The new photographic year - initial thoughts / by stuart mcglennon

Well, we're now in to May and it's been a little while since I wrote a blog post so thought i'd jot down a few musings on how the year for me has gone so far.

Frozen

Winter, as most landscapers will know, was a huge let down this year. Given I'm relatively new to photography this winter just passed was going to be my first 'proper' winter period where I could really focus on creating some good images (the first one didn't count as I really didn't know what I was doing!). Fleeting periods of cold weather in both November and then March didn't really amount to much for me, mainly due to my job where my shifts never seemed to align when the decent wintry weather struck. I did manage to create a couple of 'winter' weather images despite this, my favourite two being these:

Frozen: A freezing morning spent hiking up to the summit of Catbells. What looked like being a fairly flat and uninteresting sunrise transpired into one of my favourite images I've taken. Despite it's diminutive size, the ice scattered around the rocky scrambles near the top of the fell needed to be taken with a lot of caution, especially in near pitch-dark. 

Below: The Scafells were briefly covered in snow during March which prompted me to have a quick scurry to the top of Hardknott Fell to capture this panorama for sunset. The shot probably couldn't be classed as a true winter image due to the date is was taken however it's one of the few times I was able to get out amongst the snow! This view is seldom shot however I personally believe it's one of the best scenes in Lakeland for relatively little effort, especially when you consider you can park at the top of the Hardknott Pass.

The Scafells

Moving into the current spring period I've noticed a growing trend over time in that I'm shooting probably 80% of my images in portrait format. This isn't a conscious decision, as I've no real preference which way I shoot the landscape, I can only assume this is something in my subconscious that I'm just 'seeing' more of these images where I didn't previously. Contributing to this is the inclusion of an L Bracket since Christmas which I couldn't recommend enough. Mine is a clunky Manfrotto thing, which in hindsight isn't the most practical as it covers the battery slot (which makes changing in the field a bit of a pain) but it's built like a tank which can't be a bad thing. During this period I've started to embrace more intimate shots of the landscape, utilizing my prime and telephoto lenses much more. I'm not sure if this is common with a lot of landscapers in terms of progression but I feel in my own journey I've begun to move away from shooting the 'big view' at wide angles. That's not to say I won't do it every so often if the scene merits it but a big part of what drives my own passion for shooting the landscape is to challenge myself, and shooting the wide view doesn't really seem so challenging anymore.

A few of the springtime images I've been particularly pleased with is firstly one I shot just this week - a bluebells image which is quite a departure from the normal stuff I like to seek out, but it's bright and cheery which we can all do with now and again. The other two are woodland shots from a random wander through some fairly non-descript woods near Wasdale. I seem to enjoy my photography far more when I just get off the beaten track a bit and go for a walk, it leaves me to be a bit more open to the possibilities rather than having such a structured approach where there is more chance of me being dissappointed!

Path of Colour

Golden

Leading

Summer is nearly upon as and for a lot of landscapers this is usually a bit of quiet period - days are longer which means sunrise times are getting more and more prohibitive, and the contrasting conditions in the weather lessen. Last summer I spent much of it cramming as much time as I could out in the field eager to learn the basics taking advantage of the long days, this time I'm going to be a lot more selective and certainly doing less sunrises! I'm probably going to get a couple of wild camps in on the high fells, more for the experience than anything else, which is something I think we can all lose sight of sometimes in the pursuit of great images.

There is also the spectre of LPOTY 2017 coming round soon - last year was my first time entering and if I'm honest, my images were nowhere near the required standard and it probably came too soon for me (I'd only been shooting about 6 months at that point), but I don't regret entering (I only entered 7) as it's all a learning curve and if nothing else a good a marker for where your work is at. This time I'll be entering 25, I'm not 100% convinced I have 25 images I'm entirely happy with but it can't hurt to put them in as you never know as it's a very subjective process. I've seen some fantastic images this year by some really inspirational photographers, a couple have really stood out for me above all others which have really helped motivate me to get out there and try to produce something of comparable quality.

Hope you've enjoyed this quick entry - i've redesigned the website so it looks a little cleaner, feel free to share or leave a comment/some feedback - it's much appreciated.

Stu.