Weekend in Wales

Recently I had a short trip into Wales indulging in landscape photography. And now I would like to share kind of an open diary/blog of the good times. The trip came about by being aware of a certain exhibition of that by Fay Godwin featuring her Drover's Road to Wales series plus some of her other well known supporting pictures to be on display. I find a side to Fay Godwin's photography background quite romantically appealing; a fairly bygone era of learning independently from trial and error using film, connecting deeply to the landscape and being a completely free spirit from trying to please or being subject to over influence of the now established online audience now locked in most photography enthusiast's lives.

Though time was running out, I had to find some free time for a few days from other commitments to view the exhibition before it closed on April 1st and the last weekend of April 1st was the one to be and the weather forecast was fair or rain/sun so the layout ahead was looking promising.

The closest obvious place from the south of England to stay in Wales would the Brecon Beacons national park. This unfamiliar territory for me seems a good idea as not only could I take landscape pictures of the area but I could use the exploration as a part scouting session for future trips being approximately three hours away from home.

The anticipation started brewing up.......Where do I stay? Where do I park? Where are the interesting viewpoints? How far will I walk? Do I avoid being too adventurous to prevent myself getting lost in the dark/poor weather in this unforgiving terrain that I'm not use to? If the British Army train in this wilderness, it must be fairly wild and remote!?

 

Day 1

Ready set, I'm on the road.....Breacon Beacons awaits but hold on I didn't have a good start, the first motorway I drove on M27 was completely closed ahead from an accident. 50 minutes later I was back on route heading for the M4 and another traffic alert......the M4 will be completely closed for the weekend, luckily I was leaving Friday and heading back on Monday, that was a close one!. Is this the everyday behind the scenes taste of a full time landscape/travel photographer lifestyle?

A bit overcast on the first day of arrival, but still useful to get out, scout the area and enjoy the outdoors. (iPhone picture)

A bit overcast on the first day of arrival, but still useful to get out, scout the area and enjoy the outdoors. (iPhone picture)

Eventually I arrived at the accommodation below with the national park to the north which left me the evening to explore. The weather was heavy but with well defined cloud, leaving me a little bemused with the most recent weather forecast of blue skies and sunshine....this is Wales weather. Though I wasn't too concerned being under a layer of thick cloud as I had no preconception of what I was going to photograph or even particularly where. The first area of exploration was the south east of the national park, not too far from where I was staying. I found a nice group of gnarly trees that had a nice misty backdrop thanks to a passing heavy shower, but as soon as I frantically adapted myself to the rainfall ....hood up, zip up, umbrella out and rain cover over bag the rain stopped and the opportunity went in a flash before I could take the camera out the bag. No time to worry the next opportunity is just around the corner in a forcibly optimistic tone.

 

Approaching dusk, I looked on the map and found another remote parking area further up the road and decided to have a quick investigation of its potential since I am a unfamiliar with the area before I headed back to base. On arrival the weather turned really nasty, a cold wind and driving side rain set in and it got really dark now with little light pollution but in the parking area there I saw a flaming light in the black void and a hot food van appeared to my vision selling fresh wood fired pizzas to presumably the local Welsh folk on a night like this. And on a wild night like this I needed one but queuing up exposed to the cold welsh elements did require some balancing and persevering, the right side of me got a right bashing from the wind and side rain. A moment of self reflection occurred amongst the jolly hardy Welsh folk.....landscape photographer check, hardy-put-up-with-anything-the-British-weather-drives-at-me landscape photographer..........ummmm room for improvement.

 

 

Day 2

Using the digital process I can take pictures whilst waiting for 'preconceptual light', a careless play or tapping into my deeper instinctive psyche? 

Using the digital process I can take pictures whilst waiting for 'preconceptual light', a careless play or tapping into my deeper instinctive psyche? 

