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A mountain to climb

Lake District local and adventure photographer Ryan Lomas isn’t just devoted to his art – he’s happy to miss sleep, hike through rain, hail and ice, and even climb the same mountain a dozen times in pursuit of one perfect shot. On a rare moment sitting still, he shares his thoughts on other-worldly mountains, relishing our insignificance, and some favourite spots for the finest visual perspectives of Ullswater.

Ryan Lomas shooting in the snowy fells

From a young age, I’ve always loved the idea of capturing moments. Being a keen skateboarder when I was a teen meant I always had a digital camera in hand, filming friends and capturing images. But it was when I was 21 that photography really took off for me and I became hooked.

I was hiking a lot and finally persuaded myself to buy a professional camera and give adventure and landscape photography a go, teaching myself everything I needed to know by just guessing and hoping for the best. I found it utterly addictive, chasing mountain moments. It has had me hooked since that day I bought the camera. I’m continuously planning shoots and thinking up compositions, and I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

Photographer Ryan Lomas looks out over a mist filled valley in the Lakes
Sunrise in the Lake District

One of my favourite painters is Caspar David Friedrich – he interprets the mood of landscapes through his art and I love to use his work as inspiration. Other photographers also inspire me; there are some incredible artists out there and having them on a constant social media feed keeps me driven to keep creating myself.

This photograph I took overlooking the lakes from Helvellyn is my all-time favourite shot, and probably the one I worked hardest for. I had this idea of the perfect conditions for Helvellyn in my eyes, and the only way to achieve that was to keep hiking the mountain on miserable days that some would shy away from. I think in total I must have hiked 10-15 times over the space of a year for that exact shot. Needless to say it brings back many memories, and the final image was exactly how I’d pictured Helvellyn all my life.

Ryan Lomas overlooking the lakes from Helvellyn

Being based in the Lake District, I’ve always chased the more rugged and intimidating looking landscapes. In my biased opinion there is no other mountain within the District that brings an other-worldly feeling like Helvellyn.

“Mountains are humbling…they help you gain perspective, and emphasise our insignificance, through both their sheer scale and age.”

Golden light across the fells in the Lakes
The rolling hills of the Lake District around Ullswater

For me the best experience to take away from the mountain is to appreciate how small you are. Mountains are humbling, in a good way, as they help you gain perspective, and in this case Helvellyn is great for emphasising our insignificance, through both the sheer scale and age of the mountains.

I put a large amount of time into planning shoots and locations, some failed attempts always add to the mix. But if anything this makes me thrive and give me the drive to get out of bed at early hours, sometimes not even sleeping to get the right image.

I also do a lot of hiking without the camera, to scope out possible compositions and capture images I can add to a moodboard before returning in the right conditions for the shot I had in mind.

Two distant figures traverse a ridge in the morning light of the mountains in the Lake District

Sunrise and sunset always win, the ever changing light is perfect. Failing that, I love to shoot in the rain and capture the atmosphere of the landscape and how intimidating it can look.

Winter will always be a favourite of mine, you are really facing the elements in this season; the snow, rain, hail and ice make it so exhilarating and addictive. The cold can make it unbearable at times, but it’s always worth pushing further for the right shot. Although it can be freezing cold, I always make sure there is a coffee waiting back at the car.

I love to work the human element into a scene as much as possible, as I find it really expresses how it feels to be within the mountains. When finding a composition, I usually aim to capture the drama and scale of the landscape and by doing so I feel the viewer can connect with the image that little bit more.

Ryan Lomas stands upon a rugged mountain peak surrounded by clouds
Ryam Lomas photogrpah of the view from the hotel over Ullswater
Tree swing next to the shore of Ullswater
The hotel jetty

I’ve visited Another Place, The Lake many times and I have to say, aesthetically it’s perfect. When I was asked to come and capture some moments on the reopening after lockdown, I immediately knew I’d be able to plenty of great angles. I also love how much they focus the attention on the surrounding areas and walks; you get a real sense of freedom, anticipation and eagerness to get out and explore the minute you step through the door.

Hotel swimming pool with lake views
Path leading back to the hotel
Hotel bedroom with views over the lake
Hotel bathroom with roll top bath

Ullswater will always have a special place in my heart; it’s the closest lake to my home – only a 10 minute drive – but the peacefulness and tranquility in such a vast and beautiful place will forever have me returning. I’ve chosen five of my favourite places, from a visual perspective, within easy reach of Ullswater:

  • Helvellyn: a short drive from Another Place, The Lake, it’s arguably the best hike within the Lakes. The ever-changing weather and grade 1 scramble make it exhilarating.
  • Hallin Fell: for a short hike, this place will always impress. With its stunning views, a great place to enjoy a coffee and a break from a busy life.
  • Angle Tarn Pikes: this is one of the most beautiful places around Ullswater, with 360° views that are not to be missed. It’s a relatively long hike but definitely worth it.
  • Gowbarrow: a great walk with arguably the best views over Ullswater, looking towards the Helvellyn range as it towers over the lake in the distance.
  • Ullswater shore: if you’re in the area, definitely take to the lake shore and enjoy the sounds of the water and wildlife. The perfect way to switch off from all the stresses of modern life.
Ernest journal featuring Another Place

Ryan Lomas shot the front cover of the recent collaboration between Ernest Journal and Another Place, The Lake.

To follow in Ryan’s footsteps choose one of the local walks around Ullswater.

Related reads: Take a look at our photographers guide to Ullswater.

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