Wasdale, western Lake District.
Wasdale is a remote valley in the western Lake District. It is home to England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike 978 m (3,209 ft) which sits on the shore of England's deepest lake, Wastwater at 258 feet (79 m) deep.
Being more difficult to access, it is usually much quieter than the more popular and easily accessible tourist hotspots beyond the peaks and ridges to the eastern end of the valley. As the crow flies it is not so far to civilization, but the single track road comes to an end beyond the lake. The only way to continue further is on foot. There are only a few facilities at the head of the valley, a pub, The Wasdalehead Inn, and small shop, most useful for buying dry socks after an unscheduled paddle in the lake. A couple of campsites, and a tiny church.
With the height of the mountains and the valley's proximity to the Irish sea the weather changes quickly, blue sky in the morning can quickly turn to glowering low clouds, encircling the peaks and hiding them from view. The drive over to Wasdale was mainly through mist and fog, clearing only in the final few miles, the higher peaks holding back the dreary weather and preserving a clear sky.
Wasdale in Winter - 2Wasdale, Lake District, Cumbria, England. A remote valley in the western Lake district containing England's deepest lake, flanked by England's highest Mountain, Scafell Pike. The valley is a great spot for photographers. In fact most people seen that day were carrying cameras and tripods, carefully setting up to achieve a pleasing composition and calculating the tricky exposure between sunlit summits and shadowy slopes. The grass is a pale green, yellow. The bracken is a rusty orange, brown. Blue skies reflect from the rippled waters Wastwater, while the condesation trails of jets fan out into lines of thin cirrus clouds high above. The lake is fully in shade as the low winter sun hides itself behind the long ridge which forms Illgill Fell (609m). Its slopes fall steeply down to the lake on the far shore, a combination of crags and scree.
According to PhotoPills, the sun should rise over the crest of the ridge just after midday, later in the day is should be shining straight down the lake just before sunset. Here's hoping for some nice late afternoon / evening light. Wasdale in Winter - 4
On schedule, the sun rises slowly above Illgill Fell bringing a bit of weak winter warmth. I move away from the lake edge, across the road and up onto higher ground to catch a bit of sunshine.
On a wide gently sloping area are a number of bales, surprisingly they are made of bracken, mown then compacted into large cylinders secured with a fine plastic mesh by some modern baling machine. They are worthy of a photograph.
The sunlight creeps closer down to the edge of the lake warming the land as it goes. It gently heats the atmosphere which rises aloft, drawing in the surrounding air as a cool breeze, and with it the mist. Now lifted on the wind it forms low clouds which spill over the crests of the hills and cascade down the slopes, fragmenting as they go. The mountain tops are now shrouded in a blanket of grey moisture which sucks the colour from the surrounding landscape. So much for the nice afternoon light, perhaps some other time.
As luck might have it, a couple of weeks later, I'm back in Wasdale. It's another blue sky sunny winters day, a dusting of snow covers the highest peaks, the air is clear and everything looks good until a bank of cloud appears ominously out to the west. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and it is the high clouds preceeding the frontal system that are going to cover the sun long before it reaches the horizon. Still, this time it has chance to move further around and it casts an angled light across the screes on the far side of Wastwater just before it disappears into the the oncoming line of weather. I set up for a panoramic shot and take several overlapping images as the scene is too wide to fit into one single frame.
Back at home the panorama is stitched together but the resulting photograph looks decidedly dull and disappointing, even after processing. It is not what I was after, so I leave for a day or so before taking it into photoshop to see if I can do anything. After a bit of "creative experimentation" I manage to tease out the colours, I'm not a big fan of over saturated photos but I kind of like this one. I think it is because it contains the full spectrum, from red to blue. No colours were added, they were all there hidden in the landscape, they just needed a bit of help to shine.
The Full Spectrum, late afternoon light on The Screes, Wasdale.
Keywords: cumbria, hasselblad, lake, lake district, landscape, light, mountains, photography, wasdale, wastwater, weather
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