There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. As I write this article it has been approximately been a month since the release of the roadmap which will slowly bring us some freedom from the lockdown. There was definitely some small release of emotion when at last we were given dates when local restrictions would be lifted, depending of course the curve of new infections plus other criteria is met. For me, the main impact of the lockdown has been the ban on travelling to my beloved place on Earth, The Lake District. Social Distancing, rule of 6, Pubs closing, to name a few of the limitations, did not alter how I lived. Beauticians and hair dressers were also not high on my agenda. Taking the Lake District away however was difficult but now, at last, I am planning my return.
By the time I return to the Lake District, it will be approaching 6 months of absence. I remember the day well where I lost my direction slightly on the Buttermere fells. Thankfully GPS came to my rescue. Although at the time, I recall visions of curling up in a tight ball under some large boulders acting like a shelter to settle down for the night, I miss the adventure and excitement. The unexpected situations that every now and then, the fells throw at me. I miss that emotion and it is a feeling that I have experienced for what seems longer than 6 months. I am currently working on the best route for my return. The day will be about the reacquaintance of the area and the photography will come second. I am looking forward to the wind on my face, the chill of the rain, the smells, the pains from the hike and of course…a nasty McDonalds double cheeseburger, large fries and a coffee on the way home. Paradise awaits.
We are nearly there but as the title says, is this the end?
Not too long ago was my birthday and the day when I received my first Covid 19 vaccination. I remember slowly gaining a temperature, feeling tired but thankfully there were no hints of little robots running around inside me. That day was a good day. I am fortunate to not have struggled during lockdown. I am not a hugger, a socialite, an extrovert or someone that must be around people. Working from home is a luxury and the return to office life wiIl no doubt be a struggle at first. Life will slowly see normality and part of that norm for me will be a regular visit to the Lake District.
I am nearing the end of completing the Wainwrights and that remains the most important goal in 2021. For that reason, a return to my favourite photography location in the Lake District was not priority, despite my long absence. To be honest, I do not have a single favourite as most areas hold some form of sentimental value. Some locations I have visited will no doubt open better options on different days. The land changes with the light. It will be about the hike and my plan is to continue with my list of Wainwrights. I have decided to head to Udale in the Northern fells. There will be 5 fells on the map to complete that day, none of which will include any fell over 700 metres. I am hoping for a gentle 11km hike with nothing too technical, over mainly open grassland. Another reason I chose this area was the opportunity to drive through the heart of the National Park on the A591 and join the A66 to reach my destination. I will pass 4 lakes on the way and will stop and breath in the Lakeland air as the sun is starting to rise. This will be help to feed my love and reconnection to a long lost friend. That is of course if these visions in my head comes true. Unpredictable being the key word.
The clocks are due to go forward the day before I head back to the Lakes. This will obviously be in my favour as I plan to set off at around 4am and arrive in the area before the sun casts its first light. The early rise from bed will be difficult no matter how much excitement I have. My body has not suffered the shock of a few hours sleep for many a month and a strong coffee with more strong coffee in a flask for the journey will be much in need. A 2 to 3 hour drive will be the next stage which will no doubt be a platform for visualizing what’s in store for me, what to film, what to photograph and how will the story build. The uncertainty is in some way what makes it exciting.
Why does it pains to write about what I have learnt during lockdown, suggesting a definite end to this pandemic and the return of a normal life. It is different this time in comparison to when we came out of the first lockdown. The infection rates are reducing in the majority of arears at a rate which is in comparison to last Autumn. That all came to an end however. The rates started to rise again and lockdown was reintroduced. This time is different however. A third of the population is now vaccinated after their first dose. One of those is a 51 year old Yorkshire man who has patiently waited to be released back into the fells. There is a definite hope and for that I feel I can justify to briefly write about what I have learnt.
From a photography stance, the woodland arena was my definite play ground in the last 6 months. The best way to establish if I have learnt or improved is to look back at that photography. I have done that and it’s hard for me to judge. One thing I have come to realise in my opinion is that good woodland photography needs the right conditions and light. I may have experimented with compositions and post processing techniques but a fogless woodland makes it hard. It’s pretty safe to say that 6 months is not long enough. Here is a collection of my favourite shots from October 2020 to present date;
Lockdown 2 has proven that a location needs to be given time to mature. With the right ingredients, the building blocks that these past months have built will be ready to be iced when the time is right.
There is not a composition in all that is around us that can form a good photograph. Nature has plenty to offer and a landscape photographer is best in a place where there are good offerings. The Lake District is one such place. I use to think that a good photographer is one that has the skill to work any area and deliver to a high standard. My mindset has changed however. I believe it is important to identify potential and be persistent, likewise to be able to move on where the location does not deliver.
A few days from now I will visit the Lake District and spend a full day walking the fells, breathing the air and enjoying the sounds. Whatever the weather will offer, I will still be wearing that long lost smile. I will shake the hand of a friend that temporary moved away. I will no doubt update you on how that day went soon.