Under The Roaches

Exploring the woods under the roaches in staffordshire

The weather around this time of the year can be damp, drab and generally gloomy even sometimes depressing! Us photographers are constantly weather watching and occasionally admiring sunrises & sunsets as we drive to and from work disappointed that we have missed a prime photo opportunity.

But on the downside of miserable weather we can always find something to shoot. In this example I head into the local woods and turn my hand to creating some mystical images in the mist.

The Roaches can be a dark and mysterious place when the mist is present.
The Roaches can be a dark and mysterious place when the mist is present.

Irrespective of these drab weather conditions deciding what to shoot in these conditions can be tricky, some days you probably can not even be bothered to go out of the house. But you must!

Cold damp and wet, if you plan ahead and take mental notes of what locations will be best suited for these weather conditions you can still get some really good images. Be thorough but be patient, wait for the right time and remember where to go in those special unique conditions.

The Roaches Woodland
Underneath The Roaches is some great woodland to explore and in misty conditions are great for shots like this.

Ill let you into a little secret…

I have a small book next to my computer at home for notes with months of the year on 12 separate pages, every time I go out walking and visit a new location I work out what is the best time of year to shoot that said location so that I can return one day in the right conditions.

Typical things that I take note of:

  • Sunrise & Sunset Times
  • Sunrise & Sunset Location (Use a sun compass)
  • Best lighting conditions to show the location at its best – i.e where does the light hit and what effects will the side lighting create
  • Flora – What plants will be in flower (this is tricky as im not great with plants!!)
  • Season – The best season of the year best for showing the location
  • Best route to the said location for future visits, including Grid References
  • Compositions, take some practice shots of various compositions because if its another 9 months before (sometimes longer) you can take a look back at your archives for reference
Under the Roaches with thick mist makes for some stunning opportunities.
Under the Roaches with thick mist makes for some stunning opportunities.

With that being said the weekend just gone was forecast to be misty all weekend, so instead of setting my alarm for an early sunrise shoot I opted for a lie in and went and explored The Roaches, well under The Roaches to be more precise!

Under The Roaches there is a narrow strip wood, some fenced of a some not, mostly carnivorous pines and plenty of dead wood and plenty of thick mosses and lichen on the ground. I wanted to capture the dark and moody atmosphere that can felt when walking though those woods. I’m sure anyone that has walked up though those woods when it is dark feels a little nervous as it can be a mysterious place, I have no idea how Doug Moller lived up there for so long!

The mysterious roaches in the Peak District
The mysterious roaches in the Peak District

I arrived mid morning and there was a few people climbing the gritstone but I decided to stay low and contour through the woods taking in the stunning atmosphere and the silence was surreal.

I stayed in the woods for a few hours I could hear the odd pheasant call and the shouts of the climbers above unaware of my presence as I captured some great images.

I struggled to keep the mist of my lens, I had to keep drying it with a microfibre cloth no sooner had I dried the lens it was misting up again, you have to be persistence and persevere to get that shot!

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The Roaches can be dark and very surreal in the right conditions
Lost in the thick of The Roaches woods
Fallen and dead wood under The Roaches make for eerie scenes.
Fallen and dead wood under The Roaches make for eerie scenes.

I had a wonderful couple of hours scoping compositions out, and came back with plenty of wonderful shots, I’ve only shared a few of the better one’s but ive probably got the same amount again to share!!

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