Ripples On The Dam

When it comes to landscapes, the number one thing that I like to photograph are reflections. It doesn’t really have to be any particular subject matter; I just always seem to find myself heading for somewhere that has water. Ideally, the water will be calm and still, however, I can achieve similar effects by using a long exposure.

Carr Mill Dam

My love for reflective landscapes has led me to some fantastic locations and one of my favourite places to visit is Carr Mill Dam which sits alongside the A580 East Lancashire Road, or ‘East Lancs’ as its more commonly known. This is partly down to the fact that its local to me but mainly because of the variety of pictures that are available here. There are trees, water, wildlife, and even a bit of architecture in the form of the 19 Arch bridge that stretches across the dam.

The 19 Arch Bridge taken October 2017

Heading to the Dam

Saturday 18th May.

My daughter has a friends party and the venue isn’t too far from the dam (you can probably tell where this is going). So I came up with the idea of dropping her off and spending a couple of hours at the dam with my camera; then I would collect her on the way back thus killing two birds with one trip…. Genius I know.

As I arrive at the dam, the wind is calm, trees are still, and there is a nice covering of clouds, a little bit dull, but I can live with that. I start thinking of reflections, long exposures, dramatic clouds and capturing the perfect photograph. As I get closer I see a small, white boat on the water, about 30ft from the edge of the bank, occupied by two people, ‘probably just doing some gentle fishing’ I thought so nothing to worry about there, I can still get my reflections with a long exposure; but this would mean editing out the boat later, so all in all a pretty good recipe for a nice picture.

The Waters Edge

I grab my gear out the boot of the car and head about 100 yards away to the waters edge. I look out across the water beyond the fishermen and I see a line of racing power boats. The serene atmosphere was suddenly broken by the sound of highly revving engines, as all the boats set off like greyhounds out of a trap, they start screaming towards me across the water. The two anglers, who turned out to be race marshals in their own motorised vessel, eagerly watch the boats as they take the corner at the end of the straight and head back down the water.

Camera settings – 150mm,1/2500sec,Iso 800,F3.2

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/2000sec, iso 640, f2.8

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/2000sec, iso 640, f2.8

A Lucky Coincidence

DAMN IT! (pun intended) no reflections for me today.

Luckily, I’m a big fan of motorsports so this was right up my street… Or East Lancs in this case.

I quickly equipped my Olympus Camera with my Olympus 40-150mm lens and started to capture the action using a high shutter speed of around 1/2500th of second to ensure I could freeze the boats within the image. However, I was keen to try out a technique called ‘panning’, where you use a slower shutter speed than normal, say around 1/50th of a second, and take a shot while tracking the moving boat across the water. This technique will allow you to have your subject sharp in the image but have a lot of motion blur in the background giving the feeling of movement and speed. I’ve seen plenty of pictures captured this way and can’t help but admire the skill of the photographer. My initial endeavour did not come with a high success rate, more likely because this was my first attempt and it’s a difficult method to master. I was probably getting around 1 in 20 shots which where usable. Most of them the boat was just a blur, a streaky mess. I felt that I did get better as the race went on but it’s all worth the effort for that one shot.

There is no better feeling than looking at the back of your camera and realising you’ve got the image you were hoping for.

I was made up with this particular one.

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/50 sec, iso 200, f8

I was also able to get a couple of pictures at the end of the first race when nobody was on the lake. I was photographing the boats near to a weir which fed into the Sankey Brook and I noticed two logs resting there.
I used the curvaceous overflow as a leading line into the image, the logs as foreground interest, smoothed out the water by using my 10stop filter screwed to the front of my Olympus 12-40mm lens. I was really pleased with the way this image turned out, definitely a keeper for me.

Camera settings – 14mm, 60 sec, iso 200 f9

Loved It!

Was I disappointed I didn’t get the image I was hoping for? ….. Nope absolutely not, I was in one of my favourite places doing something that I loved.

Email –
Carr Mill Dam –
Lancashire Power Boat Racing
Windermere Motorboat Racing Club

2 thoughts on “Ripples On The Dam

  1. I love viewing your photos and reading your stories, i have also taken pictures of the 19 arches at the dam. Please keep snapping and writing so i may also learn more about settings to use when taking my own picture, you also give me ideas on where i could go. I like landscape esp those with lighthouses in them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sharon, I appreciate your continued support. I’d love to see your pictures of the 19 arch’s too, maybe post them on my community Facebook page if you don’t mind. I like lighthouse’s too and i hope to visit Talacre Beach Lighthouse again soon🤞


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