Last time I slept at Refugio Viados they kindly offered me the outlying hut. I’d asked for a quiet room if possible. This time I asked for it myself and enjoyed again private sleeping rather than dormitory hell. The food is quite good and the people are pleasant. At another table a British couple were entertained by three young Germans, exchanging jokes and offering wine. “Are beards fashionable in Germany” he asked, “because in Britain beards are very fashionable for young men”. I thought it was more the case, as with me, a lot of men don’t follow regimented shaving which means some of the time you have a half beard. “See if you can make her smile” he said to the Germans, concerning the waitress. “Snowdon’s not very interesting,” he told them. I considered if I felt the same. In my imagination, I shifted from these wonderful mountains to the British hills. The valley walk following the HRP to Soula or here, to Port d’Estos, is initially the same. In simple terms you carry on and climb up at the end for the HRP or turn right for the GR11 and the Estos valley. Both paths are very steep. The HRP takes you down rocky scree and Soula is a strange unattractive refuge adjoining a power station. I was looking forward to seeing Estos and enjoyed walking the same path, the Zinqueta d’Anles Cruces, as I did six years ago. It’s a notably lovely area, more so because beautiful Posets stands beside it. I was exhausted again. A pretty Spanish lady smiled and asked me if I was OK when she saw me labouring up the path to Port d’Estos or in Spanish, Puerto de Chistau (2592 metres). I wasn’t initially interested in this photograph. Now I think it’s a good shot of the Estos valley with a muted effect which is one mood of the Pyrenees and indeed all mountains. The view here is towards the Maladeta massif although you have to walk further to see it. Marmots shrieked at me as I descended. One on the left, one invisible in the rocks on the right. The following day I climbed up the mountains you see in the near distance.

 

Pyrenees Photography Book: Estos Valley

Sunday December 29, 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…