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Who could want for better scenery for the second event of “Walking with your Camera” than that which is found at Buttermere in the heart of the English Lake District. The group of 16 photographers were all very enthusiastic as they arrived throughout the late afternoon, with lots of Oooo’s and Arrrrrr’s at the imposing grandeur of High Stile, Goat Crag and conversation about their own “White Knuckle Ride” down Honister Pass.

Alan Paul the group leader gave the first briefing before dinner with a short demonstration from myself on how to keep one’s camera dry should the traditional Cumbrian weather give us its normal “Four Seasons” in one day routine. It is wonderful what you can do with a few elastic bands and a bin bag!

After dinner it was down to the business of sorting out the settings of the many makes and sizes of cameras, everything from DSLR’s with multiple lenses and filters to small compacts and bridge cameras. Including one owner with a brand new Canon DSLR, just out of its box, with the battery charged up two days before arriving for the course!

Most people were ready for my suggestion of changing their camera settings from taking the normal jpg format, to taking one RAW file and one JPG as well as changing the mode from Automatic to AV or similar settings.

I had suggested to the group that I would be available each morning over the three days for a drive down to Derwentwater to capture sunrise. I even got an overwhelming response and no less than 11 of the 16 photographers were very keen on the idea. We met in the hallway of Hassness House at 5am. Some had been up slightly earlier and managed to grab a quick cuppa before venturing out. The weather initially looked anything but inspiring however; we piled into three cars and set off for Derwentwater slightly later than I had hoped.

On our arrival at the lakeside, there were some wonderful, cloudy atmospherics playing over Skiddaw and Blencathra which made it all feel worthwhile. Then as the time came for the sun to break the horizon the upper part of the sky was slightly tinted with a pinkish hue. Nothing spectacular, but enough to warrant a few extra photographs.

I spent my time giving one-to-one instruction to everyone as they stretched out along the Western Shore of the lake. I find myself giving lots of practical information about image composition, the use of strong foreground items, plus shutter speeds, ISO settings, filters, etc. Then all too soon it was time to return to Hassness for a well deserved breakfast before setting off on our main walk for the day.

Our main walk for the first day was the ridge of High Stile. Our choice was to travel via Scale Force rather than cutting straight up to Bleaberry Tarn. This way we had some lovely views to photograph looking back along Buttermere as well as along the length of Crummock Water. We had a quick Elevenses break at Scale Force with people eating part of their packed lunch at the same time as taking photographs of the waterfall, the bridge and Scale Beck.

When we reached the summit of Red Pike there were several gasps of “WOW” at the view which greeted us. The weather had remained cloudy with patches of sunlight but visibility was 100% and we could see the Solway Firth with the Scottish Mountains behind. However, stretched out in front of us was the entire length of Crummock Water with Rannerdale Knotts and Whiteless Pike on the far bank reaching up to the sky. Before and during our lunch break on Red Pike many photographs were taken of the surrounding mountains and atmospheric drama which only the Lakes can supply.

After completing the walk up to High Stile Ridge and then on to High Crag, dropping down steeply to Scarth Gap Pass, enjoying many stops for photographs along the way. Unfortunately, our leader Alan placed his foot on a loose stone at the beginning of the descent to Scarth Gap Pass and injured his ankle. Whilst still able to walk with only a modicum of pain we exchanged places, me taking back marker and Alan taking the lead. Into the bargain the weather also changed and we were pelted with hailstones and rain for much of our descent down to Peggy’s Bridge and Buttermere. Tired and wet but still talking about the views and images which they had taken we slowly made our way back to the accommodation at Hassness House.

After dinner that evening although still feeling the effects of a long ridge walk we somehow found the energy to walk down to the water’s edge of Buttermere.  The sun was setting over a totally still and flat lake with not a ripple to break-up the mirror-like reflection of that day’s walk; High Stile Ridge.

The following morning we were up a little earlier and set off for another sunrise session at Derwentwater just below Brandlehow Park, setting off just before 5am with a much smaller group of only four! This time we were lucky enough to have some wonderful colour in the lower clouds around Skiddaw and Blencathra just before the sun broke the horizon.

For the tutorial session that day the group was split; half went for a short walk with the group leader in the morning and the other half were left to have instruction from me on processing both Jpeg and RAW images and discussing the differences between them. The group enjoyed the tutorial and found that by using RAW Files it was possible to do so much more and produce much better quality images when processing.

After dinner that evening we noticed that Buttermere once again had a mirror-like stillness over its surface and we ventured forth to the waters edge for further images of the setting sun.

