An Unforgettable Week

This week has seen some of the most remarkable conditions that I have ever known in the Lake District. It seems I could not have timed my return to the national park more perfectly.

Otter Island on Derwent Water in the northern Lake District

Monday 15th June 2020

I was at Hallin Fell yesterday evening to film a video about how I use the rule of thirds. So today I found myself spending all day in the office getting the video ready for release tomorrow.

The edit of my film from Hallin Fell took the best part of a day. Ridiculous!

Just as we were entering lockdown I switched video editing software from iMovie to Adobe Premiere Rush. Since doing so I have seen a significant increase in the amount of time it takes to produce a video.

This might have been OK during lockdown when I had all the time in the world. But now that things are starting to get busy again I cannot loose a whole day like that.

I am switching back to iMovie and I am very glad to do so.

Tuesday 16th

This morning I headed into the national park for the first sunrise shoot since the start of lockdown. I originally planned to head to Glencoyne on Ullswater to shoot the sun as it rose over Pooley Bridge.

However, stepping out of my front door at 03:00 I found that I was surrounded by thick mist. I drove through the mist to find that if anything it was thicker over Ullswater than it was at home.

I clearly wasn’t going to get a sunrise so I changed my plan, opting to shoot the Duke of Portland boathouse instead.

Without the tourists the Lake District is very quite at the moment. Normally you will be joined by a couple of other photographers at the boathouse but for the first time ever I had it all to myself.

With no-one staying in the boathouse either I was aware that I was totally alone. It was quite eerie standing there as the mist swirled around me.

Mist surrounds the Duke of Portland Boathouse on Ullswater in the eastern Lake District
The Duke of Portland Boathouse on Ullswater – Tuesday saw my first sunrise shoot in the Lake District since lockdown began and I wanted to start with something familiar

Wednesday 17th

Yesterday I spent some time looking for new sunrise locations on the Photographer’s Ephemeris. I noted that from Sleet Fell at this time of year it would be possible to watch the sun rise from behind Hallin Fell.

So it was another 03:00 start this morning.

Once again my drive to Ullswater was shrouded in mist. I arrived at the summit of Sleet Fell to the sight of the sun rising over a magnificent cloud inversion.

What followed was one of the most memorable hours photography of the year so far. For once I was in the right place at the right time.

The sun rising over Hallin Fell in the Far Eastern Lake District
The sun rising over Hallin Fell viewed from the summit of Sleet Fell. If I do ever go on to create a book from my year exploring the Far Eastern Fells I am going to have to go some to come up with a better image for the cover.

Thursday 18th

Another 03:00 start this morning, this time my destination was Derwent Water. I wanted to get a shot of Otter Island, a scene that I had scouted just a few days before lockdown was introduced.

As I drew closer to Keswick I began to feel I had made a mistake. Once again there was thick mist in the area around Ullswater but it seemed thinner over Derwent Water.

I needn’t have worried. As I made my way to Abbot’s Bay it was clear that there was more than enough mist to create the seperation between the island and its background that I needed.

I settled on a simple composition featuring the island, its reflections and a small rock in the foreground.

In hindsight I am not sure that I needed to include the rock. Nevertheless this is one image that will be making it into my portfolio!

Otter Island on Derwent Water in the northern Lake District
Otter Island on Derwent Water – this shot will almost certainly make it into my portfolio at some point.

Friday 19th

All week I have been looking for an opportunity to visit Grasmere to shoot the view over the lake from Loughrigg Fell. At this time of year, with the sun setting way to the north, it is the best opportunity for some colour in the sky directly behind the lake.

However, I am not very good at photographing sunsets. I’m an early riser and have no problems getting up a 02:30 but I really struggle to head out in the evenings. I am beginning to think it is my biggest failing as a photographer. I need to work hard to resolve this.

But for for the time being I am content to limit my photography to the start of the day. So today saw me leave the house at 03:00 for the fourth consecutive morning.

With no mist around I had an unimpeded view of the lake. The ferns look fantastic at this time of year and as the sun peaked out from behind a cloud to bath my foreground in warm light a bagged one of my favourite summer images ever.

The view of Grasmere in the central Lake District from the path that leads to the summit of Loughrigg Fell
Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell – one of my favourite summer images ever and a second portfolio image of the week.

Saturday 20th

I had a well deserved lie in this morning.

When I did finally make it into the office at 08:00 I spent some time working on my social media strategy. During lockdown I have neglected Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and have focused purely on YouTube.

But with YouTube performing so poorly for me at the moment I feel I need to focus on growing my following on the other platforms.

Fortunately this week has produced plenty of images that I can share.

Sunday 21st

I am lucky to have so many people interested in the work that I produce.

Across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook I get so much support that I cannot express how grateful I am.

But it is here, on my blog, that I find that support to be at it’s strongest. That was never more obvious than this week when the response to my last post was remarkable.

What I am attempting to do is extremely difficult and I have to face the reality that in all likeliness I will fail.

However, if by some miracle I do pull this off it will be in no small part to the kind words of support that I receive from the people that comment on my blog.

I have always been a confidence player. When my confidence is up, as it has been this week, I am unstoppable. But when it is down then I am completely ineffective.

In many ways my beliefs differ from most within our community. Placing a greater importance on narrative than on ‘epic light’ is an excellent example of this.

Knowing that many of you share my beliefs gives me the confidence that I need to keep blazing my own trail and not to follow the norm.

You have come to mean more to me that you will ever know.

35 thoughts on “An Unforgettable Week”

  1. Chris you need to believe in yourself more and never think that you could fail. I agree with you regarding the rock in the foreground, it needs to go. Great images you have shared this week.

    1. Hi Ross – I didn’t set off on this journey thinking I would fail but it is becoming a distinct possibility with the virus and now the decline of my YouTube channel. I won’t give up but it time to start looking at all of my options. Still not sure about the rock, I think it does work in the portrait orientation version which will make it’s way on to Instagram at some point this week.

  2. I really admire your resolve to get up so early and four times in one week! It has paid off and you have done two lovely videos and got some stunning images. Well done.

    1. Great videos last week! I hope it’s possible for you to somehow resume your small group workshops and 1:1s in the field soon, with social distancing, as it looks like those were your biggest revenue stream. I don’t believe you will fail at all based on the work you have done so far. It’s already a success and you are developing a loyal following. But if things get too rough financially due to the pandemic you might need to take a little step back and consider doing some sort of part time gig in the area you used to work (IT), specially now that almost everyone is able to work remotely. That would not be a failure, just a matter of adjusting your business plan to survive the short and medium term, keeping the long term plan of becoming a full time photographer alive. I also agree that you could more actively use other platforms to announce your upcoming YT videos, to increase views, and also your webinars, 1:1s, etc. I think website traffic and quick references in the videos only might not be enough to get you the volume you need. Hope this helps. Looking forward to your new videos this week.

      1. Hi Flavio – I am already looking at how I might need to change my business plan in response to the ongoing pandemic. I have also been looking at strategies for growing on the other social media platforms. It doesn’t do you any good to have all of your eggs in one basket and there are a number of advantages to creating video for both Facebook and Instagram. Lots of different options available to me, the trick is figuring out which one to try first. 🙂

  3. Some lovely images this week Chris – especially Otter Island. I’m in two minds about the rock – either way it’s a great image.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Gordon – I think the rock works best in portrait orientation. If the shot does make it into my portfolio it will be that one. Keep an eye on Instagram. 🙂

  4. Outstanding work and reportage this week. I agree with your direction and analysis. I also agree with your comment about removing the stone. Your work and tutelage have helped this old dog learn some new tricks. Looking forward to more lessons and additions to your portfolio.

    1. Thanks John – the shot that will make it into my portfolio will be in portrait orientation and for me the inclusion of the rock works better in that version.

  5. Thanks Chris. Those glorious and perfect morning conditions are rare and fleeting! When these conditions do come along, it takes a lot patience and focus (pun intended) to capture the moment. Seems like you did well to capture it on this occasion! I on the other hand, would find myself scurrying around, overtaken by the excitement, and would probably cock up the moment. How do you maintain your focus and patience during these moments?

    PS. How’z my British slang coming along? ; )

    1. I met another photographer at Derwent Water on Thursday. He was trying lots of different compositions. I stuck with just one. I think it comes from doing your research. Most of the work is done beforehand when scouting and then on the numerous return trips. When the conditions do arrive you should already know what your preferred composition is. Then you can relax and let mother nature do her thing while you fire off the odd frame every now and then.

      P.S. Your British slang is absolutely pucka mate! 🙂

      1. I’ll take that “pucka” advice. Thanks!
        adjective INFORMAL•BRITISH
        genuine, authentic also : first-class.

  6. Hey Chris. Always read your blog, and like the week just gone, sometimes the blogs are more upbeat than before. I’ve tried several video edit programs, but I keep coming back to Windows Movie Maker – simply because it is so easy to use. OK so I don’t have all the fancy overlay functions, and the features are a bit limited, but it does the job. I did my video for this month (which goes on at 6pm tonight) just last night and it only took me a couple of hours 🙂 Interesting what you say about YouTube not working for you at the moment. I’m hearing the same comment from a number of ‘tubers, and not just restricted to photography content channels either. I’m rubbish at social media, even Facebook, and have to admit that I’ve found camera club meetings to be far more productive at getting the message out that I’m there. All the best fella, and stay frosty 🙂

    1. I have to admit mate I am a bit up and down at the moment. Some weeks are good, others are bad. I hear you regarding camera clubs – I have my first talk in a couple of weeks, over zoom. Looking forward to it. As for video editing software, simple wins as far as I am concerned. I did like some of the features in Premiere Rush but it was just too slow for me. I look forward to catching your latest video as soon as I get chance.

      1. Bless you fella. Keep smiling and dig deep. I’ve noticed that Guy Edwards down here in Dorset is running his 121s again, so I’m sure that that door will open for you too soon. I did take a look at his website to see how he was running them with regard to Covid-19 but I cannot find any details. Good luck with the Zoom presentation. All of my camera club events and even competitions are now being done virtually right up to Christmas, and I suspect that this will continue into 2021. All the best chap.

  7. A great set of photos. Try using FCP-X it is iMovie grown up, just as easy but with far more capability if you need it.

    1. I have looked a number of times at FCP – it does look like a step up from iMovie. But I can’t warrant spending £300 at the moment. If it is faster than iMovie then eventually I will have to upgrade so that I can make better use of my time.

  8. Hi Chris
    I’m sure lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for someone who had just started a new business. However going by the quality of your work if you hang in there I believe you will be more than ok.
    Best wishes to you and yours

    1. Thanks Stuart – I am sure there are many people far worse off than me, I am lucky enough not to have lost anyone close to me. But sometimes, when I am feeling low, I do curse the timing of this bloody virus!

    1. I had a good think about it and have decided that the rock stays. In fact I have added the portrait orientation to my shop. Could have spent a lifetime deliberating but in the end I decided to go with my gut and move on. 🙂

  9. Just looking at your gallery Chris and I just had to congratulate you on the standard of your work.
    I have been watching you since you started on YouTube and have seen the progression in the quality of your images (I hope you don’t mind me offering my humble opinion).
    What a time to start a new business, I really hope you continue on your journey and succeed, you certainly deserve to.
    Best of luck mate

    1. Thanks Russ – it certainly has been a challenge but hopefully things are starting to return to normal. The early signs are encouraging as I have taken quite a few bookings for 1-2-1s. Now I have to crack on with the hard job of selling my workshops.

  10. Hey Chris
    Keep your chin up mate. You a very talented photographer and it seems to me that you have a loyal audience that you have wholeheartedly earned. Don’t give up, you’ll get through this . Even if financial realities mean in the short you need to redirect at least of your energies to whatever brings in money, hold onto that dream – you’ll get there.

    1. Thanks Bevan – I am certainly very grateful for all of the support that I get from the people that watch my videos. And the last couple of weeks have been very busy as I have been putting together my autumn workshops and booking in 1-2-1s. Fingers crossed the government has a handle on all this and we won’t have to go back into lockdown.

  11. Great set of videos on YouTube this week and great photos. The videos are a big inspiration to me as the near doubling of cases of CoronaVirus here in Florida has keep me very limited in where I can go to and make photos and stay away from people. I see those wide open spaces in your videos and they remind me of the plains in western Kansas. I put to use the tip you gave me on setting my camera so that I can view black and white when I am out shooting. Since I shot in raw I had always just left it on Standard (a Nikon setting) on all my cameras. When I got out my newer cameras I found that not only could I set it for color, I could also set it to have a Sepia tone and could apply a filter that would give the effect of shooting with a red, orange, blue, yellow or green filter. That gave me the ability to not only preview in black and white but to come very close to seeing how the photo would look in the “pictorialism” style that I had mentioned. Two coffees coming your way my friend! I hope you get some mentoring work out of your presentation to the camera club. I saw some of the photos that group has displayed and they look like some pretty good photographers.

    You hang in there and stay focused on your goal. It can be hard to keep spirits up at times. Stay focused on your goal and your spirits, outlook and results will reflect that.

    Here are two videos that I may be of interest One by
    Arnold Schwarzenegger
    and one by
    Denzel Washington

    Got you and Mrs. Sale in my prayers friend.

    1. I Marvin, I am so pleased that my tip has been useful. When I started my channel 3 years ago all I wanted was to share my passion and to help people by sharing the knowledge that I have. The biggest reward is knowing that I have been able to help other people. I haven’t had chance to look at the videos yet because I have been super busy! 🙂 I have been working on my schedule of autumn workshops and booking 1-2-1s. And thanks again for the coffees and the continued support. I really does mean a great deal to me.

  12. Fantastic conditions and great photos Chris. Your vlog perfectly captured your feelings to experiencing these conditions. I prefer the ‘rock’ in.

    1. Thanks Neil – another vote for the rock. I has been quite contentious. In the end I decided to keep it in and have added a portrait orientation shot to my portfolio.

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