A View, a Camera and You - Ennerdale


Award-winning photographer Mark Gilligan presents the first in a series of tips to help you get the best from your camera

The beauty about the Lake District is its diversity and the way it reacts to the changing seasons, allowing us an unlimited number of opportunities to see its moods and capture them with our cameras.

For the first in this series, I have chosen Ennerdale in the Western Lakes. It’s readily accessible and never fails to impress when you see it. The myriad viewpoints this magnificent water offers should be readily explored.

For most arriving at a location, they will jump out of the car and start taking pictures. While they represent great ‘memory’ shots, this series will give you a few pointers so that you can take better, structured images.

When I go out to take photographs, I look long and hard before I even consider taking a shot. Sometimes I have an editor’s brief in mind but I always shoot ‘for me’ too and it’s worthwhile taking your time. Obviously this will require a degree of local knowledge but a chat in the pub the night before with ‘those in the know’ usually proves fruitful. Enjoyable too!

Always plan your trip so that you know where the light will be at the time your thinking of going. What’s the weather going to be like? It changes by the minute so never take it for granted even in the low lying areas.

Always plan around safety and let someone know exactly where you are going.

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So, when you get to your location, remember that patience is a virtue. Camera in hand, find a scene that pleases you, one that’s balanced as you look through the viewfinder. Look for shapes in the landscape, natural rock formations for instance, leading lines that draw the eye towards your objective and compose. Don’t just put the camera up to your eyes and ‘click’. That’s snapping.

There is nothing complicated in the way this image is captured and I was initially drawn to the pool, old gate post and fence as they naturally present themselves as my initial attraction.

I call it ‘the ‘draw’. There is interest all over the frame to pull the viewer in across the water to ‘Pillar’ in the distance.

Be patient and wait for the clouds to create their natural pattern further enhancing it. While this it isn’t a blue sky postcard it’s a dramatic view of a very beautiful place.

As I always say, it’s no good having a picture that is technically good when the compositional fails. The two have to go hand in hand to create that pleasing view. This particular vista changes minute by minute depending upon weather, seasons and light which is why I return here time after time.

You should too!

Let’s get technical

Camera: Canon 5dmk2; Lens: Canon 17-40 L series: Shutter speed: F11 @ 1/320th sec, ISO 100; Filter: Graduated Lee mid soft; Giottos Carbon Tripod.

Lancashire Life freelance Mark Gilligan and TV personality and researcher from the ‘Wainwright Walks’ television series, David Powell Thompson, stage one day walks ‘A View, a Camera and You’ in the Lake District.

Full details can be found at www.wastwaterphotography.co.uk and on Twitter at @wastwater1

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