right light throughout the talk.

Ian discussed single trees and the importance of looking around and considering the viewpoint and composition for maximum effect with such a shot. It helps to have a good base below the tree and the best angle may change depending on the season and what can be seen through the branches. In one series he had waited for a small, bright cloud to fill a space on the right of the tree, giving balance to the image. Rather than taking panoramas he crops his images to create a pleasing composition and pictures the appearance of the final image he takes it.

Ian enjoys the patterns created by massed tree trunks. He drew attention to the importance of selecting a view where the main trunks were separate. In snow and side light they form interesting patterns which lend themselves to the abstract effects created by deliberately moving the camera on the tripod during the shot.

The reservoirs in the Peak District offer different opportunities. Rising early seems to be a fact of life for anyone aspiring to take good landscapes. Early morning mists reveal high ground peeping through in a very attractive, but unpredictable way. Again as the mist will ebb and flow it is key to wait for the right moment to take the best shot. Reservoirs and other areas with water are best for those misty morning shots and we were treated to some stunning images.

Ian can combines his love of trees and water where water passes through woodland. Lumsdale and Padley Gorge are both locations where excellent shots can be taken at all seasons, but perhaps most spectacularly in autumn with the foliage colours bringing vibrancy to the images. Ian recommended shooting on an overcast day to make the most of the movement of the water and the beautiful colours.

Bluebells are notoriously hard to photograph. The eye sees a blanket of blue, but the camera may make the blooms seem more widely spaced and the colour less intense. Ian explained that in shade the colour is deep blue, tending towards a lighter purple / lilac tone in sunlight. He showed very effective shots of bluebells taken on a steeply sloping wooded hillside.

We saw the effects of the Icelandic volcano which filled the atmosphere with dust, creating subtle colours in the sun without any evidence of aircraft. Striking images of the moon were taken during a late night shooting session on the occasion of the lunar eclipse. These preceded the interval when Ian discussed his sample prints with members. Some had been presented as he would for sale and others mounted for long term display.

We returned to a very different topic, where Ian described how he goes about photographing the underground scenery in the Peak District caves. This is a slow and unpredictable process where the help of a friend to illuminate the scene is invaluable as you are working with an umbrella to protect you and your equipment from dripping water and in total darkness.

We saw the beautifully shaped calcium carbonate deposit on the cave walls and floors resulting the water which continuously permeates the rocks. Ian showed the smoothly rounded formations where water runs and the solid but apparently folded shapes on cave walls. He included some beautifully clear shots of 'cave pearls' - small, polished calcium carbonate stones which form pearl-like around tiny specks of grit in small pools where they move around in the flow of water.

Back above ground Ian proved himself an accomplished photographer of the area’s flora and fauna before sharply contrasting beautiful wildlife images with the stark industrial scenes which are also an integral part of the Peak District landscape. He showed one example where, by shooting wider and from a slightly different angle without early morning mist, he could reveal Europe's largest lead reclamation plant very close beside a beautiful single tree which had earlier featured in a magnificent, tranquil scene.

To conclude his tour Ian took us along the gritstone edges such as Stannage, Baslow, and Curbar. This pleased those members for whom sunset is more attractive than sunrise as the outcrops face west meaning the end of the day shows them in the best light. One example was a vibrant heather scene taken from Burbage Rocks with Higger Tor in the background.

In conclusion, Ian demonstrated that, while he usually plans his shots, sets up and waits for the light or the mist, there are occasions when a scene offers the chance of a spontaneous shot. We saw some examples where he had captured the glorious light cast by gaps in a stormy sky photographed using the 'see it, stop, shoot it' method.