Landscape Photography – Not as planned


I wasn’t working on Friday 18th October so I planned to head up to what has become my second home, the Lake District. My intention was to start the day exploring Borrowdale, hoping to video and photograph the early Autumn colours and then hike up to Glaramara and Allen Crags. My days often include a hike as I am currently on a mission to complete all the Wainwright fells by next year. Based in Yorkshire, the drive is usually around two to three hours so I wanted to make the most of my visits.

The weather plays a big part and the forecast was favourable, cloudy with light rain. I had visions of trees clothed in their Autumnal hues in a moody, misty environment. As often is the case though, this vision didn’t present itself. The sun was out and the visibility was good. I didn’t want the sun to be out and I didn’t want the visibility good. I quickly changed my plans.

Lakeside start

I arrived in the Borrowdale area and stopped off at Derwent Water, off the Borrowdale road. There is something appealing with this lake side location. The reflections were beautiful. A colourful display of the trees across the lake, mirrored in the glass like lake. An excellent picture post card shot was on the cards but I resisted or so I thought. I wanted to capture something different and not the obvious. This however has been my downfall lately. The need to get something that is not the obvious and coming away with an image which later down the line I am not keen on. Thankfully, I decided to take a reflection shot. This was more about the atmospheric mist and the splashes of light. It was sort of different;

Woodland walk

I moved on down the road and into the heart of Borrowdale. I had not found what I had intended from the day. I wanted to make a video focusing on the Autumn colours and fancied myself with a bit of woodland magic. The light was not on my side. It was getting harsh and the friendly mist had decided to visit another day. The key was to adapt to what presented itself. I had found an interesting patch of woodland which soon became popular with other photographers as the morning progressed. This location was made even more popular apparently by a previous nights photography talk so I was told when speaking to another chap who had obviously liked the same composition as me. His ever nearing presence lead to a short exchange of pleasantries.

The scene was very worthy of a good hour, searching for the right batch of bracken against a backdrop of Silver Birch. Separation of the Silver Birch was easy, finding the foreground was the most testing. I was fairly pleased with the shots I took using both my 50mm lens, handheld and my Wide Angle lens;

The sun was reflecting harsh light off the bracken and an early morning start, together with the thought of a hike to come was hindering my concentration to work the area more so I moved on to my next destination.

The Hike

I parked at Seatoller and grabbed my walking sticks after a quick lunch in my car. It was hike time. By this time the weather had become more favourable for fell walking with a hint of rain and overcast skies. It was much later than my usual starting times to head out for a hike. I was conscious of the sunset times but confident that I would make it to the summit of Glaramara and back before dark. I did have my head torch as I always do but given the option, hiking back in daylight is always preferable.

It soon became apparent that this was no easy walk. The distance was around 3 kilometres but the ascent was testing. Glaramara was certainly not the tallest of the Lakeland Fells at 783 metres but it was not the smallest. Tiredness was soon setting in and I was reminded by a passing walker that my backpack was rather on the large side with 2 fairly large tripods protruding from either side. I decided to stop and record a piece to camera, giving me some outlet to share my pains. It was time to reconsider my payload if I was to manage all the Wainwrights by next year. I am currently contemplating a lighter option for the shorter hikes. Time will see if it works.

Time was not on my side. I wanted to grab at least one more shot for the video. Yes, the vlogging had taken over but that’s another article to be debated later. It was getting late and the sun was due to set in around 2 hours and I was around a kilometre away from my destination. Thankfully a scene developed behind me and my telephoto was again put to good use. The depth, layers, shapes and mood had yet again delivered;

I made it to the summit of Glaramara with around an hour to spare. The visibility was minimal and evoked a sense of eeriness and solitude. I love these moments. I was exhausted which had been proven through taking three small tumbles. Thankfully I wasn’t injured. With a few mouthfuls of coffee and a handful of Jelly babies, I made it back to my car in good time. I often say it in my vlogs but adapting and making the most of what you have got is key to landscape photography. It gains experience and improves chances to get it right when Mother Nature occasionally provides the near perfect canvas.