The following morning I went back to the same area yesterday to view at sunrise. The forecast for the day was absolutely ideal for landscape photography....rain and sun all day long so I was fairly hopeful I would bag a shot or two with the interesting cloudscape and light brought on with typical April weather.  I wondered along the first footpath I could find not knowing where it lead to really or what views where to unfold. At this stage it can feel overwhelming and pressurised in a unfamiliar area, a long way from home looking hard to find a picture in vastly stunning beauty, have I chosen the right path of a possible hundred to lead me to the unique picture of a lifetime? Its probably best to ease up mindfully at this moment and enjoy the outdoor walking experience, surely that's more important, a souvenir picture is a bonus in my book. Though I have to admit navigating around my local tamed areas of Hampshire and Sussex makes for easy work where I can position myself through experience in a productive area regarding bagging a picture or two and if you take a wrong footing, the worst thing to happen there is to roll down a soft grass slope or maybe a 2 feet deep bog as I recall a few times wondering in the New Forest! 

I ventured further on and the path eventually merged and disappeared into the landscape (reminiscent to most walking experiences)  so I just carried on walking in a straight direction by the side of a hill (to keep a mental bearing of the route back) and I came across a blackthorn tree with a nice vista type back drop. At this stage there were nice definition in the cloudscapes but no light breaking through, I'm not really the one to wait in one spot for the light to appear for hours on end and was already getting itchy feet from waiting for about 20 minutes but eventually the light emerged and when that happened my mood elevated like a rocket excited that the light appeared harmoniously. 

 

 

As usual when the weather is good I stay out longer than anticipated and forget the time when soaking up the moment and after bagging a few shots here it was a race back to base for breakfast and a brief rest.

The next agenda for the day was to travel to Machynlleth, a 5 hour drive round trip to view Fay Godwin's prints on the very last day of the exhibition. I started having fresh doubts whether I should brave the fairly long drive or ignore the opportunity and conserve my energy locally for the early mornings and evenings ahead and embrace the terrain of the Brecon Brecon's plus on this day the forecast was good to be outdoors all day for taking pictures with the changing but constant rain and sun April forecast..... well my mood swan to 'let's just do it' since I'm not sure when the next Fay Godwin exhibition will be and the Brecon Beacons will still be here for a long time.  The sat nav planned the way making it a stress free route. Since I'm not use to seeing mountains risen from the land from the car window, the drive just got better and better and better together with stormy cloudscapes and playful fleeting light, the day is going to be a very good one. It came to a point where the views from the car became so delicious I had to stop and take pictures by the side of the road. I didn't know where I was or what mountain or valley I was looking at, I was just soaking up the glorious views on a Saturday afternoon. Here I am somewhere by the side of the road, just a few metres from the car taking daytime pictures with my telephoto lens and handheld having the time of my life. Forget the golden hour time slot and tripods- rules are really just for beginners, a good opportunity - is a good opportunity - is a good opportunity and I was in the moment.

Now I have time to retrace my locations, all these pictures are views of the Dovey Valley. 

 

 

The ground floor of the Fay Godwin exhibition with an introduction of some of her most famous pictures and upstairs (no photographing allowed) revealing tantalising new to me original prints of The Drover's Road of Wales  

The ground floor of the Fay Godwin exhibition with an introduction of some of her most famous pictures and upstairs (no photographing allowed) revealing tantalising new to me original prints of The Drover's Road of Wales  

Eventually arriving in Machynlleth I made a visit to the exhibition with a few hours to spare before the very last closing time. The ground floor contained a lot of interesting memorabilia of cameras and handwritten notes, even postcards to support the exhibition together with some of her most well known celebrated pictures. As I was viewing the signed prints I was wondering are these just one off prints, are they the only one in existence? I think this is the first time I have come face to face with a signed print that cannot be reproduced, as the artist is sadly no longer with us. It was a precious moment. 

 

Upstairs was the main theme The Drovers’ Roads of Wales. As I don't yet hold the accompanying out of print book the pictures before me here are fresh to my eyes. I have to admit I didn't visit the exhibition specifically for The Drovers’ Roads of Wales series it was just because it was one of my biggest admirations, Fay Godwin and I have never seen her prints before, only a few obtained books and articles was enough to make up my mind how great and integral she was. Well the prints blew my mind there were certainly some previously hidden to me masterpieces in the sequence black and white, impeccable yet evocative compositions with playful slivers of light and harmonious complimentary cloudscapes of the British landscape, well the Drovers road to be precise. I dearly hope I shall encounter her prints again in future exhibitions for now they are locked in my memory. 

