Is it the end?

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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.

The Route

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.

Looking back

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.

Adding mood to your photography

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For a photograph to stand out among the crowd, it has to have an instant appeal. This is obvious and relates to all art. Composition including a good balance of the elements within the frame often become lost if the lighting is poor. There is not a given rule however that good composition leads to a photograph that is individual and has that wow factor. More often than not, the light and weather conditions falling onto the scene make an image pop and result in that instant satisfaction. Mood is a main contributor to a satisfying image but what is mood?

Good for the mind

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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.

A Winters day – Dow Crag to Coniston Old Man

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UK weather can be so varied and unpredictable. I thought that this Winter was going to be a case of very cold temperatures and lots of snow. A time where the UK would come to a stand still. It usually does after a couple of centimetres of the white stuff to be honest. I wanted deep layers of snow dumped on the Mountain tops and snow drifts creating patterns for me to point my camera at. Here we are however in late January and I’m still waiting.

When or if it does come then no doubt it will be mid week and by the weekend, when i’m ready with my camera, a warm front would have arrived and melted away any hopes of bagging a good iconic shot of snow capped mountains. If I was to get a taste of any snow this Winter, then I had to get up high. This is a short story of my adventure up to Dow Crag and Old Man of Coniston. I was pleased I got my shot.

Malham/The Return

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Posted: 16th June 2019

Location: Malham Cove

The last time I visited Malham Cove, I was met with very wet conditions with the added element of gusty wind. That wasn’t ideal of course as a landscape photographer trying to come back with the goods. I promised a few of my YouTube channel subscribers and viewers that I would return shortly. My eye was attracted by a cluster of tree which had formed some rather interesting shapes. A return to the location was definitely on the cards when the conditions were more favourable. This morning session was about the return and the better light that had come with me.

Mono in the Mountains

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Location: Barrow and Outerside, Lake District

Posted: 26th May 2019

This session started in the afternoon following a visit to the Northern Photography show held annually at Rheged centre near Penrith. It was a very tiring hike from the moment it started from the small village of Braithwaite. Although Barrow and Outerside were relatively small fells at 455 metres and 568 metres respectively, it was still a challenging walk as I was both tired and the fell was warm and sticky. The clouds however were very interesting and broody. My waterproofs were at the ready. It had been a while since I had focused on black and white photography so this was a good opportunity with so much mood in the skies.

Time to move on

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Location: Ullswater, Lake District

Posted: 19th May 2019

Landscape photographers are often faced with the burning issue of deciding whether to move on from a location or to give it more time. These decisions of course can result in a better image or time wasted. During my recent visit to Ullswater, I was faced with this dilemma.

Your time will come

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Location: Near Skipton, Yorkshire Dales & Kirkstone Pass, Lake District

Published: 12th May 2019

Patience is a gift and also a very important attribute to have in landscape photography. There are many times when I have been disappointed but this has been balanced with the few occasions that I have been pleased. Happiness comes in all forms but for me in landscape photography, that feeling of elation is when the conditions and composition fall into place at the right time. I do believe I shot my favourite image of the year.

Exmoor ramblings

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Posted: 21st April 2019

Location: Near Porlock, Exmoor

This was a morning of hope more than a precision planned photography session. I had in mind an area where I would park up, sort of. I also had a few subjects I wanted to photograph, sort of. I headed up from Porlock, Somerset on the coastal road, driving West towards Lynmouth. I was in the middle of a family trip and the Mrs had so kindly agreed for me to enjoy myself with my camera for a couple of hours, sort of. It was a fleeting mention the previous evening during Coronation street. Very tactful. I honestly believe she has finally accepted that when we’re away, my camera bag will follow. The sessions are still timed however.