Posts Tagged ‘ramblers worldwide holidays’

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.


Read Full Post »

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).

Read Full Post »

Commissioned by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays to document in photographs their tour of The Hills and Valleys of Nepal. Think about it; what photographer would refuse a chance such as this? The “Roof of the World” with all those snow-clad mountains, foothills and scenic valleys. Mountains rising out of the earth, giving drama and an unrivalled grandeur to the terraced, hilly landscape of Nepal. A true landscape photographer’s dream.

It certainly sounds fantastic but in reality those snow-clad mountains kept teasing me for almost a full two weeks! I was certainly shown little hints of their existence on several days but as the sun rose higher in the sky, so did the mists from the dew-soaked earth which obscured their grandeur from view. Each time we gained height to some spectacular view point on one our walks we looked out onto further foothills topped with cumulus cloud and mist. To say this was frustrating is something of an understatement. Peering into those clouds and mists each day making out the vague outline of Fish Tail or Annapurna 1 which was soon obscured from view by more swirling cloud was truly frustrating.

The day of the 31st December began very misty and after a brief bus ride to the start point of our walk, we set off as further mists swirled in bringing with them dark and ominous clouds! However, the day faired not too badly. It was warm and good walking weather. The dark clouds came to very little and to some extent gave a little extra detail and contrast to the sky. Sunset happened but was not very impressive because of the heavy cloud cover. I had Dinner with the remainder of the group and then headed off to my room for some sleep and rest.

I had been allocated a room at the furthermost end of the complex and on the top floor. This was fine with me as it commanded a nice view of the pristine hotel gardens below with all its landscaped beauty and colour. During the night I was awakened with the sound of heavy rainfall pattering on the roof of my room. Somehow I managed to fall back into the Arms of Morpheus and woke up naturally at my usual time of 5:30am.

I switch on the lights, jumped out of bed and headed in the direction of the hospitality tray. Then I poured the coffee granules into the cup and switched on the kettle and then visited the bathroom. On my return the kettle still hadn’t boiled and as I waited I began to wonder what the weather was like and remembering the earlier rainfall I headed to the windows and pulled up the blinds.

To my utter amazement the view which greeted me was totally jaw-dropping! Those hidden mountains, the “Roof of the World” was in full view and the light from the early morning sun was just catching and lighting up their peaks with a warm orange hue. I wasted little time and quickly grabbed the camera bag, flipped the catches, withdrew the camera, picked up the tripod, slid open the door to the balcony and set the tripod and camera on top of the convenient table which was standing there.

The view was stunning and getting better as the moments passed. I quickly composed the scene, plugged in the shutter release cable so as not to risk camera shake, focussed and pressed the release button. An eight second exposure in the early morning half light which seemed to take forever.

What happened next seemed to take forever too, but in reality happened very quickly. As I waited with bated breath and goose bumps on my body, I suddenly realised that I was still as naked as I had been when I got out of bed! Not only that but other sounds were beginning to permeate into my blinded and over-enthusiastic state of mind.

I was hearing voices; specifically Japanese voices and very close at hand. With reluctance, I slowly averted my gaze away from the grandeur of the mountain range and the still blank screen of the camera and looked over the balcony into the hotel gardens. There were about thirty Japanese photographers below me, with an assortment of cameras and lenses, looking at the same scene which I had been viewing plus several of them looking up at me with faces full of smiles as they realised that I had eventually become aware of their presence.

Oh the embarrassment of the moment! I quickly dived back through the sliding doors into the bedroom and grabbed my trousers, hoisted them up then back to the balcony to continue photographing the mountains. Possibly a little red faced but this time at least I was covering most of my dignity with clothing!

Knowing how the Japanese enjoy photographing anything which moves I am quite sure that a mad Englishman, exposing not only images from his balcony but also his person, gave them something extra to show their friends on their return home. This certainly puts a whole new meaning to working in “RAW” files!

As a footnote: If anyone should see a picture of an extremely handsome but naked photographer, posing on a balcony next to a Canon camera posted on the internet could they please contact me…I would like a copy!


Read Full Post »