The Epic Landscapes of Whitby, I Wish…


People that live somewhere beautiful…

have an enormous advantage in landscape photography. Whitby has a picturesque harbor town, an epic landscape, and of course the dramatic abbey ruins. People have lived there since Roman times, and the history of coastal Whitby is extensive. How do you capture this beauty, especially if you have a two-hour window to take a good photo? Of course, you have no control of the weather.


It is like I mentioned in the post on The Golden Hour, those that live in a scenic place learn something about the place each time they visit or photograph a certain spot. It becomes easier to improve and work the location choices each time they visit.


You just can’t get these great photos unless by dumb luck when being in a place for mere hours. You need to have the best season, the right time of day, the right camera, lenses, and tripod, and of course, great weather conditions. You need to find the right angles on the subject, you need things to be PERFECT. Photos you see in picture books that you buy are the images that we think approach perfection, but then again maybe not.


While we did get to see Whitby from differing perspectives, the day itself was just blah, yet did have some slight weather clearing in those few hours. We were there around noon time though. Yuck… at least the grey clouds helped a bit. The deep dark skies moved off by the time we disembarked the bus to most travelers’ fancy. I would have preferred the sky interest.


Because I live in Niagara Falls. I can go out and shoot the Falls any day of the year. I can watch the weather for interesting cloud patterns, approaching storms, low sun angles, sparkly ice and powdery snow, and it costs me nothing to go see if I can make an interesting photo.

But…sometimes one can go blind to the natural beauty around them that they see daily. Sometime you just plain grow numb to it not realizing how others perceive what is so special. I suspect that happens to many living in a place where tourists flock. I will take you to Niagara Falls next post. While special and breathtaking to visitors, to many residents, it is not something more than routine.


I find I get more inspired by trying to shoot something interesting when traveling to a different culture and country. The grass is always greener so they say. But, you get to another country and, for some reason, you never quite feel like your photos live up to what you saw or expected.



Sometimes the place is so darn epic, a simple photo does not do it justice. Most times, conditions don’t lend themselves to a pretty image, no matter how great the subject. It really was like that when I visited Whitby. My mind’s eye said wow, yet my camera said blah. Most photos were flat and lifeless in this grey, cloud filled sky.


How many times have you gone somewhere filled with high expectations? It happens every trip I take. I’ll go back and look at photos from a previous trip and some not previously considered that I really like, all better than ones from the current trip, or so I think at the time. Photos that didn’t seem like much to me at the time, take on a new meaning once I’ve had some time away from the place they were taken. Surely, our past and future aren’t always better than the present. Yet we continue to think that this is the case.


The Abbey and the History…

The Whitby Abbey is why most tourists visit Whitby. The Abbey had a colorful, patchy and varied history which is what you see it in ruins today. It actually was the second Abbey built here, the first in 657 AD and then again after the Norman conquest of 1066 AD, reestablished in 1090 AD. The Abbey’s relations with the town were stained through history with the collection of dues and customs levied on the townspeople.

The medieval town grew up on both sides of the harbor as you see in the images. The monks ordered the construction of the stone parish church you saw in yesterday’s post. Why the church sits so high on the hill away from the heart of the town is not known. The church is located to the western gate of the Abbey ruins.


Even though the long history of Whitby was trying, the town eventually settled and became prosperous.


The town picked up economically in the 18th century. Whaling, fishing and mining, and much later it became profitable as a resort.

Once a rail system was established, the town became more popular as a resort. But the German wars came to Whitby, firing from ships off the coast. Whitby was always exposed to raiders throughout history, but now as I have seen first hand, the invasion is by interested and curious tourists.

With their former means of commerce waning, tourism is all that more important for today. You can see the town is still filled with nautical activity. Many pleasure boats are found in the harbor.


I hope you enjoyed this town through photos. I only wish I could have taken better images on this dull, cloudy day. With photos, sometimes you luck out and get something better than you would have ever expected, but most times not. This time definitely not. I so wanted better, this town deserves better.


My favorite two towns on any trip, Arbanasi, Bulgaria and Prague, Czech Republic. Arbanasi was photographed on a day like this. Unfortunately, I was also sick during that overcast day. Prague had a picture perfect day. Photos from, Budapest, Hungary also were some of my favorites. Right time, right place, right camera, always the dream…


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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27 Responses to The Epic Landscapes of Whitby, I Wish…

  1. Søren says:

    Sometimes “perfect” weather isn’t the best for photography. I find that a bit of clouds makes it easier to show the landscape or buildings as they truly look, whereas direct sunshine can appear a bit harsh in pictures.

    This selfie (taken with a timer on a lonely hike in Greenland in 2009) kind of shows how a landscape can appear at it’s best in slightly cloudy conditions; these were the true colours of the landscape, but direct sun would have made them appear brighter and more garish in a photo.

    As for going “blind” to the landscape you live in… Well, I’ll never go blind to the view from my desk! The field across the road, the small clump of trees at the top of the field, the Medieval church tower just visible over the top of the hill…I can’t imagine ever growing tired of this view! It is not dramatic or “grand”, but it is so perfectly lovely and quiet in it’s own, unassuming way.

    • Yes, stormy weather is often a blessing for photographers, but not usually at noon time like when I was at Whitby. Your cloudy image is not so much what I was using as an example though. There you have a blue sky with puffy clouds. The clouds are likely blocking the sun too. My next post on NF has these conditions in the morning, but not at the Golden Hour. The blue of the sky is almost the same hue as the water which helps balance out your exposure. Grey skies usually blowout the exposure and make it dull like what I showed in post. Stormy weather has interest and many times some good color or B&W opportunities. BTW, how did you get the photo in the comment? I can embed video, but not images with my theme.

