Five ways to blow £2,000 improving your landscape photography...

With the release today of the NEW Canon 6DMKII it got me thinking, if you have a cool £2k burning a hole in your photographic pocket what's the best way to invest it in your image making progression & enjoyment as a landscape photographer? Here's a few options...

1. Buy a Canon 6D MKII

As a Canon 6D (original) owner I have been conscious that my poor old boy might be superseded at any given moment. In fact, when I bought mine for just under £1,000 (thanks Cashback offer!) a couple of years ago it already occurred to me that I was buying something that would soon be replaced, BUT I had the money, I 'needed' a better camera and I bought it and have been very happy since, it's a very capable bit of kit, even in a culpable pair of hands.

So, the obvious question is - in the hubbub of promotion and advertising, should I blow my sadly imaginary £2k on the new model, ahead of any other investment?

The Verdict:

Boasting an improved sensor based on the newest Canon design this 6D MKII 'should' possibly give me more detail and more dynamic range and quality. I will never know this without buying it though, and that's a bit of a problem. I could possibly hire one for a few days but it always feels like money you could have invested in buying. Will it improve my compositions? Will it enthuse my creative juices and expand my artistic vision? No, is the blunt answer but we mustn't be too harsh, the kit needs to be good enough to help us realise and execute our aesthetic vision.

The new 6D MKII also has an ISO to 102,400 (expanded) so when I get booked to shoot that series of gigs in a cave with candle lighting I should be ready to rock...I won't hold my breath, we all know that once you go past around 6400 things start getting a bit sketchy. It also features a 45 point AF system - as someone who only ever uses the central point, and actually more often than not I use manual focus, I really can't get excited about this for landscape & outdoor photography. I'm not shooting birds, or formula 1, and on the odd occasion I've had to do commercial shoots with people I've found the 6D to be perfectly capable as it is.

The final main tech change (at a glance) is the articulated screen. I must admit on occasion, when in a tight or uncomfortable spot and I'm precariously balanced on a rock by the sea or similar I could find this useful, also when shooting video it can be preferential - but it's not a deal breaker.

2. Go on a Workshop or Tour

Depending on who you go with I reckon £2k could get you a 4-6 day workshop to a fairly interesting location. Just looking around briefly it could take you to:

  • New York (Light & Land): Charlie Waite & Paul Sanders (sadly fully booked for 2017!)
  • Isle of Harris (Bruce Percy): Mentoring workshop (also fully booked for 2017!)
  • Tuscany (David Clapp): At £1,649 you've got some spare spending money!
  • South Africa (Alex Nail): Get off the beaten track and have an adventure!

These are just some quick examples but all are in great locations, and most importantly are with experienced photographers and leaders, whether you're looking for classic landscapes, cityscapes or a slice of adventure. There are many options out there so do explore!

It always amazes me that this niche world we operate in is so accessible. I've used the analogy before but imagine being into football and being able to go on a training course with Messi or Ronaldo for 5 days with a handful of other people and it costs under £2k - mind blowingly impossible!!

The Verdict:

I've been on a handful of workshops in my time, some more useful than others. But, on all of them I learned something, perhaps some technical development, or a new approach to 'seeing' or indeed useful post processing tips. Whatever it is you will learn something, plus you get to see a new location and meet some other like minded folk. What value on just indulging in photography for a few days - priceless! (well actually it's a few hundred quid as a minimum).

It may depend on your experience level, or if you really enjoy and admire the work of one photographer. Why not meet them and see how they work and let them give you some help. Even if you are very experienced there's always something new to know.

3. Take a 1-2-1 or Portfolio Review

Slightly different to taking a workshop here. I'm talking about either a day or two in a 1-2-1 situation (of which you could probably afford a few different options), or perhaps submitting your portfolio to a range of photographers for some critiquing, or taking a closer look (sorry about the picture below!)

600_Critique.jpg

The Verdict:

This is a different vibe to a workshop where you will be in a group environment, this has its pros & cons. With your £2k you could probably organise some one or two day sessions with two or three different photographers. Let's say two for arguments sake once you add in travel and food etc.

Although you would have less days out than on a workshop you'd probably get as much, or more individual help and focus. This short sharp burst of assistance could really open your eyes to new techniques, different ways to approach image making, or mastering some technical element you've struggled with. Don't be afraid to really invest in yourself and get expert assistance!

The other option is submitting your work to few different photographers for portfolio reviews. The worry with this is showing 5 or 6 people may lead to some broad comments that could leave you without focus, or you may see common threads in the critique which could easily point you in the right direction...something to consider at least. You could send one and save most of your ££!

4. Travel

Let's say you're feeling pretty assured, you may already have a good grasp of what you're trying to do with your photography or you just enjoy the escapism and don't want to be in a group. I reckon for £2k you could have a pretty great time traveling yourself and making a strong collection of images:

Here's a sample itinerary to stimulate the mind:

  • Plane from London to Scotland (£99)
  • 5 nights in The Highlands (£600-£700 inc.food)
  • Plane from Scotland to Venice (£149)
  • 3 nights in Venice (£500-£600 inc.food)
  • Train to Tuscany (£40)
  • 2 nights in Tuscany (£250)
  • Flight back to London (£175)

The Verdict:

Depending on your travel tastes and style this may or may not be (a) possible and (b) float your boat, but you get the idea. You could go off piste a bit more and try some less 'classic' locations. I know my friend and colleague from The Togcast (Photography Podcast) Paul Sanders has been exploring Albania & Romania for example. You could also get over to South America and back (just!) so the world is your oyster!

I personally find that traveling alone is when I'm at my best photographically. With a very loose itinerary it's even better, just allowing me to find locations, re-visit them and just imbibe the atmosphere and get to know somewhere. Check out this portfolio I made in Scotland with a £250 film camera! Perhaps even try shooting some candid portraits of the locals, or just sit on a mountain for 6hrs watching the light, it's up to you and you probably have a decent enough camera to catch it all already. You may also find this total immersion does wonders for your creative eye.

5. Alternative Equipment - Go Retro!

Ok, so this is a bit of a twist on No.1 but I'll try and make a valid argument for it below. Pictured is a Hasselblad 500 series film camera, used by some of the masters of photography, your £2k could buy you a Hasselblad 500CC with 2 or 3 lenses and leave you enough spare dosh for a roll of film or two and some processing. That's a Swedish made top end body (revered by many) + lenses for the price of a mass produced digital body only.

