Lumsdale Valley, The Peak District

After travelling for several hours from my home in Somerset, I met up with more than a dozen other photographers from the Talk Photography Forum for a film photography meet in the Peak District. The first place to visit on this long weekend was the Lumsdale Valley, which although technically not actually in the Peak District, is a wonderful place full of beauty and history.

The valley is home to a small river running down between some old and abandoned water mills. There are many old ruins and waterfalls along the short but steep walk down hill. For this outing I decided to use the Nagaoka 4x5 camera, and packed some Fuji Provia 100F and Ilford Delta 100 into my dark slides. I wanted to capture the old mills on black and white film, but decided to take some colour film too, in case there were any early autumn oranges and golds, which always look best in colour.

Part of the way down the valley we came across a large waterfall with steps leading down one sure, to a ledge about half way down the fall. From here the path carried on downhill, several metres above the river. There was also a small track leading down into the deepest part of the valley, where the river flowed. I climbed down to the bottom, hoping to get a good view looking up at the waterfall.

At the bottom I found myself on a large flat rock, which was slippery underfoot. I walked carefully over it and tried to examine the scene to find a good composition. On the floor a few metres in front of me, there was a large old branch which I decided would make the perfect foreground interest for my photograph. I wanted to show the scale of the waterfall, whilst also showing the very top where the remains of an old mill stood. I tried in vain to set my tripod up on this rock, but the small rubber feet simply slid slowly downwards over the wet surface towards the flowing water behind me. I managed to find a small crack in the rock where I was able to wedge the feet of the tripod to keep it steady. I retrieved my Nagaoka from my bag which I'd set down safely on a smaller rock to the side, and set up my camera to take a shot.

For this scene I would need to use the 90mm f/8 Super Angulon lens, because my other lens, a 150mm f/5.6 Rodenstock Sironar, was simply too long to get everything I wanted in the frame. I focused camera using a loupe on the ground glass, and then set the front standard to have a degree or two of front tilt, so that the foreground branch and the top of the waterfall were sharp. At this point, a group member, Steve, took a photo of me trying to figure out the exposure, and said I looked "like superman in wellies", because my new Linhof focus cloth was bright red on the outside and I had it draped over my back like a cape. Not the worst thing I've ever been called!

Metering the scene for the shadows gave me a reading of 8 seconds at f/16. I dialed in another stop for exposure to roughly account for reciprocity, and then used my phone to time the sixteen seconds I needed. After taking the shot I packed my camera away and climbed back up the hill to where the rest of the group were stood.

Overall I'm very happy with the photo. I'd like to have gotten a bit closer to the branch to empazise it in the frame, but it's still a photo that I'm very happy with. From a technical perspective I'm happy that I got the exposure spot on and correctly used the camera movements to give me a sharp image over the whole frame. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to post them at the bottom of the page.