Photographic memory

I had a bit of a clean out over the weekend and came across this picture taken in the Lakes. It fell out of a hefty old hardback encyclopaedia, which I was obviously using to keep the print in reasonable condition.

It brought back plenty of memories.

Derwent Water sun set

I took this shot of Derwent Water fourteen years ago. I’d been sitting on Keswick waterfront for the best part of an hour with my old SLR sitting on a tripod.

I was waiting for the sun to set behind the ridge (Swinside, I think) and, using the smallest aperture setting, hoped I would get a bit of ‘starburst’ effect from the dying sun’s rays.

This was the final evening of a fantastic week in Cumbria. The weather had been kind, and I’d climbed Skiddaw, Dale Head via Cat Bells, explored Langstrath and climbed Scafell Pike from Seathwaite, a great circuit via the Corridor route.

I’d stayed at Pitcairn House in Keswick, a fine B&B, and the owner was keen to hear my exploits every morning over an ample breakfast…

Having checked, and double-checked, the camera’s settings just before the golden moment, I realised I had one exposure left on my film. The sun started to dip behind the ridgeline and I took the shot.

I got the prints back in the post and the image was a bit wishy-washy. Had I been able to bracket three exposures, the result would have been better. I’d also left my filter holder mounted on the lens, so there was a bit of ghostly shadow in the print, just above the tree line.

I was disappointed… I’d missed my moment. However, I took the print into work, my local newspaper, the chief photographer had a look.

‘I reckon we can make a bit more of that,’ he said, and disappeared into the dark room with the negative (ah, the days before digital!), telling me to come back in a couple of hours.

Later, he came up to the newsroom with three prints in varying intensities. My parents had one copy, and I had the richest version, which you can see here. I can’t recall what happened to the other one.

This ‘shot-of-a-shot’ doesn’t do the print justice, and I realise that the blood red sunset is pushing the bounds of reality somewhat.

It doesn’t matter, though. The image perfectly captures my sanguine mood as I sat on Keswick waterfront over a decade ago watching the sunset and reflecting on my week.

I must get it framed so the memories remain fresh.


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