Landscape Photography 2

Lake District – Winter Afternoon Sun – Grasmere

Posts are like buses, none for a while and then a flurry of activity.

My last post covered the work I’d been doing for a university project. During the break, I had a short trip to the Lake District staying in Grasmere. The trip coincided with the spell of very cold weather due to Arctic air flows. The daytime temperature rarely got above freezing for a couple of weeks and at night was down to -8C or so.

This meant that hills were covered in frost and some indications of snow. Static or shallow water was frozen.

River Rothay in Grasmere

Given the latitude of about 53N the sun is never going to get more than about 14 degrees above the horizon at this time of year. If you’re curious about how to calculate this, subtract your latitude (53 here) from 90. In the northern hemisphere subtract the sun’s declination if it’s south of the equator (i.e. after autumnal equinox) or add it if it’s north of the equator (i.e. after spring equinox).

We are close to the winter solstice, which make sun’s declination around 23.5S. So it becomes (90-53) = 37, then subtract 23.5 giving 13.5 as the maximum height of the sun above the horizon in mid-December. For completeness at the summer solstice it becomes (90-53+23.5) giving 60.5.

Grasmere Lake

The end result is at this time of year, the sun is always low which gives better light for landscape images. If you’re lucky you get interesting colours in the sky during the golden hour around sunrise and sunset as well. I missed a day of stunning golden colours due to it being my travel day.

I went for a walk around Grasmere and chose to walk on the main roadside as this would provide better images of the fells and I’d be more likely to be looking towards the sun. The walk started along the River Rothay from Grasmere. The low sun providing good colour to some of the fells. You can see this in the image at the top of this post.

Winter Landscape

The winter weather made for quite a monochrome landscape in places. Grasmere lake itself was not frozen; its stillness was occasionally interrupted by birds taking off or landing on the water. The fells were diffusely reflected in the waters.

I would have liked to make a trip up to Honister Pass, or to the Roman fort on the Hardknott Pass, but I decided the weather was too risky for such adventures.

Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick

A trip to Keswick meant a chance to photograph Castlerigg Stone Circle in winter conditions. The stone circle is located in a more-or-less level field some 700ft above sea level (bit over 200m). The location provides panoramic views of surrounding fells and Blencathra (aka Saddleback) is behind you when looking out towards Keswick and Derwentwater.

The approach road is moderately steep given the elevation and is narrow. In normal conditions this is not an issue but in ice and sub-zero temperatures it was a challenging drive.

Winter Scene – Castlerigg Stone Circle

The view was not disappointing and probably due to the weather, there were few people there.

After Castlerigg, I went to Keswick and photographed the lake, which was partially frozen. This gave an opportunity for some unusual images.

Frozen Lake – Derwentwater

Although the higher mountain tops were white, this was really with heavy frost rather than snow. It would be good to make a trip after a substantial snowfall to get really good winter images.    


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