30 October 2019

An autumnal photographic expedition to Hardcastle Crags—or a nice stroll alongside Hebden Water, if you prefer. I was eight days later than the equivalent expedition last year, and the difference showed. There were noticeably fewer leaves on the trees. But gauging the best date for peak autumn is always problematical, varying as it does from year to year.

Upon my arrival, I was immediately treated to a nice view of a great spotted woodpecker clambering around one of the riverside tree-trunks in search of food. But my priority today was photographs, not birds. So the high-pitched cheeping of assorted tits, and the alarm calls of nuthatches, went largely ignored.

Unlike last year, I decided to stick to the valley-bottom this year, despite its being mainly in the shade. I was after riverside reflections. For once, I got my tripod technique right. Tripods are an awful faff, but I discovered it was far more efficient, once I’d spotted a potential photograph, to set up the tripod and camera immediately and then decide whether it was worth taking a photo. Keeping the tripod legs extended when folded for carrying also saved a lot of faffing.

I was pleasantly pleased with the photos I took. As usual with autumnal shots, the unprocessed photos didn’t look nearly as impressive as the views I remembered taking, so some careful post-processing was required. This year, I twigged that the automatic white-balance of the camera had rendered the shots too cold-looking, so correcting that made a huge difference.

Hardcastle Crags, Autumn
Hebden Water, Hardcastle Crags, autumn

Although I was officially not in birding mode, I couldn’t resist checking if there were any dippers in the second millpond above Gibson Mill. It seems to be a favourite haunt of theirs. Sure enough, I immediately spotted a dipper chasing off a rival downstream. Dippers are very territorial birds. The resident dipper returned to the millpond a short while later, and I grabbed some nice shots on my way back from photographing further upstream. Dippers are definitely a top-ten bird.

Dipper
Dipper

Note to self: Go on more photo expeditions next year—and take a tripod.

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Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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