May, September and July from Lakes 360 Calendar
© Alastair Lee, Posing Productions
If you have already considered the calendars reviewed by Gordon Stainforth in Which Calendar for 2006? article, and still can't make up your mind, then a third option is the Lakes 360 offering from the enigmatic Alastair Lee.
Each page contains a single panoramic 360 degree image of a stunning Lakeland view, sometimes with a photogenic figure in the middle distance, sometimes just relying on the beautiful scenery. The photos were taken with a medium format Roundshot Super VR 220 Camera, and not on a digital camera as most would expect, which has led to them being well exposed for the full 360 degrees despite the fact that many were taken with a low sun which would cause havoc with exposure in all but the very best cameras. The printing quality is very good except that I felt some of the shots were a touch too dark which was possibly a result of the exposure difficulties.
The calendar itself was a little smaller than I had expected, so the shots really can't be seen in all the glory they really deserve, but then again at £9.99 it represents good value. It isn't particularly functional as a useable calendar for making notes on but most folks wouldn't buy it for that reason anyway and I can't actually remember a photographic calendar that really served this purpose. As something to look at, you can't knock it.
So would I knock it for anything else? ..... well possibly.
For someone who has produced the weird and wacky short films Twice Upon a Time in Bolivia and Storms, this calendar seems extraordinarily clichéed. The photos are very, very pretty, but also very similar to each other. They shows scenes roughly corresponding to the months covered, but the fact that 5 of them have snow on them makes me think that October through to February were taken on the same day. Not a problem, since it was obviously a stunning day, but it doesn't add to the variety of image. I get a strong 'seen one, seen 'em all' feeling and it was quite a relief to come across the only climbing image - May - which breaks the 'plateau of the Lake District high tops' theme. More variety of this kind would have improved the appeal to climbers.
Overall though, this calendar should sell very well in Lakeland gift shops, and will undoubtedly look attractive on any wall it graces. It probably won't serve to inspire many climbers, but might inspire walkers and general outdoor enthusiasts.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Alan James: