The Lake District
The Lake District National Park is situated in Cumbria in the North West of England and as the name suggests it contains the highest concentration of lakes in England and some of the largest. I have been to the Lake District on a few occasions but never for photography and as a landscape photographer, it has been on my list as one of my must places to visit.
I live in London and for the most part, it is a wonderful and vibrant place, full of culture and inspiration. However, getting to the wonderful locations around the UK, it is an almighty pain as London is in the South East of England. The Lake District is situated about 350 miles away, which is about a five-hour drive. I usually have to plan my trips well in advance, which keeps the cost to a minimum and also enables me to organise and scout for the best locations to shoot on the trip. However, there has been plenty of times where I wish I could just jump into the car and drive for 6 to 7 hours to get to my ideal location.
I am only taking one body which is the Canon 5D MK3 with the 3 legged thing L bracket attached. I chose this over my Canon 6D MK1 simply because it has better weather sealing. The lenses I took along with me are the Canon 16-35mm F4 IS and the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS MK2, however, 90 percent of my images are taken with the 16-35mm lens. I also use the Lee 100mm filter system and my filters that I took with me are the landscape polariser, 10 stop and 6 stop ND Filters, the 2 and 3 stop ND medium Grads, all packed in a Mindshift gear backlight 26L backpack I also took my Series 1 Gitzo Mountaineer tripod.
Planning my trips so far ahead is that you cannot predict the weather and the forecast wasn't looking good! I was accompanied on the trip by a few friends who are also photographers and we set off for the Lakes on Friday afternoon hoping to get to our first location Wastewater, where we planned to do astrophotography as the skies around there are very dark with little light pollution.
Unfortunately, when we got to the location it was already coming to 11 pm and there was so much cloud around that we decided to call it day and get some rest as we had an early start. We stayed in Keswick which was ideally located near 3 lakes, Buttermere, Derwent Water, and Keswick.
We woke up the next day to the sound of rain and checking the weather it wasn't looking good, the rain was forecast for the whole day without a break. We decided to make the most of a bad situation and wanted to visit all the locations as planned. There was the odd glimmer of hope, where the sun pierced through the clouds but as soon as it came it also disappeared even faster.
A ray of hope! some glorious light for about 5 minutes and then it all disappeared!
We headed out with optimism to our first location which was the Jetty at Derwent Water. This is a classic location and with a quick search on google it will pull up hundreds of images captured at this very location. There is nothing wrong with capturing these classic locations as they are always good to have for your portfolio, especially if you are starting out. In addition, the image you capture will have your own unique style and vision or interpretation of the location.
Rain and wind high winds at Derwent Water
By now the weather had turned worse and we decide to wait to see if there was any lapse or break in the wind and rain. After half an hour the rain stopped momentarily and we took the opportunity to set up for the first image of the day. It was very grey and overcast so a moody black and white was the order of the day.
However, as soon as we were set up the rain started again! If you have ever shot in the rain you'll know how difficult it is to get the watermarks of the lenses and filters. I know we could have used umbrellas but it was so windy that it just wouldn't have helped. We decide to abandon the shoot as we were getting blown all over the place and it was pouring with rain. We took some time to dry our equipment and then head off to our next location, Lake Buttermere.
It was already midday by now and the rain and wind just not going to go away. We decided to use the rest of the day as a scouting mission, for what hopefully looked like a better day tomorrow. Buttermere was absolutely stunning and it was extremely windy! I was literally been blown away and not just by its beauty.was
Dark skies and high winds at Lake Buttermere
It was 5 am and time to get up for a sunrise shoot at Derwent Water, in particular, the Jetty. Derwent water is located close to Keswick town center and a short walk gets you to the Lake. However, the jetty itself was located about a 15-minute drive away on the other side of the lake. A quick cup of coffee and of we went, after the disappointment of the day before the weather was looking promising and we were hoping for a glorious sunrise. We arrived at the jetty and to our surprise, there was already a few photographers already set up to shoot. Luckily for us, they were all capturing an image of a lone tree in the lake and we could focus on capturing the jetty.
