What we need is a great big cairn on top

Published 23 August 2015

The summit cairn on Middle Dodd

Many, many years ago, my Dad spent six months working out in Houston, Texas. As part of the deal for him leaving the UK for several months, his employer arranged for us all to be flown out there to visit.

Whilst in the planning stages for the trip, my Mum asked my younger sister and I what we wanted to do. There were two choices. We could go to Disneyland, or we could go to the Grand Canyon.

At this point you may be idly wondering what all this has to do with the photo at the top of this page. After all, the view doesn’t look anything like the United States of America. And it won’t for it’s of Middle Dodd in the Lake District where there’s not a Mickey Mouse to be seen.

The point, you may be wondering?

Well I’m getting there.

As a family we decided to go to the Grand Canyon. There were no dissenting voices. So we flew to the edge of Texas and did a bit of a road trip to Arizona and spent a couple of days in one of the wonders of the world.

Yes, yes, the point, I know, I know. I’m getting to it.

One night at the Canyon we went to a talk by a park ranger about photography. I suspect my Dad was the most interested in this of us all at the time, however two tips from the the talk got stuck in my twelve year old brain and have remained with me ever since. And they were both about making photos more interesting.

The first was to include people in them. We’re not talking about people grinning gormlessly at the camera, but people looking off to the distance; that kind of thing. And the other was about making objects the star.

That probably explains why I always have so many photos of cairns; often with them dominating the foreground. They provide a focus for the scene; enhancing the view. And if you don’t like them, you now know who to blame.

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