on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Cleveland Hills, Winter Storm

The evolution of a photograph

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


I’d be the first to admit that writing about a (very) recent picture is fraught with danger. I suffer from the fool’s assumption that my latest work is my best…except I know from bitter experience that it isn’t.

Yet in this instance I am willing to risk it, while the memory remains fresh. The story is simply of a local outing, in a location familiar to me. The conditions, however, were anything but.

This winter has been a rare treat. Until the temperature soared about 20ºC a few days back, it had been bitterly cold for a week. Jenny and I have both suffered chilblains, and inside the house it hovered around 4-5º C. We had meals on our knees beside the log burner, used hot water bottles and two duvets on the bed, and it was still barely warm enough.

But outside the photographic days were memorable.

Last Monday was the hardest of the hard core ‘Beast from the East’ days. I had enjoyed some time up on the Moor tops near home four weeks previously with snow, so had an idea of what to expect. But conditions are never the same twice. In January snow had settled politely everywhere, including on trees. There was even some fog to enhance the atmosphere.

This time the wind was powerful. The woods looked stark and brittle while the Moor tops were quite scoured. But where there was shelter from the brutal breeze, great drifts of snow had started to form.

Although I was on the hill before sunrise this was little help photographically because of blanket cloud to the east holding back the sun. However, it gave me time to walk, search, think. All day as it happened. In a pattern quite common on all-day outings I ended up working on around seven or eight picture ideas in total. Last Monday, the best moment came right at the end.

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