I've planned to shoot Scout Moor Wind Farm for a long time. Two years previous to my trip, I watched avidly from a distance as each tower was assembled next to the tall structure of a crane, impressive engineering in itself, before the three, rotor blades were painstakingly attached. Having planned and researched the shoot and having the Rochdale wind farm local to where I live, I selected the day on which I would make the 30 minute journey from home with great anticipation for finally getting up close to these continually controversial features of the Pennine Moors.
The weather forecast for the day was not looking great...well not for the tourist anyway, but for the photographer it promised to be an interesting day. I left the house with waterproofs, gloves, and camera cover for adverse weather, oh, and of course my camera bag. The one with the waterproof cover! Driving around the M60 towards Rochdale I was checking the Pennine moorland on which the wind farm stands and could see the clouds constantly rolling in from the west as if on a perpetual conveyor belt. I hoped that this would continue for the rest of the day as I knew that the potential for that killer image was greater with a dynamic, textured sky.
|The clouds continually rolled over the more all day.|
I started to formulate images in my mind as I pulled up into the layby on A680 south east of Edenfield. I already knew from previous research, that the images I shot would not be bursting with colour. The bleak moorland, the potentially overcast sky and the grey/white turbines themselves offer a limited colour range, so I had planned to shoot for a punchy, heavily contrasting monochrome portfolio before I even arrived. Upon arriving it was confirmed as a good plan.
|The changeable light provided many silhouette image opportunities.|
With enthusiasm, I crossed the road and set off up the gentle path heading towards the turbines. The problem I found was that the turbines are spread over a large area and I wasn't using an OS Map which outlined their exact location. Therefore, I was heading towards the turbines from the road, but I didn't really know where I was going to arrive. As the drizzle came down and the clouds rolled through I became increasingly aware of the surreal 'whooshing' noise that I soon realise are typical of the giant blades as the cut through the air. I decided that the strategy would be to walk around to orientate myself and acquaint myself with the environment that I would be spending the next 8 hours in.
This turned out to be a good strategy as it's a strange feeling to be on a bleak moor surrounded by 26 tall, metal structures gracefully spinning their blades above you. In fact, between you and I, when I walked directly beneath the blades, I couldn't help but flinch! Furthermore, for the rest of the day I was constantly looking over my shoulder thinking that somebody was sneaking up on my blindside when in actual fact it was sound propelled through the air by the blades. It was messing with my mind. Time to focus. I decided to cover just a portion of the whole wind farm due to the repetitiveness of the landscape - quality not quantity was the key and this could be achieved by focusing on just a selection of the turbines.
|The wind farm as a whole covers a large area and expansion is planned!|
The brief that I had set myself was rather complex. I wanted to capture the wind turbines in ways that contradicted the negative press they so often get. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't about me fighting the corner for wind energy. As it happens I do quite like them. On the other hand I'm not sure wind energy will solve the country's problems. I also don't have to live close to the wind farm and endure the health problems that this is said to create. However, my motivation was purely photographic and I wanted to stretch my skills to capture a perspective of beauty of an industrial structure in the natural landscape it was said to be ruining. This, I hope would make people think or maybe even confuse them. That would be mission accomplished.
Armed with the most important tools for this particular shoot, I set up my camera, wide angle lens and tripod, along with a range of ND Graduated filters to ensure I keep the detail in the ever changing skies. It was hard to find foreground interest on the moors though and no tool in my camera bag could fix that so I walked some more! After a hard day of dodging the rain (and looking over my shoulder!) I left the moorland and headed back to the car satisfied with the shots on my memory cards. After a brief guide to panorama ahead of me by the friendly owner of a fast food trailer I headed home looking forward to seeing the images in print.
|Foreground interest was few and far between.|
You can see them in our Scout Moor portfolio here. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think.