2017 07 18 - Millstone Edge

Millstone Edge in the Peak District provides dramatic views over Hathersage towards Mam Tor and the Great Ridge.  A short uphill walk from Surprise View Carpark (card payments only!) takes you directly to the edge which gets its name from the fact that the gritstone rocks were quarried to be used as millstones.   

On this evening it seemed that everything was stacking up against us and that we wouldn't make it on time.  Slow traffic, road works, road closures and finally a sign saying that the carpark would close before sunset!  To say I was agitated by the time I got to the edge was an understatement!   You can find the carpark on the A6187, about 5 minutes out of Hathersage

The conditions were blustery and with the light fading I knew I would need to make compromises, either in terms of a high ISO or a movement in the foliage.  Thankfully the Sony A7RII is more than capable of pushing ISO really high without much impact, so the slight rise to ISO 500 was nothing to worry about.  

When photographing these edges it is important to take the viewer right to the edge.  Just shooting off the top edge doesn't cut it as the viewer won't get the full visual impact and feeling that there is a drop.  It is also important to wait for the moment that the sun causes deep shadows to really emphasise the rock formations.  This also has the benefit of emphasising the warm tones and colours of the rock faces.

I mentioned that it was windy.  I personally don't like to see much movement in the foliage, preferring to bring the details through in the photograph.  I also like to use foreground foliage to bring interest to the corners without it being too dominant in the frame.  This would make it difficult for the eye to travel throughout the photograph.  The photograph below is a good example of this, with bold foreground, interesting mid section in the rocks, and plenty of space for the distance to be explored.

The two images at the top were taken using the Sony A7rII with the 16-35mm f4 lens.  My shutter speed was around 1/500th of a second and ISO 500.  Aperture was set to F11 to get the sun stars but not spread them too far.  F16 was spreading them throughout the image.  

The image below was taken using the Sony A9.  I wanted to put the A9 through its paces for landscape use and to have something to compare to the A7rII.  This image is developed from a single RAW file, shot severely underexposed (also below).  I have to say that I am really impressed with the shadow detail recovery whilst the highlights are well protected.  The image has had only the briefest of edits (it was never going to be a masterpiece) and you can still see the bad job I have made of removing the lens flair!    Anyway, you can make your own mind up as to how it compares to the A7rII photos above.  Oh, and this was shot handheld!  F16, 1/80th of a second.

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