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A perfect Winter morning for landscape photography at Blea Tarn!

Blea Tarn probably has to be one of my favourite places to shoot in the Lake District and it's been a location that I've wanted to get a certain shot for a good few years! A frozen tarn with some textured icy interest in the foreground, complimented by the blood red Winter light that hits the Langdale Pikes as the sun breaches the horizon at this time of year. I've had many attempts over the years, most of them failed to even produce the ice but this year has certainly seen somewhat of a cold snap! All I needed now was the right sky and the perfect light I was talking about.


Clear skies at Blea Tarn, things seemed to not really be working.

Looking at the forecast the evening beforehand, there was a small chance of hope. High cloud was rolling in from the West and for the most part, it looked as if by sunrise the cloud would have come too far in, meaning no gaps for light. There was one weather model forecasting for a possible gap and for some reason, I had that lucky feeling!


No rain for the previous couple of days meant that the road through Little Langdale would be drivable and bar a few puddles that had frozen over, the drive was a doddle! I arrived on location to not a single other soul in sight...ahhh bliss!


Conditions were looking a bit dim and it seemed the forecast of too much high cloud was going to ring true. Parts of the tarn were frozen over and I managed to find a decent composition with some interesting shapes being created in the cracks of the ice, so I decided to stick around anyway. I'm glad I did!


As sunrise got closer, I noticed behind me that the clouds were starting to catch colour and in my experience, if this happens within around 10 minutes of the sun coming up, there's a good chance of getting good strong light. My hopes started to gather and with my composition ready to go, it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment. It wasn't long before I finally got what I had been wanting for all these years!


After grabbing my first shot, it was time to see what else I could do. I noticed earlier that to my right, there was a small stream of water spilling into the tarn. This must have stopped ice from forming there which meant that I could try and bag a few reflection shots. I didn't really have much to work with; a few rocks poking out of the water and a patch of icy foreground interest back on the shoreline. It's easy when you get to take your time working compositions, tweaking them ever so slightly but with the light starting to fade, I knew it was a matter of pretty much 'running and gunning'. I wouldn't say I dislike this kind of photography; sometimes you can end up finding good compositions from just being 'in the moment' and the rush does kind of set off your adrenaline which occasionally, can add a bit of a change to the usual relaxed pace of landscape photography.



Sunrise reflections in Blea Tarn with Winter morning light hitting the Langdale Pikes.
Blea Tarn reflections with Winter morning light on the Pikes!

In terms of composition, this one was quite simple. The two rocks in the bottom left of frame were the ones that caught my eye the most and seemed to work well for the horizontal format! I had to get my feet a bit wet as I had to walk a few metres into the tarn and after waiting for the small ripples caused by my movement to fade, I fired off the shot. Right, lets find something else!


Golden Winter light at sunrise looking towards the Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn in the Lake District, UK.
A classic simple 'one rock' composition looking towards the Langdales.

This possibly might end up being my favourite shot of the morning. It's as simple as they come really, not much to it other than a single rock and a beautiful background but I like that. I find these shots pleasing to the eye, especially in print or hung up on a wall!


Ice on the shoreline of Blea Tarn with morning light hitting the Lake District Fells.
Frozen shoreline looking towards the Langdale Pikes at first light.

This was the last image I managed to take as the light literally disappeared right after taking this shot. In hindsight, I'd probably say the foreground works a little better in this one than the first image although it does lack the textured interest in the ice itself.


I may end up adding a few more of these to my portfolio in the future, particularly the 3rd and 4th one. What do you think? Let me know in the comment section! :)


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Simon Kelly
Simon Kelly
04 nov 2023

What a great site you have Daniel, with some inspirational photos. Thank you.


Despite having spent a fair bit of time in The Lakes for almost 40 years, I only discovered Blea Tarn this year. Since doing so, its been on my list for a winter photo. The idea I had was to try and catch it with a snow capped Harrison in the background. Now, having read your post, I now wonder what the chances are of having snow on Harrison plus ice on Blea Tarn. Pretty rare I guess but we all need things to aim for. Like you say, it's the journey.


Thank you again for the inspiration and all the great information.


Happy photo-ing.

Simon

https://www.opotoposnaps.com/

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