600_Hassy.jpg

The Verdict:

So how would this help your development? For a start it would make you slow down and appreciate the value of each image. When it costs a few quid per shot (after taking into account film/development/scanning) you soon start to cut down on wasted shots and take a little extra time over each composition and asking yourself "is this really a great shot?" before you hit that shutter (oh and what a sexy shutter the Hasselblad has by the way - kerchunk!!).

With a good scan you can blow 26.2 MegaPixels out of the water for re-production purposes and can anything really beat that authentic film look? Perhaps the fact you're slowing down and becoming more selective may also improve your eye and own self-critiquing before the shutter is released, knowing when not to shoot is as important as knowing when to shoot here.

However, it's still a piece of kit - and pieces of kit only produce when you are somewhere, so perhaps only go for this option if you've got your travel or workshop already booked ;)

 

The Summary

You've got to do what feels best for you! First off, ask yourself if you get out enough and if you do then check out what gear you have and if you feel it's really holding you back or affecting your image making chances negatively - if so, explore those new cameras!

If, like many, your main challenge is actually getting out enough or indeed wanting to really improve your art then perhaps you could consider the other options.

The final option is to give me your £2k and I'll happily spend it for you!

Diversify or Die - Photography, Videography & More...with David Newton

I’m not quite sure how I got where I am, I just kind of fell into it, but I’m doing what I love!
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

David Newton (www.photopositive.co.uk) is a SanDisk Extreme team member, a Canon specialist tutor and one of the busiest photographers on the scene today. In this weeks Togcast episode we chat with David about the necessity to stay ahead of the curve professionally and discuss some of his recent road trips for Canon and other brands.

It's something of a cliche to say that modern photographers need to be not just 'Jack of all trades' but 'Masters of all trades'. David has diversified into videography and drone work alongside his already broad portfolio of skills covering all manner of photography from macro to time lapse, and portrait to landscape.

Something that drives me on is a fear that I’m not getting the best out of every situation
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

David and host Paul discuss the desire and drive required to stay on top of your game and bring fresh eyes and techniques to your kit bag of skills. Whether it's because of the mental burdens of being self employed in a highly competitive marketplace or perhaps just because of his own internal drive David discusses some of the fears he may have whilst out shooting and how that helps inspire and motivate him to work harder, try different things and stay fresh.

This is a guy who took 63 flights for photo/video related work projects in 2016, it may sound glamorous but that's a lot of time away from home and living out of a suitcase. Knowing your gear requirements inside out is par for the course and also understanding how to match that to a commercial clients vision is part of the skill required.

“There are a lot of people who go and teach but they don’t ‘do’…I want to be able to say I do go and shoot this stuff before going and teaching it”
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Whilst many pro's have found it necessary and commercially constructive to diversify, David also loves the technology. His work with Canon as a specialist tutor and touring brand 'evangelist' has driven him to really stay current and make sure that if he's teaching these skills and techniques it's something he knows he has mastered in a real life commercial situation already, bringing another level of credibility to his teaching and advice.

It can also be enlightening teaching other creatives at different levels of skill and at different stages of their development. Sometimes when teaching you can learn a great deal from the student making it a two way exchange of ideas and it's Davids open mindedness to this that has helped make him the 'go to' guy for big brands wanting his teaching skills and style.

“We’re now in a world where photography has less value…Clients are less willing to pay for photography”
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Many photographers are now trying to seamlessly bridge the gap between photography and videography, David chats about the commercial value of videography now being higher for him than photography. We speculate that this is probably due in part to the time consuming nature of editing and the fact some of these skills and processes are still quite tech heavy for the average marketing team member who might be comfortable making reasonable images for branding but hasn't had the time or opportunity to up-skill and produce high quality video, leaving a space for the pro market to fill.
 

If you cut me I bleed Canon red!
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Obviously David is Canon through and through, and on a recent road trip with a fellow photographer he was able to compare the 5DsR back to back with the new Fuji GFX. It seems like there wasn’t a huge amount in it with regards the image quality but David makes a fair point that at this stage the Canon is perhaps more versatile due to the wide selection of lenses and other accessories available to help in all shooting scenarios, something Fuji are surely working towards so it will be interesting to see how that develops.

The Togcast is a Landscape & Travel photography podcast and is hosted by Sam Gregory & Paul Sanders. Subscribe on iTunes or Podbean to get the latest show straight to your device.

Shooting Long Term Projects with Marc Wilson

My work is based around a memory of history set in the landscape
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

Sainte-Marguerite-sur-mer, Upper Normandy, France. 2012 Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011(The Last Stand Project - Marc Wilson)

As many of you know I host The Togcast - Photography Podcast with my friend Paul Sanders. We've completed 16 episodes since Sept 2016 and have primarily concentrated on Landscape photographers as this is both our fields of 'expertise' and we move in those circles of peers. However, our appreciation and study of photography is across a broad range of genres, some of which crossover with landscape photography in some way. So it was a great pleasure to catch up recently with Marc Wilson (www.marcwilson.co.uk) who is best described as a documentary landscape photographer and to delve into some of his project work on Episode 17 of the show...

Marc deals with long term projects anchored in the history of the chosen landscapes. Between 2011-2015 'The Last Stand' project focused on old military posts and stations around the coasts of Northern Europe. There was a strong visual aesthetic that ran through the work and in the show we discuss some of his shooting methods and preferences to create that consistency and visual narrative.

Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011 (The Last Stand - Marc Wilson)

Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011 (The Last Stand - Marc Wilson)

It’s a combination of sticking to a visual aesthetic but treating each image individually as well
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

The project involved trips to various parts of coastline in the UK and Northern Europe and the completed work was met with critical acclaim. The work was one of the award winners at The Terry O’Neill awards in 2013 and was published as a book in late 2014. It has sold out of its 1st edition by early 2015 and a 2nd edition has now been published.

We also spent some time in the show chatting about his current work based on the locations, stories and impact of the holocaust called 'A wounded landscape'. This project has raised the bar even further with more locations, more exploration of the back stories and obviously a hugely sensitive subject matter.

After I’d created ‘The Last Stand’ I felt that I’d found a visual language that was subtle or sensitive enough...so as a photographer I now felt ready to approach the subject that I’d been hoping to do for 20 years or so
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

In the episode we discuss Marc's dedication to getting the project completed, whilst balancing the commitments of his professional commercial shooting life and having a young family. It's clear that he's very passionate about the subject matter and what's interesting is how his approach to shooting the images in this project have changed based on his emotions to the landscapes as he finds them.

