Car camping in the Peak District

So this weekend I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for SUCH a long time which was travel to a beautiful place to do some photography and camp in my car (with my dog). I know this sounds absolutely crazy, why on earth would anyone want to sleep in a small car with a smelly dog, wouldn’t you rather find a cheap B&B? Well, ideally yes, but realistically no. Before I could drive I always found it such a pain to be able to get to the places I wanted to go for my photos, and now I can drive I can do that to my heart’s content, but there’s one little problem, and that is actually quite a big problem, money. As usual, money will always find a way to stop you from doing the things you want to do, that is if you’ll let it, and so I didn’t want to fork out for a B&B everytime I want to visit somewhere, they are cheap but in the long run the prices always add up, so I thought stuff it, car camping it is, I always enjoyed camping anyway, this way I can be totally flexible in where I want to visit and I’m not tied down to one location. So really I’m winning. I decided to go to the Peak District as I’ve wanted to go for a while and if anything did go wrong it wasn’t too far from home.

My route

So I decided if I was going to sacrifice a nice warm B&B to sleep in my car I would definitely make it all worth it a see a few places I thought looked pretty on google images. (Yes I did just say that). I places wanted to see where ‘Chrome Hill’, ‘Winnats pass’ ‘Mam tor’ and ‘Snake Pass’ and this was the order I visited them on the map. On Friday by the time I arrived all I had time to do was find a place to park and drive around the area that surrounded Chrome Hill, hoping that on Saturday I could find a good location for a shot, however when I woke up it was raining and that was a definite no, considering I had a dog and was in a small car we would never dry and be cold all night. We then moved onto our second location which was Winnats Pass and Mam Tor, the two are in the same place. When the rain calmed down a little we walk up through Winnats pass which was absolutely stunning, even in the grim weather. That evening I decided to have a proper meal in the beautiful village that was Catleton, all pubs where dog-friendly so it was hard to say no, treat yourself and all that. When Sunday arrived, we made our way to Bamford and drove along Snake Pass its a long road crossing the Pennines between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton, great fun for me  but not so much for Bolski. We stopped at Ladybower Reservoir for some lunch before making our way back to Leicester. 

How did I sleep in my car?  

Sounds impossible to sleep in a small car, and a Yaris is definitely apart of the small cars club, but anything is possible if you put your mind to it, all it took was taking the back seats out, and that’s exactly what I did. I put boxes behind the front seats to use as storage and to fill the gaps, I would later use that as a foundation for my pillow. I laid two outside chair cushions down (about a metre long) a blanket and a sleeping bag and if I slept diagonally I could stretch my legs! Alongside me Bolski slept soundly, It was surprisingly comfy and on the first night I didn’t even wake up once! I will do a separate post explaining everything I did in more detail, but you get the idea. 

So thats it, I did it and I can say after one night of being home, I’ve already planned my next trip. 

Marsican brown bear

Yesterday started off as a normal observation day, waking up at 4.45 feeling ever so sleepy, doubtful but none the less excited for the ‘what if’. We arrived at our first location at sunrise and sat watching the mountain face for around 45 minutes, as the golden sun came up over the mountain, this spot where we had seen bears in the past did not look so promising today. Freezing our butts off we decided to gather our things and move to another location just 5 minutes away by car. At this new location, the mountain was fully absorbed in the sun, but as it was only around 8.30, we still had a very good chance of seeing our furry friend. After only 20 minutes of our eyes being fixed to binoculars, we couldn’t believe it when they came across a mother bear and two cubs (from what looked like this year) appeared out of the bushes and followed the path down the mountain. Typically, I wasn’t ready for such a fast appearance of the bear so I grabbed my camera as fast as I possibly could and started shooting. I am SO happy I bought the 100-400mm before I came because, without it, the bears would merely look like big bits of dirt on my lens. Although this wasn’t my first time seeing a mother and cubs, that initial feeling of when your eyes fix on the bear is the same, magical. 

Abruzzo fire near Cocullo.

Unfortunately, Anversa and the surrounding towns haven’t had the best of luck this past week. There have been lots of fire started deliberately over disagreements with land today a broken down bus set a flame and has spread to the mountains, luckily we didn’t need to evacuate but we were close to doing so. Fire fighters and volunteers are working into the night to keep the fire at bay.  

Griffon Vultures in Serra di Celano

So I’m back in Italy! And therefore I thought it would be a good time to start blogging again, so I can share with you my photography journey and experiences, for those that are interested! I’m tagging along with students who are volunteering for Salviamo L’orso whilst on their University placements. Salviamo L’osro, ‘We save the bear’ is a non-profit organization whose aims are to conserve the Marsican brown bear by improving human/bear relations through raising awareness and promoting conservation.

