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Workshop Report – Bolton Abbey November 2021

Autumn colours at The Strid

Our last workshop of a curtailed but rewarding workshop season took place at the weekend. As always, the season finale was taken enjoying the autumn colours in Strid Wood on our Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop…

We met with our group in the comfort on The Tea Cottage near the Bolton Priory ruins for our introductory talk over tea and coffee. Despite the mixed weather forecast, we were looking forward to the day as it promised the soft diffused light that is ideal for autumn woodland and moving water photography. After our talk we set off across the River Wharfe and up to the viewpoint across to the abbey ruins…

Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop 2021 - Bolton Abbey from the top viewpoint
Bolton Abbey from the top viewpoint

Under the grey skies the ruins hadn’t looked great from the bank of the river, but looking down on it set in the valley worked rather well. Even the birch tree that has grown up slightly restricting the view over the last decade of workshops was in full autumn colour! This was a first – as it’s normally either still green or the wind has whipped the autumnal leaves off already by the time of the workshop. The gusty wind added a bit of movement in the trees (which worked very nicely in some of the images at the post-processing session the next day).

Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop 2021 - By the River Wharfe in Strid Wood
By the River Wharfe in Strid Wood

From the viewpoint we made our way along the River Wharfe, crossing back over the bridge and into Strid Wood. We followed the lower path along the river bank towards our usual “Swirling Leaves” stop by an inlet under a heavy canopy of trees, but made an extra stop first to enjoy autumn trees over some rapids by the island. Here the group also spotted some lovely wet rocks full of interesting cracks and a few fallen leaves which provided a rich source of detail images.

Example rock detail image by the River Wharfe in Strid Wood
Example rock detail image by the River Wharfe in Strid Wood

After spending some more time working with reflections and ripples in the water we made our way upstream to The Strid for a well earned lunch stop before setting about photographing moving water details in the river. The raging torrent of The Strid, where the Wharfe is forced through a narrow constriction in the rock is ideal for abstract water images.

Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop- Photographing moving water details at The Strid
Photographing moving water details at The Strid

Here the rain started to fall so our supply of umbrellas came in handy to continue the photography! We lingered here for quite a while and again were rewarded with some fantastic abstract moving water images at post-processing.

Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop - Above High Strid on the return path
Above High Strid on the return path

From The Strid we continued along the River Wharfe, crossing the river at the footbridge to gain the higher return path on the opposite bank. Along this path we found the best autumn colours of the day – some of the best we’ve seen – and they were great to photograph in the diffused light. The rain showers made the photography a little more tricky at times but the moisture glistening on the autumn leaves looked magical!

Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop - Viewpoint over The Strid on the return path
Viewpoint over The Strid on the return path

We stopped numerous times along this stretch of the path over High Strid and The Strid. One viewpoint through a narrow corridor of trees to The Strid had become “single user” since our last visit due to a fallen tree!

Checking the histogram at Harrison's Ford Seat
Checking the histogram at Harrison’s Ford Seat

At Harrison’s Ford Seat we were able to make use of the shelter to set tripods up without the need for umbrellas. This made selecting a good composition from the complex pattern of autumn trees and branches a little easier. It helped with checking the all-important histogram too!

Demo intentional camera movement image at the parallel trunks by the River Wharfe
Demo intentional camera movement image at the parallel trunks by the River Wharfe

Back down by the river fortunately the rain had eased off a bit when we arrived at the area with lots of different coloured parallel tree trunks next to the path, so we were able to experiment with a bit of intentional camera movement. Finding a nice arrangement of pine trunks (with a purple hue), lighter birch trunks and some covered in orange lichen was the order of the day, to produce a pleasing colourful abstract image. The overcast light resulted in very compressed histograms and so rather flat looking images on the backs of cameras, but produced some of the most dramatic results at post-processing.

By the River Wharfe at the abbey at the end of the day
By the River Wharfe at the abbey at the end of the day

Continuing downstream we arrived back at the abbey ruins in time for sunset – not that any sun was visible in the gloom! The conditions weren’t suitable for photographing the abbey, so we rounded off the day by the river in the fading light, experimenting with ultra-long exposures on the essential tripods!

Despite some tricky conditions due to the rain, the light was near perfect all day for woodland and water and the autumn colours were spot-on so we were rewarded with some great images. A fitting way to round off our tenth anniversary year!

If you’d like to join us on a Bolton Abbey workshop in 2022, have a look at the upcoming dates on our Workshops page. The spring dates are already scheduled and the Bolton Abbey Autumn Workshop 2022 will be added soon!

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