The following morning we were off early once again to Derwentwater for our final sunrise. Numbers were back up and we had to take two cars across to Brandlehow Park. The weather was less than inspiring with lots of thick white cloud when we left Buttermere and it did not improve once we got into Borrowdale. However, we enthusiastically descended through the Park and on to the water’s edge. We were all pleasantly surprised to find the lake was almost as smooth as Buttermere had been the night before. Whilst there wasn’t much colour in the sky we were able to capture a few atmospheric images with good reflections of the surrounding mountains.

After breakfast it was decided that I would lead the members of the group that wanted to do another ridge walk. Whilst Alan, still feeling the effects of his fall would look after the members who wished to stay behind and take a stroll around Buttermere.

I took my part of the group over to Little Town in the Newlands Valley for a circular walk up to High Spy Cairn, with grand views over Derwent Water and Bassenthwait Lake as well as views of the eastern fells including Helvellyn. Visibility was good for most of the time although the light was rather flat it did allow us to capture a waterfall in the valley below Dale Head.

We arrived back to the cars in very good time. So with time in hand I took the group over to Watendlath, stopping for the classic Lakeland images of Ashness Bridge, Surprise View and Watendlath Bridge and Tarn. Stopping also at the local café for teas and coffees and to be entertained by the many Chaffinches which were feeding in the grounds.

Once back at Hassness, the members who had stayed with the group leader Alan, had been taking images of the local wildlife display in the grounds. They had been able to capture images of a red squirrel and several small birds plus a woodpecker. Very soon everyone wanted images and there were photographers in the garden, at the windows, hiding in the vegetation and any other vantage point which could be found!

The Hassness House hosts, Carole and Brian had previously moved the bird feeders along to the edge of the lounge and dining room so that the display could be enjoyed by the guests. It was very much a success with my group of photographers and for the next few hours all the conversation was about who had captured a close-up view of the woodpecker.

After dinner, we had our final briefing and some feedback from the group. All had enjoyed the trip and had found it beneficial to their photographic skills and knowledge. It was certainly a good time had by all, easy bite-sized chunks of learning with lots of laughter and enjoyment on the photographic walks. I have already had several Thank You messages sent to me and I thank each and everyone for your kind remarks.

Commissioned by Ramblers Countrywide Holidays to take a group of walkers/photographers on a three day outing to Northumberland.

Ramblers first ever “Walking with your Camera” holiday in Northumberland was an instant success with the group of enthusiastic photographers. A mixture of sites of interest twinned with the magnificent landscapes of the Cheviot Hills, plus a comfortable hotel on the edge of the Northumberland National Park gave clients a rewarding and photographic experience.

The first evening and following morning was spent sorting out the settings of the many makes and sizes of cameras, everything from large DSLR’s with multiple lenses to small compacts which slip in your pocket. The suggestion to members of the group that they might like to try taking RAW images and come away from fully automatic settings which normally produce Jpegs didn’t go down very well at first.

Taking people out of their “comfort zone” is never easy and whilst several members readily accepted the change over a few others were unconvinced at first. The solution was to set each camera to take one RAW image and also one Jpeg which would allow them to experiment later after some instruction from myself. This way they still had a jpeg should they wish to use it…nothing lost and only possible gain!

Our first morning was spent in the Northumberland National Park visiting Harbottle Village and the Drake Stone in the scenic valley of Coquetdale. The morning was dry and bright with reasonably good lighting but with a slightly chilly wind. The first photographic stop was halfway to the Drake Stone in order to take some images of the small Village of Harbottle and the surrounding countryside.

Considerable time was spent giving one-to-one instruction to those who had chosen to work with new exposure settings; combined with information about general composition and the use of strong foreground features within an image, for every member of the group.

The introduction of the “Sunny 16 Rule” got everyone thinking and talking about the light and their aperture settings, shutter speeds and ISO setting. It even brought others out from their comfort zone and a few more cameras were changed over to semi-manual settings.

Then onwards and upwards to the Drake Stone and Harbottle Lake. At the Stone we had a quick elevenses break and further images were taken of the surrounding countryside. At the lake it was more questions and answers about slow shutter speeds and how to blur the water surface. We left the Lake as the clouds were rolling-in and with most of the group repeating the “Sunny 16 Rule” and adjusting their apertures to suit the new lighting conditions.

After completing the circular walk back to Harbottle Village, we enjoyed many stops for photographs along the way. We then had a spot of lunch as we waited for the coach to arrive and transport us back to the Hotel. Most of the conversation was about the new settings and how better their images looked. Small groups of two’s and three’s were reviewing and showing-off the images which they were happy with.

For the afternoon tutorial session the group was split; half to go for a short walk with Alan Paul the group leader and the other half were left to have instruction on processing both Jpeg and RAW images and the differences between them. The group enjoyed the afternoon tutorial and found that by using RAW files it was possible to produce much better quality images.

