Embrace the Summer

Landscape photography can be difficult during the summer can’t it? Well if the last few weeks is anything to go by I am starting to think that that is nonsense!

The sun rising over Sleddale Fell

Monday 10th August 2020

I was back in the Longsleddale valley again this morning, this time to climb Shipman Knotts.

Yet more wonderful conditions to photograph. This time it was mist on the surrounding hills cascading down into the valley below.

My luck seems to be extraordinary at the moment.

Last week I was on Tarn Crag. Had I been there today it would have been a complete white out. But from here I was in the best position to observe this wonderful spectacle.

The view from the summit of Shipman Knotts in the far eastern Lake District
The view towards Tarn Crag from Shipman Knotts on one of the most incredible mornings that I can remember up on the fells.

Tuesday 11th

I have a mate staying with us for the weekend so I have decided not to shoot for a couple of days.

For the next 2 days I shall be in the office working on the usual stuff. Editing video, responding to emails, managing my social media accounts, etc.

By not shooting for 2 days I will be chomping at the bit by the time Tom arrives.

Wednesday 12th

The weather today has been unlike anything that I have ever known in Cumbria.

The temperature reached 28 degrees centigrade which is not uncommon. But the humidity was more akin to what I would expect to experience in a tropical rain forest. The air was so thick it felt like you could bite lumps out of it.

Tom arrived in the late afternoon. I am looking forward to getting out with the camera tomorrow, I just hope that it freshens up a little.

Thursday 13th

One of the things that I enjoy when we have other photographers staying with us it that it is an opportunity to visit some of the more popular locations that I would otherwise avoid.

Since lockdown I have been concentrating on some of the lesser known locations in the Lake District. But this morning I took Tom to Buttermere.

It was overcast which did little to ease the humidity but, more importantly, it was still. Tom admitted that he would have liked a little more light but for me it was perfect.

Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks viewed from the beach at the southern end of Buttermere
Conditions could not have been better at Buttermere on Thursday. Still with overcast skies, perfect!

In the afternoon I had a 1-2-1 with Graeme Mitchell at St John’s in the Vale.

I have been very lucky to have worked with some lovely people this summer and Graeme was no exception. We spent a happy few hours exploring compositions around Tewet Tarn and Low Rigg.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping other photographers. I was able to share a few tips with Graeme that seemed to make a big difference and some of the shots that he got looked excellent on the back of the camera.

Graeme Mitchell
Graeme on Low Rigg photographing the view towards Skiddaw and Blencathra

Friday 14th

This morning Tom and I were at Derwent Water for sunrise.

Normally I like to shoot on the western shore in the morning to give me the best chance of getting colour in the sky. But on our way there we spotted a thick layer of cloud on the horizon which would inevitably block the sun.

We decided to visit Isthmus Bay to shoot the crumbling concrete jetty. I wanted to try a new composition that I had never tried before but I am not sure it works.

Isthmus Bay on Derwent Water
The concrete jetty at Isthmus Bay on Derwent Water – I don’t think this composition works very well. The bottom right hand corner is just too busy and cluttered for my tastes.

When we got back home I had a Skype 1-2-1 session with my good friend John Toth in Pennsylvania. I have been working with John for a while now and I’ve been delighted with the progress that he has been making.

Earlier in the week he had sent me his latest attempt of a shot that he had been working on for a while. I thought it was excellent.

He has put in a lot of work and I am delighted that he finally has something to show for his efforts.

Clinton Grist Mill by John Toth
Clinton Grist Mill ยฉ John Toth

In the evening we chose to visit the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales. Tom had never photographed it before and it seemed to be an ideal location for sunset at this time of year.

I have been working very hard recently to improve my use of foreground and was keen to take on some of the limestone pavements that can be found close to the viaduct.

As is often the case the sunset was blocked out by cloud on the horizon but nevertheless I still enjoyed myself.

The limestone pavement close to the Ribblehead Viaduct
The limestone pavement in front of the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales

Saturday 15th

Generally Tom and I have had some great conditions for photography so far this weekend. We were half expecting our luck to run out.

But we needn’t have worried.

We arrived at Rydal Water this morning to find the surrounding hills shrouded in mist. What followed was one of the most enjoyable shoots of my summer so far.

I came away with two (and potentially 3) portfolio quality shots, including (with a little help from Tom) a new take on the lone tree.

The lone tree on Rydal Water
Wonderful conditions at Rydal Water on Friday – it’s difficult to take a bad shot when faced with scenes like this.

We’ve made the decision that Rydal will be our last shoot of the weekend.

We are going to enjoy a few drinks this evening and then have a well earned lie in tomorrow morning.

Sunday 16th


I am never drinking again.

25 thoughts on “Embrace the Summer”

  1. Some cracking shots Chris, I especially like the one of the limestone pavement and viaduct – not a composition that I can recall seeing before.

    For me personally, the concrete jetty shot is actually spoilt by the big boulder in the middle foreground. I know you like a bit of strong foreground, but my eye simply goes to the boulder every time. Otherwise it’s a lovely image, and the bottom left (did you mean right?) doesn’t really bother me either. Each to their own they say, but that’s my two pennorth for what it’s worth.

    Glad to hear your weather luck is changing and it seems that business is looking up, hopefully all your had work will start to pay off now.

    1. Hi Mark – yes, I did mean right. I have corrected it. Thanks very much. I think that you are right about the big boulder. It is the reason why I have never tried this composition before. Sometimes it is worth giving things ago if only to determine in your own mind that it doesn’t work.

