High Water

Poor lighting doesn’t have to lead to poor photos. As I describe in this article, I still managed to capture some great images on a recent trip to the Lake District when the sun didn’t appear

During a photo workshop in England’s beautiful Lake District, I was really surprised to see the water levels of most lakes higher than I have ever seen them before. What was shocking, however, was the height the water level had been prior to our visit and during the recent floods. One quick look at the remnants of the flood would testify that items such as jetties or boathouses had been well under water. I was trying to imagine how different the place must have looked and yet my imagination could not stretch that far. This picture showcases the situation. You can only try to imagine what the place looked like with an additional 3 metres of water.

On day one we started with a pre-dawn shoot at Castlerigg Stone Circle, only to be disappointed when the expected sunrise failed to materialise. Nevertheless, we didn’t need to worry as the weather forecast was for lovely clear sky for the rest of the week.

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So, we continued our day by photographing at the north side of Buttermere and the plan was to head for Lattrig where the views of the area are spectacular – what a perfect spot for an outstanding sunset. However, as we started heading up the hill, we were faced with a sign saying that the road was closed. We decided to continue our adventure by the side of Derwent Water (a lake) instead and stay there till the last light, whatever light would be available for the rest of the day.

What exactly do you do when you are faced with flat and uninspiring light? It is very simple really. There is such a variety of techniques at our disposal today that all you need is a clear head and plenty of inspiration, as well as available time to concentrate and work on the landscape. I have found that rushing things simply doesn’t work in landscape photography.

In this case, I was intrigued by the partially submerged tree and jetty. I decided to combine them in the frame as well as catching the last light on the distant hillside. The low cloud and the ripples on the water’s surface added absolutely nothing to the mood of the picture. Instead, I found that they took part of it away. A long exposure of 120 seconds was more than enough to ensure the peaceful and tranquil feel I wanted to convey through this image.

During my years as a professional photographer I have come to realise that what makes a good picture is the eye behind the camera and a high amount of inspiration. That day we had inspiration in abundance. Location, technicalities and everything else come in second place.

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