A little bit of snow

By coincidence I exchanged comments a day or so ago with a reader from Helsinki who had posted a YouTube link showing his driving in snow. I responded that with so much snow Britain would grind to a halt. Today we had about an inch of snow and there was chaos on the roads and trains cancelled. My wife’s one hour journey to work turned into three hours. Britain doesn’t understand snow. Continue reading

Coniston Water, Monochrome

Coniston Water

I made this trip nearly three years ago but the shots have languished in the catalogue ever since, untouched and unloved. The day was far too bright and in colour the shots just didn’t work. I found them again and realised that black and white would work much better, so here are the results.

The location is the southern end of Coniston Water, in the Lake District. Most of the views are towards Dow Crag and the Old Man of Coniston, with the Fairfield range in the far distance beyond the head of the lake.

Llanberis Slate Mines

Llanberis Slate Quarries

The welsh tourist town of Llanberis, at the foot of Mount Snowdon, is not dominated by the highest mountain in Wales and England, nor by the other impressive peaks lining the Llanberis Pass, but by a vast slate mine and its spoil heaps.

The mine was one of the largest in the world. Its heyday was the 19th century but it didn’t stop working until the 1960s. If I were to be critical I’d say I couldn’t decide whether the natural mountain scenery would be improved more by the removal of the slate mine or the removal of Llanberis. However the mine is undoubtedly eye-catching and worth photographing.


A Grey Christmas

Grey Christmas
Grey Christmas

We spent the Christmas week this year in Cumbria, in a rented cottage in a little village called Brigsteer. This is near Kendal but outside the national park boundary so much quieter than the honeypots. Apart from Christmas Eve the whole week was very grey and misty. We counted ourselves lucky. Cumbria in December could quite easily bucket with rain all week. As it was we were able to walk every day. The greyness, not surprisingly, made me think of black and white.

Acquisition or Submission

I read a quote yesterday attributed to Michael Kenna to the effect that photographers think of their work as acquisition when they should think of it as submission. I tend to agree and I’m definitely prone to this myself. You plan a day’s shooting. You look at the map and visualise the location. You’re already imagining the kind of pictures you want to come home with, regardless of what you find when you arrive. I find I get better results when I walk slowly and allow myself to see what’s really there in front of me, visualising it in two dimensions. Submitting to what is there instead of trying to acquire something pre-selected.

The same goes when selecting and editing from a shoot. I look for the shots I expected instead of allowing the quality of each shot to speak for itself. I also can’t help thinking of the intended audience and whether they will “get” the shot. If you think a shot is good then it is, regardless of what others might or might not think.

I sometimes like to go back through the catalogue to find shots I haven’t yet processed. The passing of time allows me to forget the preconceptions I had of the shoot and just find the quality of each shot. This is how I found the three black and white shots I posted yesterday, which I really like.

Despite knowing all of this it’s still a difficult thing to let go and submit to what’s really there.