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2020 has been a year that I suspect we will never forget for all of the wrong reasons. Just think about the language that is now part of our every day vocabulary.

"Covid 19, Lockdown, Tiers, PPE, Furlough", granted some of the words already existed but who would have thought how prevalent they would become. Let's just hope that 2021 allows us all return to the lives that we used to live, all be it somewhat wiser, considerate and compassionate.

I class myself as being incredibly fortunate during 2020. Despite the restrictions that have been placed upon us all, my photography has continued to allow me to get into the great outdoors and create memories through my work that will last a lifetime. As many of you will know, I battled with anxiety a few years ago which manifested itself into a severe panic disorder. If I hadn't discovered "The Dare Response", the incredible piece work of Barry McDonagh during those dark and frightening days, then I have no doubt that I would have been in a position to be writing this blog, I know I certainly wouldn't have rediscovered my love of photography. His inspirational words of "We can't wait to see the photographs" still resinate with me every day. I will also be enterally grateful to my boss at the time, Craig, who through his support and encouragement enabled me to make sense of the world in which I was living.

I do have a concern that once Covid 19 is a dark and distant memory that its lasting legacy will be the long term effect that it has had on many peoples mental health. Be it anxiety, depression, PTSD, the effect of the virus, I have no doubt will continue to haunt many long after vaccines have been administered and we are as free as we ever can be from the physical dangers that it poses. Let's keep our fingers crossed that support is available for those who need it on a long term basis and that as a society we can all demonstrate the empathy and provide support to those who need it the most,

Despite all of the turmoil, I have still been able to travel extensively within the UK when lockdown and restrictions have been eased. I have crossed boarder into Scotland on numerous occasions, taking clients along to photograph the wonders of this magical country. Sadly the workshop that was planned for early in 2021 has had to be postponed for a few weeks due the the current restrictions that are in place, but I will be back as soon as possible. I live in North Yorkshire, but my heart will forever be in my beloved Northumberland and although I haven't been home as much as I would have liked to this year, there have still been some incredible memories created.

Living in the North York Moors is so wonderful. The landscape constantly changes, with the arrival and passing if each season, compositions open themselves up to be photographed before hiding away for another 12 months. I do have to sometimes remember not to take the beauty of the moors for granted. There is still so much exploring to be done and hidden treasures to be found. The weekend workshops that I run across the National Park has been really successful, lasting friendships have been formed, with so much laughter along the way.

Finally there is the Lake District, where I have just spent the most incredible week. I can't believe that until a couple of years ago, I had only ever been over here once. Now, I make the journey over the Pennies as much as I can. There is just some much to explore and I really have only just begun to scratch the surface of this amazing landscape. Granted the weather can be a bit wet which can make the photography challenging, but that just adds to the fun. There is always an image to be had what ever the conditions, you just have to work a little bit harder to find them.

One thing that this week has confirmed to me, is that from a photography perspective you are far more likely to capture better images if you limit the area that travel too. All of the images that I have shared in this blog have been taken within half an hour of where I have been staying. I have been able to work the landscapes, gain an understanding of what time of the day they would work best and also take sample images of areas that can be returned too at a later date.

Kelly Hall Tarn is a classic example of this. It can be easily found, just look for the Landrover Garage on the A5084 between Torver and Sunny Bank. There is plenty of parking on the opposite side of the road to the garage and it tarn itself it only a short walk up the hill. It is a cracking location and the back drop the the snow capped hills, makes a great composition. I have been here twice this week and have had some great light. Yet despite all of this, I have never been entirely happy with any of the compositions. The problem is that there is not enough interest in the foreground to balance the image. The expanse of water is just to great when shooting wide angle and a large proportion of the compositions that I have taken just have too much empty space. I imagine in the summer or autumn when the reeds are much higher then it will transform the place and it is certainly a location to revisit next year.

I will also be keeping a close eye on the long range weather forecasts, especially next Autumn when the colours in the trees will be amazing. A couple of foggy days would have just been the icing on the Christmas Cake for me this week. Sadly it hasn't happen which is a real shame as I have found so many wonderful images that would be totally transformed by the separation and atmosphere that mist adds to woodland photography. The area around Coniston will certainly be one that I will be adding to the workshop itinerary for 2021, so look out for details of these over the coming months. I have been blessed with some astonishing light this week, no more so than at Monk Coniston on Monday evening. It was one of those evenings that will live long in the memory. For me, moments like this remind me of just how lucky I am, never to take anything for granted and that the best things in life wonders that Mother Nature provides us with.

The next blog that I post will be my top 10 images of 2020, look out for that over the next few days. Have a safe end to 2020, here is to a less traumatic 2021.

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