Holme Fell is waiting for Autumn

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The Season

Without a doubt, Autumn is the time of year where the majority of hungry landscape photographers, no matter what skill level, head out on location to attempt to capture their take on the colours that the season has on offer.

For me the season is equal to Winter. Both bring manageable sunrise and sunset times. A lot of my photography is done in the Lake District which is a 2 to 3 hour drive. I can be on location during Autumn from leaving home at a silly hour but not stupidly silly. That is a bonus. In addition to the extra hours/minutes in bed, Autumn brings that cool, damn air which is refreshing and warmly. The greatest selling point for this season is of course the hues that spread throughout the landscape if blazened with the right foliage. Yellow, Orange, Bronze can be in abundance. There is also more likelihood of mist being present, that magical ingredient to aid separation and one that lovers of landscape photography long for.

The Location

Holme Fell is situated in the Southern Region of the Lake District National Park. It stands proud above what is equally a gem of a place, Yew Tree Tarn. The short but sharp hike up to the Holme Fell takes in some wonderful views of the surrounding pines and larches, especially in a morning where the subjects are backlit. The key here is keeping it simple with the composition. As the climb ascends, numerous Silver Birch’s can be seen looking in a North Easterly direction. Opportunities increase and as the height is gained, it soon comes apparent that Silver Birch is in abundance with its glorious metallic white bark against a background of green and bronze background depending on the season and conditions. The main attraction looking North East is the distinguished and prominent Langdales pikes. Harrison Stickle with what reminds me of a molar tooth, carving its shape against the horizon. Foreground interest is in abundance but you have to work hard which makes the reward even more enjoyable.

Listing the features of Holme Fell, this is a paradise for landscape photographers, especially in Autumn;

Silver Birch

Heather in late Summer/ early Autumn

A small tarn

Interesting rock formations that create good foreground interest

Close to Yew Tree Tarn, a gem in itself

Views of the Langdale Pikes

Views of the Eastern Fells including Fairfield and Helvellyn, telephoto lens is a must

Slate in abundance

It is a magical place but it is a place that will frustrate you as well. Captured in the right conditions and the rewards will be very satisfying.

Weather – Sealed

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Posted: 2nd June 2019

Location: Malham Cove

I’m not a full time landscape photographer. I cannot always chose the days I go out to shoot. British weather is often lousy. Can you tell where i’m going here?

The rain on that Saturday morning that session was relentless. It was soon accompanied by it’s friend, the wind. This made the session a battle for sure. I had equipped myself with all weather proof clothing but this didn’t help the concentration levels and constant wiping of the front element. I wasn’t too concerned with my camera body and lens as both weather proof. My video camera, Canon M50, was not. This made into a difficult, challenging but yet strangely rewarding photography session.

Part of the reason I opted to spend my money on a good camera body and lenses is times like I had at Malham Cove on this very wet morning. I was confident in my equipment. The vlogging was restricted however. I am a very determined individual and I wanted to produce a video and still come away with some images. Some may say i’m crazy, I have no issue with that. I like my vlogs to have a good story and what the rain did that day is to create interest and hopefully bring inspiration that we shouldn’t stay indoors just because it’s bad weather.

The trees in the images below were a good selection of opportunities in the area. The place is not just about the limestone path and 80 metre drop. There are plenty of knarly trees to be explored. I will return here very shortly to have another go when hopefully the weather will not be as distracting.

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.

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

Lakeside Muse

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Location: Grasmere, Lake District

In my previous outings with the camera, I had been subjected to very poor weather conditions and especially suffered from a bad case of wind. This day was different, at last I was in calm and tranquil surroundings where the ambience was of lakeside geese and other cries of birds at dawn. I was at the lake side of Grasmere in the central Lake District and the morning colours were putting on a wonderful display.

I was due to meet a fellow landscape photographer, video maker and good friend, Chris Sale at around 6:30am. I wasn’t going to miss the morning colour show without videoing and attempting to get a shot of this beautiful scene developing around me. Sorry Chris but your’e going to have to wait! It was one of those occasions however where I have learnt that just enjoying the occasion was more beneficial than racing around trying to get a composition. This morning however I was lucky and faced with a classic composition of a reflected lake where the elements were nicely balanced. The sky added the interest with some wonderful cloud formations never to be captured again.

The morning developed into a session where the surroundings were so beautiful yet frustrating at the same time as finding a composition that was different than the usual was proving difficult. There was no reason however to not enjoy such a peaceful morning and felt gifted to be there. The occasion was spoilt when I stumbled on a plastic bottle left behind in the grasses that surround the lake side. Through my adventures of exploring the Lake District, I had come across various pieces of litter that some inconsiderate person, for want of better words, had lazily discarded and thought better of taking it with them. We have a beautiful place at a finger tips which is free to roam and enjoy. We are the envy of many people in the world who are not lucky enough to have such beautiful landscapes yet for some and yes the minority, it is too much to keep it tidy.

We were blessed that morning with some beautiful and conditions and surroundings and felt lucky to be there. This is why I do it.

Watch the video

In search of a composition

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Location: near Dale Head/ Dale Head tarn, Lake District

It is not easy being a landscape photographer. Not everything false into place and aligns just as you want it to. The important thing to remember however is that it is more likely it will not work out and accept it. The allure of finding the right combination of all the elements in one place is what grips us and keeps us going.