The classic view of the jetty
The first image was a classic image of the jetty looking straight into the Lake, although the sun was rising the time was against me as gloomy clouds were rolling into the left of the image. The sun was still not up so I changed my composition.
A side view of the jetty with the mountains in the distance
I chose this as my second image and I wanted the composition to show the various elements of the Lake. The jetty is my main focus with the image taking you through to the end of the jetty and in turn taking your eye across to the mountains and then back to the mountains on the left. The sun still has not come up at this point and I hoped for a bit more colour to the sky.
Beautiful colours started to appear as the sun was showing us its magic
I decided that my third image would be on the other side of the jetty. Before I started shooting I did a walk around and noticed this solitary rock in the water and thought it would make good foreground interest leading you to the jetty and the dark moody skies above. I loved the reflections of the jetty and the warm tones of the reds and oranges in the image.
Dark clouds and rain entered into the frame!
My Final image is of the jetty again from the opposite side but this time. By now the rain had just started again and I wanted to capture the small island in the middle of the lake with the jetty sinking into the water. The rain created a mist like quality to the image and this was always planned to be a black and white image. The rain was coming down we decided to stop the shoot and head off to our next destination Lake Buttermere.
Buttermere is located about half an hour away from Derwent Water and is considered the most beautiful lake in the whole of the Lake District. We arrived with optimism and as always I went for a look around the lake looking for a composition. It's always good to take a moment and have a look around a location to not only find compositions but to also enjoy and take in natures beauty.
The fallen branch in the lake was made to be captured!
I came across this fallen branch which was half submerged in the water, it was used as foreground interest, as it leads onto the mountains in the background. The mountains had some amazing autumn colours which added balance the image as the sky was overcast, which in turn made the water flat.
A classic image of the lone tree
I have seen many images of the lone tree in Buttermere but almost all are very close up, almost portrait like. I wanted to add context to the image and decide to go wide and capture the image of the tree with its epic surroundings. Although the light was not good the darkness of the image adds to the drama, which I liked.
Another view of a classic location
This was the final image I took and as the weather had improved showing the colours of the surroundings. This is more of an intimate image of the tree from a classic viewpoint. It was not as wide as the previous image but I still wanted to capture more of the environment and the amazing mountains and autumnal colours. There was not much daylight left and I still had one mere location to visit and that was Wastwater.
This is the deepest lake in the Lake District and the surrounding shores are pretty impressive, with views of Scafell Pike, which is the tallest mountain in England and The Great Gable, which is another famous fell in the area. I concentrated on the view looking down the lake to these mountains but it was hard to find a composition that I liked. The problem that I found is when looking down the lake in the classic viewpoint the horizon seemed to be uneven although it wasn’t, it was just the way the landscape was forged.
Looking towards the highest peaks in England
In this image, I found some rocks just submerged beneath the water and other parts above the water. The water was very clear as you can see and the rocks had a wonderful texture with the green of the moss adding to the colour of the lake. The formation of rocks gave the image some foreground interest but also leads the eye to the distant mountains.
Beautiful autumnal colours in Wastwater
Although the landscape seems baron with little to no foliage in the direction that the camera is facing, a quick turn behind me revealed something that was special. The beautiful Autumnal colours were very striking and added contrast to the reds in the mountains.
The clouds touch the peaks of the Fell
Drama in the clouds but the serenity is amazing
This was my first visit to The Lake District as a photographer and it was one mixed with excitement and some disappointment. I loved the epic landscapes the drives around the lakes and valleys and just the discovery of new places. Lake Buttermere was special the beauty surrounding the lake was outstanding, Honister pass was like something out of Lord of the Rings and was most probably close to Glencoe in Scotland as I've seen in England. The disappointment is the realisation that 2 days in just not enough to explore the area, especially if you've never visited the area before.
Admittedly I did know it was one of the wettest place in the UK but that did not deter me! I would definitely recommend anyone to visit The Lake District, especially if you are a photographer.