When something gets in the way of what I’m trying to photograph, I’m no Mother Teresa. Last week my tripod was set up below Stockley Bridge, a stone bridge above Seathwaite. Most walkers only pause briefly on the bridge as it’s where the path to Great Gable or Scafell begins to climb upwards. Some might want to sit down on its low walls, but they see you and tacitly acknowledge your being there first gives you a greater right to the scene, or they just don’t want to be used in another damn photographer’s snaps. Mostly people move on after a few moments. So I’d like to pretend I was happy to wait for the couple who said hello and then promptly sat down right in the middle of my picture. But it became obvious they were staying for a while, so I was looking in their direction and doing my best to make it obvious I was waiting for them. It was only after 10 minutes that I started looking at my watch, with a grand sweep of my arm, and only after another 20 that they left. And after all that time, I wasn’t sure it was that good a composition anyway.
While I’ll confess to getting irritated and trying a bit of body language to get my way, I always try not to get too worked up. Had this couple stood up and pointed to the right, they would have made the photograph. In other words, what I try to tell myself is that there’s a fair chance that the unwanted element can easily become the subject of your picture or even play a more important role in the final result.
This is exactly what happened with this shot from yesterday. The sun was sinking below the hills behind these rocky outcrops and with almost no breeze Crummock Water had become beautifully-still. An idyllic summer’s evening – in March – and the light was crystal-clear. And then some people started up a barbecue. What you’re seeing isn’t mist, but thick smoke drifting across from behind a wall, and as soon as I noticed “the problem” I’d moved closer to get more of it in the frame and make the most of it being backlit by the sun. And the funny thing – these people apologised for spoiling my picture.