It takes me weeks to edit a new collection of Pyrenees photographs, in this case from 2013. Each shot needs anything from a few minutes to thirty or more. Thirty minutes is rare, although I have done it seeking to adjust and compensate for difficult light. My routine is as follows. Check for dust, spot clean it, adjust contrast and saturation like using a filter, check the composition and crop to improve, consider a square or panorama format, consider a monochrome conversion, consider a neutral density filter or similar effect. The final stage is sharpening then I save an archive TIF from a RAW file and a JPEG for my web site. These modifications can be achieved in camera but you don’t have the leisure for it, and in my case the equipment, because of rucksack weight when I’m walking for two weeks or even a few days. There’s also the factor concerning fine aesthetic judgements and the weighing of subtle alternatives as you walk. You might be wind blown, cold, scared, lost, have to get somewhere quickly for food, safety, or sleep. Usually when I stop to photograph for twenty or thirty minutes I feel a growing sense of stress and urgency. Your time is important in the mountains. This shot needed about five minutes computer work. Digital photography is a very malleable process both in camera and in post production. I use the term “aesthetic limits” with reference to darkroom methods, to provide a conceptual framework for understanding it. The view here is from the Calberide ridge in the Spanish Pyrenees, looking towards France. The far distance is Spain and the Ordesa Canyon. Gourgs Blancs is along the ridge to the right. The GR11 route is down the nearby Estos Valley to the left; the HRP is the other side of Gourgs Blanc. Much as I love Posets, which appears in other shots I got from this summit area, this is possibly my favourite shot.

 

Pyrenees Mountain Photography Book: Calberide Cloud Inversion

Saturday January 11, 2014

 
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…


 
Mountain Photography And Manipulation (2)

In a previous article I referred to the aesthetic limits of traditional film photography and how they remain an important part of the digital medium. This is historic if you are interested in the cultural history of photography and pedagogic, aesthetic, and ideological as follows. Many young people have little or no experience of photography beyond an automated compact camera or iPhone. It’s peculiarly difficult teaching such people – and with adults too – for those…


 
Photography Twitter And British Hill Walking

Twitter and the Internet There was a recent internet debate about the authenticity of mountain photography in which I participated. I’m going to comment on what happened addressing the following points: social media, what authenticity means to me, and what it means for photography. It started at Twitter and I’ve since read this perceptive essay by writer Kathryn Schulz whose book Being Wrong is worth reading. She talks about her experience of the internet and “social media”…