After having worked with large format film equipment on 'The Last Stand' Marc actually has changed his shooting approach with 'A wounded landscape'. This came from his experiences in a test shoot trip he made to France where he realised that to really connect with the work he had to shoot with more freedom to capture his emotional reaction to the location. This meant sometimes using medium format and smaller 35mm cameras whilst coming off the tripod which allowed more spontaneity and no doubt a different set of options for compositions and style of image.

We also discuss how the feedback he's received through showing the work to survivors, specialist historians and groups of modern youngsters has kept his motivation and also re-assured him that the ongoing visual aesthetic is suitable for the subject matter.

Taking on such long form projects is a huge commitment, Marc has budgeted £40,000 to complete 'A wounded landscape' so we chat about how that figure is raised, and how he has to work in stages to keep momentum and maintain his focus.

What makes a strong visual image is that dedication and caring to get the image exactly as you want it
— Marc Wilson: The Tocgast Ep.17

As part of the funding process and to engage those who are connected to the project Marc has released a 'Working Archive' of the images so far in 'A wounded landscape'. This is a box set of 55 7"x5" inch matt C-type prints (49 photographs and 6 texts). This set gives a glimpse into the sprawling nature of the subject, encompassing location images and the beginnings of some of the stories that are an integral part of ‘A wounded landscape’.

It's a clever creation to keep followers engaged in the process, carry on the funding cycle and also to begin the visual narrative for the project as whole.

A wounded landscape - Working Archive Collection 1 - Available at marcwilson.co.uk

In summary, I have great admiration for Marc's work ethic and commitment to his projects. It takes a huge amount of organisation and self discipline to plan for a 3-4 year project, and it can only be achieved when the subject matter really connects with you. If you're looking at starting a longer term project it doesn't mean it has to just be based around a historically stirring topic, it may be something more local to you or something to do with your passions and interests. Whatever it is you'll need plenty of determination and persistence but with the hard work and planning will come really meaningful sets of work to be proud of.

You can listen to the Togcast via the TheTogcast.com, or via iTunes or Podbean. The show is released twice monthly and features interviews with photographers across the UK and further afield.

A Game of Inches...

I'd been wanting to write a little blog about this topic for a while having encountered a good example to share whilst in Scotland, but it was upon seeing a fellow Twitter 'Tog' Russ Barnes (@gblandscapes) mention something similar today that I knew I should get on and write about it.

So, I once heard Charlie Waite say that he often took a little step ladder out and about with him on his photography travels. The idea being to change the perspective slightly, and to help aid separation where required. In fact I automatically think of one of his images made at Rydal Water (view image) in the Lake District where I know he used one, and another in Bolivia where if I'm not mistaken he actually stood on a table to make the image (view image). I've also seen various pics of David Noton atop his Land Rover on a customised platform for similar reasons but seeing as EasyJet wouldn't allow either a step-ladder or a Land Rover into my hand luggage en route to Inverness I had to improvise back in November when I ran into a small but not insignificant separation problem...

There I was enjoying a gorgeous Scottish morning in The Highlands, I'd found a nice little spot on the edge of Loch Droma and I set about making a composition. The light was playful without being overly dramatic, there was a little bit of cloud interest and I found a nice curving foreground to play with. The morning sun was catching the reeds nicely in the still water and so far so good.

Original Composition

So, I'm feeling pretty good about this composition but whilst my eye is wandering around the frame it crashes into a 'red alert' zone as I like to call it. A cardinal sin, a schoolboy error, a rookie mistake. It was as if Charlie was in my ear saying "oh dear boy, such a shame about the lack of separation, just think what could have been".

Oh dear...

It's a mess

So, after cursing EasyJet (and indeed Charlie a bit for being so shrewd and always having his ladder magically up his sleeve!) I decided to make this one a victory for the 'Centre Column' crew. My tripod was already extended to full height, but it was a simple case of winding up the often maligned centre column on the tripod to elevate the camera around 10-12 inches and hit the self timer and voila! Problem solved (see below).

The log remains despite it being a slight break in the reflection but it was there in real life, and so it stays in the picture. Dust spots, specks etc I'm happy taking out but otherwise I'm fairly resolute on leaving all original components as they were whenever possible.

'Corrected' Composition with separation (I can now sleep at night)

Cleaner separation

That's better!

It's a small difference in height and clearance, but for me it's a massive difference in the success or not of the image. Of course there may be other issues or reasons to dislike the image or find fault, but this was a clear case of spotting a specific issue at the point of capture, finding a solution and it paying off. The moral of the story? Always listen to more experienced Photographers than yourself and remember what they tell you! Oh, and I'm currently in negotiations with Land Rover and B&Q about a joint sponsorship deal :)

Thinking of going Pro?

The people who say today I’m going to quit my job and become a professional photographer...you’re living in a dream world!
— David Clapp - Togcast Episode 15

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

Our most recent guest on The Togcast - Photography Podcast was David Clapp (www.davidclapp.co.uk). David is a busy working professional photographer who has carved out a stellar career primarily in the travel & landscape genres but as we discuss in the show you need to be doing a whole lot more than that. He contributes to Getty Images, gets commissioned all around the world for big brand shoots and he also runs workshops teaching everything from capturing to post-processing.  It's been a tough road from scratch to get where he has and we have quite a frank discussion about the realities of being a professional on the show.

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

It's something that many listeners have asked us to cover in our episodes, we often get emails saying "can you cover how to turn pro and make a living etc" and the difficulty is there is no set roadmap to lay out. Each individual has to shape their own career through a mix of hard work, opportunity, persistence and motivation. As discussed with David in the show you also need the rest of your life to be in order; do you have a large mortgage to pay? do you have dependents? are you prepared to cope with running a business? can you budget for the lean months at the beginning? It's quite clear that it's not just about the pictures...

You can’t just be romancing a camera at the top of a hill and expect everything to come to you
— David Clapp - Togcast Episode 15

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

Your main interest may be in getting up that hill on a Sunday morning with a camera but if you're serious about turning your Photography into a viable career that's not going to be enough. You have to widen the subjects and genres that you shoot in, you have to be making work with a commercial value. What individuals or companies want to put on the walls of their homes or offices might not match your blazing sunrise or abstract rock formation.

Whilst this is a fairly frank conversation in the episode we hope that it actually leaves you the listener feeling energised, empowered and motivated to get out there and pursue your dreams...just remember to keep it real and be prepared to go the extra mile, or two!

