In Photos: My Lockdown

In the spring of 2020 the coronavirus crisis temporarily interrupted my life as a landscape photographer, restricting access to my beloved Lake District. Allowed out just once a day to exercise I used my photography to reconnect with the area around the village where I live.

The view of the far eastern fells

The coronavirus crisis could not have come at a worse time for me.

In August 2019 I had left the security of my job in IT to go full-time as a landscape photographer. Over the winter months I worked hard to promote my fledgling business and the early signs were good. My diary was full of workshops and 1-2-1s and I was optimistic about the future.

However, my progress was brought to a shuddering halt when on Monday 23rd March Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would enter a period of lockdown in light of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.

With my workshops and 1-2-1s either postponed or cancelled altogether I suddenly found myself with time on my hands. With my beloved Lake District out of bounds and confined to the house except for exercise I set about photographing my local area whilst out walking each day.

– Chris, May 2020

The view of the far eastern fells
I live in the village of Shap on the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park. Spectacular views of the far eastern fells are just a short walk from my backdoor.
The concrete road between Haweswater and Wet Sleddale
During the coronavirus crisis my only opportunity to take photographs was whilst out for my daily exercise. Invariably my route would lead me along the concrete road that joins the Haweswater and Wet Sleddale reservoirs.
A thingy that lies on the concrete road between Haweswater and Wet Sleddale
With camera in hand I would photograph whatever caught my eye whilst out on my daily walk. Mundane objects that I had passed countless times before without so much as a second glance were transformed into fascinating photographic subjects.
The bridge over the River Lowther at Keld
Often in order to reach the concrete road I would have to cross the River Lowther just outside the hamlet of Keld. The river marks the boundary of the national park so crossing it always had extra significance for me.
The M6 motorway near Shap in Cumbria
I didn’t always head west into the national park. Sometimes I would make my way east, crossing over an often deserted M6 motorway.
The stones at the top of Hardendale Nab
When heading east my destination would often be Hardendale Nab. From its elevated position I could enjoy probably the best view of the Lake District fells that still remained within my reach.
The limestone escarpment at Hardendale
Lockdown also afforded me the opportunity to explore new areas and uncover new treasures. Before lockdown I didn’t even know that the impressive limestone cliffs behind Hardendale Nab even existed!
A lime kiln in the fields close to Shap on the edge of the Lake District National Park.
It wasn’t just new finds that I was keen to photograph but also those subjects that had been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while. I had passed this lime kiln numerous times when driving between Shap and Bampton and now I had the opportunity to spend some time exploring it.
A tree and a wall
I found lockdown to be a rollercoaster of emotions, full of highs and lows. Often what I chose to photograph reflected my feelings at the time.
A sheep on a hill
The sheep that graze the hillsides remained my constant companions while out walking. Lockdown coincided with lambing season and I would often pause to watch the new born lambs exploring their new found surroundings.
A sheep and a tree
Here in the UK lockdown was put in place at the end of March. Winter was just coming to an end and there were still very few leaves on the trees.
A tree in spring
But by they time that lockdown restrictions were starting to be eased the trees were in full leaf. I found it comforting to know that even though our lives had been put on hold nature carried on regardless.

In just a few short weeks lockdown had a profound impact on me as a photographer. It helped me to reconnect with my local area and to find the beauty in a landscape that I had previously taken for granted.

I have found that focusing on more intimate scenes has helped to inject a little more creativity into my images and I have developed a new love for black and white photography.

How long lasting will these changes be? Only time will tell.


20 thoughts on “In Photos: My Lockdown”

  1. Just back from our first walk out since Lockdown and it was lovely. The Mendip Hills are only 20 mins away but they may have around the other side of the world for the last 2 months. The birds were singing, dappled light in the woods, there were still some wild flowers out and we had a close encounter with Mr Badger; he was so intent on digging out whatever badgers dig out that he did not see us and came within about 4 or 5m – magic! I had two compact cameras with me and did some comparison shots; Lumix 100 vs Sony RX100M3. One of them must go but how to decide….? Trying both for same shots for a while. Feels great to be free again. Hope you get out soon too, even if the business will take a while to pick up, there is now some hope. Stay safe, and watch that interviewer; she is vicious!

    1. So pleased to hear that you are back out with your camera Steve. Do you think your photography will be changed in anyway following this experience?

      1. I have been doing some on-line tutorials and workshops via the RPS Landscape Group, which will hopefully pay some dividend. However, the biggest change, will be a greater appreciation of being able to get out and maybe less inertia in getting out? Styles will evolve through time, virus or no virus.

