So, as we venture into the summer months, this period can be something of a dry spell with earlier sunrises, harsher light, and the conditions generally less changeable. This blog feels somewhat at odds with my wish to discover new places, however lately, through necessity rather than choice; I’ve found myself repeatedly going back to shoot an area close to home. Now as some of you may be aware, I’m based in the Lake District which I’m very lucky to have relatively close by, however, when I say local I mean within 5 miles of my house, notably Wastwater.
Rewind to a month or so ago, and my son has now decided he doesn’t really need sleep (shock, lol). If you were kind enough to read my last blog entry you'll be aware my 4 year old Son is autistic, and one of the things he really struggles with the most (as do a lot of autistic kids) is a poor sleep pattern. They don’t produce enough melatonin (a chemical your body naturally produces in the brain which lets you know you’re tired) so when he wakes up, he thinks it’s time to get up, even if it’s 2230pm and he’s only been in bed 3 hours! How does this relate? Well this nightmare is still going on, and even though I mentioned in my last blog about getting out and spending quality time in the landscape, it simply hasn't been possible lately. So I'm back to 'grabbing' time where I can as there’s been a lot of broken night’s sleep recently, often being awake at 3am far more than I’d like. So rather than sitting staring at the ceiling, when my partner has been taking her turn settling the wee fella I’ve been nipping out to Wastwater for sunrises, mainly for my own sanity. With it being so close, it’s really a no brainer. The positive from this rather difficult period is I’ve been able to take advantage of some fantastic conditions at the lake, conditions I’ve rarely seen down there and under normal circumstances almost certainly would have missed. Normally I’d get bored of shooting the same place repeatedly but this past month I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a place (I thought I already knew well) much more intimately. I’ve discovered new compositions and found a new appetite for a place I’d probably become a bit complacent about. It's also showed me there’s nothing wrong with returning to a particular spot over and over again, it doesn’t make you less of a photographer, and it goes without saying improves your chances of catching that one magical moment.
Of course, Wastwater needs no introduction to Landscape Photographers – it’s a magical place, with an atmosphere all of its own which you’d struggle to replicate anywhere else in the Lake District, so you could argue it's hardly a chore for me to get out of bed and go there. It’s remote, it's isolated, and above all can be incredibly infuriating to shoot. The cluster of towering high fells create weather systems with seemingly a mind of their own, often confounding even the most accurate weather forecasts. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve stood at the lakeside and cursed how nice a day it is behind me, while infront of me the 900m+ giants of Great Gable and the Scafells are clouded up and barely even visible. Despite its remoteness, togs still flock to its shores to try and capture it’s majestic beauty, 9 times out of 10 probably going away empty handed, but still in awe of the experience. Despite living so close (about 10-12 minute’s drive) I’d become utterly frustrated with the place, and almost gave up shooting it as I just never seemed to get good conditions down there despite the hours of graft I’d put in previously.
As is the way with Landscape Photography, 99% of the time you’ll come away with nothing. But it’s all part of the process, and just once you might get lucky. Wastwater and the surrounding valley doesn’t really mist up very often, it’s too close to the sea and more often than not, too windy. Another sleepless night with the wee fella meant another unplanned visit to the lake. On the drive in I could make out the mist covering the lake, which immediately quickened the pulse. I managed to arrive with about 5 minutes to spare and hastily set up. After ensuring the first image was captured, the pressure was off a bit. Acutely aware that conditions would not be like this again for a good while, it was a case now of trying to milk it for all it was worth.
After capturing a couple of images at the lake, I turned to find the mist was now enveloping the area beyond the bottom of the lake and surrounding fields. Cue frantically driving in search of compositions in an area which I (or anyone else for that matter) never really shoots. It’s mainly farmland, dry stone walls and small pockets of woodland, with narrow farm lanes zig zagging their way through much of it. All the natural vantage points would require crossing private land, which obviously isn’t an option. Even if it was, I didn’t have time and there was nowhere to leave the car safely as it's all one-track road. What ensued was the epitome of roadside grabbing, but there was little alternative. Fortunately, I managed to capture a few that I think work. It probably isn't for me to say whether these images are 'keepers' or not, but they certainly felt like it at the time, and more importantly, the morning was an extremely enjoyable experience.
After a frenzied 45 minutes or so of shooting, the mist had all but gone. But it was easily the most fun I’d had with a camera in a long time, and even if I’d got nothing at all, I’d enjoyed myself thoroughly. I guess the moral of the story is don’t be frightened to keep shooting locally at the same place over and over, you just never know when it might pay off.
Thanks for reading - until next time guys, happy shooting.