Falling into darkness near Sharp Tor

Sharp Tor, Dark
Sharp Tor, Dark

There was very little light left when I descended from Yar Tor last night, but I felt it would be worth returning once more to a scene I’ve photographed before of this view over to Sharp Tor. It was around 9pm and the glorious light I’d hoped for earlier on Yar Tor hadn’t materialised: the sun had hidden stubbornly behind thick cloud. I didn’t really care; I was up late alone on the moor, had heard owls and wandered among ponies, and have always enjoyed what the photographer John Sexton once termed the quiet light that caresses the land in the hour or so after sunset.

This spot along the minor road to the hamlet of Sherwell, is also the beginning of the track up to the WW1 memorial cross, which I photographed still later than this image, in almost total darkness. The little pool always seems to be here, no matter how dry the season. It was the brightest thing visible last night, and I was especially attracted to the sparkles on the tiny bog plants in the foreground. You’ll need to view the image at its largest size to see them – just click on the photograph once or twice and you should see.

My photograph is, if anything, ever so slightly lighter than the scene appeared when I took it, ‘though not by much. I’ve no intention of lifting the exposure, filling in the shadows, or ‘normalising’ the colour balance so there is less blue and more yellow, or saturating the few colours that are here. All these things can be easily done in Photoshop, but then the image would have little integrity. To convey the feel of the cool evening, the darkness that was beginning to envelop me, and the rather magical deep blue-black loneliness of the scene, I’ve processed it as close to memory as I can. At this time of day, the few colours that remain have an hypnotic glow, but the greens, yellows, pinks that were prominent earlier have seen their richness leech away, and blue-black is everywhere. It happens every night up here (and everywhere), but we should take time to experience it every so often. This photograph might have more immediate appeal with everything lightened and boosted, but that would mean nothing to me at all. I hope you like it!

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