      I have lived in NF for over 20 years and many of the residents here don’t visit the Falls. I can walk to it and found even my interest waning after all this time. Looking out your window at a nice view I am sure never wanes for you though. The simpler the scene I think makes it have interest for all time.

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    I’ve spent many a holiday in Whitby and my family was living there hundreds of years ago in a house still standing. I don’t get to go there often these days, but it is one of my favourite places when you get there out of season and the tourists are thin on the ground.

    • I can imagine how beautiful without tourists. I have photos in the book I bought on Whitby. I was also at the town of my ancestors while in Germany. The whole area was beautiful. In the US we have many wonderful sights, but don’t have the age that the old European buildings and towns have, unless you look at native people’s original locations, but then again they did not have permanent structures.

      • Sue Vincent says:

        The sacred sites of the original peoples are everywhere, even here, though, as you say, they may not be buildings in the sense we know. It is always good to touch our roots though.

  3. Andrea says:

    No matter how disappointed you are with your shots, i still find them beautiful. And i thank you much for the tour as i will not be able to see it. You mentioned about expectations, and i’ve just read in a blog before coming in here “Expectations kill experiences”. So i am trying to lower mine if ever i travel. But i agree with you about light, accessories, equipment as i get disappointed many times.

    • Thank you Andrea. I agree one can expect too much, but expectations can be surpassed too. I think expectations and the accompanying excitement give you something to look forward too. What kills experiences is disinterest. We had a few on our bus rides endlessly complaining about when we would finally get to our final destination. There were experiences they missed by grumbling or sleeping. I think Whitby was far beyond my expectations. The noonday visit, not so much.

  4. Phil and I biked to North Tonawanda on Saturday. We got lunch at a small hot dog and ice cream place, Mississippi Mudds. We took our food to the top level of the restaurant where we had a great view of the Niagara River. Phil wondered how much people would pay for a view like that if they were somewhere else in the world. But we tend to take our vistas for granted.

    • I have eaten there a number of times. It does not seem small to me, maybe because it is always packed with patrons. I do believe a number of tourists are told about Mississippi Mudds since I have seen them there. The river view is wonderful, but nothing beats it from the observation tower at the US Falls or over on the Canadian side at CN Tower. The food is better at Mississippi Mudds though.

  5. David says:

    I have pretty much given up on trying to get “big picture” photos during midday regardless of whether it’s sunny or overcast. A polarizer does help some in both conditions but all the effort I put into post processing with minimal satisfactory results just does not make it worth it for me. You seem to have handled it pretty well but then your travel photos are always excellent.

    • Thanks David. I rely heavily on adjusting ISO and exposure compensation. I could not use filters on this camera, plus a polarizing filter means a fasted shutter speed. Also, use of the Cloudy setting on this camera, although I did not in this shoot. Why? Because the Abbey was used in the Bram Stoker novels on Dracula. I wanted the stormy look and could not achieve it at this time of day. I could have post processed the image to bump up that sky, best option would have been a tripod and taking different exposures to blend. HDR.

  6. swo8 says:

    You did a superb job on the photos, Donna. I went to school in Whitby, Ontario Canada so the name of the place intrigues me.

  7. I am never quite satisfied with the weather for my photography either, maybe that’s the way photographers are. The worst for me is when the sun shines into mostly shady spots or the subject is half in sun and half in shade. I am about to do a post on a shade garden that was all like that, frustrating. Whitby looks very picturesque.

    • You need to photograph when the sun is more forgiving (low in the sky, like Golden Hour times). This may cause the need for a tripod in the lower light. I do not travel with a tripod or monopod. Generally, I can handhold when upping the ISO. My post on Golden Hour shows how the lower light angle helps images that would have both hot spots that blow out and areas in shade. You can view this post since you have a similar camera to what I was using in the UK. I did not take the professional camera or lenses on that trip.

  8. Steve says:

    The last time I was in Whitby it was dense fog. The abbey was surreal coming out of the fog. I do have photos, how do I add them to a comment?

    • Just click the photo on your blog post to have it display the URL of the image, and copy the image URL. Add that URL to the comment and it appears. It at one time would not work this way. I had to add the code, but my theme would not post it. It worked on other blogs though.

  9. Steve says:

    thanks it does work

    • Very nice Steve. It was a bit foggy when we first got there, but being on a tour, we were herded into the information center for a walking tour showing old artifacts. By the time we exited, the fog lifted and we saw gray clouds. Fog was not thick like your image though. More like a low cloud passed through. In the fog, the Abbey looks like where Bram Stoker was inspired.

  10. Karen says:

    I loved your photos even on a grey day…especially the first one.

  11. It is interesting how we often take for granted the natural beauty near our homes. Actually, this happened to me more when I was younger. Now I realize how special the views are here. Besides beautiful settings, open areas and high places help with landscape photography, as you show here.

    • Boredom happens at any age I guess. I think more people get interested in nature when they learn to appreciate more and see how things previously overlooked now take on a beauty never noticed. Time and patience comes with age too, so it kinda explains how some older folks have a renewed interest in all that surrounds them. Even gardening. Many Master Gardeners and garden club members are are up in years. It is much harder to attract the busy younger folks, as their interests and obligations rest elsewhere.

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