David Clapp is a presenter for Canon Europe and has traveled widely to lecture, and create tutorials for Canon products and services. Find out more at www.davidclapp.co.uk

You can find The Togcast on iTunes, Podbean or via www.TheTogcast.com. The Togcast is a Photography Podcast hosted by Sam Gregory & Paul Sanders and is released twice monthly.

Commended Images - Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that two of my images had been 'Commended' in the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. It's always nice to receive peer recognition for images, and I look forward to seeing the images in print in the upcoming SLPOTY book that will be available in March 2017.

The two images were commended in the 'portfolio' category, and I had entered a few images from my trip in November 2016. The two chosen by the judges were quite different in their circumstances and visual aesthetic, but were both taken on the same day...

The Images

Image #1 - 'Last Goodbye'

I always find it hard to title my images but the competition request it, so this one was given the name 'Last Goodbye'. It was taken on the final day of my trip and it seemed fitting as Scotland decided to deliver one heck of a day of changing light and conditions, surely to tempt me back again.

At the end of a long 12 days of traveling, walking and image making (tough life eh?!) I got up later than I wanted to and bumbled into the car cursing my own laziness.

As I drove north up the A385 towards Ullapool there was the mother of all sunrises starting to unfold before me. It's got to be one of the most spectacular shows of light and colour I've seen in all my travels, the combination of water, mountains and this light produced a magical effect, Scotland offering me it's last goodbye. Still inwardly beating myself up for my tardy start, I tried to calm the natural excitement and think "where can I stop, where could there be a good composition etc?". Having spent a few days earlier in the trip based in Ullapool I knew I was just 5-10 mins away from the harbour and I could easily park, jump out the car and try and do justice to the amazing light before it no doubt disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

I parked and scrambled from the car, didn't bother with a coat or gloves (a decision I firmly regretted when getting back in the car and trying to use my fingers!), I even left the tripod in the car, no time to waste! I played with a few compositions using different aspect ratios but all the time knowing time was not on my side. Other photographers know the feeling when a transitory union of light, colour and shape occur, it's a heart thumping moment and keeping clear headed is key to maximising the opportunity. The final image is literally straight out of the camera, I added +5 contrast in Lightroom, just to pep up the RAW file slightly, and didn't move another slider. The simplest of edits (about 10 seconds!), as I say this was a magical display of light and colour.

There are some issues and compromises that are made with all images; I would have liked to have totally separated the boats, if you look carefully there are two back to back, but to do that fully involved moving position by a good few feet and having tried that it compromised the rest of the composition in other more damaging ways. If I separated them cleanly it would have negatively affected how the mountains rose and fell throughout the frame, and especially the darkest foreground hill which I needed to drop the boats at the foot of, also for separation reasons. The spacing of the buoys would also have been affected so a compromise was made that is hopefully not too disturbing. After all, the focus of the image is not the boats, although they add scale and depth, it's the light and atmosphere and recession of the mountain shapes.

Image #2 - 'Perching Point'

Believe it or not but this was taken later on in the same day as the first image, it was truly a crazy day for changing light where I experienced blazing sun, dark clouds, high winds, rainbows and rain...only in Scotland!

I'd taken the long way round towards Clachtoll on the gorgeous B869 (never did a letter and 3 numbers wholly understate the visual quality of a road!), and it was around lunchtime. The wind was really howling and there were intermittent bursts of rain and then the sun would keep bursting through the dark clouds. I had a quick look around the area and the acute shapes of these rocks grabbed me, the sun illuminating a slip of the sea behind also helped and this was another attempt really to capture the feel and atmosphere from the location.

Choosing the 'right' shutter speed the sea was calmed a little whilst retaining some nice texture and colour (a real feature of the area), the perching birds on the main rock obviously led to the image name (click the image to see it larger and spot the birds) and I must say this was more of a technical challenge than the first image because of the howling wind. I was literally hanging on to my tripod (with my camera bag dangling off it as well!) to try and keep it steady during the exposure of a few seconds. With the wind coming head on this wasn't always easy as it brought plenty of sea spray that I was constantly having to wipe off the filters and camera.

Again the image is not without its issues; the far left rocks didn't have a particularly natural or clean end so that area of the image still feels a bit abrupt for me, I try and avoid lines leading up out of the frame like that. However, the matching diagonal lines perhaps balance it a little although the image is too heavy generally on the left side. I'm not convinced this is the best aspect ratio either (I shot it at 16:9 in camera and opened it up a little in the edit to 16:10). A square crop addresses some of the balance issues mentioned above but after some experimentation it seemed this version allowed more visual context by letting the mountains behind breathe a little and the pocket of lighter sky on the right where the sun is creeping through remains uninterrupted.

Buy The Book

Should you wish to purchase the SLPOTY book it will be filled with some wonderful images from many landscape photographers, including yours truly of course. Scotland is a beautiful country with some spectacular vistas and scenery so this book is sure to delight and inspire.

Click on the image above to buy the book

Click on the image above to buy the book

New Home, New Locations...

As some of you know I recently re-located down to Dorset because of my partners work. We're living between Bournemouth and Poole so there's plenty of opportunities for me to find some new shooting locations...

As you can imagine it's jam packed with holiday makers on this coast line during July/August but I've managed to find a few quiet spots on recent early evening sojourns. Usually by 7pm the tourists have retired to the pubs and restaurants for recuperation and aftersun cream at which point this intrepid explorer heads to the quieter spots, up the hills and down by the bays.

A couple of weeks ago I managed a couple of nights out in a row, firstly to the 'ranges' near Lulworth. Here there are some great cliff top walks that are only open at certain times, it's important not to stray too far from the path as this area is owned by the military and in the 'off-season' is an active shooting range!

Out to Sea

I arrived actually hoping to get a high vantage point to catch some late evening sun raking across the fields, however after a fairly short sharp ascent up the cliff I was more intrigued by these amazing cloud formations out to sea. The scene seemed perfect for Black & White and the trick then is to contrast the highlights and shadows to give depth and presence to the scene. Using a polariser on the lens helps darken the sky but also importantly it helps separate the clouds from the background which brings out that contrast you need. There were little pockets of sunlight on the sea which added to the drama.

Like many times the actual scene I was hoping to capture, of sun raking across the fields, never materialised as the sun wasn't 'playing ball' and there was a little stubborn cloud cover stopping it directing the last evening light in the location I was hoping for. However as I packed away and started to walk back down the cliff path towards the car (and a well deserved Twix) there was one final burst of fiery orange summer sun, so, quick as a flash (photography pun intended - get it?!) I swiveled my bag off my back and attached a long lens to fire off a couple of shots at some of the summer grasses, nearly shooting straight into the sun. This direct light causes a block of colour and sun flare which coupled with the large aperture and resulting shallow depth of field helped produce this image below.

