Friday, 20 May 2011

Striders Edge

When my university housemate Katy asked me to do the first phtotoshoot for her new sportswear label Striders Edge I was absolutely thrilled. The only catch, it involved trekking up a mountain and the wearing of waterproof trousers, which was a big shock to the system for a confirmed city girl like me.

There were a number of challenges and new things for me in doing this shoot - although I've done natural vintage style shoots and portrait sessions, getting a clean sporty aesthetic into the images proved challenging but taught me a number of new things. I'll leave it to Katy to reveal the collection of images to the world, and instead I'll share some of the amazing landscapes we encountered and share the story of shoot.

I've never been to the Lake District before, I've been to a number if far flung places but there are so many beautiful bits of Britain just waiting to be discovered. One thing I didn't realise is just how far away from London it is. Despite a 2pm departure we arrived only just before The Travellers Rest in Glenridding stopped serving it's traditional pub fare. We were absolutely shattered and even the lure of the surprisingly talented folk singer inside wasn't enough to keep us from our beds. We checked into the YHA hostel on the path to Helvellyn, conveniently located about a quarter of a way up the mountain path.

Skip to the next morning after a fitful nights sleep we rose at 4am, only to find that the room we were staying in contained no plug whatsoever, and we needed to get Jo, our wonderful, gorgeous and extremely patient model, ready for the shoot.

Eventually were ready to go, I was completely unprepared for the weather, used as I am to London's microclimate, and the only piece of warm or waterproof clothing I had brought along was my liberty print Barbour. Shortly the heavens opened and I was quickly coerced into donning the aforesaid waterproof trousers before Katy, Jo and I began our slow trek up the mountain towards Striding Edge.

I don't think I've ever seen such beautiful landscapes in Britain before - huge hills and mountains rose up all around us and streams formed waterfalls as they cascaded down the hillside. Looking back down the path as we climbed up I was amazing at how quickly we ascended, and how the path below us disappeared into a speck on the horizon.

Taking the shots themselves was always interesting. Jo would strip off her layers of thermal waterproof clothing to reveal the outfit underneath and as soon as the camera was ready either it would start raining or a huge gust of wind would attempt to blow us off the mountain. I quickly learnt to trust Nikon's weatherproofing!

Before we knew it we'd reached Striding Edge, via a beautiful tarn (a lake up a mountain), but by this time it was blowing a 45 mph icy gale and holding my camera plus a 70-200 mm lens was like holding a massive sail. To reach the edge itself one has to climb over a tiny rocky ridge with a sheer drop on either side, so we never reached the ridge itself although we got some fantastic images, the money shot being Jo on a rocky outcrop surveying the landscape around her. I'd love to go back and try the hike again sans camera and make it all the way to the top - I might have found my outdoorsy side. That said, I was so grateful to reach the car, and for the bag of kettle chips I'd stashed inside. The apartment we stayed in that night near Keswick was sheer bliss a warm shower, and even plug sockets!


The next day was another early rise, although thankfully not quite as nocturnally so as the night before and a much shorter drive to the edge of Derwent water - a beautiful lake surrounded by green mountains and with a quaint island in the centre, it looked like a more soulful Fjord, the colours washed out by the overcast sky.  lake side shooting was relatively easy - we were a short stroll from hot drinks and on flat land and it was a particularly productive couple of hours. 


That all changed by the time we arrived at the Honister slate mine with plans to hike up to the Buttermere lake. The mist had closed in, the sky was thick white, and the rain was coming down. We pensively ate our packed lunches in the car, waiting for the skies to clear to get the beautiful sky and a view of the Buttermere lake in the background, but nature had other intentions. By the time we began to ascend up a steep and rocky path it was like trekking through a stream, all around us was whiteness and I knew there wasn't a hope in hell that the skies would clear. The ever resourceful Jo spotted a nearby pile of slate, that would provide a perfect back drop in lieu of anything other than mist and we nailed the final shots before trekking our sodden selves back down to the car. It had never felt so good to strip off the wet things and hop back on the M6 to London.

Katy is planning on launching her collection for SS2012, so keep an eye out for it in upmarket outdoors shops.

And the moral of the tale for me - if it rains on your wedding day, I'll bring a waterproof!

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