It’s the People that Make it Special

I have now been a professional landscape photographer for over a year. It has been the most wonderful year of my life but is has been the people that I have met along the way that have made it extra special.

Stephen and Joe braving the elements on Side Pike near Blea Tarn

Monday 31st August 2020

After reflecting last week on the previous 12 months I have decided that as far as my photography is concerned the 2 areas that I would like to focus on are my long lens and intimate landscapes.

With that in mind this morning I made my way to Scout Scar near Kendal.

I spent a few hours wandering around looking at different compositions but ultimately came away empty handed.

No matter. One thing that I have learnt over the last year is to be patient with myself. Keep putting myself out there and trying new things and eventually the improvements will come.

A Surprise Delivery

That afternoon I received a package from my friend John Toth in Pennsylvania. I have been working with John on a shot of the Clinton Grist Mill for a while and last time out he nailed it!

Completely unexpectedly John had sent me a framed print of his shot. It was a wonderful gesture and I was extremely touched.

The print of the Clinton Grist Mill that was sent to me by John Toth
The Clinton Grist Mill – an gift from my friend John in Pennsylvania

Tuesday 1st September

Meteorically speaking today was the first day of autumn.

I decided to climb to the top of Hallin Fell to have another crack at the shot of the summit cairn. Unfortunately I arrived to find some wild campers had set up slap bang in the middle of my composition.

Not to worry. On the way I had to drive through thick mist and when I arrived at the summit I could see that it was a temperature inversion. My third since the end of lockdown.

After grabbing the obligatory wide shot with foreground rock I switched to the telephoto lens and started picking out parts of the scene.

Looking at the images on the back of the camera I could see that the images were not as sharp as I had come to expect from my 70-200. Im fears were realised when I got the images onto my computer.

I checked my lens. The front element was spotless as you’d expect but then I noticed a huge smudge on the rear element.

Sometimes life’s lessons are best learnt the hard way.

A temperature inversion over Ullswater viewed from Hallin Fell
My best shot of the autumn so far! 🙂 This shot of the temperature inversion over Ullswater is bound to make it into my portfolio.

Wednesday 2nd

This morning I had a 1-2-1 with Neal Staley at Buttermere. It had been in the diary for some time, the first of my longstanding bookings that hadn’t had to be cancelled due to coronavirus.

Like so many of the people that I have worked with in my first year Neal was great company. It was a pleasure to show him around one of my favourite locations in the Lake District.

Buttermere is such a wonderful location for photographers. There is so much potential here but I often struggle to see beyond the obvious.

Whilst working the small stretch of shoreline between Crag Wood and Pike Rigg we found 2 or 3 compositions that were new to me. I look forward to returning soon to have a crack at them myself.

Neal Staley lining up a shot on the shores of Buttermere
Neal Staley lining up a composition at Buttermere. The shot looked so good on the back of his camera that I am keen to return as soon as possible to have a go myself.

Thursday 3rd

I found myself with a bit of free time today as the 1-2-1 that I had arranged for this morning had to be cancelled due to the weather.

So I spent the day writing a blog article about maximising image sharpness, inspired by the problems that I encountered earlier in the week.

Having dropped down from 2 videos a week to just 1 I now have more time to spend on planning and research. My approach will be to write a blog post on that week’s topic which I will then turn into a script for the video.

Friday 4th

I was at Derwent Water this morning with Neal Staley. We had some more wonderful conditions and I am really keen see his shots from our two mornings together.

I enjoyed spending time with Neal immensely and I hope that he will be back in the Lake District again at some point in the future.

In the afternoon I met up with Stephen Kennedy close to Coniston for a 1-2-1 in the hills above Beacon Tarn. This was my 5th shoot with Stephen who is starting to develop a real love for the Lake District.

It has been a real pleasure to watch Stephen’s confidence grow as the standard of his work has improved at an astonishing rate! With each composition he has required less and less input from me.

It won’t be long before I will simply be able to lead him to a location and then leave him entirely to find a shot for himself.

Stephen Kennedy at the viewpoint overlooking Beacon Tarn near Coniston
Stephen Kennedy in the hills overlooking Beacon Tarn. We have become good friends over the past couple of months and the standard of his photography has improved dramatically.

Saturday 5th

This morning Stephen and I were joined by Joe Davis for the first of my autumn workshops. I found Joe, a serving member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, to be a confident and easy going young man. I liked him immediately.

The three of us endured some difficult conditions at Blea Tarn and on Side Pike. The wind and rain made the photography extra challenging.

For me it was one of the most enjoyable mornings that I have ever spent out on the fells. What made it extra special for me was Stephen and Joe’s company.

There was a real sense of camaraderie between the three of us, that we had endured the elements together and come out on top.

Three guys from contrasting backgrounds. A spectrum of different life experiences (not to mention age) that bonded if only for that morning over a shared love of the outdoors and of photography.

I returned home elated. It took me quite some time to calm myself down.

This is all I ever wanted. To share my passion for the Lake District and for photography with like minded people.

Joe Davis on braving the elements on Side Pike near Blea Tarn
Joe Davis on Side Pike on what was one of my most memorable mornings on the fells.

Sunday 6th

After the joys of yesterday it was back to earth today.

I spent most of the day working on the script for next week’s video. Filming starts tomorrow.

13 thoughts on “It’s the People that Make it Special”

  1. Sounds like a cracking week Chris. Some great images also. The last image with Joe on Side Pike a particular favourite.

  2. A great couple of mornings Chris and I will be back for sure. The fun, camaraderie and friendship is made much easier by your ability to make your guests feel at ease and as I said on day one, you have a great “office” which also helps.
    All the very best heading into year two.

    1. Thanks Neal, it was great to meet you and I very much hope that we get to do it all again some day. In the meantime I look forward to following you on Instagram.

  3. A good time had by all it sounds , and some great shots as well nice one Chris. Off to the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean for five days with the better half, so i suppose i had better take the camera bag with me !!!

  4. Thanks Chris for the kind words, you take a good deal of credit for my steps forward photographically, not least with your enthusiasm and undoubted talents as both a tutor and a photographer. I thoroughly enjoyed both the 121 and the workshop and I’ve gained in confidence not just with the camera but also where and when to take images.

    I’ll be back very soon.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Stephen, I am so pleased to hear that you feel more confident now. That is so important. Without confidence we are far less likely to experiment and try new things and without that we are unlikely to grow as photographers. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

  5. That Ullswater inversion shot is a cracker! It’s a shame that the circumstances forced you to abandon so many of your 1-2-1 and workshops in this your first full year. I know that you adapted and diversified, but I know how much you enjoy the personal interaction of the on site work. It helps that you are so good at it too! I can’t wait for travel restrictions to be lifted as I will be returning to the UK and specifically the Lake District for a visit. Cheers, Jeff

    1. Wahoo! So pleased to hear that you are already thinking about a return to the Lakes. It would be so good to see you. Fingers crossed for better weather this time. 🙂

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