 

Now it's time to head back to the Brecons. My initial plan was to arrive back in the Brecons before sunset for some possible localised landscape photography but since the trip up was so fruitful, now there was the possibility of taking my time and stopping a few times on the way back down if a view catches my attention.  And yes stopping by the roadside was inevitable with such promising weather and landscape combo....

I'm not sure where this was taken yet I will have to retrace back my route, as you can see the light and weather was dramatic.

I'm not sure where this was taken yet I will have to retrace back my route, as you can see the light and weather was dramatic.

 

 

Dylife Gorge  

Dylife Gorge  

Further along towards the Beacons, I passed Dylife Gorge and decided to stop here to soak up the views as the sun was going down. As I took some pictures I was thinking to myself is this location cliche? I had no idea, there were no tourists or walkers about, I didn't plan to pass here, my sat nav told me so.

Worrying about 'cliches' could be a waste of energy, especially if you don't follow a hidden desire for plagiarism, to my mind, body and spirit this place was new, fresh and invigorating. Cliches could be a lot of talk about nothing, the digital and online process generated it perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3

A behind the scenes view. As pretty as it may look, I didn't find any compositions on this brief outing, though the awesomely satisfying previous day held down any productivity frustrations. 

A behind the scenes view. As pretty as it may look, I didn't find any compositions on this brief outing, though the awesomely satisfying previous day held down any productivity frustrations. 

Another fairly early rise out for sunrise exploring locally before breakfast. I tried to keep it a fairly light work this morning as I had a long day ahead of me. Again the weather put on a show for me and here's a behind the scenes phone snap of soaking up the morning light and browsing for compositions in the morning light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forecast for the rest of the day was a very fine and settled sunny day so I thought it would be a sensible idea to climb up the highest point in southern Britain, yes in the south we do have mountains too thanks to the Brecons and that mountain is Pen Y Fan. I thought this would be a good introduction to the Brecon mountain range as being a famous landmark the trails will be well trodden but more importantly well accessible, sounds like an easy task?

Well from my previous outings so far I did wonder where everybody was, there where hardly any passing walkers or tourists on my chosen routes but everybody seemed to be here congregating at the main starting point to Pen Y Fan,  not only was the car parks full there were hundreds of cars parked on either side of the road....being a fine warm sunny mid morning and the weekend I probably picked the most busy time so far of the year and I had no choice but to continue to drive towards the town of Brecon. I thought about taking an alternative quieter but much longer route up but as it was approaching lunchtime and as much as I would love to tackle a longer harder and quieter route up, time was getting on and shall leave that for another planned day. But being such a fine day I was still keen to go up Pen Y Fan and was hoping that being a Sunday all the day-trippers tackling it mid morning will be descending down late afternoon to head back home in readiness to their weekday routines.

So upon returning late afternoon I managed to find a car park space and yes as I started to walk up ninety per cent of all the foot traffic was walking back down and in a wary casual way......

Even though the mainstream route is popular for light walkers and family friendly I did find it tough going, thanks to my ill-prepared bag. Myself coming from an area of gentle lowland I am able to carry all my complete heavy gear without much fuss, but here I soon felt the heavy backpack pulling against my shoulders and straining calfs quite rapidly from climbing up on this warm spring day and my readiness started reevaluating in a mild panic way! Once reaching Bwlch Duwynt you can really start enjoying the views and have a breather. There were still a few hours before the golden hour so the light wasn't perfect for landscape photography but I was really enjoying the moment, the experience of mountain walking and the 360 degree views, that's what matters. I continued on towards Pen Y Fan and walking along the ridges before descending back down at sunset. After carrying my heavy load back down, a well earned beer and whiskey was on the cards for the evening.

 

 

Conclusion

Well what a great mini trip, jammed packed of walking and photography. I didn't know what to expect initially as I was still planning where to explore first thing in the morning of Day 1 but it all kind of fell into place. After making several previous trips to the Peak District for short landscape photography breaks, the Breacon Beacons was a nice change and somewhere I will definitely be visiting again for further exploration, as I only scratched the surface and is well within travelling distance with enough time and energy spare for photography on the same day. What made it special was the weather and helped inspire a fruitful amount of pictures. When making these short get-away trips I tend to book latest as possible so I can coincide it with favourable weather conditions plus an element of spontaneity is a refreshing contrast to the ever increasing urbarnised lifestyles opposed on us.

