Bamford edge at dawn / by Neil Alexander

Bamford edge, High Peaks at dawn

The weekend saw me with, what lately has become an increasingly rare, opportunity to head up into the hills to try and make some pretty pictures. Specifically I had a composition in my head that I wanted to try out. My idea was to shoot down Bamford Edge into the sunrise which, with the right light, would hopefully make a great shot. But I wanted to accent the scale and the view by placing a person on the edge of the cliff looking into the valley. Having clambered out of bed at 5, made the hour long drive and then the 30 minute climb with a rucksack that almost weighed the same as myself, I arrived at the spot just as the clouds were beginning to go pink. I needed to work fast before I lost them. I worked the scene for a couple of minutes hand-holding my camera to get the best composition. Once I knew the frame, I dropped the tripod and deposited the camera on the top. From there, and always aware that the pink in the clouds could vanish at any minute, I made a series of quick bracketed frames of the scene.

My main goal though was to have someone in this scene. However, unfortunately at 6am on a Sunday up in 't' 'ills, there ain't too many models just hanging around practising their pouting so muggins here stepped into the frame, literally. I had intended to bring a light stand with me but when I hoisted the camera bag up onto my back, it was so damn heavy that the best I could do was chuck in a gorilla pod and leave the light stand behind. I popped an SB900 onto the gorilla pod and set that down on the floor about 75 feet to the left of the camera. I then attached one of my trusty but comparatively ancient Pocket Wizard MultiMAXs to the camera and stuck the other one in my hand. This would allow me to trigger the camera from 50 feet away whilst standing on the Edge, and through the magic of Nikon's wireless TTL, the flash over to my left would be triggered by the camera's pop up flash.

Why did I need a flash though? Well I wanted to add just a little light to the model just to lift them from the background landscape. The rock was quite dark and the model in their dark boots, jeans and black jacket couldn't have blended in more than if they were wearing full on army camouflaged combat dress. By this stage it was getting a bit rushed though. The sun was threatening to come up and the pink was beginning to fade. In order to check my lighting looked ok, I had to clamber back from the rock to the safety of the edge and dash the 50 feet or so back to the camera, check the lcd, make some changes to the flash compensation, run back to the flash, alter the angle slightly, dash back to the rock (without falling off the edge), compose myself and then hit the button some more.

The resulting shot is in the ballpark as far as my initial idea goes but not completely on the money. However I now know what, where and how. All I need is the whom and some better light. So next time I'll schedule in a model and rope in a happy helper, oh and pray for better light!

Bamford Edge Setup Shot