Photography tips by Mark Gilligan - Winter

Latrigg towards Blencathra on a winters afternoon

Latrigg towards Blencathra on a winters afternoon - Credit: Archant

Mark Gilligan visits Latrigg on a winter trip

There is an old expression ‘Winter draws on’. Now I never know if that’s a comment about the seasons or just good advice but at this time of year we never know just what the weather is going to do.

The dank, dark mornings will suddenly be punctuated with bright, crisp, blue sky days, where your breath is at its most ‘visible’ and its on that type of day that I like to go out and take a few pictures.

Of course it’s also the time of frost and snow. Another reason to go out and capture scenes in locations that look so different from their ‘norm.’

If your like me, we can find that its too easy to sit inside and hibernate, so what could be better than getting well wrapped up, going for a walk and taking the camera with you?

Now many will disagree with this but I am not stupid. Whilst I advocate a trundle up on the fells in winter time, I am also very mindful of the risk factors that this season brings. Check where you are going to first and don’t take any chances. Its not just the icy roads. The winds can be lethal. On the day this photograph was taken the wind chill was -4 and the blowing gales had me weighing the tripod down with rocks in a carrier bag!

Photography in cold weather needs care and preparation.

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The image I have chosen for this month’s piece is one taken on top of Latrigg. It is one of my favourite locations as the views from up there are simply stunning. Whichever way you look you are captivated by the scenery. The beauty of this place is that if you don’t want to walk all the way up from Keswick you can easily drive up and finish the last few hundred yards on foot.

Most people who venture up there normally choose to take images overlooking Derwent Water or the Vale of St John but try and break out from the norm. Wander around and see if you can find a view that is different. Its something I always tell people on my workshops. Its too easy to conform and try and copy something you have seen but changing position, getting lower down and seeing things from a different perspective can and will pay dividends.

Whenever I have visited Latrigg, I have been drawn to this tree yet in most circumstances it doesn’t always lend itself to being in a picture.

Sometimes what you think will work wont. Could be the light, the position you can attain or how you place it in the frame. However, on this particular day it stood out.

David and I had gone up there researching a route for the ‘A View A camera and You’ series and as we walked towards Blencathra and approached the tree I could see this shot ‘appear’. At first it wasn’t obvious but as I moved further down the fell, off the path, the right ‘line’ appeared and I took it. The light was strong and hard and so I chose a small aperture of F22 and all I had to do was wait for the cloud to line up in the frame and then I ‘clicked’.

It is a picture that allows the tree to become the focal point of the image, big in the frame yet it doesn’t destroy the vista. It also places it in the landscape and of course marks the time of year down as winter.

I have been back a few times since but it didn’t have the same appeal and my camera stayed in the bag. That’s another good thing to remember. Don’t always feel the need to take pictures. Only press the shutter when it needs to be done. If you don’t you’ll just subject yourself to wading through a myriad of images that are meaningless and you wont keep.

So, I hope you feel inspired to get on out there and don’t waste time.

Remember ‘winter draws on’……

Technical details;

Camera Canon 5dmk2

Canon Ef 17- 40 L series lens

F22 @ 1/25th sec,

ISO 100

Lee Mid soft Graduated Filter

Cable release

Giottos Carbon Tripod

Mark Gilligan along with TV personality and researcher from the ‘Wainwright Walks’ television series, David Powell Thompson run their one day guided walks ‘A View a Camera and You’ in the Lake District. Full details about those and their one to one photographic workshops can be found at and on Twitter at @wastwater1