Sundogs over burned moorland

I was out walking with a mate on the tops near home when we saw how first-hand much damage the recent spate of moorland fires had wreaked on the landscape. I know this area fairly well: the conifers in the background were well-grown and obscured the view to the heather beyond. At least that was until the fires took over,  burning and blackening the heath, scrub, and many trees. More were scorched, their needles taking on unworldly hues, and fresh green growth was determinedly poking through the charred earth to make the most of the short summer.

Closer to the camera the pond had retreated into two smaller pools, sapped by the earlier heat of the summer. The cycle of devastation and rebirth painted a vivid picture: I was mesmerised by the colours and decided to shoot an HDR panorama. It was only part-way through we noticed a small spectrum-like flare either side of the sun, flanking it like two shimmering prisms. I’m really pleased to have unintentionally captured this uncommon phenomenon, known as sun dogs or parhelia, caused by sunlight refracting through high, icy cirrus clouds.

Incidentally this was the first pano I finished with HDR Expose, a new app to rival Enfuse and Photomatix which I’ve used for years to tonemap 32-bit images. Still getting to grips with this new tool, I like the more life-like results it allows than some HDR examples you see around the web.

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Air-dried hams hanging in the breeze

Artisan cured air-dried ham at the diminutive but wonderful Height Top Barn Co. near Todmorden. SJ and Nat run a small farm offering a seasonal selection of farmhouse products and wonderful freshly baked bread. Their weekend home delivery service is valued by all their friends on the round, as they sell their own produce and that of the local cheesemaker to your door on a Saturday morning. The perfect start to the weekend… fresh bread, eggs and cheese…

The ham was something they started experimenting with, alongside bacon and pork pies, as their first pigs matured and were ready for the table last year. The flavour of their dry cure is quite special, and the hams hang for months in the drying shed, cooled by the Pennine winds blowing across the tops. However unless you’re a friend of SJ and Nat there’s no chance you’ll get to savour this from their Pennine larder… it’s not available for sale!

There was something very tranquil about this taking this shot, in a tiny room full of produce raised in the fields outside, as the hams spun gently in the breeze.

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Sunset and snow on London Road, near Mankinholes


Salmon skies light up the snowy ridge of Langfield Common, near Todmorden. Stoodley Pike sits on the hillside, overlooking  the Upper Valley.

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Light and Shade…


Shade Lock on the Rochdale Canal, Todmorden. I loved the colour range of this view as I walked along the canal at dusk: deep blue hues in the sky contrast with the rich orange sodium street lighting.

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Across the canal at Gauxholme


Later in the day I ventured back outside to find everywhere covered in a wonderfully fresh, thick blanket of snow. This is the lock at Gauxholme: the footbridge afforded a good view of the lock gates and road bridge, lit in that odd transitory glow of dusk.

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