And on this occasion I made it to the last day of the Fay Godwin exhibition and that was well worth the miles to see. Walking into a room and coming face to face with original signed prints you have never seen before of enlighting pictures you have never seen before really struck a chord with me. Personally I think the depth and real appreciation of a real life print will always beat the value of convenience of the rapid fire nature of images in the online realm. 

With the landscape pictures I have taken on this trip, my current favourite session were not taken during the 'golden' hours nor on a tripod, nor from a challenging climb along a mountain ridge but during the day lunchtime in fact, by the side of a road with a telephoto lens and handheld. A landscape photograph is great when the creator is in the moment and it awakens the viewers emotions. And on its own, how it was made is not as important which reminds me of a famous quote I shall leave you with....

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them as an artist
— Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with On Landscape magazine

At the start of the year I was invited by Michéla Griffith from the On landscape photography magazine to be interviewed as their featured photographer. As I am an avid reader and gain great wisdom in landscape photography from their outstanding content I welcomed to be their next featured photographer (now in issue 132).

Luckily I wasn't asked the interview questions on the spot and had time to think about how to answer the questions and reflect on my past, my motivations and the directions ahead.

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.
— Ansel Adams

When taking a picture I believe, well for myself my sub-conscious mind works hand in hand with the forefront orchestration of subjections and parameters. Sometimes the reason is sourced in the psyche so it was nice to put 'pen to paper' and write down step by step the fragments of answering the big questions of why?  

An online subscription is required to read the magazine but on this occasion I was kindly allowed permission by On Landscape to display the contents of the interview on my blog,  so have a read about my journey in landscape photography, enjoy...

 

Would you like to tell readers a little about yourself – your education, early interests and career?

My favourite subject at school was art as I love being creative for the sake of it, and used to draw and paint after school. Childhood holidays involved being immersed in the great outdoors going to places such as the Lake District, Snowdonia, West Country, as well as my local countryside in the Hampshire Downs; my parents are keen outdoor walkers come rain, wind or shine and this seeded my passion for being outdoors. When I left school I didn't really see art as a working career so took on engineering, as it was still practical but it is technically demanding in the field I am in (of highly precision production work for the aerospace and oil industry). In adulthood I continued to have an interest in art, painting as a hobby, whilst outdoor walking turned into mountain biking to provide my outdoor fix.

RogerVoller-3.jpg

 

How did your relationship with the camera start, and how much time are you now able to devote to photography?

It really started when my neighbour showed off his new toy, an entry level DSLR Nikon D3100 with the kit lens. I was allowed to borrow it for a few hours in program mode of course which led me to buy the same model so I could have a proper play. To justify purchasing what felt like a beast at the time compared to my previous basic compact set in auto mode, I took on a much more considered approach to taking pictures, trying to improve myself every time and utilising its functions. Since I have a background interest in visual art and the natural environment it just fell into place that I could channel those two passions into one through landscape photography, combining both is my core motivation and enjoyment and my appreciation of the art in the landscape really kick-started with the camera. I quickly found having the opportunity to be outdoors and creative as well, and then having the anticipation of going back home to discover what I have taken, greatly appealing. 

Like most, I would like to spend more time pursuing it but having a full-time job and home commitments it's left to when I am free. Time can feel very precious and far between so the appetite builds up to go outdoors and create and maybe the cumulative urge could be a blessing in disguise. When I'm out on family walks I've recently started to enjoy using the iPhone to satisfy my creative needs, just taking phone snaps on the go freely and instinctively upon impulse can reveal interesting pictures in their own right.

polarizer

polarizer

 

On the day that I got in touch with you, there was a lengthy conversation on social media about the widespread use of the term ‘photographer’ and whether the term had been devalued (if indeed it ever had any meaning other than to describe the process used). I know you saw this, and wondered if it might have been a factor in prompting you to say that you don't call yourself a photographer – do you want to explain why?

