In Lakeland (with a D800E)
This summer we returned for a second time in as many years to the Lake District. Since my days in school teaching we have always looked forward to the special feeling of driving our car onto the ferry at the very end of June - what was called the teachers' boat - waiting for the first slight movement to indicate that we were underway and then sitting back, savouring the thought of the stress behind us and the adventure before us. The boat is different - much improved, in fact - and no longer are there four kids in tow (always a moment for nostalgia) but the feelings are still the same. In years gone by the campsites of France were our destination. In recent years we have begun to discover the beauty of lands closer to home: Devon, the Cotswolds, the Fens, the Dales and now the Lake District. The rain doesn't matter just as much to us now as it did back then and the lakes and fells are simply beautiful - when you can see them!
Just before leaving I took possession of a new camera - a Nikon D800E - so the journey held even greater interest (at least for me!) than before. I know, I know. All that stuff about the camera not being important; that what matters is the photographer. Gear is good, vision is better. I get it. I believe it. I don't think I'm a 'geek'. But gear is such fun! And the privilege of having so much resolving power in my hands was exciting.
There were places I knew I needed to revisit. Conniston with its famous northern jetty was one, the scene of my first real photographic disaster - on a dawn shoot the previous year as I stepped away from my camera to change a filter I could only watch as the whole rig of tripod, camera and 16-35mm lens toppled seemingly in slow motion and crashed to the stony beach, causing some cosmetic damage to the front lens element but serious (and costly) damage to the focussing mechanism. There were other places, such as Wast Water on the Western edge, that I had missed on the previous occasion and that I longed to see. However, what I was looking forward to most as we turned onto the A66 was that first glimpse that had so stunned me the on our first visit. I was ready for it. And yet I wasn't. It caught me again, despite the threatening skies. We stopped in a lay-by even though I knew that what I was trying to capture was beyond what any camera could manage. A dozen or more so-so pictures later I was simply standing, looking south, drinking it all in when a change in the light caught the corner of my eye and suddenly the afternoon clouds parted enough for the rays of the sun to spotlight the hills that mark the northern boundary. The holiday makers that sped past me towards Keswick, Cockermouth and all points west lowered the sun shields on their cars as I ran along the roadside to gain a better view. Welcome to the Lake District!
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