Planning "Wast Water, Lake District".
November 25, 2013

Wast Water may be in one of the less accessible parts of the Lake District but the sight of the towering peaks of Scafel Pike and Great Gable around Wasdale Head make it worth the effort.

Wasdale Head, Lake District

One of the first choices to make in a mountain landscape is whether to photograph from high up, or low down. A higher vantage point would accentuate the form of the lake, but diminish the grandeur of the mountains. I decided to scout along the edge of Wast Water instead of higher up in the hills as I wanted the peaks around Wasdale Head to appear to rise up out of the water. A look at the map shows the southern side of Wast Water to be steep sided and quite featureless and that the northern side offers the best views of the mountains around Wasdale Head. Scouting the northern shore quickly confirms this and that there were plenty of locations with interesting foreground to photograph from.

Having identified the area I wanted to photograph from, my next and perhaps most important consideration was when the sun would be hidden by the mountains as this is likely to be long before sunset. I wanted as much of what I could see to be illuminated by the sun, but I wanted that sunlight to be warm light and not the harsher light from when the sun is higher in the sky. Fortunately my chosen position and the time of year I was visiting the Lake District meant that the sun would be setting in the direction of some low hills. I was able to estimate when the sun would be hidden using the useful geodetic tools of Photographer's Ephemeris. If the sun had not been in a suitable place my options would have been to have visited at a different time of year, or change the area I had chosen to photograph from.

Another consideration when photographing lakes is that the water level in the lake can vary quite dramatically at different times of the year. Again, I was fortunate as I was photographing Wast Water in early Spring when the water levels are still quite high. If I were visiting in summer, the lower water levels might reveal a less photogenic shoreline.

Finally all I needed to do was to choose the exact place (or places) I wanted to photograph from.

Wasdale Head, Lake District 2

I had assumed that I would make a colour photograph, but the constantly changing cloud formations meant that some of the the images I captured at my second locations were lit by very soft light and so I converted my chosen image from that second location to black and white.

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