Sunday, 27 June 2010

Grey grit between stepping stones...

Going to Patterdale (a village at the bottom of Ullswater lake in the Lake District) this weekend was always going to be a bit hit and miss I thought to myself. Ullswater Steamers which run boat cruses on the lake had a photography competition on and so, doubtful as I was to go I thought I'd it a bash with the old idea that "nothing ventured, nothing gained" or perhaps "I might as well push myself, I have just as much chance of something good as bad" and so caught the bus down to in the hope that I might photograph some worthy entries. My reasons for being hesitant by the way was that this was a whole new ball game. I have never worked like this before, nothing was certain, but it was good practice. I had to think like a pro, learn to see an opportunity and work in the moment. I have to say I did miss a few.

This time the morning woke up groggily. I pulled myself out from under my tarp and surveyed the situation. Bellow the rocky outcrop I was on I could see the water enshrouded in a cold fog and the road running as a ribbon along the far shore. Everything was grey. The sky, the water, hills, trees, the lot. The light just seemed to flat line from daybreak, this morning really hated itself. But as I packed my things away and clambered back onto the path I saw the strangest sun I have ever seen. It burnt its way through the cloud cover like the red smoulder of a cigarette, a perfectly round near orange to blood red sun in the sea of grey sky. I tried to take a shot of it but no luck. The photograph above is where I started the morning.

Brothers water is a tiny lake thats waters flow into ullwater via connecting rivers. Its surrounded on one side by ancient oak woodland and is an absolutely stunning place for some wildlife watching. This was where I spent the Sunday.
I couldn't sleep, a time check told me it was midnight. I thought about it and then decided enough was enough, time for a early start. Brothers water was eerily still as I entered hours before dawn. Sitting beside the shore near to where the lake narrowed to carry on it's flow as a river I paused to listen to the night and sort my gear out. Headlights in the distance could be seen occasionally as cars came over the hills, their beams illuminating the sky like search lights funnelling off into darkness before descending back onto the road. It was only me, the fish, some rowdy blokes in a house on the far side and their dogs awake at this hour in the morning. I could hear their voices travelling out over the lake and the beat of music pulsing just audible in the still air. Its amazing that even where silence reigns there will always be someone to ruin it. Splashes in the water in front of me as fish broke the surface to feed on midges and two tawnys called just behind me quite low down in one of the trees. Pasties for breakfast. I swear by them as they last well, don't need cooking, taste nice and are everything I need on a good trek.
As I was finishing breakfast the moon came out and I took this image. I had to hold the shutter down for five minutes to get this exposure and I timed it on my phone just to make sure. The midges were giving me hell. It was virtually impossible to stay still for five minutes with them around and so I did get camera shake in most of my images.
On the wildlife side of things highlights of the trip were 3 spotted fly catcher, nesting swifts, 2 mistle thrush and 2 female goosanders both with 7 chicks each so I think it was worth the visit.

As an additional, the things I missed my chance on was once at the crag pictured where the sun was low and four lads were standing looking out over the lake, another was sitting on the ground. They looked the part for a good winning people shot on the crag and it did cross my mind to ask if I could photograph them for the competition but I ended up letting a good chance slide as I weighed up asking them then decided against it. Another main one was a triathlon where a hundred or so people swam so far, ran so far and cycled the last leg. Why I never considered photographing this I don't know. The third and final thing I really should have been on the ball with was photographing a international motorbike group that was in the town. They more than anyone are the kind of people to show off for the camera. This one I never realised until I caught the bus back. Talk about things staring you in the face. Lesson learned.

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