(Click on the thumbnails to view full sized images)
Towards the end of 2011, I ended up living on the outskirts of Weardale. Whilst this may seem a slightly random departure from my Wearside roots, the truth is I was hankering for a change of scenery. That part of the world is somewhere I’d spent a great deal of my childhood and wasn’t all that far from Sunderland, so it seemed a reasonable choice. At that point I had begun to feel a little jaded with Sunderland, and not to mention frustrated with a severe lack of opportunities, photographically speaking, so off I went.
I’d done a few evening photo-jaunts to Weardale with some success and the prospect of being on the doorstep to continue this appealed greatly. For me, it’s a very unusual part of the world, steeped in history, mystery, and hidden relics of the past. I can certainly draw parallels with Sunderland too, in that Weardale was once a prolific industrial area, albeit different kinds of industry; lead mining, limestone quarrying and of course, farming, which is now the major (only?) remaining industry.
I was also keen to challenge myself in some extreme conditions, both in terms of lighting (or lack of) and unforgiving terrain to navigate. In the cities, there’s no escape from artificial light. Everywhere you go, the streetlights force their artificial glow into every conceivable nook and cranny. On the one hand, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as additional lighting isn’t essential; but on the other it’s quite refreshing to be in full control of the available light or allow nature’s finest moonlight/starlight to take centre stage. I didn’t limit myself to Weardale either, travelling regularly into Teesdale, South Tynedale and the very edge of Cumbria regularly.
The thing I love most about being out in rural areas at night is that for the most part, you truly are alone with your camera. Aside from the various creatures of course, I can count on one hand (one finger maybe) the number of people I encountered when out photographing.
All good things must come to an end though, and a change in personal circumstances meant that I returned to Sunderland in the beginning of 2013 after 18 months in The Wilderness. I felt creatively refreshed and that I’d achieved a great deal in that time. Although slightly sad not to be as close, I’m still a regular visitor to the Dales, and this particular project is far from complete. For now, it’s a small selection of images to browse.