Well my comments are loosely based, the definition of artist and photographer are often separated and my motivation channels down to not photographing just for the sake of the functional process really but all the benefits that come with it like the meditative process of slowing down in the natural environment, expressing oneself through the picture and the emotional connection when viewing a desirable picture, that's why I photograph. The technical side is just a means to an end for me and perhaps as I am always working around a technical framework in my daytime job, I tend to enjoy resting my mind more on the artistic and outdoor aspects of landscape photography. If I was to be remembered I would like it be for my artistic merits rather than just as a photographer, though I would happily accept being called a landscape photographer, that's closer.

As with the devaluation of photography, yes I believe that process exists but I also think that the subject of devaluation will be as big as one allows it and the latter is important, there will always be up and coming talented photographers and artists from all walks of life, rising out of the sea of conformity regardless of the climate.

 

What opportunities do you have to make images locally and to what extent do you need to (or choose to) travel to your preferred locations?

"MY LOCAL AREAS DON'T OFFER A FLAVOUR OF VAST WILDERNESS BUT IN RETURN OFFER SO MANY FOOTPATHS AND BRIDLEWAYS GENERATED BY A LARGE NETWORK OF A LONG HUMAN ACTIVITY,"

Personally, I think opportunities can occur anywhere, they are not entirely made up by the sum of the landscape but what the photographer can see and get out of the landscape. The intimate local area is where I am most productive, just by walking I see pictures and potential areas that I can go back to in different seasons and being local I can react to favourable weather conditions. My local areas don't offer a flavour of vast wilderness but in return offer so many footpaths and bridleways generated by a large network of a long human activity, so the opportunities of different viewpoints are multiplied by a considerable amount in any given small area. The character of the landscape may be tamed here and heavily shaped by man but I think there are still good design elements to be had and that is what I look for.

I keep travelling to a minimum, my Hampshire Downs work is very local and my New Forest work is only made in very small areas when visiting family. Since there are fewer 'tripod holes' I have really enjoyed having most of my local views to myself and perhaps my less recorded area has given me a chance to breathe on a spiritual note and find my own creative path.

0.3 nd grad sky

0.3 nd grad sky

 

How do you like to approach new places – do you research them and pre-plan, or do you prefer to head out with an open mind?

"...I THINK I CAN PERFORM BETTER JUST BY BEING RECEPTIVE TO MY SURROUNDINGS AND IN A STATE OF ENLIGHTENMENT; A CHILDLIKE CURIOSITY."

I like to have an open mind and be mentally very fluid when finding a picture and don't put myself under pressure with plans as I think I can perform better just by being receptive to my surroundings and in a state of enlightenment; a childlike curiosity. If it is a new area I will at least briefly look on a map to find paths to explore, and even then when I am on foot I tend to walk where my eyes take me rather than having a pre-planned route. If it is a particular view I like I will go back, several times if necessary, and slow down to get the picture I can see in my mind's eye. I don't tend to study existing pictures online to find viewpoints, for me the fun is exploring on foot and having independence in creativity. I enjoy using the tripod most of the time but also enjoy handheld shots; it depends on the picture I'm taking.

No filters.

No filters.

 

Who (photographers, artists or individuals) or what has most inspired you, or driven you forward in your own development as a photographer? I know you list a number of ‘giants’ whose work you admire on your website but perhaps you can pick out a couple who have especially inspired or influenced you?

Where do I start? The online network has really helped me discover so much talent, to be inspired, which has helped me develop as a photographer. If there was an 'epiphanic' moment, where my journey felt a bit clearer by someone, one would be when just by chance I heard Charlie Waite's Silent Exchange exhibition was being displayed at a local small gallery in Bosham. I had already seen the full display at the National Theatre previously which was excellent but found it took me a second viewing to be really absorbed. In the very intimate small room I was deeply moved by his beautiful prints in the flesh surrounding me on the four walls, the emotional connection really transcended with me this time and his description 'conveys a spiritual quality of serenity and calm' is how I felt. I left realising how much calibre and emotion a landscape photography print can hold.

I also love the work of Doug Chinnery and Valda Bailey, their artistic talents are astonishing and I can really connect with their style, having a background in painting before I took up photography. I find their high creative output very encouraging. The rule of thirds, front to back sharpness and wide angle lenses shouldn't be taken too regimentally and could constrain one's creative boundaries.....finding your own voice is really the true path to take.

