My Week of Photography
As an amateur photographer I consider it a luxury to have a whole week to dedicate to photography. I recently took the week off of work so that I could spend more time taking photographs. This is what I got up to.
The Photography Show
My week of photography began at the Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
For me the Photography Show is a great opportunity for networking. I spent most of my time chatting with the people that I have met through photography. Renewing acquaintances and catching up with old friends.
The highlight for me was meeting Chris. He told me the inspirational story of how he developed an interest in photography from watching YouTube videos. I hope to persuade him to come on to my channel to tell his story.
I also met Joe Cornish. Joe has been one of the UK’s leading landscape photographers for many years. I have been a fan for a long time and it was a pleasure to chat to him.
I rose late on Monday and as I drove the Brothers Water I wondered if I had already missed the best sunrise of the week.
I had decided to photograph Angle Tarn in order to complete my Location Guide to the Eastern Lake District. It was already 10:00 by the time that I reached the edge of the tarn. The 3 mile long route from the Cow Bridge car park took 90 minutes to complete, the 400m ascent giving both my legs and my lungs a well overdue workout.
The conditions at the tarn made photography difficult. With heavy cloud and a strong breeze a long exposure was my only real option but the drizzle rendered exposures of over a second pointless.
It was nearly six hours before a break in the rain allowed me to get one shot that was not ruined by water droplets on my filters. Landscape photography is difficult and we don’t always come away with the image that we wanted. This was one of those occasions.
It wasn’t so much the conditions at Elterwater that caused me problems the following day but the absence of my 24-70mm lens.
Although it was still raining the wind had dropped overnight and there were reflections on both Elterwater and the River Brathay. I was just about able to operate my camera with one hand whilst sheltering it using an umbrella that I held in the other.
When shooting reflections I like to shoot at around 50mm so as to eliminate any distracting foreground. However, with without my favourite lens I was left with a gaping hole between 40 and 70mm.
In the end I opted to shoot panoramas using my telephoto lens in portrait orientation that I could then crop later in Lightroom. This was a technique that I had discussed with Gary Norman at the Photography Show a couple of days earlier and it worked a treat!
Once I had finished at Elterwater I headed to Kendal to collect my ill fated 24-70mm lens.
My favourite lens has been away for repair for 3 months and I have already had to return it once because the focusing had not been calibrated.
As I arrived at Wilkinson Cameras I had a funny feeling that all was not well. My intuition proved to be correct as upon inspection it was obvious that the barrel guide was way out, a sign that the focusing had still not been calibrated properly.
The lens had to be returned to the repairer for a second time leaving me with a dilemma. As I was going to be without it for even longer was it time to shell out for a 16-35mm lens?
The answer was yes.
On Wednesday morning I traveled to Rydal Water in the Central Lake District.
Despite there being very little light (I wouldn’t see the sun until Saturday afternoon) it was still wonderful conditions for photography. With very little wind the reflections were near perfect and mist that clung to the lake provided a wonderful atmosphere.
I spend a couple of hours making my way around the lake and came away with 3 pretty decent shots.
With a couple of successful shoots under my belt and at least 2 portfolio images in the can I decided to I could afford to spend a bit of time at home.
I had a number of boring admin tasks on my to do list. By far the most pressing was to move part of my Lightroom catalog to an external harddrive in order to free up some space on my Macbook.
Hardly exciting but I guess it’s all part of being a photographer.
I was awake at 03:00 on Thursday morning and made the on the spot decision to drive to Wast Water in the western Lake District.
It took me 1 hour 45 minutes to drive the 70 miles from my home but when I arrived the low cloud completely obscured the view I had come to photograph. Bugger.
Voted in 2007 as Britain’s Favourite View the view of the Scafell Range is a notable absence from from my portfolio. And it remains so.
Undeterred I tried a few different things eventually walking away with one of my favourite shots of 2019 so far.
That afternoon I had arranged to meet up with Jeff Ogden who was up for a few days to attend the workshop that I was running with James Burns on Saturday.
Jeff is someone that I have gotten to know through my YouTube channel. He has been incredibly supportive and is still the only person to purchase a print from my website.
We spent a few hours exploring the western shore of Derwent Water chatting like old friends as we went.
Starting at the Centennial Stone we eventually moved on to Ashness Jetty where I was able to help Jeff to get a nice long exposure.
The previous night over dinner I offered to take Jeff to Tarn Hows for a bit of a 1-2-1 session.
Tarn Hows is perfect for that sort of thing. There are so many shots to be had that if you can’t find a composition at Tarn Hows then you just aren’t trying.
We took the path that runs around the perimeter of the tarn checking out compositions on our phones as we went. I explained to Jeff what I look for in a subject and how I try to work a scene in order to show it at it’s best.
As we were walking Jeff spotted the moss covered roots of a tree. I allowed Jeff to have a go first before showing him how I would tackle it. I was reminded of the old adage that “if your photos are not good enough then you’re not close enough”.
When we had finished at Tarn Hows Jeff and I headed to Kendel to collect my new lens. I splashed out over £700 on a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L without really trying it out, so much is my confidence in Wilkinson Cameras and my audience on YouTube who had insisted it was a better bet than the 17-40mm I had been using.
Once the deal was done we met up with Ian Spicer who was also attending the workshop on Saturday. I had already met Ian at the Photography Show and the 3 of us enjoyed an excellent lunch as we chatted about photography.
Ian is a fascinating guy with so many stories to share and he kept us all well entertained for most of the weekend. He lives in the very same village in Buckinghamshire where my wife went to school proving once again what a small world it is.
Jeff and I finished off our day together with a couple of hours in front of the computer back in my office.
I took him through my post processing workflow in Lightroom, something that I have never done before.
At the end I handed control to Jeff and he processed his image of Ashness Bridge. I think he did an excellent job.
I was up early on Saturday. I wanted to make sure that I was the first to arrive. And I was, a whole hour before everyone else.
Eventually Jeff and Ian arrived and we were joined by Cat Ding. The fourth member of the gang still hadn’t arrived so we decided to start with him. Unfortunately we learned afterwards that Brian had gone to another Blea Tarn.
We started by shooting the view across the tarn towards Side Pike and the Langdale Pikes. There was no light but we tried a number of different compositions with and without the rocks in the foreground. It was pretty windy and so we all opted for long exposures.
When my fellow co-host James Burns arrived he led Jeff and Ian around to the eastern side of the tarn. I took Cat to the western side and for a few moments the wind died down and we were both able to get a shot with reflections.
We then led the group to the top of Side Pike to photograph the view of the Langdale Pikes. The plan had been to end the workshop there but no one was ready to go home. We unanimously voted to climb to the summit of Lingmoor Fell.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week of photography. I got some images that I am pleased with and I made some new friends.
Despite being a little lonely at times it has made me more determined to find a way to be able to spend more time on my photography.