  2. He he he he, loving the last comment there Chris ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you have had time to nurse the head back into normality. The image of Buttermere is a cracker to be sure. I’ve been there many times on my trips and only once had conditions similar to those in your image. For your Rydal image, were you on a long lens or were you able to get close the edge? Every time I’ve been there the water level has been so high that to get anywhere near the edge (and therefore get the separation between the shore and the island) has been impossible without waders! Hoping you have a good week sir ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best.

    1. Hi Huw – the shot of Rydal was taken on my 70-200 at about 105mm. I don’t think it would be possible to shoot from this angle normally because you need the mist to create seperation between the tree and the background. I have another shot from a slightly different angle where I have been able to get good seperation between the shore and the island (with a little help from Photoshop :)). It’s scheduled to be posted to Facebook on Friday so keep an eye out for that one. Like you say I wouldn’t have been able to get the shot if the water had been any higher.

      1. Thanks Chris. A misty Rydal is on my bucket list for my October visit. I was really lucky last year and had two misty mornings, but chose to do Strandshag Bay on Derwent Water and Waterhead on those two occasions. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the water level as I drive passed. I presume you parked up in White Moss and then walked around? All the best.

        1. I usually park at Rydal church and the make my way to the tree via the boathouse and the caves. This time we got stung for parking at White Moss because we wanted to visit the tree first.

          1. Ah, gotcha. A circular route then. I love Rydal Caves – could be in there for hours creating compositions with the reflections in the pool. Have a good week chap.

  3. Some great shots Chris!

    Unfortunately we have reverted to complete lockdown, following a really significant second wave here in Victoria. No outdoor photography for me for at least the next 6 weeks. Sigh!

  4. Hi Chris, some great conditions resulted in some very nice images. With regards to the Ribblehead viaduct one, had you considered moving closer to the viaduct so that it was a larger element in the frame and reducing the dominance of the limestone pavement?

    1. Hi Neil – I looked at a number of compositions for the viaduct. For this shot I really wanted to exaggerate the foreground; the shape of the viaduct is so uniform and recognisable that despite being small in the frame it still has significant visual weight so the eye will eventually be drawn to it. Unfortunately moving closer to the viaduct from this point opens up a rather boring midground that I was keen to eliminate. I hope that all makes sense.

  5. Thank you for the thoughtful comments and including the photo of the Grist Mill. Your tutelage and honest evaluations have helped immensely.
    It looks like the weather finally cooperated, and you had a great week of shooting. Your hard work on foregrounds has paid dividends. Appreciate the balance of the photo from Shipman Knotts toward Tarn Crag. The way you captured the scene at Buttermere and the Lone Tree at Rydal Water is truly first-rate. Agree that you have several additions to your portfolio and, hopefully, your print offerings.
    The only remaining quest is how many bacon sarnies this week? (LOL)

    1. Hi John, thank you for your kind words and also for allowing me to share your photo of the grist mill with everyone, I think it is excellent. To answer your question there were no bacon sarnies this week I am afraid, but Mrs Sale delivered a stellar Sunday lunch. Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings! Wonderful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Conditions in the summer can be great and just as good as winter, just different. Itโ€™s just really hard work getting up at 2am repeatedly in the summer months!!!

    Looks like you had a great week and I am very jealous of the clouds rolling over the hills!!

    1. Hi Alan – I think for me the main problem with summer has always been the lack of colour contrast. Everything is just so green! But this year I have changed my post processing to exaggerate the greenness and I think it has made a huge difference. I cannot remember a time when I have enjoyed my photography more than this summer. Missing out on most of spring probably has something to do with it.

  7. Your shots at Ribblehead and the lone tree are absolutely stunning Chris. I’m still unsure how you are always so lucky with the weather/conditions. You can only plan so far ahead in the Lake District – generally about a minute I think!

    1. Hi Stephen – generally I am not lucky with the weather. I think my recent work has been the pay off for all of the times I have made the effort and come back with nothing. Keep putting yourself out there and eventually good things will happen I suppose. There is of course the local knowledge that helps you to match the location to the conditions. For example Rydal Water can be a difficult place to shoot without misty conditions.

  8. Hi Chris,
    You looked as if you had a fantastic week of photography, i do love the summer weather but the bright blue skyโ€™s donโ€™t do a lot for an image, i was going to pick out my favourite image but i just kept thinking I like that and i like that So i like them all but i do love the lone tree and Rydal .

    1. I am with you on the blue skies Joy, I find that if it is clear the best thing to do is to switch to black and white and make use of the dark shadows and bright highlights.

  9. That lone tree at Rydall Water is definitely portfolio material. Absolutely loved it. Seems like you were really spoilt for weather after a couple of weeks of frustration.

    1. Thanks Barry – yeah, I am really happy with that one. There problem is I have another shot of the tree that I also like. It should be posted to Facebook on Friday. I’d be interested to hear which one you think is the best.

  10. Thought the reflection image was amazing, great work Chris.
    Glad you enjoyed your drinks and a couple of days off, do you good to unwind once in a while.

    1. Thanks Ross – glad that you liked it. It was nice to have a bit of a break. This week looks like a busy one so I have to make the most of it when I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Nice to see you out and about again Chris. Some cracking images as always. I’m with Tom on the Buttermere image, could do with a bit more light for me also.

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