The trials and tribulations of outdoor photography in the UK


Exactly one year ago today I shot the picture above.


Today I shot this.

Its all to do with where the jet stream is. Now I know something about meteorology, being a landscape photographer it tends to go with the territory. I'm no expert though. However I do know that the jet stream, which influences our weather more than anything else shouldn't be here.


It is way too far south and is forecast to stay there for another week at least. Consequently we are stuck in the blue (cold) airflow you can see on the map. Today its forecast to not get above freezing where I live, with more leaden grey skies that have characterised this winter.

Now I like winter light, the sun low in the sky can create dramatic images. That is if the sun appears. The winter of 2012-2013 has been awful. Cold and above all dull, which is far worse. I've shot very little this year, probably about 1/3 of what I normally would. All this in contrast to the beautiful early spring we had last year. That was warm and dry, and there were all sorts of dire warnings about droughts. Those of us who been around for a while tend to take those with a large pinch of salt and after that wonderful spring we were treated to one of the wettest summers on record.

So is this global warming / climate change or just the normal fluctuations of UK weather? Well I don't know, and I'm not sure anyone else can say with certainty if that is the case. What I do know is that if you live in this country you have to exercise patience if you earn your living shooting outdoors. Looking on the bright side, I've got all my backlog of images edited, I've scanned a lot of my transparencies and I've written lots of posts for this blog. However I'd have gladly swapped all of that for some sunny days.

Cold springs can often mean warm summers, and I certainly hope that will be the case. But then attempting any kind of long term forecasting here seems to be impossible. The long term predictions for the last five summers have been way off and I've pretty much stopped taking any notice of them. 

As a country we do have this reputation of banging on about the weather interminably, but then anyone who comes to live here from elsewhere usually understands why pretty quickly. We do get a lot of it! We are spared the horrors of tornados, eathquakes and tsunamis but regular flooding now seems to have become part of everyday life and if water becomes the most precious in demand rescource as some predict then we are set to become the richest nation on earth, since we currently have enormous amounts of it!

I'm hoping that this follows its normal pattern and that as soon as doom and gloom predictions take over our climate decides to stick two fingers up to us and completely change around. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this coming summer consists of sub-tropical temperatures and a complete absence of rain. In many ways the UK climate is predictable only in its unpredictability and over the years its proved itself to be a law unto itself. Which I suppose in a way is a good thing. 

All you people who live in warm sunny climates must get really bored with all that light.(NOT!) However here in the UK we're made of strong stuff and can sit out the bad weather prepared to capture that fleeting light with our cameras. No country for landscape wimps certainly. So the next time you like one of my images and the light I've captured, do remember that it was probably a long wait for that to happen. Maybe not quite as long as I'm having to wait currently certainly, but here its a fact of life.

Finally Charlie Waite, one of our foremost landscape photographers, said this in a interview once. You just know he's a UK photographer.

"And I spent a lot of time just looking up at the sky out of the window.  So I already was very patient and could wait days for what I wanted.  So no, no.  I think I’m qualified to do what I do because I can hang around for so long…….anyway my name is Waite!"


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