Photos: Nine Standards Rigg

Thorough planning can increase our chance of getting a good shot so it is very important to regularly scout out new locations so that we have a composition in mind when we return.

At this time of year the Lake District National Park can be very busy as scores of holiday makers are attracted by it’s dramatic scenery, popular walks and pretty towns and villages. It is during this time that I look to explore locations away from the Lakes.

Nine Standards Rigg is a hill in the Yorkshire Dales National Park roughly 2 miles south east of the small market town of Kerkby Stephen in Cumbria. It gets it’s name from the nine stone structures that sit just north of the hill’s summit.

It’s been on my list of potential locations to visit out for a while and so I took the opportunity to scout it out on the first Sunday of the school holidays.

I think it is important to scout out locations so that we have some idea of the compositions that we what to shoot when we return and so that we can judge when the sun will be rising or setting in the right position.

When I arrive on a location for the first time I like to spend some time wandering around trying to get a feel for the place, it helps me to get a rough idea of where potential compositions might be.

The first composition that I spotted was from the northern end and included seven of the Standards (6 and 7 kind of blend in together). I like this shot the eye is drawn from right to left along the line of the Standards and the bottom left hand corner contains some relatively interesting foreground. My only concern is the huge gap in the middle so conveniently filled by a couple of passing walkers – if I return could this be a good composition for a selfie?

The Gap

Next I tried eliminating the gap and focusing on five of the Standards (the furthest two still blending together). Whilst this has potential for me it lacks a certain something that I just can’t put my finger on. Sometimes all that we have to go on is our gut.

The Traffic Cones

When scouting a location it can be a great opportunity to try something new. In this shot I picked just one of the Standards and tried to make look as imposing as possible by laying flat on the ground and angling the camera upwards.

Towering Above

In the back of my mind I had the ‘rule of odds’ – if I was going to shoot more than one of the Standards it would have to be a composition that included three of them.

I focused on the three at the northern end settling on this composition. Now when I return I would like to include a little more space around the Standard closest to the camera but for me this is the shot with the most potential.

The Bell

In my opinion the most important elements of a photograph are subject, composition and light. Knowing the composition that I want to shoot allows me to work out which direction I want the light to come from and therefore the time of day and the time of year when I need to return.

In this case I have decided that I would like the light to come from the south east meaning I need to return around sunrise during the winter.

Before leaving I managed to find a composition that included all nine of the Standards however I think the shot is limited by the unattractive foreground.

Nine Standards Rigg

I look forward to returning to Nine Standards Rigg at some point in the future and when I do I now know which composition I want to focus on and when the sun will be in the right position significantly increasing my chances of getting a good shot.

11 thoughts on “Photos: Nine Standards Rigg”

  1. Question: What was your motivation for converting these images to B&W?

    There are two reasons I’d convert an image to B&W for that I can think of off the top of my head:

    a) the colours (typically saturated ones, think red shirt etc.) in an image are distracting from the subject, so removing that information will improve the image
    b) run a quick test to see if the composition works well, because in B&W there’s no hiding behind fancy colours; if your composition sucks, B&W will show it

    In my experience B&W will fail if

    a) there’s lots of unnecessary detail
    b) the image is dominated by midtones

    Some very detailed pictures do work in B&W, but it’s hard to pull off. If they do, the picture still has a lot of contrast.

    As for composition, you put some thought into it, great!

    There’s a huge improvement going from “The Gap” to “The Traffic Cones” because an actual line starts forming. However, this line is almost horizontal and gives little sense of depth. So you most definitely want to make the angle steeper. I’d also consider maybe reversing their position, but this way around works for me. Try a shorter focal length and go lower and closer, find an interesting perspective. Don’t take the picture at eye level, because that is how we see things all day anyway. “Towering Above” goes in that direction, but now your leading line is gone, which is why I think reversing the line might work better.

    Try to get rid of the detail – my eyes invariably go to the lines of bricks. A possible solution to this could be to wait for the light to come from behind and then just taking a picture of the silhouettes, maybe with added rim light or with a sunstar at the edge of the largest Standard (or both).

    You got people in one shot as well and were pondering if you could use that for a selfie. If so, use it to give the viewer an idea of the size of these Standards, let them dwarf you, exaggerate with a wide angle lens for added drama.

    I hope this wall of text was some use, let me know what you think.

    1. Hi Thorsten, I went for black and white because I wanted to exaggerate the textures in the stones and to create a more nostalgic feel. As usual your observations are extremely helpful. When I return I am going to focus on the three stones at the northern end but once I’ve got that shot in the bag I shall revisit some of the other compositions and follow your recommendations.

  2. Chris, you said that the O.S. Map was wrong!
    I’ve never heard of that before. Although, I’ve met a lot of people over the years who’s map reading skills have been below par.
    Paul Wade

    1. Yeah, things are constantly changing and I don’t think the Ordnance Survey are able to keep up. Paths are constantly coming in and out of use, new fences appear over night. That is why it is important to scout locations before arriving particularly if like me you prefer to shoot at sunrise and would therefore be fumbling around in the dark looking for something that is no longer there. Modern GPS devices make it almost impossible to get your location wrong and if a path ain’t there then the path ain’t there, no matter what the map says.

  3. Hey Chris, this is my first visit to your blog as I was not aware of it. Your video is titled “Scouting Locations” and while it does deliver, I think that it would be interesting and informative to expand on this subject quite a bit. I always wonder how photographers prepare for a particular location visit. Personally, I use things like Google Maps, Google Earth, TPE, tidal charts, etc. I find the planning portion to be a fun part of the process–not that it ever goes according to plan in the end.

    I suspect that many people would be interested in an in depth look at how you go about planning, if in fact you do more than a recce scout. I know that some photographers just like to show up without any preparation. Not me, I need all the advance help I can get! If nothing else, I may have provided you with an idea for a future video. Cheers, Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for visiting my site. I’ve been writing blog posts for a while but until now I have pretty much kept it to myself. Both James Burns and I started blogging around the same time, if like my site you will probably like his too. You are not going to believe me when I say I am going to shoot a video about planning this weekend. I shall give you a shout out if all goes to plan (so to speak).

      1. Hi Chris,

        I follow both you and James on YT–it’s must see content for me. I do visit James’ blog occasionally but just discovered yours.

        There are so many online sources for material that it is challenging for me, a consumer, to keep track of it all. I can’t begin to imagine how much time and effort goes into it from your end. You can rest assured that your efforts do not go unrecoginzed. I follow many (too many) YT channels but the ones that I support the most are those with interactive producers. I really appreciate the way you take the time to answer comments with engaging dialog–not just a “thanks mate”.

        Keep doing what you do. Your genuine personality and passion for the subject comes through in all of your content. I’ll continue to follow and support and hope that you don’t burn yourself out!

        Here’s hoping your upcoming planning video goes to plan! Cheers, Jeff

        1. Hi Jeff, I do YouTube (and all of the other social media stuff for that matter) in order to connect with people and to share my passion for photography and for the Lake District. I want my content to be the start of the conversation, a catalyst if you like. The downside of this is that it leaves me very little time to consume other people’s content which is something that I am trying to find a solution to. Burn out is a significant risk for me, but hey we’re only here once, we might as well try and pack in as much as possible. 🙂

      2. I have an image coming up that I’ve been preparing for a couple of days already and I might make the whole process into a video. It involves quite a bit of research to find a suitable location, unhindered sight to the south where the center of the galaxy will appear, studying light pollution maps, checking on location a few days prior to the shot etc. etc.

          1. That is the plan anyway. I was checking on a possible location when you pinged me on messenger. I have some shots on the GoPro, but it’s not very likely I’ll go there on Sunday night, the drive was rather unpleasant with tons of construction sites and detours; not looking forward to making that trip twice in the middle of the night. As for astro photography in general, I’m just as new to that topic as you are 😉

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