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Modems, Mobiles & Tablets – Who needs an excuse for a photo session? Well, it would be rude not to……wouldn’t it?


Modems, Mobiles & Tablets – Who needs an excuse for a photo session? Well, it would be rude not to……wouldn’t it?

Wednesday 13th March – 03:15 The recent weeks have been pretty poor when it comes to the weather, well so I thought. Having spoken with my Mum and Dad yesterday it seemed that the little pocket of Cumbria called Haverigg had missed out on all this inclement weather and somehow the rest of us have ended up with quite a raw deal. Before they went to New Zealand for Christmas I informed my lovely mum that she was paying way over the odds for her telephone and broadband package and a better deal was to be had elsewhere. Changing before they went to the far-flung corner of the globe wasn’t really an option so it was decided to leave it until they came back. Anyway, yesterday was changeover day; well it was originally Tuesday but twenty-four hours wasn’t going to make any difference was it? By the way, had that situation been in reverse and I had needed assistance being told I had to do without my broadband for a night would have driven me mad.

Watching the weather is something that seems to have descended through the male ranks in our family. My grandfather used to watch the weather and I can go with that, like me he was a photographer and it made all the difference to have a sunny day for your images. It just makes them sparkle and stand out by comparison. My dad is just the same as his father, ruled by the weather, an outdoor person who finds been stuck indoors akin to life in a prison cell. With views from home of the Lake District mountains the Duddon Estuary and the Walney Peninsulas it has to be said that it doesn’t look quite the same in miserable weather. I find it hard to admit this, but I think I have caught the very same disease but maybe just a lighter strain of it. I will quite happily take photographs in poor weather, after all you are reflecting a moment in time and if the weather was like that on the day…then c’est la vie that’s the way it rolls. So after checking with the Met Office website and finding out that Wednesday was going to be more than suitable, it was time to set my stall out.

Sunrise was 07:12 at Windermere. I knew in my head what I was looking for but a little bit of research was in order as you cannot pause the rising sun while you move locations. Using modern computer applications can save you a lot of time and effort. Google Earth as a reconnaissance tool is fine but it doesn’t give you much idea when it comes to location and the position of the sun. What there is to offer on the wonderful www is Suncalc . This is a fantastic little tool for working out where the sun comes up and sets in relation to your current location. A screen shot of yesterdays is shown.


As you can see, this is ideal for planning sunset and sunrise shots. My original intentions had me down for Waterhead; this is about two miles north of where I ended up at Wray Castle. I wanted some shots looking across the lake with some reflections and a nice morning sky. After using suncalc I decided that this location would have been no use whatsoever as the sun would be emerging too far to the east of there to get any decent water reflection shots. Bouncing out of bed and grabbing a quick coffe I left home at just before 4:00am and joined the A65 heading north-west towards the Lake District. I only saw a handful of vehicles in the quiet two and a half hour journey and actually managed it without stopping. I actuallt felt like I was in a race. A race against the rising sun, Jeremy Clarkson east your heart out. As I approached Ambleside the sky was already paling, I got my bearings and decided that suncalc had it spot on so proceeded to head over to the edge of Lake Windermere near Wray Castle. I followed my nose, my instinct and the Sat-Nav and found a small car park well off the beaten track near the shoreline at High Wray. The trees were very close to the edge of the water but it was perfect for the sunrise. Whilst waiting for the sun to show its face I looked around from my spot by the lake for the possibility of other photo opportunities.  As I looked towards the North-East I noticed the pink glow tinging the side of Fairfield this was a tell-tale sign that the sun was on its way. With the low light prior to dawn I opted for a tripod and got myself in position for my first shot. I knew exactly what I was looking for and panoramas were the order of the day. Below is my first attempt of the “Morning”….

The shot above is a composite image, it has been stitched together from 6 single images hence the unusual cropping. Even without the sun in the shot it just seemed right. I had a good look around and tried different angles and in particular kept taking several images that overlapped in order to stitch them when I got back home. The whole set on Flickr seems to lean towards the photo-stitches but I quite liked the panorama effect over the lake and after all that’s what I had planned to do. As the sun rose higher the colours started to kick in. It wasn’t as intense as I had hoped but it still left a golden glow to the whole scene. As I said earlier the road where my car was parked was very close to the water’s edge, this left very little option for stepping back and obtaining some distant shots which was quite frustrating. A pair of swans made an appearance and drifted across my view… it was like they were summoned to be there just for me. I just kept tapping away and making minor adjustments to the settings to make life easier for when I got the images in to the computer. It wasn’t long before the beautiful colour started to dissipate, once the glow had gone and the sun rose above the low-lying southern fells of Cumbria an early spring like atmosphere set its stall out for the day. I can’t post all the images on here but I have included a small slide show below. Failing that head over to my Flickr page here to look at them in more detail.

