Some favourite Peak District landscape photos from 2014

Hawthorn tree at sunset. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James
One of the things that I love about the Peak District is that there are always new photography opportunities. Whether that involves finding new photo locations or revisiting familiar ones, there is never any shortage of subject matter. 2014 was no exception in that respect, and here are just a few personal favourites. To see the images at larger size, just click on the slideshow player at the bottom of the page.

Birch trees in mist. Peak District landscape photography © Chris JamesThe year got off to a cracking start with some nice mist. The temperature inversion lasted all day when I took this hawthorn tree (left) – making for truly spectacular colours at sunset.

The next day by contrast was just grey and misty, but resulted in some of my favourite shots ever from these birch woods at Surprise View (right). The mist made the colours of the mosses and fallen leaves really vibrant, but converting this picture to black and white helps emphasise the eery shapes of the tree trunks.

Weir on the River Wye in Monsal Dale. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James

Moving water is always a great subject for photography, because the camera The River Lathkill in Lathkill Dale. Peak District landscape photography © Chris Jamescan often record things that we can’t actually see with our eyes. The shot of the weir (left) was taken to convey a sense of grace and tranquility, while the one of the River Lathkill (right) tries to convey the force and speed of the flowing river.

A few days before this shot was taken, the river had burst its banks and flooded the whole dale in parts. Yet when we were there on a landscape photography course in October, the river bed here was completely dry – and obviously had been for some time.

19th century coke ovens at dusk. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James

The Magpie Mine at night. Peak District landscape photography © Chris JamesLow light and night photography is a fascinating area, and one which can produce some dramatic results – especially when combined with flash and artificial lighting. The picture on the left shows “beehive” coke ovens at dusk, while the one on the right was taken at an abandoned Peak District lead mine late at night. The red sky is a result of man-made light pollution, but adds to the drama in this particular shot.


The blue lagoon in a disused limestone quarry at Harpur Hill. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James

In complete contrast to low light photography (which usually requires careful planning in advance), some of my favourite photographs are the ones that I come upon unexpectedly. The picture of the “blue lagoon” at Harpur Hill (left) was taken while on a guided walk, and hardly required any effort on my part.A wild flower meadow full of orchids. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James The flowers, clouds, water and angle of the light were all just right – a pretty rare occurrence in landscape photography! The same goes for the shot of the orchids (right), which I stumbled across at the end of a long day’s photography. So many orchids growing in such density is a rare sight – so this is definitely a location I’ll be going back to again!


The hearth of a disused lime kiln. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James

Finding new subjects – whether in completely new locations or very familiar ones – is a constant source of pleasure. I must have driven past the disused limekiln (left) dozens of times, but never noticed it while concentrating on the road. Pulling into a lay-by near it one day to look at the map, I decided to investigate the building half-hidden by trees and ivy, and found this little gem. Note the lime deposits on the right hand side.

The shot (right) of the paved medieval road at Stanage Edge was just the opposite. The medieval packhorse road up Stanage Edge. Peak District landscape photography © Chris JamesThis is an area I’ve visited many times, but never really noticed the old packhorse road snaking its way up the Edge until it was pointed out on an archaeological walk. A return trip in lovely evening light resulted in this shot – and another great subject to revisit whenever I’m there in the future.

As any landscape photographer will admit, getting good photos is largely down to being in the right place at the right time. Particularly when the goal is to try and capture the effects of rapidly changing light conditions at the beginning or end of the day, a certain amount of preparation – often involving visits in advance – can really pay off.A rusting water trough at Harboro Rocks. Peak District landscape photography © Chris James The shot of the rusting water trough below Harboro Rocks (left) was taken as the sun was setting rapidly. This scene only lasted for a few minutes before the light dipped too low and the trough was in shadow – but just long enough for me to get the shot I had envisaged on a previous visit.

The Neolithic chambered tomb at Minninglow. Peak District landscape photography © Chris JamesThis winter sunset at Minninglow (right) was another fleeting image that lasted for only a couple of minutes, and it took several visits to this particular location before the conditions were quite right. It wasn’t until the sun was low enough to just graze the surface of the capstone of the chambered tomb that the shot really came alive. The sunburst through the tree was an added bonus that I hadn’t envisaged in advance, but it added an extra element of dynamism which really makes the photo.

Chimney of the former lead smelter at Stanedge. Peak District landscape photography © Chris JamesAnd finally, a shot taken at one of my favourite locations. The chimney of the old lead smelter on the moors above Chesterfield is a great landscape subject at any time of year, and I’ve photographed it in all conditions – surrounded by blooming heather, at dawn on frosty mornings, at balmy sunsets in summer, with rainbows against a stormy sky, and even in snow. But on the last outing of the year, there was a lovely “blue hour” after sunset, and it produced this wonderful scene. After that, the walk back home in the moonlit snow was just an extra bonus.




To see these (and some other favourite landscapes) at larger size, just click on the player below.



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