Good for the mind


I will not be the first to suggest that landscape photography is a soothing tonic when life throws you setbacks. Yesterday I posted a video which touches on the importance of living your life with the mindset that whatever hard times get in your way, it is always important to remember the good. To reflect on what you have and the simple things in life that bring you joy. Bereavement of a loved one will play a part in most of our lives and we choose our own way on how to cope with it. My hike and landscape photography day in Eskdale in the The Lake District certainly eased my soul and reminded me how good life can be.

Its been a few weeks now since my Father passed away and I’ve been through several emotions such as shock, resentment, sadness and hope. I’m in no doubt there will be more but I need to accept and live my life and be thankful at the same time. I have always been a firm believer of the importance to escape. For me that comes with combining landscape photography with fell walking in the Lake District. The mountains, views and weather conditions take my creative mind on a short journey and today was no exception.

My plan was to climb Harter Fell in Eskdale from Jubilee bridge which sits at the bottom of the Western side Hardknott Pass. It was a Monday morning and the weekend had seen storm Dennis batter much of the United Kingdom. This was a week after storm Ciara had done exactly the same. There was still a blustery presence from where I started and I was set for another windy encounter which so often accompany me these days.

The higher I climbed towards Harter Fell, the heavier the wind became which came as no surprise. Every now and then I would stop to take in the views to the East where the light was backlighting the Coniston Fells. My face was being hit hard by the elements but everything was in control and life was still good. I continued to record these little moments of reflection and my travels up through the wonderful landscape that the Southern face of Harter Fell had to offer. The visibility quickly reduced and when I finally reached the trig point, clag had obscured any view and the backgrounds I had intended to shoot.

As I descended I was conscious that I had not taken a shot but all was not lost as I had made a mental note of a possible composition involving a cluster of fern trees in the near distance with a background of the Coniston fells backlit. I had spotted a lone tree which often tickle the strings of a landscape photographer. Further exploration was needed. To my disappointment the tree in question had seen better days and was looking more like the morning after rather than pre night out drinks time. Nothing worked and fell in line so I moved on. After several minutes, some wonderful rock patterns were emerging. May I still add, the wind was constantly attacking me. I was however nicely composed and shot this image below where I focused on the mid ground and processed with a split tone effect:

From Harter Fell (Eskdale) looking East towards the Coniston Fells

Dark, moody with a ray of light. Often it is said that your photography captures the emotion and state of mind you were in at the same time when the shutter release is pressed. I continued onto my next destination, Green Crag. Every so often I would stop, pause and lift my sight from the ground to take in my surroundings and enjoy the here and now moment. Mindfulness is such a strong tool and highly recommended.

The ground between Harter Fell and Green Crag was notoriously boggy and every footstep was like stepping on a sponge, making the walk difficult. The wind was still ferocious and unforgiving. I recall looking back at Harter Fell every so often as it’s conical shape revealed itself more, the further away I got. The rain momentarily swept across, hiding the fells head as I steadied myself for the final push up Green Crag.

At the summit I was met with some of the strongest winds I had witnessed, making both filming and finding a composition very difficult. I found some retreat however behind some crags and managed to capture a single handheld shot with my telephoto lens;

Bow Fell from Green Crag

The last of the days light was fading and I has conscious I had a fairly strenuous walk back through the boggy path. As I was heading down from the summit of Green Crag, the sun appeared from behind me, revealing it’s beauty and casting it’s light on the numerous rocky crags of the surrounding landscape. This was one of those unplanned and frantic moments where luck needs to be on your side and provide me with some foreground interest. Harter Fell had revealed herself and was ablaze with some wonderful light. I knew it wasn’t going to last, it never does. This is what I managed;

Harter Fell at sunset

The day was finally done. I made a start to my journey back home, donned with my head torch, choosing my footsteps wisely through the sponge field. Softly smiling to myself, I reflected on what fun I had and looking forward to the next adventure. Looking forward to whatever ignites your flame, induces the endorphins, raises a smile is so important in a life that throws you hurdles.

Watch the video;

3 thoughts on “Good for the mind

  1. “Dark, moody with a ray of light. Often it is said that your photography captures the emotion and state of mind you were in at the same time when the shutter release is pressed.“

    Hi James, thank you for taking the time to post both the video and this blog. My sincere condolences on the loss of your Father. I concur with your comments regarding the emotions that such a loss brings and I am glad that the hills have begun to help you with your situation.

    I have, since the age of at least 12, taken photos. Always able to record a scene I worked for a while as the photographer for a group of estate agents in Warwickshire and photographed weddings for a few years always taking snaps when bringing up a family allowed. All my film gear was sold off and a digital bridge camera fulfilled my limited needs when on holiday.

    Kids grew up, left home and my time was taken over by caring for my wife. Then in June 2018 just 6 days after a holiday in Scotland She became ill and passed away within 36 hours. 8 weeks later I lost my dad suddenly as well. Fortunately my job filled each day, my commitment to my commitment to my church filled some space. However I felt I needed something else to work at and picked up the camera and started a small project to walk my local canal on those lonely Saturday afternoons.

    In December 2018 my son and daughter in law took me on holiday and we returned to Scotland. Your quote (as above) really resonated with me. I have a very strong faith and a deep appreciation of the Bible and my faith is such that I have an immense hope for the future. Looking back at especially the shots from December 2018 in Scotland it is amazing how without conscious thought many of the images I took reflect the dark place I was in yet also have an element that reflects my hope.

    Dark, moody with a ray of light. Often it is said that your photography captures the emotion and state of mind you were in at the same time when the shutter release is pressed. I continue

    I have an image from that week that exemplifies my experience, the darkness of the (at the time) current darkness, the light I knew was there and the difficult path it would be to reach the light, are all there in the image but composed without consciously thinking about it.

    I am grateful for the opportunity photography has given me to release some of my emotions and grateful that it has proved to be such a great way to get me out and about in the landscape which without doubt has been a source of emotional balm.
    I am glad that you have the opportunity to experience the same process and wish you continued calmness of spirit that comes from what you do.

    May I also thank you personally, you have been one of the individuals who, through the medium of your YouTube videos have given me the inspiration to get out there, do more than be a snapper and finally begin to make images that are at last fulfilling my artistic vision and not just record shots.

    Thank you James for your thoughtful blog/vlog and my very best wishes,
    Continue to love the ones we have lost but continue to live for the ones we love.


    1. Many Thanks Derrick

      I am also sad for your loss and cant imagine what emotions you were going through at the time. Photography has certainly been part of the healing process as well as support from both friends and family. It will probably never be healed as I believe a lot of lifes difficult times will not be. We learn to accept and deal and the great outdoors will help me along.

      Appreciate your comment which brings a great sense of achievement in some way.

      Take Care



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