Semerwater, North Yorkshire – location guide

Written on 23rd October 2011 | No Comments

The glow of the setting sun reflected in the calm surface of Semerwater, the largest natural lake in North Yorkshire.

After five days of overcast Yorkshire weather I was beginning to think I might return from a week in Wensleydale without seeing the sun. A sudden break in the weather meant I would have a few hours’ light to play with so I earmarked Semerwater, the largest lake in North Yorkshire, as my location.

The drive down into the valley containing the lake reminded me of the Lake District; the surrounding fells created a beautiful backdrop to the water. As a large band of cloud started to block the sun I wondered if I would miss the light for the evening. Nevertheless I continued on to the shore as I thought it would give me the best opportunity to photograph the surrounding landscape reflected in the vast expanse of water. The light by now was muted and I struggled to find a composition that might work. After noting the boulders featured in the final picture I worked around the shoreline looking for other elements to work with.

Some time later I noticed a warm glow on the fells the other side of the lake. The sun had emerged beneath its veil of cloud and an interesting sunset was unfolding, though with little time left before it would set completely. Returning to the boulders I’d found earlier, I composed a fairly minimal picture with only two boulders and a rock in the foreground. I felt the reflected sky should do all the talking and to clutter the scene with any more foreground interest would weaken the overall picture.

My chosen wide angle lens, the Nikon 14-24mm, doesn’t have a lens thread to accept filters, so when photographing scenes that require an ND grad filter I take two or more varied exposures and then blend them together in Photoshop afterwards. Filter limitations aside, the scene had a great deal of contrast, from the highlight in the clouds near the sun to the autumnal trees on the shoreline below. Using an ND grad here would have turned the band of fells on the horizon into a silhouette, losing important detail from the picture.

This article featured in the viewpoints section of Outdoor Photography magazine in September 2011.

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