Photography tips by Mark Gilligan - Waterfalls

Gable Force

Gable Force - Credit: Archant

Lancashire Life regular Mark Gilligan has been on a grand tour of Lakeland’s spectacular waterfalls

I know it’s called the Lake District but don’t overlook the most fabulous waterfalls.

We are lucky that we have so many on our doorstep. There is even one, Stockghyll Force, right in the heart of Ambleside that played a huge part in the development of the area. As well as their practical side, which is now more historical, they also make good ‘brew stops’ on walks.

There are several things to consider when you move around them and safety is priority - they can be slippery, even on dry days.

Throughout 2013, I have travelled all around the Lakes photographing them for a book and my personal favourite’s are Skelwith Force, Dungeon Ghyll, Hardrigg Falls, Stanley Force and the one I have shown you here, which is Gable Force.

This one is easily seen from a distance, between Great Gable and Kirk Fell at Wasdale, but it was not the easiest to photograph in order to do it justice. That for me is important. Don’t just stand there and snap away. Assimilate.

This one required a little ‘clambering’ down the bank. While I didn’t go right down to the waters edge, the position of my co-author David Powell-Thompson gives the falls its scale. It then sits naturally and you are presenting them as faithfully as you can.

Most Read

To take a photograph like this you will need a tripod, cable release and a filter for the sky. What I wanted to show was the scale, power and proximity of the falls. By slowing the shutter down sufficiently you see the majesty of the ‘cataract’ as its called but having a person in the image also means that you must ensure they are still or motion blur will occur.

It took several attempts at this because either David moved slightly or the light changed.

The other consideration is noise. Communication can prove difficult due to the roar of the water. For example, when we went to Skelwith Force, it was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other at ten feet away! It was like standing by a jet engine that was just about to take off.

Enjoy the falls. They are a great natural feature and you might be lucky enough to see a kingfisher or those lovely little dippers darting up and down too!

Mark Gilligan along with TV personality and researcher from the ‘Wainwright Walks’ television series, David Powell-Thompson run their one day walks, ‘A View a Camera and You’ in the Lake District.

For more information go to and on Twitter at @wastwater1