I jumped back in my car, not literally, and attempted to get back to a more appropriate road. Preferably one that was wider than six feet, surrounded by thicket and one that I was confident would lead me south-west. I sat in the car pondering my options; do I head back towards Ambleside for some more images or find my way towards the peninsulas, my parents home and breakfast. I opted for a quick peek over the hedge at Ambleside and headed back where I had come from along the B5286. Parking is quite difficult at the best of times in Ambleside and this was 07:45 on a Wednesday morning and there was no where to park. So, I made a quick pit stop for a bladder drainage and observed the view from a small car park near Waterhead whilst parked in a drop off zone. The angle I had chosen for the sunrise images from Wray Castle had me intentionally facing in to the sun, now the sun had risen a little I was presented with a problem from this end of the lake. It was far too bright and way too “contrasty” for any decent images so I made the decision to call it a day for Windermere and turn around yet again.

It was time to head south-west and off towards the small village of Haverigg. I usually don’t have a problem getting from A to B and I have been to Haverigg more times than I brushed my teeth last year, but what I have never done before is visit this place arriving from central Lake District. I had it in my mind which way to go so I assumed that the Sat-Nav would follow suit. Err, no…it had different ideas. So off I went, exploring ! My parents were aware of my impending visit and as a result they informed me that they would be up and ready earlier than usual. I wasnt entirely sure what “usual” was for them but I reckoned on 08:45-09:00 as an estimate and a good time for breakfast too.  I made my way across the county following the Sat-Nav to the letter. I kept looking at the stunning views and couldn’t help noticing the snow adorning the summits of the higher central peaks. There were so many photo opportunities that I missed and it became frustrating as stopping was impossible. The narrow road and a lack of lay-bys, passing places and farm gates prevented me from taking up those opportunities. It really cheesed me off and round every corner a glance over my right shoulder only confirmed what I was missing. I was like a child been dragged away from Santa’s Grotto without actually meeting the big guy himself and getting a present. Still I managed a couple from the comfort of my driving seat whilst waiting for a tractor to pass me.


After 45 minutes on the road I finally pulled in to the small seaside village of Haverigg. I have said this in previous posts but I will say it again, as sleepy as this village may be it always excites me. I think I am looking at that from a photographers perspective as the subject matter in this location is endless. I always think that I need to spend at least a week here providing the skies were cloudless and it was warm and dry throughout. As I came off the main coast road and turned on to  the seafront along Sea View I stopped in awe at the view.  I have seen this view a thousand times but this morning it was stunning. I grabbed my mobile phone and took an image that had my name and style stamped all over it. I shot straight in to the sun creating a very contre-jour style look. The image is below and is straight from the phone with no edit involved.

2013-03-13 08.36.03

After getting my shot I looked back over my shoulder and considered whether  should stop again and open my camera bag. All I could think was “ive got this shot so many times it would be totally pointless.” I was right to consider this as I do have this image in many variations, different seasons, alternative weather and alternative angles. I moved on and parked up outside my parents house.

It has become apparent that in this day and age that companies no longer seem interested in keeping your business. I came across this just last week and covered it well in my blog post entitled “I dont always listen to what they say…do I” I also mentioned that my parents had changed their phone and broadband contract from BT to Sky. In my opinion this was a wise move, cheaper and effortless too. My job (after a small breakfast) was to remove all the BT equipment and install the Sky modem and eventually get my mums’ lovely computer back online. In addition to this I had a number of smaller jobs that involved connecting a tablet to wireless, connecting a laptop to the same network and demonstrating how to use a Samsung Smartphone. Oh, and connecting that to the wireless network too. All in a days work for me and a piece of cake.