0.9 ND gradient

0.9 ND gradient

 

I believe you like collecting prints and books relating to photography?

Yes, I enjoy collecting inspiring prints and books so my camera gear investment is subject to compromise. A photography book or print allows the picture or group of pictures to rest and be fully absorbed, enabling me to go back to them and look again, which is a fairly absent process when scrolling online given the continuous feed of pictures on display. I find the print easier on the eye and perhaps this mentality came from my roots in painting with physical materials on paper.

No filters, lens hood

No filters, lens hood

 

Would you like to choose 2-3 favourite images from your own portfolio and tell us a little about them?

Unveiled: When I first looked at this picture after a local trip out it didn't really appeal to me greatly, perhaps the familiarity of the location reduced its impact on me so I left the image in my maybe pile. It wasn't until a year later that I went back to the image after a long rest and gave it a touch of split tone, its warmth somehow lifted the mood and now I really like it. Time can still be a powerful commodity in the digital photography process.

 

Mist in Beech Trees: This picture occurred from an unfortunate event. I accidentally broke one of my tripod leg segments and it got lost when exploring a new area of local woods. The next day came, very grey and dull, and I went out to try and find it in low spirits. When I turned a corner there was an unexpected low mist hanging in the vibrant beech trees and it looked wonderful. I managed to prop up my tripod with a stick and then started shooting, my mood quickly turned to joy taking pictures of beech trees in the mist. And I did find my tripod leg eventually.

 

Last Light: When the sun is very low the atmosphere can be hazy down south and taking distant pictures on a clear evening is rare. On this occasion the clarity was good which made it more refreshing for me when the sun lit the land through a small gap between a bank of cloud and the horizon. The smooth rolling pastoral downland can offer an excellent light modelling effect with an integrated patchwork of fields to further enhance the design.

 

How important is post processing in realising your vision? Would you like to tell readers a little about your typical workflow?

I think the post processing is very important and can affect the emotional impact of the picture; however I like to remain enlightened when out with the camera and try to keep my landscape pictures fairly faithful to how I saw it naturally and process what's needed and no more. I use Lightroom for processing and organising images. My vision can operate more clearly when I allow the image to rest and look at again fresh after a few breaks and hope I can be more intuitive with editing as my experience grows. I’m also looking forward to exploring other workflows such as using Lightroom mobile and Snapseed with pictures taken on the phone to fulfil my creative needs.

 

How important is it to you that your image making results in a print, and do you have a preference for how you do this and what materials you use?

The final destination and goal for an image would be a print and it is part of my motivation to continue to build up a collection of pictures for wall print and/or book format. I print my own work because I enjoy the creative aspect and use an Epson R3000 A3+ printer with Fotospeed papers and profiles. Printing is a dark art for me and I would like to go on an advanced printing course to get the best out of my print process. I don’t print as much as I would like due to time and budget and would love to own an A2 printer someday; it’s still a continuous, evolving process.

 

You’ve displayed a number of your prints at the New Forest Open Art Exhibition. To what extent do you gain inspiration from seeing how artists working in different media portray the landscapes that you know and photograph?

Even though I am a photographer, I can find any art as inspiring and moving as much as a photography print, it doesn't make a difference to me what the media is really to be enlightened. I have still painted for more years than photographed so when I saw the paintings at the New Forest exhibition I felt they captured the characteristic essence of the area and they made me really want to go back out again and do the same with the camera and perhaps 'see' a little bit more clearly with my vision. A variety of art can enrich the nurturing process of the creative being.

 

Do you have any projects or ambitions for the future, or subjects that you would like to explore further?

The main thing for me is to keep enjoying the process and let my portfolio mature. The enjoyment will keep me motivated and learning. I would love to cover many projects over time, for one I would like to create a series of pictures location related, printed and assembled in a handmade book. I would also like to explore the process and benefits of film photography.

 

If you had to take a break from all things photographic for a week, what would you end up doing? (i.e. do you have other hobbies or interests)

I would still enjoy and have an appetite to go outdoors like I did before photography such as walking or cycling, get my dusty paint brushes out for some creative release, and spend more time in the kitchen cooking good food.

