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Photos of the Lakes

Wouldn't it be Nice

We thought it would be nice to illustrate the Old Cumbria Gazetteer, that supports the Lakes Guides project, with modern snapshots. I use the term snapshot on purpose, there are over 30500 place entries in the gazetteer already, and carefully taken photographs of every place is not a realistic target; a limit of one picture per place is not sensible either, if you have made the journey to a place it is silly to restrict photography to one image. Roughly 10000 places are illustrated, with about 50000 photos. Do remember that the Lakes Guides project is being carried out by an unsupported two person team; not that we are complaining about this.

Note 2022

The photos used here are the largest we kept, those shown on the gazetteer pages being a little smaller.
Many early photos we took have now been removed, where we took a better photograph later.

Photogenic or Picturesque

Not all the gazetteer places are photogenic places, they might be beautiful and pleasant to be in, but do not make pictures. Using an older term, they are not picturesque. So:-
A low hill might have a name, and thus be recorded in the gazetteer, but it doesn't make a picture. It might still not be picturesque in chance dramatic lighting, or even with some vertical exageration, which is quite easy with digital photography and was not unusual in 18th century prints. You usually can't take a picture of a whole wood, and while pictures of a pretty group of trees is nice, it isn't necessarily representative of the whole. Most village views have too much road, and too many cars. Every beck looks like every other. ... ... The only strategy is to take what pretty scenes offer themselves, and to take dull pictures if necessary, of any recorded place.

It all takes Time

Time is not unlimited. We generally go out once a week, Friday is picnic day, to stop ourselves slaving over hot computers. This happens winter or summer, and we visit different parts of Cumbria to get to know our new home, stopping and looking, and snapping, on the way. Becoming alert to objects in the landscape we see more than a casual traveller.
  • We have to accept the weather and lighting that is on when we are at a particular spot.
  • We have to accept whatever views are available from public roads and paths.
  • There is no time to ask for special permission for access to good viewpoints, or to see places otherwise hidden. If it can't be seen it won't be snapped.
  • A real limit to access is the ridiculous level of car parking charges in The Lakes, just money-grubbing. What is very annoying is the level of the minimum charge at some car parks, say L5.00 for 3 hours, when we need to stop for 10 or 20 minutes. We are not spendthrift tourists.


Nearly all the photographs taken are digital. Using 35mm colour film would be prohibitively expensive, and can no longer be regarded as necessary for presentable quality. Digital is cheap, which means we can afford to take several shots to get something useable. Having been brought up on film (starting in b&w, processing my own film at a very young age) I have already learned to make every shot count. The freedom of digital snapshottery is super.

Some professional photographers have deplored the demise of film. The quality of image I see from a digital camera now, is far better than film ever was. (This is particularly noticeable if you photograph a page of text.)

What's to See?

We have maps and the gazetter to suggest what might come into view. A map showing what we have already recorded, and what is already snapped, is invaluable. But, mostly we just keep visually aware as we go along, stopping, if road conditions allow, as a view presents itself or the lighting has a brilliant effect, or we see a milestone or boundary stone, or a fascinating date stone, and lots of other tiny details of the landscape. We have enjoyed what taking photos has made us see. Stopping to look at standard objects like bridges and pubs and churches and listed buildings, often rewards us with other details as well. Churches are often cluttered with incidental local history, coats of arms, bits of armour, roman altars, and lots of delightful locally made organs; not always well cared for. Pubs are often the home of local photos.

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