As far as setting up the equipment goes, this was like taking candy from a baby and I had it done in less than fifteen minutes. I even had the PC online and wireless up and running within another five minutes. The fun and games started when setting up the email address. Instructions were fine for setting the primary user but were not so clear when you wanted to change the email address generated by Sky’s computer to something a little more user-friendly. doesnt exactly make things that easy when you are stood outside Tesco chatting to a friend you havent seen since school and he or she asks for your email address. By the time they have typed that in to their phone you could have emailed it yourself, packed up the car with the shopping and gone home. So my first job after getting online was to create a new one. I did it, but it took a phone call to an operative to complete the task. Instructions were not that obvious and the help facility online ranked much closer to “unhelpful”. By the time all this was done I needed to stretch my legs and get some fresh air so I persuaded my dad to drive me a couple of miles down to Devonshire Road. This location provides some excellent views looking inland and eastwards towards the Lake District fells. The location (Borwick Rails) used to be a harbour as around Millom there was a local coasting trade in coal, iron and slate. The discovery of large quantities of iron ore led to a huge increase in shipments out of the area from the Hodbarrow Mining Company’s pier at Crab Marsh Point (Borwick Rails), with almost 600 vessels using  it in 1864.The ironworks of the Cumberland Mining & Smelting Company Limited began production in 1867, and in the following year started to build their own pier at Borwick Rails, only a stone’s throw from the mining company’s pier. Millom Pier grew to be nearly half a mile long, and included the original harbour. On one day in January 1892, eight steam vessels shipped 4400 tons of ore from the mines. The last shipment took place in 1940, and the pier was derelict by 1951.


This was a place that I had been to a few times before, as a child and in recent years too. I always seemed to leave my camera behind or bad weather would hamper any opportunity for a photograph. Today, I was half way there. The sun was out on the distant fells but a large mass of cloud blowing from the north-east put my chances of getting a sunlit foreground as slim. We waited for about thirty minutes and then gave up. The cloud was swirling and moving very slowly, it was very difficult to work out exactly where the sun would emerge which made it very difficult to predict its appearance at all. I decided to make the best of a bad situation and grab some images anyway. The shot above is a composite image of twelve individuals and as you can see the foreground is very dark. I wanted to create this “HDR” look despite it not actually been an HDR image. I was reasonably pleased with the outcome.

The loitering, lingering and very dark cloud that spoiled my images from Borwick Rails continued to hang around for much of the afternoon. I had hoped it wouldn’t. For years my journeys to Haverigg usually involve a routing from Leeds to  Kirkby Lonsdale and then the A595 along the southern tip of Cumbria. This is a beautiful part of the world and the view from one particular point in this journey is absolutely spectacular. The panoramic view from the hill above Grizebeck near the Burlington Slate Quarry is somewhat stunning. A very old friend, Richard Sugden captured an image from this location that caught my eye and all I could imagine was how this scene would look like at sunset? I feel a challenge coming on !

I checked the sunset times and gauged my departure time from Haverigg to co-ordinate an arrival at the quarry for the setting sun. I got it spot on too, I kept looking in the rear view mirror whilst en-route and could see the sun from only a couple of spots on the main road. The mountains and fells in this location are high enough to block the sun from the valley roads especially in Winter. As I drove up the hill out of Grizebeck I could see the sun about to dip behind fells and the sky was turning in to a gradient from blue to orange. The clouds were illuminated by the golden light and looked like lampshades lit by an orange bulb. The scene was perfect. I turned in to the entrance of the Quarry at the top of the hill, this was uncharted territory for me. I kept driving, there were no barriers or security gates. No bollards or warning signs. I kept going, over the cattle grid and climbing even higher. I reached the summit and pulled over on the right. There is only one word that describes the view from up here…. WOW ! I will let you judge for yourself when you see the image below, but I am confident you will agree with me. From the north I could see a snow storm blowing across the mountains. This would be spectacular if the storm would blow across the setting sun. Would it move fast enough, it was a race between the sun and the cloud, would it be quick enough for me to capture the setting sun and the storm in one shot. It was leaving a haze on the sky that almost looked like fine smoke from a grass fire … oh if this was to move fast enough and cross the path of the setting sun I would be in for a treat. I wasnt so lucky, I did however manage to capture the blowing snow in the right hand side of the images.

There were a combination of elements that in my opinion would make this image look special. In the valley the Duddon Estuary was calm, still and reflecting the glow of the sky against the black of the shadows. To the North was the impending snow storm, and to the south was a bank of cloud with a rim of iridescent reds and oranges contrasting against the blacks. This was perfect, a perfect end to a perfect day. I will say no more, other than I arrived home 18 hours and 225 miles after leaving with 300 images that were well worth the effort. Oh and mums’ broadband is working too. I hope you enjoy the images, I did. Remember to look on Flickr as they are many more.


