Starlings Masterclass


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Easegill Kirk

November 2008 |

For my second Masterclass, I’ve come to the far south of Cumbria, where a little dry limestone gorge called Easedale Kirk is a great spot for photographing shapes and textures. To reach it, take the steep and narrow fell road out of Casterton and park at the dead end, Bullpot Farm. Then follow the path just by the farm (now belonging to a caving club) in a pretty straight line for 20 minutes or so. Descending into Easegill Kirk, and moving around within the Kirk itself needs a bit of care. Best to wear boots.
I went on my ‘assignment’ the day before the October deadline, on a day with a wild forecast. However, although I got thoroughly lashed with wind and rain, the light was occasionally good and I was pleased with my results. Having my camera in a dedicated camera rucksack with the addition of a waterproof rucksack cover was helpful. Within the Kirk itself all was sheltered, albeit damp.
I took my 2 battered Nikon D200 bodies, attached to my favourite 17-55mm zoom and 105mm lenses, Plus a tripod, which was essential. The gloomy light in the Kirk meant that exposures of several seconds were needed. At a pinch I could have got away with just the support of a bean bag on a rock, but would then have been limited with angles and heights.

The road up to Bull Pot is, in itself, a good subject. The simple shapes, plus the simple juxtaposition of the amber and blue work well. Taken with a tripod and the 90mm lens.

An unexpected bonus! I had envisaged just going to the Kirk to take photos, but a temporary clearing of clouds meant the view towards Barbondale from Bullpot was transformed from pretty dreary to pretty interesting. The ruts in the tracks provided a useful lead-in. I rapidly assembled tripod and the Nikon, using the 17-55 zoom lens, set on F.22 to maximise the depth of field. And then packed everything away with equal haste before the next rainstorm.

Another opportunistic photo taken at speed in a momentary weather break. It’s very pared down, and so much better for not being filled with fussy detail, although I might have considered finding a simple foreground detail, such as rushes or rocks.

The Kirk. An inspiring circle of rock, with the old eroded waterfall as a centrepiece.

One could spend hours photographing the eroded shapes of the old waterfall. I couldn’t spare enough time, but this simple, almost abstract composition works quite well. The shapes are inviting, tempting one to play around and try arranging leaves, pebbles, shadows, or something brightly coloured for contrast. I had my tripod awkwardly balanced on boulders, with the camera set at f22 to maximise the depth of field.

I felt spooked in the Kirk. Apart from hearing ghostly voices – presumably cavers –coming from deep within the pot hole near the farm (the aptly named Bullpot of the Witches) it had been a day of total solitude. There was an eerily quietness within the Kirk, disturbed only by the wind rattling the leaves overhead. And as I looked around, the rocks increasingly resembled grotesque faces leering at me, the intruder. What a Halloween spot, I thought! Go if you dare, at nightfall, and take some lanterns and candles to light those ghoulish rock faces from underneath. Go on, try it – you’d get some great photos! (I’ll stay at home by the fire, though ..)