Winter wonderland …
MOST people take their camera out of the bag only when the weather is good and the temperatures are warmer, but one Lake District photographer is hoping to change that attitude by highlighting the attractions of winter photography.
Tim Fisher, aged 53, is a regular sight across Eden and the national park snapping scenes on the fells and at local events such as Penrith’s Winter Droving festival — often accompanied by Henry, his faithful Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross.
Although still a relative newcomer to the area — he moved to the Manor Park area of Keswick in September, 2015 — Tim says he has been visiting since his schooldays.
“Keswick was on the way to Scotland,” he adds. “I’ve been to the Lakes all my life. Then, when I was on leave from the Army I never went home, I just came here wild camping.”
Tim says major outdoor events, such as the Winter Droving, which he has covered over the past two years, make ideal picture opportunities but you must be prepared and get there well before the start.
“Don’t turn up when the parade starts,” he said. “You want to be there an hour and a half before so you are photographing the preparations, people getting into their costumes and setting up floats.”
He says it is the same with Kendal’s torchlight parade. “You want that half light which is twilight,” he said.
Tim’s technique involves using off-camera flash, which is also used by a number of well-known photographers such as Magnum’s Martin Parr, combined with a slow shutter speed and wide aperture — for example 1/15th or 1/20th of a second and f2.8 or f2 — to retain background detail.
“If you’ve got a black background that doesn’t work,” he adds. “If you find yourself at a high sensitivity such as 800ISO, then so be it.”
And, if the picture suffers from too much noise, he suggests converting it to black and white so it looks like a grainy monochrome photograph from the analogue days of film.
Landscape photography is another field which lends itself to the winter months and Tim says one useful aid is a “virtual horizon”, which is found in the viewfinder of some cameras and helps to keep the photograph level, as well as a good tripod, which can be made more stable by hanging your camera bag underneath it.
“Dress up warm,” he said. “I never leave home without a hat and it stands to reason you need good boots. If your walk takes you up Helvellyn you are going to get warm but you are also going to be standing around for an hour or more.”
He says he prefers shooting during the winter months and adds that summer is “a bit overrated for landscape photographs”.
Tim says you should aim to be in position around 45 minutes before sunrise or stay until 45 minutes after sunset. “Once the sun has dropped below the horizon there is no reason to call it a day,” he said. “Sometimes the clouds get lit from underneath. You get these extraordinary light shows, but the sun is below the horizon.”
He advises carrying spare batteries for all equipment, because they do not last as long in colder temperatures, as well as extra cable releases because he has known them to fail in the field. “If in doubt put it on self-timer,” he adds.
“I always carry batteries in my pocket and if you really want to warm it up put it under your armpit. You can also warm it up by blowing on it.”
Tim went to school just outside York, and after completing his A-level exams in 1982 joined the Army following the Falklands conflict. After training at Sandhurst he served as a lieutenant in what is now known as the Royal Logistics Corps.
He says it was during this time that his interest in photography first developed and adds: “I started doing photos in the Army because I used to have to write my own articles. After the Army I went travelling around South East Asia for two years and bought my first proper camera — a Nikon FA.”
He completed a course in photojournalism at the London College of Printing and, as well as working on projects across Eden and the Lake District, has been based in Mongolia and also covered the beginnings of the civil war in Ukraine in early 2014.
• Tim is offering three lucky readers half a day’s photographic tuition. To be in with a chance of winning send up to three of your best winter images, as well as contact information, to iandcwherald.com — marking the subject line winter photography competition — by 31st December, 2017.