Walking the other side from Collata Chistau down to Viados was an odd experience. It was raining to begin with, then it lessened but remained overcast, which meant I couldn’t take photographs. My mood changes accordingly. When I reached the valley floor I was warm again and removed my Goretex jacket and trousers. It was six years since I’d been there and as part of a long trek you don’t usually remember small details. As I descended the rocky track I remembered where I’d enjoyed lunch of bread and cheese. I noticed the track I’d taken where I had to retrace my steps before I became lost. The path climbed a little and I saw the tree where I’d paused for a rest and to zip off my lower trousers. I stopped again to enjoy the moment repeated across the years thousands of miles from home. I felt the old tree with my hands and zipped off my trousers. Hello again old friend. I was lonely as I remembered all this, yearning for the previous exploration when I was happy on a sunny day. I remembered where the forest stops and the boggy grassland begins. I knew what to expect, and the eventual GR11 sign was familiar. I remembered crossing a wooden bridge and the people who were resting there. I remembered the track leading through a wooded area where the road continues differently, wondering if I should take it when navigating a forest is difficult. There is no sign. On this occasion I knew it was a short cut and went that way again. Out the other side, and the same incline filled me with despair towards the end of a tiring day, when it is not especially steep. Six years ago this was not a memorable part of my HRP trek. It was not memorable again, but poignant, collected into myself, wary for my safety, reaching out for meaning. I doubt if I’ll ever read Proust. His books are too long, but they intrigue me.

 

Pyrenees Photography Book: Collata Chistau (2)

Saturday December 28, 2013

 
Notes From The Mountains: Male And Female

A few years ago I read an article discussing ‘immersion’ in the hills and how women have the feeling but men don’t. It became silly with talk about the moon, water, and the ladies educating us chaps. Watch a lady swimming in the sea, one person said, and see and learn how she is emotionally enveloped. I’m going to talk about gender and the hills, not the moon and the sea. There is some truth that…


 
Pyrenees Advice: Travel, Towns, and Food

My first trip to the Pyrenees mountains was in 2007. I returned there backpacking in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This summer I might go there for the seventh time. I’m considering a series of books, with photographs and notes from all my trips, and it seems I know something about the Pyrenees. Here’s a few notes about travel and towns. Travel There are various ways of getting to the Pyrenees. I can only talk about…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Photographic Composition And Light

Photographic composition is both an art and a science. The science part of it can be taught technically with reference to the Rule of Thirds, leading lines and the psychology of the gaze: what attracts your attention in a shot, where does your eye travel, and why? The art part of composition is more vague and nebulous because it concerns subjective feelings. Ultimately, as in art so with photography, we like what we like and there’s…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Authentic Photography And The Lake District

Difference between entertainment mountain material, and my experience mountain material. I will write about this. pic.twitter.com/WnzqSN6VPg— James Lomax (@james__lomax) February 7, 2014 I was recently struck by the above realisation. There’s a difference between writing, photography and video designed to entertain, and that which expresses something more personal and direct. Are you aiming for an audience or something more intangible? Trying to capture interest or inviting it? Serenity or action – and which is the more…


 
Notes From The Mountains: Photo, Video, Dreams

About fourteen months ago I bought a Sony RX100 for two reasons. I wanted a video tool and preferred the ergonomics of a compact camera rather than a video cam as such. I wanted a back up to my DSLR which would also serve as a useful extension for photographic work. This meant two things: a zoom range beyond my Canon L Series 17-40, and inconspicuous size useful for street photography. Any compact camera gives…


 
Eccentric Hills

Pre-dawn starts are the way to go. I knew it was going to be a good one as soon as I left the trees, the first faint traces of red backlighting gravid cloud. It peaked at 08:30 – and ten minutes later it was over. I’d seen the same thing walking through Inverness the previous morning, shifting layers of pink and red cloud lit up with pinpoint clarity; I could hardly take my eyes…


 
Robert Macfarlane, Nan Shepherd, The Cairngorms

I don’t think there’s enough poetry, philosophy, rapturous appreciation of the hills. Look at the books, and you find overwhelming emphasis on heroic battling and the claiming of summits. Look at the magazines, and you find a constrained format with a particular house style. Look at the big films and you find The White Spider, Touching The Void, Everest assaults and similar. It’s tedious. With my literary background I want a great deal more than the…


 
Cameras For Mountain Photography

I bought my first digital SLR many years ago after waiting for the quality to improve and the price to drop. It was right on the cusp of it, because prior to the Canon 10D reports suggested DSLRs were inferior to film and they were too expensive. The reason why the first sensors were cropped in size is because they were so expensive to manufacture. It was the same with full frame sensors concerning cost. Way…


 
Great Gable Cloud Inversion: A Lake District Walk

Through the summer, the landscape’s most frequent mood had been dim and gloomy. The damp air coming through the window was rich with the fragrance of rot and growth, and to the eye it had much the same shimmering dense quality as looking through a telescope. The burden of moisture in the air worked on perception as optics of poor quality do, distorting, expanding, and diminishing distance and altitude, altering the sense of mass moment…


 
A Walk Through The Alps: Mountain Photography And Manipulation

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit – Edward Abbey Everything’s choreographed now, it’s fucking rubbish – Noel Gallagher We will teach our twisted speech to the young believers – Joe Strummer To conclude my reflections on the topic of photography and manipulation I’ll refer to the work of a former colleague. I’ll consider the term manipulation in more subtle and complex terms which are not confined to photography technique, but I use…