Aysgarth Falls

I visited these waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales back in the 1980s. I recall standing on a flat rock, not far from the lowest falls and watching as water the colour of strong tea, thundered past. I was using my old Olympus OM2n back then and slide film, but at the time I didn’t own a tripod. The shutter speed was fast enough to capture one stray splash and for many years it was one of my favourite images. Since then it has been scanned many times, but now the shutter speed no longer appeals.

Fast forward exactly twenty-five years and I found myself standing in exactly the same spot. It must have been about the same time of year and with plenty of rain in the preceding weeks, the water was once again in full flow – and exactly the same colour too! This was my final morning in Wensleydale, as I was making my way across Yorkshire to spend a few hours in Whitby, before staying the night with a very dear friend.

I didn’t have a lot of time to spare and I hoped the light would be suitable as I couldn’t afford to hang around. The rock that I remembered so well was still in the shade, but I was disappointed to find that the sun was shining on the river in front, causing my first test shots to reveal blown highlights. I looked up and spotted a few clouds here and there, so I set up my new tripod and waited. This time I opted for a much slower shutter speed and as an afterthought, I converted the image to black and white in Silver Efex. The photograph featured here later won an honourable mention at the International Photography Awards. So, it only took me a quarter of a century to get it right.

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