The following morning, before sunrise, the hotel provided a simple, self-service continental style breakfast including fruit, cooked meat, bread, butter, croissants and coffee. At thet rtime4 in the morning the dining room was almost empty except for staff. Sean still managed to stand behind her at the table laid with the food, so as to lean over her and help himself to a dish for his fresh fruit, brushing his body against hers as he did so. She managed to dig her elbow sharply into his chest as she turned to give him daggers with her eyes.
‘Don’t try anything like that again,’ she warned him, ‘I can be terribly clumsy when I have a pot of hot coffee in my hand.’
He blustered that he had no idea what she was talking about.
Her lip curled in disbelief as she walked away from him, keeping her back straight and her bearing upright to show that she was not cowed. She was angry. She hadn’t dressed in any way that could have been described as provocative. Her grey hoodie, hiking trousers and boots effectively disguised her figure. Her make-up was minimal, and her hair was pulled back loosely in a pony tail that poked through the hole at the rear of her baseball cap.
Mel was pleased that their paths were unlikely to cross much during the day. The three of them would start together at the Lone Tree at the northernmost tip of Lake Buttermere. It was a spindly tree standing in the water that most passing people wouldn’t even notice . However, with its impressive mountain backdrop of Fleetwith Pike across the length of the lake – it was a famous choice of location for photographers. Mel and Sean would both be capturing the same subject at sunrise and their efforts would be seen side by side in the magazine.
At this stage, it would be usual for the professional to look over the amateur’s settings and to provide advice as necessary. The photojournalist would then have recorded the advice. When Sean came across to look over Mel’s shoulder, however, she told him that she’d somehow manage without his help.
‘Huh!’ he said, ‘Well, let the best man win. I hope that you’ll take your defeat with better grace.’
Barry looked amused. A needle match would be worth reporting as such and make his article more interesting.
The surface of the lake was ruffled by an unwelcome early morning breeze, destroying any real hope of attractive reflections of the rising Sun. Both Mel and Sean prepared for shooting with long exposures using filters. The few high clouds were scudding across the sky quickly in the high-altitude winds and their long exposures would be enhanced by the effects of this movement.
Once these opening shots had been taken, Mel and Sean headed in different directions. Barry went to photograph nearby Sourmilk Ghyll while Mel packed her gear and started her walk on the other side of the lake, heading most of the way up towards the northern end of Lake Buttermere.
The foot of Sourmilk Ghyll where it enters Lake Buttermere
She walked along the eastern bank of the lake, taking occasional shots as she went. Her chosen spot, however, was the view across to The Sentinels – a line of trees that, in the early morning sunlight were beautifully backlit against Haystacks – the mountain behind them. Now that the breeze of daybreak had gone, the trees and mountain were reflected in the lake.
The Sentinels below Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks
Barry accompanied her, keen to see how she measured up to what he’d heard about her from Damian. He interviewed her while she set up her equipment – asking about her choice of subject and why she’d chosen it. He noted the lens and the settings that she’d be using, and then he took some shots of Mel at work and of her subject – one or two over her shoulder to show the reader the setting of Mel’s viewpoint.
I’m breaking the Liverpool sequence for a couple of days to post some shots that fit the storyline. I took these a few years ago when I spent a weekend at Lake Buttermere. From that day, I’ve chosen this one of the Lone Tree at daybreak.
I used my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera together with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The shutter speed was 1/50 secs at f/11 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100.