Summer Sun

This image is 'straight out the camera' i.e. no editing, no added colour, no preservatives (!). Using this technique of shooting (nearly) into the sun and due to the late hour and the depth of orange naturally present it's possible to let the light do the work. Satisfied and in need of some sustenance I trooped off back to the car.

The next evening I headed to Kimmeridge Bay, a slightly unassuming and 'off the beaten track' small bay on the Isle of Purbeck (near Swanage). It's quite well known among photographers due to the natural rock/clay 'shelves' that are present just off the shoreline. Depending on the tide you can actually walk out (carefully, they are v.slippy!) onto these shelves and although most people set up on the main rock formation (just near the entry) I find it more peaceful and more compositionally pleasing to head to a far shelf looking back along the beach. There was some nice light as I arrived so it was a fairly quick set-up and then a case of trying to perfect the composition to make full use of the rocks and their various angles and textures. Finding the right aspect ratio is equally important as some scenes suit portrait, some landscape, either way the overall balance of the composition should dictate that.

It's quite easy to be overwhelmed by the geographical magnificence of this place and just end up pointing the camera at everything. I find looking for angles and shapes in the rocks that will lead the eye or just balance the overall composition is very important, no doubt with more visits here I may find more pleasing angles. There was a rather heavy sky which you can accentuate with a graduated filter, this was especially pleasing as the strip of sun light that was present was further accentuated. I'd been to Kimmeridge before in very flat grey conditions so was more than a little bit chuffed to be treated to this display.

The third image below was taken soon after arriving and as such there was a lighter feel to the scene, whereas the first two images shown below were taken later when the ambient light had faded and there was just the strip of sunlight on the horizon...

Kimmeridge Bay #1

Kimmeridge Bay #2

Kimmeridge Bay #3

Meet my new friend...

I recently attended the photography show at the NEC and after listening to various speakers I went away knowing that it was time...time to explore and get into a little film photography.

These days, the digital age means I can easily and quickly review an image after taking it, and obviously make small adjustments etc back on the computer, then share it with the world within moments. With the ease of this technology it's a constant job to limit the number of images you make, and really concentrate on the technique and composition. After all digital data has little or no cost, so if it's not quite right you can do it again, delete it etc. However, not with this little beastie!

This is a Rolleiflex 3.5 MX-EVS, I won't bore you all with the technical details (on this post) but it is a film camera, shooting 120 colour or black & white film, that takes images in the 1:1 square ratio. This particular one is from 1954, was relatively inexpensive, and although it has some battle scars most of the mechanics are in good working order.

So, the journey begins. I've already got various little projects in my mind for this camera and I'm looking forward to playing with it. After a slightly bad start (I accidentally took a picture of my chin at an oblique angle after misunderstanding the safety switch - nice one!) I did get out this weekend and took 4 images. How did it go? I won't know until I get the film developed...suffice to say hopefully I did better than my first chin shot!!

Here are a few phone shots of the Rollei in action...by the way I need a name for it, so feel free to send in any suggestions.

2016 - Catch Up part.1

This blog is really for the benefit of my email subscribers, I realised that in the midst of busying myself photographically with a myriad of projects I'd rather neglected to keep up my regular newsletters. What with posting to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & the website it's easy to become fragmented in the image sharing process, so this post acts as a 'recap' of sorts for the first few months of 2016...

Specifcially in this part.1 I'll be sharing some images from the a trip to the Lake District in late March. I was around the Buttermere, Crumnock Water, Wast Water areas and yet again got relatively lucky with the weather; i.e. It didn't just rain for 48hrs!

After a long day at the Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham (working on a top secret project, coming soon!) I journeyed up to the Lakes and arrived around 10pm. Having checked the weather forecast and being realistic about my fatigue I treated myself to just a 7am wake up, had a particularly bad omelette for breakfast and was off out to Crumnock Water at a sensible hour.

Despite it being a pleasant Sunday am it was still very quiet, there were some nice reflections on the lake, often unavailable later in the day as the surface is far less placid as the day goes on. I also found some interesting compositions with the trees by the lakeside, in particular I like the golden collection sandwiched between the two banks of green pines either side. It's these contrasts and shapes that have been drawing my eye more recently over the wider vista.

After a morning of lake circumnavigation I decided to head up...and UP I went! Although I did take the slightly easier option up the Honsiter Pass (by car) it was only because I knew I needed something left in the legs for the following walk up to the summit of Haystacks. The Weather was closing in a little by this point and you can see in the image above (of the darkening sky and imposing peaks) that there were even the last touches of Winter on these higher peaks. With the camera staying in the bag a little more this walk was about enjoying the scenery, getting some fresh air in the lungs and some scouting for a future visit...however, you can't beat the odd phone selfie!

What a poser...above Buttermere

What a poser...above Buttermere

With just 2 days in the Lakes, and 1 of those ticked off I made the slightly long and looping drive from Buttermere around the Northern end of the Lakes and back down the Western side to Wastwater, it's only a few miles as the crow flies but there are no roads across this central area due to the mountains, which is good! Staying in an enjoyable little pub my arm was twisted to take part in the pub quiz that was taking part...on my own, in a team of 1. Fearing a ritual humiliation by coming last I was pleasantly surprised to find that I scored above various teams of two and four, I'd like to say it was my good schooling but perhaps the competition had just been drinking more than me that night!

The next morning and dizzy from my general knowledge exertions I pushed myself to get out early to Wast Water, just a couple of miles away, so at 5.30am I crept from the pub and jumped in the car. I'd never been to Wast Water and crikey have I been missing out. It's such a great place that is still seemingly very quiet, especially at this time of year, and really is classic 'Lakeland'. It was quite a grey day so compositions were more 'enclosed', perhaps with a view to capturing the spirit, colours and feel of this amazing area.

After a little bit of time at the lakeside I set off on foot on what can only be described as a slightly sturdy 6-7 hours of walking - I covered around 13 miles with an elevation gain and descent of 2,500ft...with the camera and two lenses, however I did have the good sense to leave my tripod in the car!

The images above, with the exception of the sheep shot, are from the Mosedale area which is a very dramatic 'bowl' of a view just on the walk out of Wast Water and between Red Pike and Kirk Fell, with the peak of Pillar up ahead. I spotted the two walkers heading on and couldn't resist the chance to use them to show the sense of scale...it's as engulfing a view as you can get in the albeit relatively tame peaks of England.