 

Which photographer - amateur or professional - would you like to see featured in a future issue?

One of my very first influences was the local landscapes of Slawek Staszczuk based in neighbouring Sussex and also the contrasting pictures of Ben Horne look amazing from far away Zion.

Chain reaction

Standing on the shoulders of giants, a well known sayin passed down the centuries and to help explify what the scope is about this blog.

The world is a beautiful place full of wonder and charisma. Artisits have for a long time contemplated and expressed their thoughts through their artwork. The first motions of art were primitive and today they can be deep, complex and bewildering with the boundaries ever expanding. Everyone is influenced consciously and sub-consciously from experiences and rhythms. This process can go deeper and reflective with the artist. They can work out what they like, dislike and new ideas to develop from what they have seen, herd or felt in art but also in life experiences as well. So in other words the artist can like another artist's work and then put a little (not all) of that idea into their own work, most often in a subtle way as we are surrounded by multiple influences, some weak and others strong and clear. On that note, another famous saying- good artists copy, great artists steal is the same process but a well managed one. Just blatently copying someone else's work will not warrent any merit in the long term, finding a voice is the true path.

Without the inspiration from other artists my work wouldn't be like it is today. I say artists as that is how I like to think I harbour my influences. 

I have a few influencial favourite 'artists' that I can connect with listed below in no particular order. I have met some briefly and a few others I would regard as a friend. I follow them on social media and collect their work in photography books and fine art prints.

 

Charlie Waite

Charlie a dear gentleman holds a wealth of landscape photography experience learning his craft well before the digital age and is appreciated the world over. I can't remember the first time I saw his pictures probably with a less attentive eye. It wasn't until I saw his exhibition for the second time at a local gallery that I had one of those epiphanic moments where his calm spiritual message transcended to me. The more I look at his pictures the more I am absorbed in a higher level of tranquility. Furthermore, with his extremely well executed prints in my viewing experience it reminds that regardless of mainstream photography becoming ubiquitous, a great landscape photograph doesn't happen very often, but when it does it's rather sacred and special. As he is also a residence of southern England and photographs the area intimately I have learnt the south can and will offer excellent design elements.

 

Valda Bailey 

I first saw Valda's work of Flickr and noticed quickly she had a strong artistic expression with her intentional camera movement and multiple exposure methods. Myself, having a background in painting before landscape photography I like the idea of breaking the boundaries of conventional landscape photography for a deeper personal and more fluid expression. The technical side is just a means to an end. The pictures I first saw of Valda's on Flickr were some images of poppy fields in Sussex. I found these pictures much more engaging than the conventional pictures of Sussex poppy fields. Her talents have made me aware that frequent and tight conventions in landscape photography can quickly read a short lived engagement. After meeting up on one of her first tuitions she now leads workshops with the well established Light and Land tours. 

 

Doug Chinnery

Like Valda, another expressive photographer and hugely talented. Doug is a well experienced full time photographer and is a very good teacher, I admire his capability of teaching and also creating a very stunning and personal body of work at the same time. One of his mottos is 'there are no photography police' or in other words there are no rules when creating pictures. Rules once mastered can be broken, manipulated and then personal expressions can be focused found. I find his work is very 'painterly' and more focus on mood rather than the rigid mainstream rules of front to back sharpness and wide angle nonsense. When I met up with him at his workshop, I took the opportunity to photograph the Peak District, particularly woodland scenes and have now included this in my portfolio.

 

Fay Godwin

When I first came across Fay Godwin, I was intruiged of her development in a generation before the close connection of social media and the process of digital technology. Her moody black and white pictures are striking with a natural eye for composition. I find it romantically appealing that without the distraction of social and absence of digital technology there was more time to lose one self in the great outdoors to connect and develop a relationship with the landscape and the drama that shapes it. 

 

Joe Cornish

Joe is well known in landscape photography world and rightly so. The first photography book I owned was First Light by Joe and is now regarded as a classic. The book introduced me to the manner of careful considerations needed to achieve a very good landscape photograph such as timing, light and composition. I also like his work ethos such as post process as much as needed but no more. 