Wednesday morning. Up early and transported to Holy Island to capture Lindisfarne Castle at sunrise. The light was wonderful as we neared the Island but the clouds were rolling-in fast. A few of the group who were quick to set up tripods and cameras did manage to capture the last of the light before the sky went flat.

The only person who I feel a little sorry for was the amateur photographer who was already on the island when we arrived. Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle is normally a very quiet place where one can more or less expect to be alone in the peace and quiet of the morning. That poor man must have wondered what on earth was happening when 14 photographers descended from nowhere and all began seeking out space to place their tripods and bags. My sincere apologies for disturbing your early morning solitude and I hope you were successful with your images.

Back to the Hotel for a spot of well-earned and needed breakfast. After which, I gave my processing tutorial to the second group whilst the others went off with Alan for a walk around Humbleton Hill. Once again the group enjoyed the tutorial and found that many more things were possible when processing RAW images.

After lunch we all headed off to the picturesque Harthope Valley to capture views of The Cheviot and the surrounding countryside. Some members of the group were happy to stay in the valley whilst others wanted to climb up to the lower crags of Hedgehope Hill. Alan and I split the group once again in order to suit everyone’s needs and whilst he took a party along the valley I took a small group up to the crags for some moody, atmospheric images of The Cheviot, the largest hill within the Northumbrian National Park.

That evening we were supposed to go out before dinner to capture the sunset, but due to the heavy overcast sky I proposed that I do another tutorial on image processing. This time I took one RAW image from everyone in the group and gave a small critique whilst processing the image and talking them through what I was doing. This was very successful and they were all asking questions about processing and processing packages. In fact, it was so successful that one of the party who had previously said that he wasn’t interested in processing his images has now been somewhat converted!

The following day we went off to Bamburgh Castle for the morning. Taking images of the castle from the sand dunes and other things of interest on the beach, including a few candid images of each other.

That afternoon we were transported to the causeway of Holy Island and we walked the 3.5 miles onto the island. The weather had changed and whilst the sky had some definition, it certainly was not the most inviting of skies for photography. After a discussion about their apertures and shutter speeds the group followed as I lead them around the island to some of the more interesting aspects.

© Maureen Paul 2011

After dinner, we had our final briefing and some feedback from the group. All had enjoyed the trip and had found it beneficial to their photographic skills and knowledge. It was certainly a good time had by all, easy bite-sized chunks of learning with lots of laughter and enjoyment on the photographic walks. I have already had several Thank You messages sent to me and I thank each and everyone for your kind remarks.

www.davidlewins.co.uk

Bamburgh Castle is an imposing castle located on the coast at Bamburgh in Northumberland, England. It is a Grade I listed building.

Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau high above the Northumberland coastline Bamburgh is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

The great fortification of Bamburgh Castle sits on an outcrop of volcanic dolerite. Known locally as whinstone for the sound it makes when hit by a stonemasons hammer, it provides a natural throne upon which the castle sits forty five metres above sea level.

www.davidlewins.co.uk

“Northumberland National Park, England’s most tranquil place, whose dramatic hills and sheltered valleys stretch from Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish Borders. “

Northumberland National Park is the northernmost national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1030 km between the Scottish Border in the north to just south of Hadrian’s Wall. It is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks. The park lies entirely within Northumberland, covering about a quarter of the county.

The Cheviot – Harthope Burn

Humbleton Hill – Wooler

www.davidlewins.co.uk

Cornfield Sunset

It certainly pays to take the camera for a walk, along with the dog. This local sunset was captured on such an occasion and when all the elements came together perfectly including a “light pillar” from the dying sun.

www.davidlewins.co.uk

I have recently returned from a Cruise and Walk holiday, (Magic of the Canaries ) working for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays around the Canary Islands, incuding Madeira, La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lisbon.

This image was taken from the stern of the MS Balmoral, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines as we approached Lisbon.

The 25th of April Bridge, is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon, capital of Portugal, to the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tejo river. It was inaugurated on August 6, 1966 and a train platform was added in 1999. Because of its similar coloring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA. In fact, it was built by the same company (American Bridge Company) that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate, also explaining its similarity in design. With a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 20th largest suspension bridge in the world. The upper platform carries six car lanes, the lower platform two train tracks. Until 1974, the bridge was named Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar).

The fells of Easedale rise up to the north and west of the Vale of Grasmere. Easedale itself is a lush area of green farmland fields where a number of mountain streams meet to form the beautiful Easedale Beck, which soon joins with the River Rothay just north of Grasmere village.

www.davidlewins.co.uk

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