Having had some time to reflect on these images, and indeed print some of them to A3 size on quality paper it's actually the abstract image of the scree that is arguably my favourite of the above. The texture and colour represents everything about those scraggy, rock strewn mountainsides that I love about the Lakes.

Carrying on up and over the back of Kirk Fell I descended with Ennerdale on my left and actually I ended up going a little off piste at this point. Having come down the back of Kirk Fell (and walked off the map I had with me) there was a slightly alarming moment where I realised my only sensible routes back were (a) the way I came or (b) straight up a rather steep looking gap between Kirk Fell and Great Gable. Trusting my compass I decided for option (b)...it looked more direct and I hate backtracking my steps.

The route...

Option (b) was steep!!! And, I was tiring at this point, low on water, no food left etc. It wasn't exactly a stranded in the Himalayas situation but suffice to say I left the camera in the bag for 90 mins or so whilst I trudged my way up to Beck Head and the reassuring view back down to Wasdale before the cloud really dropped in.

The last image of the day, and in fact the trip was just before that brutal final ascent, looking back into the uninhabited Ennerdale valley, with clouds coming and some sunlight gracing the rocky ground. This image printed large looks great (if I say so myself!) and in my hour of mini-desperation I'm happy I took 2 mins to stop, compose, shoot and enjoy this remote part of the Lakes, before the drive back to reality and the call of work & traffic of the South.

Spring Greens...

As many photographers in the UK are well aware Spring is in full swing and the colours are starting to splash and saturate back across our landscape. In fact near me in Hertfordshire it's felt particularly 'summery' in the last few days, I still don't feel like we got an actual Winter, so it feels terrible to think Spring may be turning into Summer so soon!

Devoid of time for any distant travels with the camera recently I've been focusing on a particular area around Ivinghoe Beacon to keep my 'eye in' and look for interesting light and shapes especially. It's proved to be both challenging and enjoyable. Let's deal with the enjoyable first; being just 35 mins or so away from my house it's nasty but not brutal to be there for a 5.45am start, better still you can catch the last hour of light before sunset and get back for some well earned dinner.

However, and this is where the challenging part kicks in; the light at either end of the day has proved to give quite different results on the mainly green fields around the area. Some of you reading this may have seen my blog last week which had some early morning shots from a location just the other side of the Beacon, the intensity and vibrancy of the hues vary quite markedly from early am to late pm. Add to this the rather flat RAW files that we tend to capture and it's been a careful job to recreate what my eye saw at the time.

Let's compare these two images, both with a White Balance of around 5400k but the first taken at 06.33am and the second taken at 20.19pm...

06.33am (28/04/16) - 5450k WB

20.19pm (04/05/16) - 5318K WB

Quite different, right? Yes, and of course the White Balance is just one aspect to consider but it's useful to note they were very similar. In terms of processing in Lightroom; whilst I was actually adding a minor bit of vibrance (+7) and saturation (+5) in the early morning shot, along with the usual minor tonal adjustments (highlights, shadows, whites, blacks etc) to take the flatness out of the RAW file, I was actually taking it away in the evening shot (vibrance -10, saturation 0, and contrast -20).

What's important to say is that I feel I represented the colour palette I saw 'correctly' in both images, the early morning scene was paler with more yellow in the hues and the late evening grass was a much darker and richer green. The location was not exactly the same of course but the progression of the crop is similar in both places. Someone with far more knowledge than me could probably explain the cause of these variances in hue from a scientific point of view, but in some ways the reason why is secondary, the main challenge I had was dealing with it from a capture and processing point of view and wrestling with my internal doubts about how I could accurately represent the differences.

Sheep-tastic...

Sheep-tastic...

Those of you who've been out and about recently, especially in the South East will no doubt recognise these variances, In the past I've heard some photographers saying how Green was such a difficult colour to deal with...until this week I'd not really run into it, now I can wholeheartedly agree!

Development & Inspiration...(conscious or not)

I recently read a question put forward on Twitter by UK photographer Greg Whitton, he asked: "How important has Twitter been in your development as a photographer?"...the responses were varied with some stating it was a good source of inspiration, a good place to network and be exposed to others work, whilst some questioned how Twitter or social media could play any part in development or that it was perhaps too much of a 'thumbs up' atmosphere with not enough critical analysis.

I can see all points and for each photographer they are valid in their own right, for me the key word was development. It's at this point I'd like to play the 'music card', some of you know that's my other life outside of photography and I can't help drawing a parallel here that I believe is relevant. For many, Jazz as we know it is a melting pot of historical developments that were honed in the jazz clubs of the USA in the 1920's, 30's, 40's and beyond. Throughout this time period players grew the genre through exploration of new boundaries, however when deconstructed these were firmly based on, and influenced by, their peer groups, mentors and musical heroes of the day. Their 'Twitter' was much more hands-on and was hours and hours playing together in smoky nightclubs for little or no money; bouncing off each other, learning from each other, soaking in other peoples sounds, ideas and motifs and re-imagining them with their own twist. Sometimes consciously and no doubt sub-consciously as well, in the same way a baby learns to speak or learns the tone of language, you cannot help but take on influences from your surroundings (personal and online), it's human nature.

Take the great footballers of Pele, Messi, Maradona etc...none of them learned to play and develop in silo, it was through interaction with other players, their peers or heroes. Watching someone turn this way or that, using a trick and finding a different way to integrate that into their football vocabulary. Is Twitter perhaps a modern day breeding ground of inspiration? Or better still should it be regarded as a gateway to creative exposure? Perhaps, albeit littered with it's own foibles in the same way any public group dynamic will create.

I've made the comparison before that in music there are only a finite series of notes (12), in theory this sets a limit on the possibilities, but think about what a wide variety of music there has been through the ages, from Jazz to Death Metal and everything in between...all based on those 12 notes. However it's certain to say that to the educated ear patterns and inspirations can be seen across genres, this is not bad, but purely natural.

So what happens in music or photography when someone uses a very similar 'phrase' or structure of 'notes', or plays different ones in a very similar way to another? I feel like I bumped into this sub-consciously and then very consciously just a few days ago...

The above image was taken locally (Bucks) and I'm going to come straight out and say this is a definite case of Twitter influence. It was through Twitter that I first came across the work of Finn Hopson, who is well known for a wide range of work and for many he's best known for his 'South Downs Collection' and within that his 'Fieldwork' series. I've subsequently seen Finns work in Outdoor Photography magazine and no doubt other literature, he has a very impressive and enjoyable portfolio of work that I would recommend you check out.