Watch the video

Before the crowds


I have recently read in social media of an opinion that landscape photographers should not name their locations so to limit the number of visitors which leads to damaging the environment. I am all for the importance of preserving our wonderful country side but I feel that not disclosing the location is not sharing the beauty such locations have to offer. As photographers, I believe it is important to aim to capture a different take of a scene. We should however educate ourselves on what we can do as photographers to maintain a beautiful location and the environment. I may touch on this in future vlogs.

In this session I visit one of the popular locations in the Lake District. I would guess the location to be more popular with non photographers and tourists. It is a place of beauty that is for sure and in this short photography session of around 3 hours, I feel I only touched the surface. Tarn Howes is situated off the A593 heading to Coniston and car parking is easily found just past the equally beautiful Yew Tree Tarn, which incidentally lies just under Holme Fell, a haven for landscape photography. I’m really not helping the environmental cause here. I am however sharing.

There was a faint veil of cloud covering the mid morning sun as I found my first composition. As I often do the location lead me off the path, treading carefully around the ferns, to the tarns edge. My luck was in. The tarn was in abundance with Lilly pads in flower. Excellent photographic subject. It was indeed a subject which I found hard to take my creative eye away from.

The crowds were slow to gather but slowly gather they did. By noon I could imagine the main car park be swamped with visiting hordes. I past a number of families, tourists with cameras and barbecue cooks on my way back to the car. The voices of people enjoying themselves in such a wonderful place started to echoe around me as I left the tarn with fond memories and a desire to return, albeit even earlier next time.

Watch the video

Malham/The Return


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.

To be honest, I discovered that the composition I had in mind was not as simple as I initially thought and had visualised. I did however position myself where at the time, I believed led to the best composition. The light was fleeting and on a couple of occasions it had come and gone in quick succession. I managed to capture it both times however. You will see from the gallery below that images I took showed the background lit and the foreground lit. My preference is the foreground lit as it helps to reduce the busyness of the background.

I was blessed with some moody skies later on in the morning but the rain decided to stay away just in time for me to shoot a couple of images to the session, working with the wonderful limestone formations.

Weeks later since the session and reviewing the images, I cannot help to think that the images can further be improved. The tree images with the background of the rolling hills is too distracting for me and would definitely favour a misty and foggy day where the background scene is obscured, allowing the eye to focus on the subject, the trees. The black and white images are pleasing but the background could be stronger. This is a location I will return to….again and again.

Watch the video

Mono in the Mountains


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.

With black and photography, there are different approaches to be taken. One is to decide to convert to black and white once in post and Two, go out intentionally to shoot black and white photography. The former is no doubt the option that the majority of landscape photographers take. The latter helps to focus on what works and what doesn’t and is helped by the changing of my camera profile to monochrome.

Contrast is key in a good black and white photography which includes blacks, whites and mid tones. A good range of tones therefore often leads to success. Shapes as with all landscape photography plays an important role but in a mono image can really add more impact. Post processing is key here. The afternoon delivered minimal direct light so I had to add increased exposure to the areas of the image that mimicked side light. All but one of the images shot in the session were subject to a light dusting of the adjustment brush and radial filter. I find that I have more fun in post processing with black and white photography. I always aim to increase the black and whites with minimal clipping. This helps to achieve a good tonal range.

I was thankful that afternoon and evening that the rain didn’t arrive. It was a long and tiring day and one that added a couple of new fells to my list of Wainwrights ‘bagged’ If you reading this and black and white photography doesn’t interest you then I beg you to rethink. Mono photography has a certain timelessness about it and is a good genre to focus on if the creative juices have dried up. I will always have that passion and will no doubt continue to add black and white images to my portfolio.

Watch the video

Time to move on


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.

It is a beautiful location and one of my favourites in the Lake District. I was at this location, specifically Glencoyne which is on the Northern side of the lake last year and captured some wonderful scenes armed with my telephoto. This time was different however. It was the middle of the day and there no colours in the sky or mist hovering over the water so it was time to move on. Being a video maker and attempting to speak at the side of a busy road was also proving difficult

A stones throw away from the road was an area full of the joys of Spring with it’s luscious greens, white blossoms and photogenic gnarly trees. It was definitely worth an explore. I quickly discovered that the area was difficult trying to find seperation and compose a shot excluding distractions. I was also battling the rain…i’ve been there before. All was not lost however. Some good timings with my cloth and I managed to bring home the goods. This was another moody day, full of atmosphere but at the same time full of challenges.