  2. Considering how vocal I’ve been in the past about my lack of motivation to shoot locally I’ve enjoyed being forced to engage with what’s on my doorstep, not to mention the back garden. Emma asked me if I was still gonna shoot locally once the easing of lockdown has settled down, to which my reply was if a blind man suddenly regains his sight, does he walk around with his arms out in front of him with his eyes closed. That said, I’m not going far until the locations are a little more open. You’ve done some nice work during the lockdown Chris.

    1. Thanks Steve – as have you mate. I particularly liked the shot from your local woodland. I hope you do continue to shoot locally once lockdown is over but totally understand your desire to venture further from home once more.

  3. That’s a very nice collection of photos. I will be turning 73 in a few days. My plan was to celebrate with a visit to El Morro National Monument in New Mexico. But, that went out the window when this virus hit. So, instead I have been taking a few (very few) photos in my backyard or walks around where I live. Mostly I’ve spent the last two months learning more about my post processing software, how to create a newsletter in Affinity Publisher, and starting to create a website and blog. They just opened the State Parks here in Florida and I have one about two miles away from me. I’ll wait a few more days before I head there but I am looking forward to being in the woods again. Chris, your videos on YouTube on Tuesday and Friday became part of my schedule. And, I caught your new one with Julian Baird yesterday. The book on 52 Landscape Assignments you mentioned in your video and blog I was finally get when it shipped here in the US in early-April and I’ve been looking at that a lot too. Will start shooting on that when I get back out. Again, your black and whites are great!

    1. Hi Marvin – one of the things that I have found so inspiring is just how some photographers have tried to make the most of the coronavirus crisis. Everything that you have mentioned will help you photography in the long run, particularly creating a blog. Having an outlet through which we can share our photographs adds purpose to our photography, providing addition motivation for us to get out with our camera. I wish you the best of luck with it and I look forward to reading about your exploits.

  4. Being an expat it’s wonderful to see current photos of the old country. Wanted to wish you the best of luck in this new career of yours. Finally you can resume! Keep walking & keep taking beautiful photographs. BTW photos of some of the villages around you could be very interesting as well…..

    1. Thanks Mike – interesting idea about some of the villages in my local area. Now that I have finished this little project I need something new. I shall give it some further thought but I think it has great potential.

  5. Hi Chris – this is a lovely photo-essay to record your lock-down experience, thanks for sharing it. I think many of us will have a small portfolio of pictures taken during this period and I hope we come to appreciate how precious they are as therapy to combat our isolation. I have always been fond of the photo-essay genre which was stimulated by reading Life & London Illustrated News as a younger person. I will now go back & watch your video about Life photographers.
    On a pedantic note I think you may have your East & West juxtaposed in your narrative.
    I look forward to your next posts.

    1. Hi Keith – it’s not pedantic at all mate, I was just plain wrong! I was in a rush to get this photo essay published so that I could link it to the video that went out on Friday. When I reviewed it (after it had been published) I found it was full of mistakes. Hopefully most of them have been corrected now.

  6. My first day out of lockdown – shot some fungi in a nearby forest whilst out location scouting in the morning. In the evening I went back to a location I had found, and spent 4 hours doing astrophotography until 11pm.
    You could say I was desperate to get back out and press the shutter…and it felt bloody fantastic!

    1. We have been very lucky here in the UK Daniel. We have been able to get out each day to exercise and I have been using that as an opportunity to take photos. The easing of restrictions that we saw on Wednesday means that I can now resume filming on location rather than in my office. I cannot begin to understand just how frustrating it must have been for you not to be able to get out to shoot. It must have been wonderful to get back out with you camera. I am not surprised that you went out twice in one day.

  7. Great collection of photos, Chris. Enjoy hearing about your project ideas, inspire me to things I might try myself. What I find most interesting about this collection is the monochromatic style you chose for processing. I really like it; almost like viewing historical photographs from a hundred years ago instead of our current time. Really strikes a mood, which I assume is, at least in part, what you were going for. Would love to hear more about those choices since it differs from your primary/typical style.
    Love your YouTube channel, one of my favorites. You bring an “everyman” point of view to landscape photography that’s easy to relate to and very enjoyable to watch.

    1. Hi Kent – my choice of B&W was a purely practical one. As these images were captured when out exercising during the day the light was often quite harsh. Monochrome is a little more forgiving in these conditions so I focused on compositions that worked well without colour.

  8. Hi Chris, I really enjoy watching your videos, congratulations for what you have accomplished so far in your new career path.

    I like the look of your black and white photos, specially the contrast and toning. Maybe you could do a short video showing how you post process them.

    I am starting a relocation process now (in such crazy times) but will be looking forward to the Skype mentoring sessions after settling down.

    All the best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *