Saturday, 18 July 2009


High summer in The White Peak, and its a relief that after the dire summers of the last two years the wildlife seems none the worse for wear. In my, admittedly limited, experience it seems insect colonies that were down to low levels last summer have bounced back impressively, with birds and plants are doing well too. The weather this year has been a succession of hot, dry spells interspersed with wet, cold periods, rather than the mild but dull and very wet summers of the last two years, or the hot and dry of previous years. Looking at temperature graphs for the last few hundred years, it looks like the ragged sawtooth's interminable rise might be in a regressive pattern for the next decade. This winter was certainly a little more like 'winters used to be', and the wildlife seems to be benefiting. Of course the concern is what happens after our brief reprieve period...

I've been experimenting a little with white background work to produce some design-ready nature images. There's a fair degree of faff and extra equipment required, but the resultant images ceratinly have their uses. Here's a comparison of The Peak's two native Orchids of the genus Epipactis - the Dark-red and Broad-leaved Helleborines.

Traditionally this is regarded as a difficult time of year for the landscape photographer, with the sun high in the sky for much of the day, throwing harsh blue light onto a predominantly green landscape. Although I tend to be immersed in nature photography at this time of year, The Peak has more to offer than many landscapes in summer. Drifts of Cottongrass already add shimmering silver strips to the moors, whilst Bell Heather is just coming into flower on south-facing slopes. Pretty soon it'll be joined by the more widespead Ling and the moors will be at their most spectacular. Its not all uniform green in the White Peak either. Haymaking breaks the fields into a patchworks of yellow and green as early as May, and carries on 'til late July when the most ecologically important fields, under stewardship schemes, are left to seed before mowing. Autumn's colour might seem a way off yet, but the straw yellow of drying grasses are caused by the same process and can be just as photogenic. My favourite landscape photo of the last month has been up on Kinder. Mindful of the fact I'll be away for the peak of the Heather season this year, I teamed up with my boy Cofe for an evening shoot on the western edge of the plateau.

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