Man-made landscapes

_IGP8930

Here are a few more shots from Holme Fell, the location I’ve been visiting so much recently.

I’ve been asked to give a talk to a local natural history society (they’re booking well in advance – this is scheduled for February 2021!). For my subject I’ve decided to talk about how our supposedly natural landscapes are actually man-made. This was prompted by a TV programme I saw recently about some part of the countryside where a woman was asked why she helped out with the local grouse shoot when she was a vegetarian. She said these pastimes help to conserve the landscape that we love. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to that landscape if it were left to its own devices. It wouldn’t spontaneously cover itself in concrete.

_IGP8923

However, it is a fact that most of the pretty countryside we like so much in England and Wales is entirely the work of humans. Holme Fell is a very good example. The tarn you see in two of the shots, Yew Tree tarn, was created in the 1930s when the landowner decided to dam the river. The wider fell area is full of old mine workings, now abandoned (very beautifully) to silver birch and larch. Most of the cumbrian fells are generally denuded of trees because of hundreds of years of sheep grazing.

This is the countryside we love, but we have made it that way.

Wharfedale overnight – the next morning

I just found this post in my Drafts folder in WordPress and realised it had been there since early summer and never posted. I think I held it back because the trip hadn’t fully worked out and I didn’t get many shots from the morning sunrise. Looking at it now though, there aren’t many shots here but they’re nice ones so here’s the post, to remind me of summer wild camping trips.
Wharfedale

After a good night’s sleep in warm, calm weather I eventually awoke to my alarm from a deep sleep at 4:15 am. The sky looked very promising and there was an almost-full moon on the other side of the valley. I got up and got ready and hid my camping stuff out of sight so they wouldn’t be seen in any shots I took.

I got increasingly excited as the clouds started to catch with orange light. However it was clear that the sun was going to come up right behind the highest part of the hill beside me – something I could have found out easily if I’d checked my compass. More to the point there were enough clouds in the way that the initial promise soon fizzled out. Just like my Eskdale trip of a few days before the sunrise was to disappoint and leave me with unfinished business. So – not many shots in this post but hopefully I’ll be back.

Holme Fell part three

_IGP8714

I’m still catching up processing the shots of Holme Fell I’ve been taking over the last few weeks. The autumn colour is now largely gone and we’re getting into winter scenery but in these shots there is still plenty of orange and gold.

On this trip I started at the quarry. There is a lookout on the edge of all things with a great view of the Langdale Pikes, those hills of unmistakable shape. Then I explored upwards, going out onto the open fell for more spectacular views. This was when I realised the panorama that was available, taking in the Pikes, Fairfield and Helvellyn, Coniston Water, and in the distance the Howgill Fells.

_IGP8781

I still have more shots to come from this place and I’m sure I’ll be back as the season changes, especially if snow comes. For now I hope you enjoy this latest batch.

Using graduated ND filters on mirrorless cameras

 

_IGP8946I wrote about my new lens a couple of posts ago. One very useful side-effect is that it has a 52mm filter thread which just happens to be one of the sizes I have of Lee filter system adapters. This means I can finally use my Lee filters on my Olympus OMD-EM10, especially my neutral density graduated filters. Ever since buying the Olympus with the kit pancake lens, which had an absurdly small 37mm filter thread, the fact that I couldn’t use the ND grad filters on that lens was the main reason I carried on using my Pentax. No longer. I went out yesterday and shot for the first time with the new lens and using ND graduated filters on the Olympus.

It didn’t work quite the way I thought it would. On an SLR you look through the viewfinder and use the depth of field preview feature to stop the aperture down so you can line up the filter and get the light/dark transition in just the right place.

I tried this on the Olympus. Out of the box it doesn’t have a dedicated DoF preview button but using the ability to assign functions to buttons I have assigned DoF preview to the video button (red button on right of top plate). However, as soon as you slide the filter down to line it up while stopping the lens down, the display (which of course is an electronic live view) compensates for the effect of the filter and brightens the scene.

What I found instead to be more useful and practical is to set the display to show red flashing on any over-exposed areas. Then slide the filter down until all the red flashing areas (presumably in the sky) disappear. Then you can increase the exposure (shutter speed or aperture) until just before the red flashes reappear.

This may actually be more accurate than it is on a normal DSLR with optical viewfinder. It certainly seemed to work well yesterday.

This is likely to push my Pentax right to the bottom of my bag and I expect nearly all shots from now on will be Olympus shots.

Holme Fell part one

Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell
Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell

I’ve been all around this area of the Lake District for many years and thought I knew it well but there is a square mile in the middle that I’ve overlooked and turns out to contain treasure.

The only other time I visited Holme Fell was in summer some years ago and it was a wilderness of ankle-breaking rocks and chest high bracken. The weather and light weren’t encouraging that day and I never went back. I’ve seen a number of shots from other photographers that suggested it was worth another go. It is without doubt a landscape photographer’s paradise.

Fairfield from Holme Fell
Fairfield from Holme Fell

In the past I’ve usually flitted around from one location to another – Yorkshire Dales one week, Wales the next, and so on. For the past several weeks I’ve been changing tactics and visiting the same place repeatedly to try and get the best from it. I think so far I’ve only made a small dent.

There are great panoramic views of the southern lakeland fells – Fairfield and Helvellyn, the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell, Wetherlam and Coniston. There’s a great view of the head of Coniston Water. On a clear day you can easily see Ingleborough over in the Yorkshire Dales.

Then there are the slate mining remnants and the quarry (I should say – The Quarry – it’s certainly impressive enough to be capitalised). In autumn it’s a wonderful golden mix of broadleaf and larch with plenty of shapely silver birch which will carry on being photogenic when bare in winter.

_IGP8439

I’ve now had four trips, each of which has produced some good shots – five if you count the Tarn Hows trip I reported a couple of posts ago, Tarn Hows being right next door if you will. I still don’t think I’ve got the best out of it. I also think from now on I might repeat this tactic of concentrating on small areas for prolonged periods.