Part of me was nervous to even make a connection or indeed write this blog, because it's important to state that in no way did I set out to re-create or copy Finns work, nor do I feel it is of a similar stature. Not only would it be futile to imitate the work of anyone else, as a copy is always a poor 2nd place (think of seeing a cover band vs the original!), but in fact one aspect of photography that strikes fear into me above all is feeling like my images could ever look directly similar to others. In fact this often makes me shy away from commonly known locations.

For instance just 1/4 mile away from this location there were probably 15-20 photographers in a 200 sq.metre area looking for bluebell shots. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (and I've seen some lovely shots by the way) I personally would rather be somewhere alone, as photography is very much an escape and desire to be at peace and preferably be in solitude in the great outdoors (this may not be an original concept but it's very true for many of us). But what is interesting is that given similar ingredients: low light, undulating agricultural land, presumably a similar time of year to some of his shots (due to the crop progression status), grass colouration etc and with some sub-conscious influence in my brain it is inevitable that a comparison might be drawn by some, our 'tune' may sound similar yet be different in many ways.

Even saying there may be a comparison could be seen as being rather lofty of me, but my point is simply that through seeing Finns work it must have had some effect on how I 'saw' this scene and why I even put myself in this position. My belief is that this happens more often than we know when composing or creating images, it's impossible to know how picture X,Y,Z has affected your response to a scene 3-6 months later. 

 

Off the back of this morning, where I made 2-3 images I enjoyed, I've decided to try and put together a small body of work about this area. Doing these small projects is not a new idea but again I've seen various specific project-based bodies of work from other photographers on Twitter (and of course other places) that I have enjoyed.

This project will push me to think about how best to represent the area, be it wider shots, more intimate, more editorial perhaps in manner to show it is both an attraction to locals as a beautiful place for a walk but also it is a working agricultural landscape as well.

Surely these next steps, grown from a small sub-conscious seed influenced by some work I was exposed to, will help my development as a photographer in some way...

On a final note (ahem-another musical pun!), I think development is a word too often associated with those that may be deemed to need improvement. However, I've been lucky enough to meet and speak with many top musicians around the world (I mean the real ones who play instruments, not the wannabees on X-Factor) and commonly they all believe they are still developing and it's not unknown for top players in world renowned orchestras to still have the odd 'lesson' with their peers to help develop some new way of playing, interpreting the music or similar. Perhaps for musicians their gateway to this creative inspiration is listening to music, new or old, so perhaps YouTube, Digital Radio, iTunes etc. Whereas our visual based area of interest does lend itself to Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Photography Magazines & Books and so on.

In summary (well done if you've made it this far) in my opinion it's paramount to allow influences to seep into our minds and not be afraid to acknowledge it. I see elements from various photographers in the three images here, but at the end of the day they are my own interpretations of the land I saw in front of me. However, I'm not worried about admitting that my final 'tune' will inevitably use similar 'notes' to others, as long as it's true to my goals and convictions then at least I'm happy to play it.

Deadlines & Decisions...Shooting to a brief

During the Summer of 2015 I was approached by a professional musician (Justin Swadling) who was working on a new project. We'd been friends for many years after meeting through my musical work life, and he'd been following my photographic journey with interest. This new project was an album release to be made on vinyl featuring his own new compositions, and he was looking for me to provide images for the vinyl cover.

Upon discussing this further it became clear to me that Justin had invested much of his own resources into the project already and not only from a time or money point of view but also from a heart and soul perspective. With the music being of his own creation he had a strong attachment to it and thus the creative process behind matching an image with the mood, feel, spirit and direction of the music was in need of the same care and attention.

Over the course of a couple of meetings I was able to listen to some of the early rehearsals and sections of the music, this was key to understanding the nature of the project. After all you can throw adjectives around to try and describe these feelings but nothing beats the real thing. Armed with a good picture of what mood was needed I attempted to 'shoot' for the project.

Despite having done some previous commercial photography work this was the first time I was commissioned to provide images from nature that were to match a musical concept and mood. It's not quite the same as taking a picture of a product or event, it requires a deeper connection to the project and an understanding of how that can affect your own image making process.

There were some criteria that had to be met, for example the images needed to be square to suit the Vinyl cover, the title of the work was 'A Place To Be' and the idea was to present an image that asked as many questions as it answered about location, mood and spirit. There needed to be an element of intrigue, simplicity and yet be eye catching enough to make the cover stand out in a retail environment where commonly buyers are browsing through many records.

The final back (left) and front (right) covers...I can't wait to get my hands on the vinyl!

At first my attempts to capture this 'feeling' felt a little too staged, I was forcing the issue by overthinking the brief and concentrating too much on the type of location geographically rather than the mood. In theory the framework of what was required was there to help but I found it was becoming a weight as I overthought the whole process.

In the end I tried to just revert back to my normal shooting procedures and mindset, after all it was my previous work using these methods that had triggered the contact and request. It was clear that certain conditions would be more suited to fit the bill, for example I'm not sure bright sunny days with blue skies were what was needed, also the images needed the simplicity of elements to keep the intrigue.

The final images were captured by Ullswater in the Lake District during November. Early one Sunday morning as the mist and cloud rolled around the area the shoreline was irresistibly peaceful and beguiling...it was then just down to making the composition reflect that.

All in all it was an interesting experience to be working to a deadline on a project that had guidelines but also required a large element of my own inspiration to connect the image with the music. I came away pleased with the final result but with a glimmer of understanding of the pressure felt by commercial photographers who maybe have one or two weekends to capture the spirit and feel of a location, this is when you truly have to start praying to the weather gods to be kind and help you with the creative process!

If you're interested in checking out the album (I can highly recommend it as an original and innovative piece of work) please keep an eye on Justins facebook page for more details.


XMas in the Dolomites...

Having spent time in the Dolomites in December and January before I was prepared for bitingly cold days, knee deep snow and beautiful winter scenes. On this occasion however we were met with 10 degree warmth and very little snow in sight (other than the pumped variety on the slopes).

However, this area is beautiful walking country and we took to the local pathways in search of great light and great views. It's true to say though that this trip was not just a photographic jaunt but also a family holiday. Often in my experience the two things don't always go hand-in-hand. If I'm on location alone I would normally get out very early, often with only a loose plan for the day that would vary depending on the light and weather. This may include hours of walking, hours of sitting still in a favoured location waiting for the light to develop or sometimes moments of rest usually in a car or on a bench juggling the pros and cons of where to go next. Suffice to say it's difficult to 'sell' this sort of day to a non-photographer family member who may be on holiday with you. After all most people don't like to stand around watching someone else stand around watching the sky!

