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Pace Egg play performance at Heptonstall

One of the Calder Valley’s most popular folk attractions is the annual Pace Egg Play. Its origins are now lost in the mists of time, but it continues delight generation after generation with a delightfully haphazard mix of performance, audience interaction and comedy. Revived in 1979 after a brief hiatus, the roots of Pace Egging hark back to before the 1500s, and are quite different across the north of England. In many towns the tradition has died out, but it’s still performed in the upper valley by players from Hepstonstall, and Calder Valley High at Mytholmroyd…

Clog-wearing players perform well-trodden routines and well-loved lines to an appreciative (and increasingly merry) audience in Weaver’s Square, Heptonstall, on the hill above Hebden Bridge in Calderdale. The central theme is a bit hazy, but involves St George and a host of others; a degree of pantomime theatre; some swordplay; and a healthy amount of ale-swigging.

It’s always a bonus when the sun’s out on Good Friday, and the audience numbers were swollen for this, the final performance of the day. As the players tend to retire to one or other of Heptonstall’s hostelries between stagings for some well-earned liquid refreshment, this was a glorious mix of ad-libbed responses, fluid moves and the occasional flubbed line, all being embraced and egged on by the audience. “Mince pies hot, mince pies cold; mince pies in the jar, nine days old…”

There’s much more information on the Pace Egg play here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/04/02/pace_egg_play_heptonstall_feature.shtml
http://hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/2014/082.html

 

Bluebells in the woods: springtime comes to Hardcastle Crags

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

After the short, grey days of winter, springtime percolates slowly through Calderdale, injecting life and colour into the valley once again. Muted monotones turn into verdant hues, flowers and buds appear, and the hills echo to the sounds of bleating lambs and birdsong.

This year it feels as if spring’s come later than ever: the wild garlic is still here, coexisting alongside bluebells and daffodils almost a month later than when I shot this panorama last year. It all feels a bit messed up, and I can hear hailstones hitting the windowpanes outside as I write this. So when there’s a window of good weather, it’s worth taking advantage… such as when I caught the setting sun light up this

Hardcastle Crags is an oasis of calm for me, an outpost of tranquillity and a place to escape the hectic nature of working life. It’s by no means an unspoilt landscape, but despite hundreds of years of man’s influence it’s a treasure trove of flora and fauna, and a great place to explore.

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III, shaved Sigma 10mm f2.8 fisheye lens, Nodal Ninja RS-1, Promote Remote Control. 10 exposures, 1.7EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro & HDR Efex 2.

 

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

I first shot the bluebells in the Crags during my first spring in the valley, back in 2007 as I was just starting to embrace panoramic photography. It was the first panorama I shot bracketed in RAW… 3x exposures of 39 views. I stitched three separate panoramas (one for each exposure) overnight using the long-departed Realviz Stitcher. Seems an eon ago.  Six years, and thousands of panoramas later, it was great to revisit the theme once more, applying more rigorous technical and artistic experience to the subject.

It’s prompted me to dig out the original RAWs from 2007 and restitch this scene, which you can view above. It’s by no means perfect, but it acts as a good comparison to this year’s version. And you can never have too many bluebells on on page…

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 400D, Canon 18-55mm, Panosaurus head. 3 exposures, 2EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro

A springtime carpet of wild garlic / ramsons

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

Taking advantage of some welcome sunshine and very little breeze early on a Sunday morning, I made it to a nearby Pennine clough to capture this verdant carpet of wild garlic.

We’re almost at the end of the wild garlic season, which normally runs from March to early May. Their allium aroma still permeates the woods but now their delicate white flowers punctuate the woodland floor, heralding their imminent demise. The last decade or so has seen a resurgence in interest in foraged and wild foods in the UK, celebrating fresh, local flavours. Ramsons, or wild garlic, remains one of the most abundant and yet underused.

This is one of my favourite times of the year: the greening of foliage above and on the woodland floor; the gentle waving of the ramson fronds, and wild native bluebells appearing under the protective canopy of the trees, soundtracked only by songbirds and the odd bleat of spring lambs on the slopes above. That helps to underline that spring is (finally) here…

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England’s highest beach

Two spring evenings at Gaddings Dam, on Langfield Moor above Todmorden. I’d previously shot a couple of panoramas up here in worse weather, but warmer spring evenings have been tempting me out to enjoy the hills again recently.

This expanse of water reflects the great bowl of the sky above, and these photos capture those hazy ephemeral moments as the sun drops out of sight towards the Irish Sea in the west on two evenings. Pity it doesn’t capture the sounds of curlews and other birds breaking the silence. Gaddings Beach, or Tod beach as it’s also affectionately refered to, is sometimes called ‘England’s highest beach’ and is a great spot for enjoying the summer sun, far from the madding crowds of the valley.

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

Sunshine at the top of Cragg Vale; England’s longest continuous gradient

Perfect driving (or riding) conditions on the top of the Pennines…  magic light over the moors on a gorgeous warm evening. The heather caught the sun, the clouds added just enough contrast for drama, and bumblebees hummed around, enjoying the late start to springtime this year.

This is where Blackstone Edge Road becomes Turvin Road at the top of Cragg Vale on the boundaries of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester: this stretch of road is England’s longest continuous gradient. I’ve yet to freewheel down it on my bike, but on an evening like this I’m sure it’d be glorious… and much more enjoyable than the long, slow slog it’d be to climb it!

OakleyView for iPad and iPhone

I chose this location to capture a commission for an iOS app by Oakley, OakleyView, showing off the high-end eyewear manufacturer’s products for different sports and conditions. As this is one of the best country roads around for cycling or motorbiking it was a perfect candidate for the job.

(Update 2014) It was serendipitous to choose this spot to represent a great cycling route; in July 2014 this was one of the climbs on the second stage of the Tour de France. You can see a panorama of all the action further down the road in Ripponden on the day by clicking here…