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An evening walk around Buttermere Lake

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Landscape photography without people

One thing which all of my photographs have in common is the lack of any people in them. This is partly by choice but is very easy for me to achieve as I’m often at locations locations at either sunset or sunrise, i.e. when people don’t tend to be out and about. Its not that I don’t like the company of people, in fact I’d go as far as saying there are some I quite like.

Maybe having someone in the picture does help to give a sense of scale. Conversely the ambiguity that is produced by lacking a sense of scale can be a useful tool.

Anyway, whatever is right I still prefer landscape shots without anyone in the picture.

Buttermere Lake shore walk

On a recent summer’s evening I decided to take a drive to Buttermere in the western Lake District. On arriving I was chuffed to bits to see the lake surface was flat and producing some decent reflections. I could have headed to the eastern end of the lake to get a shot of the Scots Pines and their reflections but everyone seems to do that so I thought I’d save that for another day (update in 2015: I have now got a photo of the Buttermere pines reflected in the lake in my collection). No, this time I stayed close to the village, wary that the wind might pick up at any time so was keen to get some pictures taken as soon as possible. Any idea of walking round the lake was ditched straight away.

At the western end of the lake are a line of deciduous trees, mainly of ash and oak. I set up my camera and took a couple of quick pictures, sure that the reflections were spot on.

Firstly there was a view of Buttermere with the Coledale Fells of Grasmoor and Whiteless Pike forming the backdrop.

Zooming in a bit I focussed on the line of ash and oak lining the lake shore.

Detail in evening Buttermere reflection photograph

And then I sat down and waited. For what? Why was I not happy with the picture I had taken?

Well, let me explain: the photograph seen on my site is much smaller than the actual photograph taken by the camera, it has to be otherwise this website would run very slowly indeed as the files would be so big. As a side note prints bought from my online shop use the full size photograph. Anyway if I take the original photograph produced by the camera and zoom in to the area highlighted by the red box in the first photograph I get the second photograph.

Now, whats that white thing? Zoom in a bit more, I get the third photograph – this is the photograph displayed at 100%, i.e. in actual size.

I don’t believe it – people! Ok, I could have edited the photograph to obliterate the oblivious couple enjoying their holiday but I’m not overly keen on editing photographs in such a way. Never mind. Zooming in as far as I can produces the final photograph. Sadly all that seems to show is that they’re middle aged/elderly, hardly enough information to identify them. Even so that’s a surprising amount of detail given how small they were in the original image.

This is a good example of getting a shot as soon as I was set up, knowing that it wasn’t ideal. Ok, the reflection could have been more perfect but I actually like the foreground ripples. Plus I could have waited for the couple to move but was wary of missing out on a good photograph as everything else in it is spot on. In the event by the time they did move the sun had gone behind a cloud and the great light on the fellside in the background had gone.

On reflection (pardon the pun) this was one evening out in the Lake District which definitely didn’t go to plan but actually turned out to be successful. I’m more than happy with the results.

To view more photos from this part of the Lake District please view my landscape photos from the Buttermere Valley .

An evening walk around Buttermere Lake was last modified: March 2nd, 2020 by Gavin Dronfield

Further reading:

  • Stanley Ghyll Force walk
    November 2016 : A walk through autumnal Eskdale woodland to Stanley Ghyll Force

  • Great Gable and Green Gable from Borrowdale
    May 2015 : A day that started out very unpromisingly in Borrowdale turned out to be one of my best days out in the Lake District fells.

  • A walk from Dufton to High Cup Nick
    January 2019 : A Walk from Dufton along the Pennine Way to watch sunset at High Cup Nick in winter

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