Five steps to great Lake District photographs in Autumn!
Summer is starting to fade and the onset of Autumn reminds us that in many respects, here in the UK we are lucky – we have four very distinct seasons. Autumn comes with vibrant, earthy colours and dramatic skies. When better to sharpen your photography skills? We’ve put together a list of considerations and asked some of the experts too, for advice on photographing the stunning backdrop that is the Lake District, without the need for fancy and expensive equipment.
1) Location, location, location
It sounds obvious, but if you want to take some great shots of Autumnal landscapes, then a little forward thinking is the place to start. Choose your location wisely, taking into account things like the weather, how easy the location is to get to and the things you will need along the way. What is vital with a location is that it gives you a pivotal subject for your pictures – a view of a particular fell or lake for example or a memory you’re keen to capture. It’s also a good idea to consider elevation. Often a great landscape photo will be taken from an elevated position, giving a better vantage point for composition.
2) The golden hour
The golden hour occurs twice daily and is the time just after sunrise and the time just before sunset – the sun is low in the sky and the light is diffused and can make for excellent photos. No matter what time of day you are taking photographs, try to be aware of the light. Where is it coming from and how it may affect your photo. Remember, in photography it is light that you are actually capturing. Try to remember that, generally speaking, if the sun is on your back you will get well lit shots, whereas if it’s shining in your eyes, you’re more likely to get silhouettes in your photo’s.
Read to the bottom for great tips from experts
3) The technical stuff
Lots of people are put off by the technical aspects of taking photo’s, but here are two aspects that are easy to understand and to utilise. Most people are able to change some of their camera settings, even if you’re just using the camera on you’re smartphone. If you have a White Balance setting, switch it to Auto or Auto Warm, this ensures your camera captures the Autumn colours faithfully.
Finally, Helvellyn and its lunaesque features make for an excellent photo opportunity, whether you shoot from low or elevated position, you’ll find that you can achieve some excellent results. Try taking pictures with Red Tarn acting as a central feature – this dark and imposing water is a great contrast to the land surrounding it.
4) Be prepared
The Lake District is a wild and rugged place and so make sure you are prepared. Good walking shoes or boots are an essential, as are waterproofs and don’t forget your camera – make sure you have a waterproof bag that you can use to protect your camera should the weather get too bad. Some sort of umbrella may also be a wise move as will enable you to continue taking photographs during downpours of rain.
5) Filters are a must!
Whilst you may think it is the weather, wind and rain, you’re up against when photographing the Lake District, when in fact it is light, too much or too little, that is your biggest challenge!
And this is where filters will really make a difference to your landscape photography, especially when up against ‘challenging’ light conditions! Here are the two important ones and what they actually do.
Polarizing Filter – Perfect for darkening skies, used generally when the sky is too blue! This can enhance contrast with clouds for example. A polarizing filter is also used to manage glare from reflections from surfaces such as water, the sea or lakes, so a well-used filter in our beautiful Lake District!
As you go out and test these tips, we’d love to hear your experiences and see your photographs.
Before you head out, more super advice….read on!
Tips from the experts
Terry Abraham, videographer and filmmaker, currently working on ‘Life of a Mountain: Blencathra’, premieres May 2016 and forms part of a planned trilogy following on from the critically acclaimed ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike’.
“It would be ‘patience is a virtue’. The best times of day for photography are the hour before/after sunrise and sunset. The low angle of the sun enhances the details and contrast of the fells. Also that golden glow of light further adds to any scenes. It’s different in winter though. Not only does the snows transform the fells but the sun is always low in the sky.”
Terry, who prides himself on not using any ‘digital trickery’ in his work, has been known to wait six hours to get a perfect shot, and often sets off at 3am to beat the light! He chooses his location, and like a Herdwick sheep, keeps to his heaf, watching as the landscape changes and waits ready to ‘snap’, ‘click’ or ‘capture’ that amazing moment when the sun breaks through some low hanging clouds or a perfect sunset stretches out.
Robert Birkby is a landscape photographer interested in a range of styles and heads out no matter what the weather;
Keep an eye on the weather forecast as it’s pretty accurate these days and you can suit your style of photography to the conditions.
If blessed with high pressure, get out of bed early as those cool, still nights of autumn tend to form mist and fog in the valleys which can make for wonderful images. Either head into the woodland where you can use the mist to add another dimension to your photographs, perhaps with shafts of sunlight bursting through the trees, or if you’re feeling fit climb onto one of the fells and look down on the blanket of mist.
If the sun is shining, try shooting into the sun, preferably early or late in the day when the light is weaker. The autumnal leaves can look spectacular when backlit.
Don’t despair if it’s dull or raining. Damp weather only helps bring out those autumn hues, which can really glow against grey skies. If possible invest in a circular polarising filter, which simply screws onto the lens to cut out glare from the shiny wet leaves. This really makes those colours ping!
Lakelovers’ very own photographer Philip Green is a fan of film over digital capturing, especially for high resolution imagery. Here’s what he told us;
Although it is fairly important to try and factor in perfect weather conditions to your photography I have found on many occasions that the weathers unpredictability (especially in the Lake District) can make this a ‘chasing your tail’ kind of exercise.
But with unpredictability can come the unexpected, allowing for the capture of images that record the varying moods of the area that perhaps wouldn’t have been attained if you had held off for the perfect conditions!
I find this especially true for Black and white images.
James Bell is a well known Lake District Landscape Photographer. He sells prints of his Lake District Landscapes worldwide and you may have seen some of his landscapes in John Lewis department stores across the UK! James’ key advice on taking successful landscape photographs in the Lakes is to take on the challenge of bad weather;
There’s no such thing as perfect weather for the landscape photographer, here in the Lake District. Don’t be afraid to head out with you camera on a cloudy or wet day as quite often the weather can change quickly. The best advice I can offer is to always have your camera with you. Even on a dull looking day the beauty of the Lake District can still be seen, even if it’s for a brief moment, it’s there, everyday, you just have to change your perspective and look for details within the wider scene. A good photographer can make an interesting image in any situation, that’s why I love the Lake District, as quite often the challenge of the conditions makes for more rewarding images!
UK based photographer, Roger Green creates images that bring back “happy memories” and his landscape work can be seen on the cover of glossy magazine titles such as Lancashire Life, as well as picking up awards. Here’s his super-useful tips:
If you’re new to photography and have just bought yourself a DSLR, firstly, learn about the camera and its setting. Using it on full auto is great to build your confidence, but to get the best out of your new purchase, try and move to one of the manual modes. Landscape photographers tend to use Aperture Priority Mode (A or AV on the dial) and usually set it to between F11 and F16, as this gives the best depth of field for landscapes. Depending on weather conditions set ISO (Film Speed) to 200 if using hand held, as this should give a decent shutter speed (1/60 or above) or preferable, use a tripod (always recommended for Landscapes) and set ISO to 100.
- Use google maps to identify locations as it also has photo’s at the bottom that other people have taken, so you can see how your photo may look.
- Use the Photographer Ephemeris as this will give you all your information on times of the sunrise/sunsets and the direction of the sunset/sunrise.
- Above all else, ENJOY yourself
Finally, some inspiration!