Final Major Project · Research

The Mountains Were Calling…

A few weeks ago I travelled back home to the Lake District to spend 12 days shooting images for my final major project. I love the Lakes and feel so lucky to have such wonderful landscapes on my doorstep to explore whenever I want. So I packed up my car with my camera, walking boots, maps, a compass and a long list of places to visit, praying for some good weather to motivate me into getting out and about. And how lucky I was! The first 2 days I was back were beautiful with blue sky and sunshine meaning I instantly managed to tick off a few places on my list of chosen locations. After a couple of days of non-stop walking and exploring I did start to feel the effects and had a day off at home editing the photos I’d already taken. That proved to be a bad move as I then started trying to make excuses not to go out on other days because I was tired and “I can always go another day”. But in the end I snapped out of it and forced myself to get up and out for another few days in a row – it would have been stupid not to take advantage of the good weather as it’s a rare thing in the Lakes to get a good run of sunny days!

At the end of my 12 days at home I looked back and was really pleased with the work I’d done. I ticked off all but one of my locations (due to a day of pretty bad weather and flood warnings – as I said, the sun never lasts long in Cumbria) and I now have a good collection of images to get my project going again after my trip to Brimham Rocks last month. I am still playing with the theme of having a figure in the landscape to show the scale, power, and sheer beauty of the natural environment. I shot in a mixture of locations including mountains tops, rocky crags, and lake shores, using models and also self-portraits with a tripod and a remote shutter release.

When using a model I could try out a few different angles and compositions quickly and easily as I didn’t need to set up a tripod and could ask them to move slightly if needed. However, when I shot the self-portraits I sometimes found it difficult to get the composition right as I would have to try and envisage the image without someone in the frame first, then run back to the tripod after to see whether or not I’d got it right. It was sometimes difficult but quite fun at the same time and I actually ended up really enjoying doing self-portraits. At first I thought the solo hikes would get lonely but I was able to go at my own pace and stop as often as necessary for photos without worrying about being a pain for whoever I was walking with! I could also spend as long as I wanted in each location and wasn’t limited by someone else’s busy schedule making me rush.

On some of my shoots (both self portrait and with a model) I tried out using a slow shutter speed, more specifically when at lake side locations in order to smooth out the ripples in the water. I have done this many times in the past when shooting ordinary landscapes and waterfalls, but I have never tried it with a person in the frame! I wasn’t sure how well it would go as whoever it was being photographed would have to hold the same position for 20-30 seconds depending what shutter speed I used. Now, standing still for 20 seconds sounds like a pretty easy task, but let me assure you it’s actually more difficult than you might think! I wanted as little movement as humanly possible so the images would still come out sharp, and the first few goes weren’t as successful as I’d hoped. However, patience and perseverance paid off and we got the hang of it in the end! I’m really pleased I decided to try it out as the end results look really good (if I do say so myself)! I think they have a softer feel to them and create an almost dreamy atmosphere.

Now that I’m back at uni again I’ve got time to plan some more locations to visit, and also have my trip to Iceland to look forward to!

Here are a few of my favourite images from my time in the Lakes …

Wast Water_35

Catbells_49 Alcock Tarn_65 Gummers How_15 Alcock Tarn_59

Look our for more posts as the project unfolds!

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