Back to the Peninsulas – The Flickr Images

Silecroft BeachSea - Contre-JourSea - Contre-JourSea - Contre-JourSea - Contre-JourSilecroft Beach
Sea - Contre-JourSilecroft Railway StationSilecroft Railway StationSilecroft Railway StationSilecroft Railway StationSilecroft Railway Station
Warning...Haverigg | Harbour Area - PhotostitchLow light on the beachRiver Lazy | WinterSand Veins | Light

Following on from my blog post on February 19th … here are the remainder of the images that have now been published on to my Flickr Photostream. Please take a look, if there is anything you feel like saying, dont be afraid to make a comment. All comments welcome, good or bad. Thank you

Back to the Peninsulas

Sunday brought along another trip to the lovely Lake District Peninsulas and a visit to Haverigg for a catch up with my parents. In light of the recent cold weather and the knowledge that the mountains were still covered in a layer of snow this proved to be quite interesting from a photographers perspective. Leaving Winterbourne Towers at 8:00 am we headed north-west towards Skipton and Settle and the dreaded A59.


The Lake District Mountains

The two and a quarter-hour journey was flawless and the sight that greeted us as we hit the A590 at Milton just by the M6 was picture-book perfect. I could have spent my whole day in central Cumbria, the Lake District mountains looked sublime; every fell or mountain above  2000 feet was covered with a dusting of snow. It was quite unfortunate that places to stop on the A590 are few and far between and where lay-bys do exist the views were somewhat limited or restricted much to my frustration. I did however find a quick stop possible as we drove over the fells towards Grizebeck on the A5092. Between  Lowick Green and Gawthwaite as the road climbs towards the summit of the pass there was a lay-by with a very limited view over the central Lakes. As always, the view from a parking spot is never the same as what you observed a few minutes before and not been keen on blocking the road I decided to give that one a miss. I did however manage a couple of shots, above is a two image stitch of the view from a few miles down the road at Wreaks Causeway End Bridge on the A595. The snow on this image doesn’t look as intense as it did on the more central fells but I am sure you get the idea. The journey from Leeds can be split in to two sections; the first being the trip from Yeadon to Sedgwick on the A590 & A591 and followed by the trip west to the coast on the A595. Both segments have their own particular appeal, the journey to Sedgwick is mainly countryside with few towns and villages in comparison to the second  which is beautiful landscapes with the odd glimpse of the seaside flavouring the journey with a sweet topping.

We arrived in Haverigg at 10:30 am and ready for a customary morning coffee. It’s always a lovely feeling coming here, its difficult to explain but it always feels like coming home despite the fact that I wasnt born here. There is a family connection that stems back many years but that’s another story. Haverigg is a village on the south-west coast of Cumbria, it is historically part of the original county of Cumberland. It has an extensive blue flag beach, a restored lighthouse and close the RSPB Nature Reserve at Hobbarrow. It is at the mouth of the Duddon Estuary, a protected are important for birds and other wildlife. The village is also very close to Haverigg Prison, a low security prison for males from all over the North of England.  Below is a photograph taken on Sunday of the harbour at Haverigg, it almost felt like Spring. I am sure you will agree, the landscape on a beautiful day is stunning.

Haverigg, Cumbria

Haverigg, Cumbria

When the weather is good I will always put a camera in the car. Well, nearly always… there have been instances when I have totally lost the plot and left it behind. It’s on those occasions that something worth photographing appears in front of me and laughs at me uncontrollably. Haverigg is very picturesque as I am sure you can tell from the photograph above, if you would like to see some more images of this beautiful part of the world then take a look at the set I put together on my Flickr pages here . Mum and Dad live very close the beach but a long way from the sea. There is no chance of hearing waves crashing on to rocks here. Haverigg is in the mouth of the Duddon Estuary so the sea very rarely comes up so high. In a total contrast to this, just 2 miles up the coast the sea comes in very close making great photographic opportunities.


