In late October I visited the Lake District with a few other keen photographers. Lake District Autumn Colours are incredibly popular with landscape photographers and late October is usually a good time to catch this amazing natural spectacle. We based ourselves in Windermere, staying at a lovely house that we had sole use of for the duration of our stay. I arrived Friday evening just after the sun had set which was a shame since the lighting looked amazing from my car as I was nearing the location.
We would have two full days photographing some of the most popular photography locations in this wonderful national park. We limited ourselves to places that were a relatively close drive from Windermere. There are literally far too many spectacular locations to cover in one weekend and I fully intend to go back again and again to concentrate on different areas. Unfortunately the lighting for most of our trip was flat and dull. Expansive vistas lacked that extra ‘pop’ but it was good lighting for photographs taken in woodlands under a tree canopy.
The image above is of Clappersgate Bridge. In order to get the sense of movement in the water I used a 10 stop neutral density filter. This resulted in an exposure time of 79 seconds at f7.1 aperture.
Many people feel that The Lake District in October is at its best and in many ways it’s hard to argue with that. If you can delay your visit to late October you not only get the amazing colour but most accommodation is cheaper since it’s considered low season. There is accommodation for most budgets in the National Park. Many look for Lake District weekend cottages or Lake District breaks with hot tub. If you are not constrained by the office Monday to Friday 9-5 routine you will find that mid week prices are even cheaper. Failing that last minute Lake District breaks can often mean you will save money as accommodation can get discounted if it’s still not sold. It’s a hugely popular location year round though so waiting to the last minute can be a risky strategy.
Lake District Autumn Colours – Locations that I visited
Besides Clappersgate Bridge some of the other location I visited during this weekend trip were as follows:
- Bowness Bay
- Blea Tarn
- Slater’s Bridge
- Stockghyll Force
Some of these locations can be photographed at any time of day whereas others are more suited to sunrise or late afternoon light. I had an order that I wanted to follow but would adapt to suit the group and the weather conditions. It’s preferable however if you can respond to a last minute weather forecast rather than book months ahead and hope for the best. Naturally accommodation is not always available last minute. I’m hoping that sometime in 2017 I will be able to sell my current vehicle and buy a small campervan that will allow me much more flexibility to visit a location last minute and on a budget.
Here are a few other photographs taken that weekend.
Stockghyll Force is a lovely looking waterfall, especially during autumn. The shutter speed for the above image was 8 seconds at f8 aperture. Stupidly I had left my 10 stop ND filter in the car so was forced to use a cheap variable ND filter that I only normally use for video. I was surprised that the image turned out as well as it did considering the budget filter.
Blea Tarn is one of my favourite locations for landscape photography. Unfortunately the lighting was really flat when we visited early one morning. Modern processing techniques mean you can force some detail into the sky but it’s very much a poor 2nd best compared to having great natural light.
Lake Windermere offers lots of opportunity for photography. About half way along the lake you have Bowness, a pretty little town where you can book boat tours. At the northern end of Lake Windermere is the town of Ambleside which is a great place for shopping and another great base if you can find accommodation. The northern end of the lake is also where you will find Waterhead with some boats moored next to photogenic jetties. The photo above was a simple handheld shot at 1/100 second shutter speed at f7.1.
As we left the Lake District late Monday morning the weather was much better. It was so frustrating to be leaving just as the light was getting really interesting. I intend to return soon though, hopefully sometime in winter when there is snow on the ground. For anyone looking to photograph Lake District autumn colours I can recommend a book called ‘The Photographer’s Guide to The Lake District’ by E. Bowness. It not only lists lots of photogenic locations but tells you what time of day they are at their best and gives ordnance survey grid references to make it easy to find the places.