It has been a while since my last blog post so I thought I would share with you a bit of an insight into my favourite photography location, Wasdale.
Between the ages of 8 and 14 years I was very fortunate to be able to wake up every morning to the sight of the Wasdale fells from my bedroom window. A view that no-one could ever tire of, this ever changing scene was coloured green during the spring and summer, golden brown in autumn and with a dusting of white in winter. Needless to say, as an adult I find myself returning to this place more and more with my camera.
I have taken thousands of photographs of Wasdale over the past 9 years since buying my first camera, but every time I go there I find something slightly different. The view from the lake side looking down the valley towards Great Gable is one of the most photographed scenes in The Lake District. However, due to the ever changing (and often unpredictable) weather conditions that occur around this area, the same scene can look totally different in a matter of moments. As can be seen in the images below, this view looks completely different depending on the time of year and the weather conditions. (Click on any of the images to view large)
It is all too easy to settle for some shots at the lakeside, as it is only a few yards from the car, however Wasdale has far more to offer in terms of photography. Personally I like to head past the lake, up to the end of the valley where lies Wasdale Head. From there you can walk up some of the most iconic mountains in The Lake District, Great Gable, Scafell Pike etc. but I am just as happy following the many rivers and streams along the valleys that branch off in between the fells. Mosedale and Sty Head Pass are 2 of my favourites, especially following a rain storm when the water cascades from the fells and low lingering clouds cling to their sides. The rugged landscape broken up with ribbons of white water is perfect for some really atmospheric images.
Over the past 2 weekends I have made 2 visits to this area, and on both occasions decided to follow Lingmell Beck up from Wasdale Head towards Sty Head Pass. On the first of these visits conditions were good when I arrived an hour or so before sunrise and there was a decent amount of water running off the fells following some rain the day before. As the morning light began to brighten I had to weigh up my options. Do I set up lower down the valley and hope for some sunrise colour looking down towards the lake, where the sky was breaking and clouds clearing, or push on further up the river and look for a composition facing the opposite direction. In the end I chose to carry on and was rewarded with a few moments of colour in the clouds as the sun rose behind the mountains.
After sunrise I spent a couple of hours looking for different compositions and also looking for other possible opportunities for a different day. I made my way along the river checking out the various pools and cascades, also looking further up the mountains as the clouds briefly rolled in before disappearing again. There was so much going on around me with the clouds and occasional patches of sunlight I didn’t know where to look. It is all too easy to try and shoot every possible composition but I have found that it is better to focus on 1 or 2 ideas and try to perfect those first. I have been guilty in the past of rushing around trying to get a load of different images but instead of returning home with 3 or 4 really good images that I am happy with, I have ended up with 100 or more that are all no good. It is very disappointing when you get home after shooting in excellent conditions to find that you aren’t happy with any of your images and they all get deleted! In short, slow down, take your time and get the shot!
I could have spent all day wandering around that area, but time was limited so I had to bite the bullet and head off back down into the valley. I did however make a few stops on the way, to capture some of the wonderful light that was breaking through the clouds, temporarily lighting up parts of the landscape. The image below left was taken looking across to Mosedale with sunlight on the side of Red Pike, and below right is Great Gable with it’s summit shrouded in mist. With conditions like that I just had to stop :-)
The following Sunday morning I returned to the same area, along with Damian (https://flic.kr/ps/L44uU), hoping to explore slightly further upstream on Lingmell Beck. Conditions were very similar to my previous visit when we arrived although sunrise offered an even better red glow in the sky for a while. We had set up in roughly the same area to where I was shooting last time in anticipation of sunrise. The rocky river with its many cascades offered several different options for a good composition. Once the sunrise colour had dissipated we moved on further up the river to see what we could find. Before too long we stopped again to get some more images when we spotted a couple of good compositions. However, as we were setting up, the skies darkened and the rain started to fall. We quickly grabbed a few shots but struggled to keep the raindrops off our filters. The forecast was for further showers later that morning so we weighed up our options before deciding to pack up and head back down the valley for a well earned coffee.
As you can see, Wasdale is a magical place and I hope this blog helps to show why it is my favourite place for photography. There are so many different options depending on the weather and whether you want to stay near the lake or wander further afield. However, it can also be very a hostile place. It is very easy to get caught out as the weather can change in an instant. I have been caught out myself when a sudden and very intense rain storm moved up the valley accompanied by gale force winds. Fortunately I was prepared with waterproof clothing and the sense to turn back. I have seen so many idiots who think it is ok to walk up a mountain in T-shirt and trainers with no other equipment. It really isn’t! It only takes a moment for the cloud to close in and visibility is reduced to zero. Combine that with wind, rain, snow or ice and you can get into trouble very quickly. The mountain rescue teams are called out far too many times to people like this who have got into trouble when the weather changes, or have simply underestimated their ability and not turned back until it is too late. I know my limits and due to bad knees (which in everyday life don’t effect me), I can no longer risk walking up mountains as I suffer pain when walking back down again. That is why 90% of my photographs are taken from valleys, lake side or at the coast. If you do want to go up into the mountains, make sure you are prepared for all weathers and make sure you know what to do if you get into trouble. Stay safe :-)
Below are a few other images from around Wasdale that I have taken over the past few years.