When the atmospheric conditions are right and the sun is low enough, Wasdale, the screes and surrounding hills can turn almost crimson for a short time in the evenings. It’s a well-known and sometimes elusive phenomenon that will attract hordes of photographers, most of whom congregate around the gull rock area of Wastwater. I was lucky to experience the Wasdale glow on this particular evening and it was jaw-dropping, I really did not expect it to be so vivid. It doesn’t last long and you need to be in place and ready. Almost as soon as the glow bathes everything in reddish pink light, shadows perceptibly creep up the hillsides and the screes opposite and there is frantic activity to take images as quickly as possible in every direction. Shooting on film with a 6x17cm panoramic camera requires a bit more restraint. Only four exposures to a roll of 120 means you will be changing film every 30 seconds and risk running out if you’re profligate. Added to this is the material cost of film and processing, currently about £10 for a roll of Velvia 50. You won’t need a degree in maths to work out the material cost of each exposure is around £2.50 with scanning time added later. Panic can be an expensive weakness in landscape photography! I made some exposures on 6x17cm format and then changed to the Xpan again. I wanted to compress the perspective in order to give the glow more apparent area and impact, so I used the 90mm lens. Sometimes a narrow angle lens works better than a wide angle and this is my favourite of eight exposures I made over several minutes, 4 on a roll of 120 in the Fuji GX617 and four more on 35mm film in the Xpan. The shadow that is being cast by Yewbarrow can be seen almost 2/3rds up Great Gable and also beginning to become serious on Lingmell. It’s an amazing sight, like an eclipse it’s all to brief and transient. Unlike an eclipse, the Wasdale cherry glow is unpredictable. In May 2012, I was booked to photograph a wedding at Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass and the couple were up for some artistic evening photographs in Wasdale. Despite a cloudless sky and full sun all day (and for 3 full days either side of the wedding), I created some lovely images for the couple but there was no cherry glow on any of those glorious days!
Hasselblad Xpan(ii) with 90mm lens on Fuji Velvia 50asa.