You can read more about the organization here-

We visited Serra di Celano to observe Griffon Vultures and look for the presence of bears. This was an amazing opportunity to capture some images and test my new cheeky little purchase, Canon 100-400mm IS II USM. 
I’ve never really photographed birds before, my equipment hasn’t been suitable and I’ve never had the patience (just being honest).  However, this sitting was what I would call a success. Firstly I was in a great position, and I had an incredible lens to thank, not to mention the size of these birds can reach up to 3meters in wing span. However, it’s very clear I need some practice with this bit of equipment as the images are not as sharp as they definitely could be, but that’s where practice comes in, and I’m bloody excited! If I’ve managed to get what I’ve already got, imagine what I could capture when I’ve mastered how to use it. 

Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting more about my time here.
Follow me on Instagram and keep up to date @marielouisegarratt

Review of Sleeklens ‘Through the Woods’ Lightroom Presets.

So I had an opportunity to review Sleeklens Landscape version of presets and brushes for lightroom. It’s the first time I have ever use presets and brushes with my work, I’m not that knowledgeable with editing, I stick to what I know because it’s easy. And I think that’s why I loved using Sleeklens’s presets and brushes for Landscape because it was just so easy! I knew that presets and brushes existed but I never thought I would be someone to use them, they look so complicated and I can’t be doing with the trouble to figure how to use them. 
However, they are unbelievably easy to use, Sleeklens give a step by step guide on how to download your pack, and how to install them into lightroom (They also offer sets for Photoshop, but I choose Lightroom). Once I had installed the sets I watched a step by step guide on how to use the presets, it was so easy! Here’s how I got on.

Before edit, Italian Landscape

After edit, Italian Landscape

I decided to choose the most landscapey pictures I had so I could make full use of what the presets was offering. As you know when shooting in RAW you can take what seems to be a dreadful photo but then later on in editing can bring out the most amazing detail you never knew existed! As you can see from this first image the sky looks to have little to no detail but thanks to the power of editing it appears how it was in real life. What I loved about editing this picture with Sleeklens is that I managed to bring all this detail out accurately without 1- it looking unreal and 2- Using just the presets, I didn’t have to use any brushes to bring out extra detail, although I could have, but what is great is that I didn’t necessarily need to. The settings I used to achieve this edit were-
1 Base - Cinematic
1 Base - Punchy
(I skipped 2 which is ‘exposure’ as I felt it didnt need it at the time’
3 Colour - Deep Blue Skies
3 Colour - Colour Correct reduce yellows
4 Tone/tint - Colour pop

As you can see the presets are made to be used in an order but it’s not mandatory as it all depends on the type of image you have and what look you want to achieve.  I missed out step 2 which was exposure as I felt the settings that were available didnt match what I wanted from my image, which is fine. There are also presets 5 and 6 which are ‘Polish’ and ‘Vingnette’ again I didnt feel like these enhance my image anymore so I left them out.

Heres another from Itay that I used the ‘Through the woods’ presets to edit with. Although the unedited image is fairly exposed throughout its lacking detail. I like to keep my images as natural as possible without looking too HDR or edited, although sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop! The settings I used to edit this image were:
1 Base - High Dynamic Range 
2 Exposure - Darken 
4 Tone/Tint - Warm it up
5 Polish - Add Clarity 

The presets do exactly what they say they’re going to do, such as add clarity, darken or lighten. With this image, I missed out 3, which was colour, by the time I got to the exposure section I felt it didn’t need it, but did however need it warming up which is where I added it in section 4. What I feel you need to be careful of when editing landscape images is how much clarity can be added to a photograph, while zoomed out the image looks good, however when zooming in onto people’s faces and land, it appears very grainy and colour spotty, this could be to do with my camera settings, or the fact there is just too much detail brought out needed for an image like this. But depending what you do with your images this might not be a problem. For the last touch in this image I used the ‘water definition’ brush, I liked the sound of it and decided to put it to use, as you can perhaps see the water in the foreground appears to have that deep dark feel to it, although when I first used the brush it was far too strong so I simply brought that detail down about by adjusting the sliders. 
Whats great about lightroom is that everything you can do can easily be done, and that applies when using these presets, if you apply a preset or brush and you like the look of but you feel needs adjusting, you can, it’s totally flexible. 
Depending on what sort of photographer you are, I would definitely recommend this workflow, now that I’ve used it, I really don’t know how I’ve ever lived without it! You can find all their workflows for Lightroom and Photoshop here: ( 

Thank you Sleeklens!

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