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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

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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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Spring blossom

I love cherry blossoms: possibly not as much as the Japanese, but it’s always one of the main changes which herald the true arrival of spring. After a couple of mediocre springs, this year has seen a glorious and very welcome explosion of floral colour in the trees, hedgerows and flowerbeds. Wonderful, unless you suffer from hayfever …

These particular trees are in the elegantly-manicured grounds of Huddersfield Crematorium, and hopefully provide some enjoyment and positivity to those who have to visit the grounds on more sombre occasions.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

A brief window of sunlight …

Wheat in the late summer sun

If you live in the UK you’ll know it’s been an unremitting dull summer … endless gloom, rain and murk. I drive past this field every day, and as the wheat in the field has slowly ripened I’ve been trying to get a good opportunity to shoot it. Finally I drove home and caught the field as the sunlight started to hit the magic hours: rich, oversaturated colours and majestic stillness.

You’d never think this bucolic scene was next to the M62 motorway, but sometimes the most beautiful rural scenes seem to thrive in the hinterland next to these vehicular arteries that criss-cross our landscape. Although you can’t tell from the photo, the ground was sodden and saturated: the rain we’ve suffered so much of has delayed the harvesting, but at least the hedgerows are verdant and fecund right now, weighed down with fruit. I need to go picking berries.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

Summer meadow, evening sun

Summer meadow, evening sun

Early evening sun falls across a typical meadow between Luddenden and Warley in the south Pennines. The light was gorgeous as I shot this, and as spring turns into summer there seems to be a surfeit of chlorophyll across the valley. Everything is a shimmering, vivid green.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.