Although I must admit I have ventured to Loweswater and Crummockwater to persevere with a project I've been working on (more on that later). However, normally a minutes drive over the brow to get to Loweswater now, due to ice and various closed bridges, is a forty minute trip. Worth it though, a perfect snowscape and barely a person or car anywhere apart the odd other 4x4 intrepid driver!! Can you tell I'm excited!!
Getting in to central lakes is extremely tricky though - much easier to park up on the A66, nip off to see the frozen Bassenthwaite lake after emptying the bottle of water on the windscreen! That's what many people are doing. And they won't be disappointed. I was there this morning with several other water sprayers and snappers - you can tell everyone feels privileged to behold such beauty. Unfortunately, I fear a photograph really doesn't do it justice. The photograph doesn't catch the enormity of the freeze, the embracing cold on your toes and nose, the surprisingly cheery non-migrant birds (probably changing their minds after this winter!!) and the strange effect it seems to be having on us. Maybe the lack of sun over the summer means people are revelling in the brightness and sun during this one in a thirty year winter.
It does tickle me how the press use phrases like 'we are now experiencing the coldest, wettest, hottest, silliest whatever for one zillion years!!'. Do they think we can't comprehend how cold it is unless we compare it with 18 months ago or a thousand years ago!!
Anyway I'm finally reaching my point, something has been intriguing me with regards landscape photography which has been highlighted by this exceptional weather. At the moment, wherever we are, if we own a mobile phone, or indeed a camera, we are taking photos of the beautiful scenery. As an example, this morning at Bassenthwaite I was there for a matter of minutes and within that time I probably saw six other people photographing the scenery taking pretty much identical pictures. The weather and landscape is making it very easy for us photographers. We have been inspired in our masses by what we are experiencing and want to capture it. Nothing wrong with that at all. However, what differentiates one photograph from the other if we are all inspired by the external environment with little internal influence.
I too am snapping like everyone else, however, I am not at all comfortable with having carbon copies of scenery that everyone else is taking.These photographs can surely only be judged on the quality of the landscape rather than the photography skills. If I consider myself particularly interested in photography, my pride would like my images to be somehow slightly better or to 'visualise' something different. I'm not convinced they do.
My issue is I feel it is somehow cheating taking photographs of chocolate box landscapes and not adding anything personal to the photograph. This bothers me and has for a while. Maybe because I live in what is often considered picture postcard scenery, this is at the fore of my mind. Not that they aren't wonderful photographs and indeed photographers, it is just me at the moment, I am tired of seeing umpteen photographs of beautiful scenery. In my previous life we often made use of photography by the likes of Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite, who are exceptional at what they do, for tourism purposes. They were perfect for presenting the landscape in an atmospheric, visually appealing manner that was generically appealing. However, this is not the direction I wish to pursue at this moment in time. I suppose I would like to make landscape pictures that are somehow unique and not just a reflection of the stunning scenery.
The interaction of human and landscape in 'on the beach' series by Richard Misrach, the way of ordering and seeing a picture by Andreas Gursky and the rather quirky approach to landscape photography of Jean-Marc Bustamente are but three examples that sort of illustrate what I am getting at. They are all considering the 'thought-provoking' aspect of landscape rather than the aesthetic. Although I am still struggling to entirely let go of the visually pleasing image. It would be nice to retain some of the aesthetics but for that not to be the preoccupation.
This is one of my challenges going forward and was one of the fundamental reasons I started the art of photography course. How can I take images of my surrounding environment that offers something different? This is my question to me which I don't have the answer for - yet!
Having said all this, here are some of my snowy snaps, similar to many others - ah well!!!
Happy sledging all!