Through JMW Turner’s Magical Landscape – Lake District 2022
The main part of the project on JMW Turner, in the sense of “photography from the Lake District location”, is over. I brought back about 1100 takes. The weather did not turn out too nicely, on the other hand, anyone can take pictures of beautiful sunsets 🙂. For me, personally, it was very challenging and I was not always happy with myself. It is hard to stay alert in terms of organisation trying to keep the trip on schedule with the planned times and locations in combination with the weather, drive on the left side on narrow roads of the English countryside, and at the same time concentrate on shooting the project.
The projects on César Manrique, JMW Turner and subsequently on Joan Miró present a very specific task – they are not educational courses but personal expressions of one’s view of a story or landscape through eyes influenced by a particular painter. The more important it is to be well prepared and having this preparation in place being able to react on the spot to the light, weather, location…
We travelled through all the main areas of the Lake District, we combined the scenery near lakes with that near the sea, technical details as well as historical nooks. In the project, the Lake District represents the typical lake landscape that Turner would frequently paint. We took photographs in various places, for instance near Buttermere, Honister Pass, Whitehaven, Keswick /Derwent Water, Barrow-in Furness, Elter Water, the Castlerigg stone circle… What was it like?
Right after breakfast, we set off towards Buttermere and Honister Pass. The goal of the day is to take pictures of the lake views from above, that is, to get in the hills above the lakes and use the opportunity to capture the historical landscape which is visibly affected by mining and processing of slate, too. We are quite successful despite the fog covering the surrounding hills.
The second day is dedicated to the coastal landscape. We take advantage of the fact that we are accommodated in Whitehaven which is a small fishing town. It has a unique history, there are remnants of mines and to both sides of the port there is a picturesque rocky coast with cliffs of middle height and we are reasonably successful in capturing the tide and tidal waves, particularly in the evening. The typical view of the Whitehaven port with two lighthouses in the entrance has one flaw, it is disfigured by a box around one of them, probably due to an ongoing reconstruction.
This day is planned as the first one for the exploration of the main lake scenery, Derwent Water and the adjacent town of Keswick. Nevertheless, before that, we go to a local site above the lake, the old stone Ashness Bridge. However, we are faced with unfavourable weather, the sky is grey and it is drizzling. After lunch we set out for the afternoon and evening shooting to the old pleasure boat harbour and to the western side of the lake with a repair dock for small boats and the associated technical infrastructure. For a moment the light comes to senses and we are able to shoot several passable takes before the sky clouds over again.
Because of the unfavourable weather and bad weather forecast for the central part of the Lake District we choose to go on a somewhat longer trip to Barrow-in-Furness. They are two large sandy coastal areas with bays carved into the mainland. At least in maps it looks like an interesting flat area with distant views across the sands of both the sea and the mainland. We discover a natural reservation overgrown with grasses, but because neither of us is a bird photographer, let alone having the right equipment for it, we leave quite early and stop in a town bay at low tide with small boats on dry land. At the end of the day, we try and catch the sunset at Buttermere – as suggested by the radar app for tracking clouds, but we arrive late (in the narrow streets, unexpected traffic obstacles crop up…) so there is not enough time to find the right spot – nevertheless, good hunters don’t complain and shoot!!!
A side note – do you know that there are more than 150 historical railway tracks for steam locomotives covering a total of 560 miles in Great Britain? And that these are looked after by 4 thousand employees and over twenty thousand keen volunteers?
The weather is somewhat insipid, unfortunately, the radar map confirms that even today it won’t be worth much. So we set off to the smaller lakes over Ambleside with the goal to take pictures of some coastal details. Together with Jitka, we attempt some watercolour painting and I crash the drone – unfortunately on the other side of the river, which results in a delay of almost an hour and a half because I have to cross the river and find it… We return to the hotel and spend the remaining time resting, we are all starting to get tired.
The main plan for the last day is to finish taking pictures at Derwent Water, this time from the west. The weather is still not supportive of us, it is overcast and about to rain, but because of the interesting stone structures along the edge of the lake we walk along the whole western side, that is three kilometres, and successively take pictures of the individual elements. At the end of the lake, we get lucky, and in the late afternoon sun beams flood the lake creating a fairy-tale-like scenery as if taken from the Lord of the Rings. Towards the evening we head to the historical site of Castlerigg where we try luminography in the stone circle. And that is where our expedition to the English Lake District ends.
Now we need to let the takes rest a bit, they will have to be sorted and edited after some time. The project and its processing including its presentations will continue until the end of the year. We still have the September photoshoot in Venice ahead of us. It’s a place where Turner painted too. I would also like to integrate some photos from the Alps into the project, as I will be there at the end of June with my friend Honza. The planned finale will probably be, as in the case of César Manrique, the publishing of an e-book and, if everything works out, a joint exhibition in the end of December 2022.
Liberec, May 24th 2022