I made a mistake on Sunday. A huge one. One I regret, and will regret for a long time. I left my whole camera kit in the boot of the car which is something I never do. Before you start expecting me to say it was stolen, no it wasnt. But what happened next was just typical. The car was parked at the back of my parents home and the only entrance and exit from their house is at the side. We were sat having coffee when my dad informed me there was a bird of prey sat on the hedge just outside of the window. Not wanting pass off an opportunity for a photo I stood up and glanced out of the window. Stood on a perch no further than 10 feet away was a Peregrine Falcon. Yes, you read it right. I can honestly say I have never seen one before in the wild. But now I was in a pickle. Camera with 100-400 lens attached was in the car, the only way to the car was via the door. The minute I would open the door, said bird would be halfway to Windermere. I headed off to the back bedroom to get a closer look armed with my dads point and shoot digital camera. The curtains were closed in the bedroom which enabled a stealth approach…  I slowly peeled back the corner of the curtain and could see the bird in front of me no further than six feet away. It looked fantastic, I could clearly see the yellow beak and its beady eyes, its yellow claws looked huge. There were small feathers stuck in its claws, obviously a remnant of an earlier kill  All that went through my mind was I can’t believe I havent got my own camera in my hand. I got a little daring and slightly moved the curtain to unveil a better view. As I peered through the gap the Falcon sharply moved its head making eye contact with me and before I had chance to draw breath it was airborne and heading for pastures new. When I look back now, had there been an opportunity to grab the Canon it would have been no use. The minimum focussing distance on the 100-400 lens is 1.8 metres. This would have been no good to me as I was a lot closer with no ability to adjust my position. Despite all this, it was awesome to see one so close. It made me think how easily it saw me, all I did was move the curtain a couple of centimetres and its head moved like lightning. You can read more about the UK Peregrine Falcon here

Over the last few years the economic climate has had its effect on all of us, no more than this part of the country. South West Cumbria is very remote and the main employers in the area have either closed or had their work force cut. Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the United Kingdom, with 73.4 people per km2 (190/sq mi). As a result, the restaurants and public houses are very quiet and as a consequence some have even closed their doors for good. A notable example in the locality is the Commodore, a great place on the sea-wall offering superb food and awesome views. My parents suggested we try somewhere different a little further out-of-town, so we set off to a very small village called Waberthwaite about 10 miles north of Haverigg. The destination was a local Inn called The Brown Cow. From the roadside, the car park looked full giving the impression that we may have a problem getting a seat let alone something to eat. We parked up and took a peek inside. I asked the barman if they could squeeze four of us in to which he politely informed us that the full car park didn’t reflect the number of seats in the restaurant as most of the vehicles had been left over from a heavy session the previous night. We had a great meal, I just looked on Trip Advisor for a review of the Brown Cow but it seems to have avoided either compliments or criticism.

On the return journey from our visit to the Brown Cow we took a small diversion to a little shoreline location called Silecroft. With the sun out and it being quite low in the winter sky the lighting was superb. I took a slow walk on to the beach to grab a few shots. More of these will appear on my Flickr stream within the next few days. Meanwhile. here is one to keep you going.



I am sure you will agree with me when I say it was an opportunity not to be missed. As you will already know, I have no fear of shooting direct in to the sun. The results can be a little hit and miss but quite often you can come out with something really striking. I love lens flare…it adds another dimension to an image, of course that is just my opinion and like anything, it’s not to everyone’s taste. I managed to tap off about 65 images from the shoreline and returned back to the car quite happy. The short five-minute trip from Silecroft back to Haverigg culminated in me jumping out of the car in the harbour area to grab a few more frames. Once again, the lighting towards the end of the day was just spectacular. It’s always difficult to come up with something fresh when you revisit a location. This is made even harder when you have similar images from the same time of year and under the same lighting conditions. Despite this, I managed to get a few more shots in before we said our good byes and head for home. We were a little pushed for time as we had to be home before 7pm as our beautiful grandchildren were coming to stay for the evening. This meant leaving Haverigg at the very latest 4:30pm.

Sunset was due at 17:21 and given the choice I am sure you know what my option would have been. But which ever way you cut it that’s much too late to be leaving when you have a journey time of 2 hours 20 minutes. So then sunset would have to wait for another time. I had totally misjudged the timings for the afterglow as I had estimated that we would get somewhere near the view over the Duddon Estuary which would have been ideal. Instead, we got much further on. Beyond Kirkby Lonsdale in fact. Because the road is quite undulating and as you are heading away from the North-West it’s quite difficult to keep an eye on the setting sun once you get past Lowick as it disappears behind the mountains. It was just by chance that I took a glance over my right shoulder whilst Elaine was driving to see a wonderful glow. We pulled over on the A59 just past Kirkby Lonsdale. I wanted to capture something with a little bit of foreground without it detracting from the glow of the sky.

Sunset Photo-stitch

Sunset Photo-stitch

The sunset brought a perfect end to a perfect day out. Hope you enjoyed the photographs (more on Flickr later) and thank you for reading (if you got this far).

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