Going batty

September 9, 2021

a lone tree at sunrise rydal water in cumbria


Field work. It is something that I’ve known I had to do in order to stand any chance of taking any landscape images. The research. The hard yards. The experience. I posted previously that it was going to hurt. And boy, does it.

Being in the Lake District, there has been a phenomenal amount of talented people who have gone before me to discover and produce some fantastic work. It will take even the most basic of internet searches to discover whatever you might fancy; a sunrise, a sunset, reflections, storms, star trails and woodland, people and animals. You could argue it has been done and maybe it has. But I haven’t done it and that’s what matters.

Since moving here in February, I’ve hiked Wainwright trails and discovered gems that, to many may be so familiar but I’ve tried to not look at others work. I’ve never been a fan of research at the best of times but maybe it’s because I’m older, I’ve discovered I quite like it. Standing staring at a view and imagining what it might look like covered in snow or at dawn has been literally an eye-opening thing to do. How could I just rock up with a camera and expect results without looking first?

a lone tree at sunrise rydal water in cumbria


Sometimes we are guilty of having a process and only sticking to that be it for survival, work or pleasure and photography is no different. It could be the approach to a shoot as a whole or a particular subject but some of your processes will be the same throughout.

Or so you would think.

And so it came to be that I happened to be heading further north for a car photo shoot but I’d seen a very pleasing weather forecast for closer to home.

Calm with almost no wind at sunrise. A cool overnight temperatire leading to a warm morning. Maybe just maybe, a chance of mist on the water. I knew that I could get up a little earlier and bag a lake shore shot I’ve driven past for the last fifteen years while visiting the lakes. Now I live here it was time to shoot it. Properly.

a lone tree at sunrise rydal water in cumbria

Here’s a lesson for you

The 5am alarm sounded and, as is now customary, I tried to keep my moaning bones to a minimum to not wake my wife.

The night before I’d prepped my bag for this little sojourn to the water before ploughing on to the car shoot later in the day.

It gave me a first outing with a new travel tripod too which always adds to the excitement – a new toy. Specifically purchased for the longer hikes up the fells this autumn and winter this would be an easy task for it to start with.

And it was. Rydal water offers a few nooks of landscape pleasure; the boathouse, some islands and this small tree that is on a little spit of land jutting into the shallows.

My arrival that morning was heralded by the buzzing of bees, the rising crows in the woods, a splashing of fish occasionally rippled the water and an erratic flight of a bat. Sounds like the start of a spell. I mooched about to check light, the mist forming like steam from a bath and then I headed to the tree. I stood and looked to get a feel for composition and what lens might suit. The new tripod was unravelled and set up. The camera body married to the lens and it was all starting to turn pink around me.

And then my heart stopped. Could it be that I’d been such a colossal moron? I turned on the camera which blinkingly confirmed that it’s owner had indeed taken a handbrake turn into amateur avenue.

No memory card.

The evening before, I’d gone to my bag to produce some print images for a client and in my delighted and confident back slapping ‘you clever sausage you’re going to shoot a nice landscape in the morning’ way, I’d completely left them on the desk at home and skipped off to bed.

Added to this I’d overvalued my backpack to take just what I needed for this shoot and had even taken out some old cards that I always carry for back up. I’d changed my process and inadvertently, become a 48 year old twat.

Luckily I wasn’t far from home. I could at least head back and make the car shoot work but oh my days. I would normally be angry at this point, but I wasn’t. For this is part of a new process. A new approach. A photographic chapter that is new to me and so, in-keeping with the rest of my life, I am learning by making mistakes. I have a litany of photo phuckups and as they go, this is quite a basic one!

But what came over me was a calm and slightly loud, laughing smile. Yep, I’d been that guy. I’d done that thing. I regularly lift the camera to my face to discover it isn’t turned on or that I’ve got a lens cap on. Everyone does that and if they say they don’t, they could be prime minister for it is a blatant lie.

And so, I used my phone. I took some shots to remind me of both location, composition and idiocy.

a lone tree at sunrise rydal water in cumbria

I’ll be back. I’ll be better. I mean, how could I not be? FFS…


Fail often. You’ll learn quicker.


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