Mist over Ladybower

Posted by David Travis on 1 Nov 2023

Mist over Ladybower

I took these pictures at Ladybower Reservoir in the Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. The reservoir has two spillway overflows at the side of the dam that look like plugholes. The plugholes regulate water levels in the reservoir by draining away excess water to the River Derwent when the reservoir level gets too high. The plugholes are big (24 metres in diameter, with a drop of 20 metres) and, when they overflow, are a sight to behold.

I knew the water level would be high after Storm Babet so I arrived at sunrise. The weather forecast was for clear skies but there was considerable mist. I hadn't planned for those conditions but the mist certainly added some atmosphere to the photographs.

The Plugholes

This plughole is at the west end of the dam. I found it a tricky composition because there aren’t many places you can stand and retain its symmetry. This is as close as you can get, because there’s a wall in the way. If you move back, the reservoir wall gets in the bottom of the picture.

OM Systems OM-1 with Leica 8-18mm lens at 14mm. 2.5s at f/8, ISO 200. 6 stop ND filter.

This plughole is at the east end of the dam. With the mist that I had on the day, I think this gives a more pleasing composition. There’s nothing you can do to avoid the railings in the bottom of the picture (short of flying a drone — more of that later).

OM Systems OM-1 with Leica 8-18mm lens at 8mm. 2.5s at f/8, ISO 200. 6 stop ND filter.

Along the reservoir

Walking along the reservoir revealed these photogenic boats. I thought this composition worked well in the mist. The bridge in the background is the Ashopton Viaduct (the A57, Snake Pass).

OM Systems OM-1 with Lumix 35-100mm lens at 51mm. 1/100s at f/2.8, ISO 200

This image shows a similar composition with less mist and a single boat. The hill you can see in the background is Crook Hill.

OM Systems OM-1 with Lumix 35-100mm lens at 60mm. 1/25s at f/8, ISO 200

On towards Crook Hill

This is taken from Crook Hill looking back towards Ashopton Viaduct. It’s a classic view from this location but I was hoping the mist would give me something extra.

OM Systems OM-1 with Olympus 12-40mm lens at 16mm. Exposure blend of 5 images.

This was taken from the Ashopton Viaduct looking north towards Derwent Reservoir.

OM Systems OM-1 with Olympus 12-40mm lens at 40mm. 10s at f/8, ISO 200. 10 stop ND filter.

Ladybower by drone

To really capture the plughole in context, I decided to fly my drone. It was too misty when I first arrived but later I was able to get this graphic shot of the plughole along with some autumn colour in the trees. This is the same plughole as in the first photograph above.

DJI Mini Pro 4. 1/1000s at f/1.7.

I know that drones aren't to everyone's taste, so I only fly when a place is empty or nearly empty of people. What I like about this view is that it makes you stop and question what you're seeing for a few seconds before you manage to put the pieces together. This is the plughole at the east end of the dam.

DJI Mini Pro 4. 1/1250s at f/1.7.

I hadn't expected mist on this shoot but the conditions really added some atmosphere to the images I captured at sunrise. I think the learning point is not to get too fixated on getting a particular image. Instead, you need to let the weather conditions tell you how to photograph the location.

If you liked this, try…

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21 Feb 2021

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6 Dec 2021

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