A Summer's night at Austwick

November 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Austwick is a small village not far from the North Yorkshire market town of Settle.  The landscape around those parts are quite different to where I live, although it's only 20 minutes' drive away.  Myself and my dog, Beau, spent the night there in a small tent during summer 2017.

Summer skies over Austwick

From a hot Summer's day, all hazy distance and sharp smelling grass, and meadowsweet by a babbling stream, the sun slowly sinks.  A disappointingly weak yellow ball, hazed over and creeping below a distant horizon.  That's life as a photographer: what you expect to happen, so often doesn't.   The stream murmurs on, careless, and Venus is a mere pinprick of blue light.  A few crows and jackdaws head in flocks or in pairs towards their roosts, inky dots in a deep blue sky, becoming dark.  The branches of a nearby tree are just a silhouette.  Sheep call from the high fields and all is so peaceful.  Even without the sunset I expected, it is good to be alive at such a time in such a place. My dog looks up, his dark eyes say as much.  The air is still warm, and the deep, dark blue of the night sky is now studded with stars. Suddenly, behind me, I notice the rugged rock of an outcrop, lighting up, blood red.  The red creeps towards the horizon: the sun has gone down. Against all expectations, the sky lights up: streaks of purple, pink, the deep blue of night time, but most of all, orange and fiery red. Ragged banners of bloody looking clouds spread across the heavens, as birds head for home and overhead, a skein of geese call noisily. It is a magical evening.  When at last the fiery display is over and the sky is given over to the clouds and stars, I head for my tent.  I spent the night sleeping half outside, my dog asleep with his head on my chest, as if guarding me.  If God exists, at times like this, I should find it easy to believe. For me, this is the only sense: a beautiful evening, sat in the warmth whilst the sun sinks, and my dog, the best of company at all times. A display of nature and Summer's best not for me: distant, out of reach.  I am just a happy observer.  This cheers me no end.

 

From a photographic point of view, I used my usual 400mm lens in the daytime, to shoot flowers, but swapped that for my 14mm wide angle lens, which did not need a tripod, being so wide.   Advice for similar shots:

 

1. Take your camera off Auto and use either Sunset Mode or, preferably, Aperture Priority.

2. A wide Angle lens is far easier to handle in dark conditions, plus it can emphasise the vastness of the sky.

3. Don't use an automatic ISO setting, because these almost always desaturate (weaken) the glorious colours.  I used an ISO of 400.

 

You can see (and buy prints and products with) the images of that magical night in Austwick here:

 

Austwick images


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