I continue my adventure from the Dale Head area and explore the area around Dale Head Tarn. I find there are numerous elements and options to play with and making the decision to include them or not is very important. The key is to build a composition which allows the eye to move around the scene and avoid being static. It is important to create diagonals and balance. This sounds good in writing but nature teases us and makes it difficult.

I am lately opting to use my wide angle lens in favour of my telephoto. A lens that was predominant in making my images in 2018. Through looking at social media and being influenced by other photographers, I am definitely opting to create images with greater depth, including foreground, middle ground and background. Positioning of the elements that pleases the eye  is not an easy task and the use of natures lines is a test that will continue.

This episode not only includes images with depth but also a final classic image of a mountain vista using my telephoto. That image did not involve much demanding search. It was a scene that fell into place and just worked. Occasionally it happens and it is those occasions that again, keeps the landscape photographer continuing their journeys.

watch the video here

This is why I do it

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Location: Dale Head, Lake District

January had been a challenging month for me due to work commitments so I had been looking forward to this day for a while. Leading up to the day, there was still doubt as the Mrs was on the back of suffering from Women Flu (thankfully not as bad as Man Flu) and child care was limited. I got the nod however and off I ventured to The Lake Distrist, heading to Honister slate mine in the North Western region of the area with the plan to hike to Dale Head.

I had been hit by the dreaded wind on my last few vlogging/photography adventures and this day was no exception. Wind is my worst enemy when trying to record audio, despite my external microphone been clothed with a dead cat. A dead Mammoth wouldn’t have helped me much here as it was blowing a hooly. The low lying clouds looked good and I managed to find a good foreground for my first image but the visibility became poor as I continued to climb up to my destination.

I wanted to make the most of the foggy conditions and searched for some landscape features which wood make for some interesting compositions. I wanted to use the conditions which are favourable in woodland photography, using seperation to add interest. I was unable to find anything however at the time but the remnants of slate mining within the area would no doubt be cause for a return at a later date.

I finally experienced Winter as I approached the summit of Dale Head at 753 metres. There was a faint covering of snow which added a certain appeal to the surrounding landscape. I was looking forward to the views of Newlands Valley which I had read to be some of the finest in the Lake District. The low lying clag had other thoughts for me however and the scene at the time was a mass of white. There were occasional signs as time moved on of the valley below and faint splashes of light began to appear. I walked along the ridge, heading East and the clouds slowly moved along and the valley below me started to form a truly wonderful sight. Eventually the scene had developed into a masterpiece of viewing, draped with sporadic cloud and the ridges on either side hit by light, forming a breath taking moment. I felt a comforting warmth inside me and this was a moment where I felt privileged to be alive and lucky enough to witness.

Watch the video

A touch of Snowdonia

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Location: Nantgwynant and Dinorwig, Snowdonia

My first visit as a vlogger to this wonderful National Park, guided my Greg Whitton, an excellent photographer, video maker and like myself, a love of the mountains. A week prior to the day, Gregg had contacted me to say the snow is due to come and id generally be a fool to miss the opportunity. This is Britain however and things change with the weather. We were presented with driving rain and hard winds and myself being the organised outdoor photographer I was, I had forgotten my waterproofs. This was a mini tour and loop of Snowdonia which included sweet chocolate cake, heated seats, calming tunes and chip butties. I managed to capture some images but really this was a good recce of the place and a fine introduction to a land I will sure to revisit.

Watch the video here

Failure is an option

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Location: Alcock Tarn & Stone Arthur, Lake District

The above 2 images at the bottom of this page at the time of shooting, were classed as a failure. This was the theme of the vlog. Looking back at these images and since uploading and editing in my digital darkroom, these shots have come to life. It was a failure however as I had pre envisioned exactly what I wanted to capture but I failed to achieve that.

The conditions that day, climbing up to Alcock Tarn and then Stone Arthur in the Lake District, were some what challenging to say the least. The wind and driving rain were ferocious. This lead to disappointment and at one point, contemplation of a return back home to Yorkshire. I soon shook myself and changed my mind as not only do I make  these trips for photography, I also make the journey to accomplish my goal of bagging all 214 Wainrights. Stone Arthur was a Wainwright and despite the weather, I was going to climb that day.

Going back to why I thought this session was a failure. I had spent a good amount of time last year, shooting using my 70-200 telephoto lens and although pleased with the results, I wanted to capture a wider scene, in particular a scene where there was foreground, middle ground and background interest. Stone Arthur was abundant with some very photogenic rock structures and formations. I believed my pre envisioned shot would become reality and was feeling excited, although somewhat battered by the heavy wind gusts. Leading lines and wonderful angles were there for the taking. Middle ground and background however was less favourable. I was struggling to find the connecting scene where all three could be lined up and no matter how hard I tried and ventured further afield, I was defeated.

The word failure was to be used lightly however as I still come away with maybe 2, definitely one image that I was happy with, All photography sessions should not be failures as they add to the experience of learning composition and gaining knowledge of finding good locations. As landscape photographers, we can set out expectations and they only become a failure when those expectations are set too high and not achieved. Acceptance is key here. Life is a road where knowledge is gained through failure and success.

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I have more Likes than you

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Social Media, a fairly new adventure in my life as I approach the better side of forty, a question in itself of my decision to enter into the same world of mainly troubled teenagers. The same arena where teenage girls feel confident having runway size eyebrows whilst the boys believe a moped can outrun any car on the road whilst pulling a mean wheelie. What indeed have I got myself into I ask myself. Along with thousands of similar aged people with shared interests, it’s quite enjoyable really.