So, rather than heap expectation onto the trip I try to just reduce my goals and treat it as a holiday first and carry only light gear with me. On this occasion instead of taking Camera body, 3 lenses, heavy tripod etc I took just the camera with 1 lens and a lighter tripod. Of course this can limit your choice of composition but sometimes it can also free you to travel further and also force you to be more creative when viewing a scene and only having 1 lens to make the most of it.

Rather than being covered in snow the Dolomites were still basking in the suns glow this december.

I've visited this same area a few times now both in Summer and Winter but this was photographically a strange mix of the two. Often we had clear blue skies and sunshine but with none of the grass, flowers and 'feel' of Spring or Summer. Instead it was the darker more muted colours of an Autumn that had well and truly passed but had not yet been covered in the cloak of Winter.

Finding compositions in wider views can be more challenging yet often rewarding.

Bearing in mind the often cloudless blue skies and the fact that most of my time outdoors was in 'normal' daylight hours I found it often beneficial to avoid large parts of the sky in the compositions. Looking for shapes and balance in the images was a more important exercise for me and proved a good way to combat the conditions.

Often excluding the sky all together is fine and allows a different perspective.

The impressive peaks in this area make for excellent views, both of the wider sweeping vistas and also the more intimate scenes. Commonly these simplified views are becoming more of a feature in my work, and it can be seen above where I spotted this lone tree being illuminated in the last light of the late afternoon. Deep in the valley below this final kiss of light onto the hulking mass of rock signaled the end of another short day of light tucked behind these massive peaks.

Deep in the woods a little snow remains, rarely seeing sunlight it clings to the forest floor.

The woodland in this area is managed by the local people, commonly used as a resource for fires, building and more, the treeline also provides a modicum of protection from the crumbling rocks and when winter really comes it can also provide a barrier against snow fall or possibly avalanche although from what I read this is of limited use. Suffice to say this alpine style woodland is very dense and often as this treeline meets an area that has been cleared you see the contrast above between the tightly packed trees and a sudden open space that feels a little unusual. Due to the very high peaks surrounding some of these woodland areas and the tightly packed nature of the trees, you often see areas of snow that cling on for weeks due to the lack of sunlight actually able to reach them.

Late afternoon Sun dipping below the sharp peaks often provides great photographic opportunities.

One of the most eye catching elements of this particular area and indeed the Dolomites in general is the jagged nature of the rock. This area once formed part of a seabed some 240 million years ago and the area is known globally for it's amazing geological importance.

These mountains, whose peaks rise above the reign of the clouds […] are made up of different species of rocks. The basements, the thickness of which varies, incline differently, bringing them closer or further away from a vertical position, nevertheless directed towards a central point. Their prolongation leads to the formation of sharp points, broken crests and jagged angles that characterise and indicate from afar mountains known as primitive […]”.

This excerpt is from a letter written in 1791 by Dolomieu - the scientist after whom these mountains are named.

In more recent years, and with seemingly increasing temperatures, the progressive cycles of freezing and thawing of the ice in these mountains throughout the Winter and Summer have created a greater tendency for portions of rock to detach and eventually break off, thus leading to the collapse of certain peaks and sections.

No doubt this area is beautiful and impressive in its size and grandeur but like everything on this planet it's also transitory and temporary, one wonders just how the rising temperatures will continue to affect and change these geographically historic areas of our earth, and what affect that will have on the local community.


Lake District - Days 2 & 3

To Buttermere & Beyond...

DAY 2: It was with a moderate sense of jubilation mixed with guilt (how did I deserve such heavenly light?!) that I had headed back to base from my first day in the Lakes around Ullswater. Suitably fed and watered I drifted off to an early sleep with the recollections of the day in my mind and the strains of the ascents and descents in my legs. 

It's amazing how a 5.30am alarm shatters the sense of peace and tranquility of a deep sleep! As I rose my mind was already running through the route for the morning, as I chewed on the muesli my mind was crafting possible visual scenarios and how I would react to them, this may or may not assist me 'in the field' but it's a good way to get the brain working at the extreme ends of the day.  

I was heading to Buttermere, a place I'd never visited but had seen countless images of. This always worries me a little as the spectre of repetition looms large over the un-adventurous, so with that in mind I was hoping for something a little different from the conditions and from myself. After a twisty and steep ascent through the Honister Pass the road descends "into a stunning valley strewn with large boulders"...or at least that's what the guide book says. I couldn't see further than 20 feet thanks to the extremely dense fog that had camped across the Lakes that morning. 

View away from Buttermere towards the Honister Pass

After parking and paying I made the short walk towards the South Eastern tip of the lake. From here there is a lovely view of the wooded southern shoreline, so lovely that about 50 million people appear to have taken pictures of it! Today though there was little chance of a stereotypical shot of the fells behind catching the morning sun as there was no morning sun to be seen in the fog. That said, afer a short walk up the shoreline there were 10-15 mins where the peaks were temporarily exposed and I managed to make a couple of quick images, happy with the more peaceful representation of this often grandiose scene. 

Buttermere

Buttermere

Soon after the fog descended again and I headed north up the shoreline, generally I was alone bar the odd sheep and keen walker, after all it was 7.30am on a Sunday morning in November. The sweeping shoreline offers some lovely shapes and I spent some time wrestling with the image below. Ideally I would have allowed a little more space above and to the left side to give both the peak and curve of the shore more space to breathe, however I was travelling light with just 1 lens and this was the compromise I had to make. I still appreciate the peace of the scene and the resulting A3 print I've made of this image has come out very nicely. 

Buttermere 'Redux'

I continued on north around the eastern shoreline, by this time I'd bumped into a couple of fellow photographers heading the other way, presumably to the classic wooded shoreline shot, I wondered how long they'd wait for that dense bank of fog to clear before giving up.  

The dense fog showed no signs of moving, this actually suited me fine and allowed me to make a couple of simple images using the shoreline and the reeds and trees that grace it. 

Buttermere Shoreline

Buttermere Shoreline

Finally I reached the Northern end of the lake and headed up into the Woodland beyond. There was still some lovely Autumnal colour here and I spent a good amount of time just wandering and exploring, a day and a half into this 3 day break and I was really starting to feel at peace with the area.