Whitby Abbey: vampires optional…

This is the impressive ruined Benedictine abbey which sits on the hilltop above Whitby, the delightfully picturesque fishing town on the coast of the North Yorkshire moors. The abbey forms an impressively moody sight in its own right, overlooking the North Sea and the quaint fishing harbour below.

However it (and the town below) found literary fame after Bram Stoker set part of his novel ‘Dracula’ in Whitby. The fictional count preyed on Lucy on the East Cliff, just a few yards from this abbey. 120 years after Bram Stoker wrote his gothic masterpiece, Whitby has become a regular place of gathering for goths from across the country. We arrived there on one such weekend, the day after Halloween, and the site was dotted with impressively-dressed goths checking out the ruins. The spectral figures added to the sense of other-worldliness. The skies were exactly what one would hope for in a setting like this: turbulent and rolling clouds, with shafts of sunlight breaking out above the autumnal moorland. Very evocative…

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Inside the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle is an archetypal mediaeval castle dominating a headland near the picturesque village of Craster in Northumberland. Much of the castle lies in ruins, derelict and neglected since its decline in the fifteenth century. It’s a pleasant walk along the coast for a couple of miles, although there’s not too much to see or do once you get there, as the castle is quite ruined. I’m sure kids would love to clamber all over the place, re-enacting battles and epic tales of derring-do, while adults enjoy the view and a cooling ice cream.

Incidentally if you do go, be sure to stop for a mouth-wateringly good Craster kipper butty in the car park… local smoked herring served in a bap. A perfect foil to the force of the elements rolling off the sea…

As it was a really overcast day the light was flat with little contrast, so I shot this as a 9 bracket HDR to pull out the best of the detail and dynamic range (like the grass though the windows and the stairwell in shadow). I tried to keep the colours as natural as possible… the damp greens contrasting with the warmer sandstone tones. I’m a sucker for the way sandstone weathers so beautifully, even when it’s been protected from the full force of the elements from the North Sea.

HTML5 version

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Early evening in Heptonstall

The ruins of the old church at Heptonstall, near Hebden Bridge, on a warm sping evening.

There’s a sense of things coming full circle with this photo. I first shot this scene in April 2007 with my first generation of panoramic kit, and was pleased with the results at the time. I’ve since been using the second generation kit for almost two years; but have recently upgraded my kit and updated my workflow radically. This third generation setup seems like the pinnacle of lightweight yet extreme quality panoramic photography: this is the first full spherical I’ve shot with it, and I love the amazing detail, wide tonal range and that lens flare … really nice!

Shot with Canon EOS50D, Sigma 10mm f2.8, Nodal Ninja w/R-D8 rotator, stitched with PTGui 8.1.

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Inside Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

A quiet moment at the altar, looking down the nave of this impressive Cistercian Abbey, part of the National Trust estate. It’s also a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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This is the view inside the cellarium (a mediaeval storeroom). Although Fountains Abbey suffered in the wake of King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, several parts of the extensive buildings have survived remarkably well. This is probably the best example, with an expansive and fine vaulted ceiling, and elegant columns illuminated by natural light.

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