Watch the video

Your time will come


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.

En route to the Lake District, my eye brows raised as a scene was developing in the corner of my eye, through the front passenger window to be exact. The mist was rolling over the hills and on those hills stood faint outlines of trees, a landscape photographers favourite models. To my astonishment a lay by appeared at the side of the road. A hard foot on the break and with a swift steer of the driving wheel later, I pulled up and assessed the scene in front of me. I had made the right decision but what’s this? The clad was rolling in and my hopes were being rubbed out as if it was a pencil sketch in front of me. Could it be happening again? I was hearing a faint voice in my head saying ‘maybe another time’ Surely not.

My adventure continued from my next destination, a lay by off Kirkstone pass in the Lake District. Misty moody conditions were all around me and distant silhouettes of our favourite models could still be scene. Another moody day. I needed to find a composition and again, hope the misty mood would hang on until my conquest is complete. The journey continues.

Watch the video

The Importance of Mood


Location: Buttermere/Derwent Fells, Lake District

Posted: 5th May 2019

Intricate planning of photography sessions has never been important to me and probably never will be. The location and time of day is all I want to know as I am a great believer that in-depth plans do not always come together and is often more exciting to witness all the elements fall into place unexpectedly. What is frustrating however is where the elements fall into place when not prepared. This is especially annoying when those elements consist of low lying clouds and swirling mists, ingredients of mood and atmosphere.

I set off from the conveniently positioned Honister Pass in the North Western region of the Lake District and headed up to Dale Head. The mist was rolling in through the valley at some pace and the clouds were hugging the crags. As a videographer I was keen to film the changing conditions and I knew straight away that my next vlog was going to have a theme of mood. I was confident that this was going to be a winner. I love the atmospheric conditions of mist and low lying clouds as they often create a sense of mystery by shrouding what lies behind. To have mood in landscape photography is for me having sugar in your coffee. Mood can be brought into your image in many ways but more often than not, it is the conditions that help. I came away with some pleasing footage and time lapses. Time for a photograph. On reflection now, that is where it went wrong. I put video before photography. By the time I had finally found a composition I was pleased with, the mood had escaped me and was left with remnants of mist and the clouds no longer hugging the valley walls.

I continued up to my first fell of the day, Dale Head. I had visited here before but this time instead of heading East, I walked West and onto the fells of Hindscarth and then Robinson. There is no denying that Dale Head summit has for me one of the best views in the Lake District and one I highly recommend. The conditions were not ideal and taking a photograph did not interest me. This was a time for reflection, a drink of coffee and a moment to enjoy my corned beef sandwhich. The mood and atmospheric conditions did not present themselves until later. For now, I had to do with flat, hazy and uninteresting light. My spirits were still high however. I was walking a mountain ridge in the Lake District with wonderful views surrounding me. This is a place I will never get tired of and the practice of mindfulness is highly recommended in such locations. Live for the moment.

The light improved as I ventured on towards Robinson after an uninspiring summit of Hindscarth. My attention was caught by the vivid greens and shapes of the crags and rocks that overlooked the valley looking towards Buttermere. This was a time of long lens abstracts using the diagonals and contrasting light. I had attempted a wider angle scene but nothing fell into place at the time. A telephoto often comes to my rescue. Robinson was looming. Robinson came and Robinson uninspired me. Looking towards the Southern fells however brought a sense of excitement and the mood was brewing. The clouds were forming some wonderful shapes.

As I often do on my walks, I looked around the scene and a 360 degrees survey presented clouds rolling over the West and Robinson. They were moving at a pace where excitement was turning in panic. The mist was also moving in from the South and dancing over Dale Head where I was heading next. I successfully captured these moments on video but I am predominantly a photographer and a composition was surely priority. I will leave it there and recommend you watch the video as to what happened next. Looking back now, I have learnt that capturing the moment is one of the most important aspects of landscape photography. The conditions change quickly, especially in the Lake District. Finding a composition does not come quickly however and that is why luck is a major factor. We are often lucky to be in the right place at the right time. No camera shop to this date and to my knowledge sells luck

Exmoor ramblings


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.

It was a very early morning start driving, stopping, driving stopping. From my first parking location I headed towards the coastal view. There was no potential due to the view being obscured by hedges. A careful cock of the leg over the barbed wire didn’t prove to be successful, the views were there but lacking anything in foreground interest. I got back into my car and ventured to the next parking area.

Stop! A knarly tree that resembles something like those found up North. I decided to take a chance and see what I could find. The clock was ticking but still I was confident. I had to make a video with at least 1 photograph that I liked. This is the pressures of vlogging. Looking back at my past videos, I felt that I have posted images that I am not proud of displaying. It is with time however that I have discovered the importance of producing videos of landscape photography sessions. It is simply fact that not all sessions produce content in terms of a good photograph. Going forward I will stick with this mantra and continue with the story telling. That is what vlogging is about, it’s a video log. The photography will always come first however but to not film an outing without the camera is proving difficult.

The morning went on and the return to the Mrs alarm was getting closer and closer. I was still relaxed however as I always am when when producing my videos and searching for that composition that I am proud to be on my sensor. I was pleased to discover my first and second images. This was the icing on the cake. I returned later in the morning to a fine welcome of a devils stare. I had over ran by half an hour. The rest of the holiday was very enjoyable albeit the weather and I have fallen in love with the area, having been on a few occasions now. Porlock is a small village, set in a leafy valley, where the locals smile and say hello. I will no doubt continue my discovery of Exmoor and it’s surrounding areas in the future. Before I go, a thank you to my brother for allowing me to stay in your wonderful little cottage.

Watch the video

Escape with Seascapes


Published: 15th April 2019

Location: Porlock Weir, Somerset and Woolacombe beach, Devon

A recent family holiday brought me to venture back into the world of seascape photography. I visited the small village of Porlock in Somerset and enjoyed a quick morning session around a very confined area of Porlock Weir. My old friends, rain and wind, joined me intermittently and did their best to gate crash the party. I was not beaten however and used the large wooden sea defence to shield me and come away with some good audio for my accompanying video.

I kept things to a minimum with the photography, firstly choosing a large wooden groyne that was running into the sea. It was still high tide which helped with the composition, creating some nice negative space around the main feature that meandered into the frame. Hurleston point made for a balancing feature to the overall look of the photograph. I wanted to try a long exposure to smooth out the water but my old friends, stubborn as they were, joined the party and made it difficult for me.

I stayed for around an hour, working a small space and composed using the wooden sea defences and their lines. I wanted to also attempt some close up shots of the varying patterns of the pebbles and stones. Karl Mortimer had given me inspiration through his excellent work and proof that looking down is often equally as rewarding as looking up with the camera.

The Mrs had reminded me that I was on a family break through a text and hinted that i should return to the cottage shortly. To be honest I had enjoyed this short session and although I did not find the time to explore the wonderful array of pebble patterns, I was quite pleased with my little adventure. On to another day which would take further West into Devon and it’s wonderful rugged short lines.

Woolacombe beach is a gold mine for photographic opportunities with its natural lead in lines and contours from the rocks. It was still within an hour of high tide and areas of the shore line were quickly revealing itself. There was an interesting weather system present on the horizon and I had to work quick if I was to combine the foreground interest with the background. This was a highly enjoyable time and didn’t involve dipping my carbon tripod into the dreaded sea salt at all but the surface of the coastal rocks were treacherous, not helped by my attire of welling boots, although equipped with some rather good grips.

I managed to capture a couple of portrait orientated shots with the nicely moody clouds on the horizon. I found it easy to adjust the camera and compose, using the shapes of the foreground. The landscape was changing quickly and more and more rocks were appearing as the tide receded. Luck was on my side that morning with the weather and the landscape but to be honest, the place itself was that good, it made life fairly easy for me. My challenge was to select the best from such a variety of shapes and patterns on offer.

Time was not my friend as I had to remind myself of my responsibilities of a Father and return back to base. Both Porlock but especially Woolacombe had proven what enjoyment could be had from seascape photography. The challenges were time and the importance to adapt to the changing environment. My dislike of sand and sea salt were not presented in either locations thankfully. I was fairly pleased with the result of both morning sessions and they certainly wetted my appetite to further add seascapes to my portfolio. I am within a few hours of the Yorkshire and Northumberland coastline and I will no doubt be hitting the shorelines very shortly.

Watch the video