 

Mark Littlejohn

I first noticed Mark's pictures on Flickr and his work just seems to get better and better and better building a good body of unique work in one of the most popular national parks....Lake District , which is a credit in its self. I find his naturally balanced compositions together with his carefully mastered split toning incredibly evocative, whilst capturing playful slivers of light. I like his independent work ethos of taking pictures of what you like, not what others may like and using techniques that works for him. That's where the magic can happen.

 

Peter Drombrovski  

I was first introduced to Peter's work in photography books via online video presented by Joe Cornish and Tim Parkin. I could tell Joe was a great admirer of the work Peter produced when going through the pictures that graced each page. I love absorbing into impeccable compositions that have a touch of personality as well as shot in beautiful locations. Obtaining one or two of Peter's sought after books would be treasured by any respectable landscape photographer. 

 

As I write this blog, I continue to come across new (to me) photographers that have found a voice in their art and passion. It's a never ending spiral of admirers and influences. This is just the beginning, there is no end. I have to give credit to the virtual network online of accelerating my awareness of great and talented photographers to follow and nurture from. Hopefully in turn I will influence others through the art in the landscape and the respect of the natural environment it dearly deserves. It's a chain reaction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Forest Open Art Exhibiton 2016

Some of my prints are on display at the New Forest Open Art Exhibition 2016 In Lyndhurst, Hampshire at the New Forest Centre.

The exhibition displays work by artists that is related to the New Forest landscape. I am pleased my work is displayed side by side with such great and inspiring talent.

I like the way the New Forest landscape does not shout out an obvious grand vista but walk along the footpaths in the wilderness and you will soon find a quite oasis of unassuming patchworks of art in nature. 

 

The exhibition is free to enter and open until 3rd September 2016. 

 

Seven day walking/photography trip North Devon, England

So an opportunity came about my way to join a trip away to North Devon on the coast for a week. Being a walking holiday I was up for it because I love the countryside and outdoor exertion and plus I could bring my photography gear which is great news. 

The destination was already set out and I didn't have much insight into the character of the landscape or what pictures to take, all I knew the last time I walked along the north Devon coast I was ten years old. Being brought up in my childhood to go out and be immersed in the landscape such as Devon, Cornwall, Peak District, Lake District and Snowdonia as well as my local South Downs has provided a deep appreciation of the natural world and now I can celebrate it through my creative discipline of art and photography.  When I visit new areas to photograph, I have little interest in researching on-line landscape photographs of the area and enjoy the pressure-free environment of not knowing what to capture, I just let my natural creative trait to roll. There is also more chance of myself capturing a unique and original photograph. 

 

I brought a few spare memory cards, but managed to use only one memory card plus a back-up memory card to double record the exposure in case one of the memory cards fails....modern technology can be quite useful.  


 

First port of call on arrival is a refreshment (don't worry, we found plenty of local ales after this to sample) and a local photography book on the pub bookshelf to get the inspiration going.   

 

 

 

 

 

and at the accommodation, I found a welcome hoard of miscellaneous outdoor photography books on the sideboard to aid contemplation. Well read but inspiration can come from anywhere. 


 

The following day and the first morning was an early start to fulfil the anticipation, a walk up to the cliffs to check out the scene, being up here at dawn was the perfect start to the day and a very different immersion to my regular local haunts of the South Downs and New Forest in Hampshire. Myself being so use to the smooth and flat gradients (by some standards) of Hampshire, this trip is going to get exciting.  

On the way back from the cliffs, I just happened to look up and found this magnificent tree. Looking at different viewpoints, low down and higher up rather than just eye level opens up a lot more interesting perspectives in the picture making process.


Being a walking holiday, the long walks during the day required a lighter load. Digital photography gear can present so many options, perhaps tiringly too many if one's primary interest is just to create pictures. I was thinking of just using a simple compact camera, but throughout the trip used the DSLR and just a small manual 35mm and auto focus 50mm primes lenses for daytime use.  My previous lens collection were heavy mainstream zoom lenses to cover this range but over time I have converted to prime lenses to stimulate the dynamic mobility of framing a composition and also for improved lens performance.

In conclusion, I'm pleased I decided to use my DSLR for the whole trip rather than a little more portable compact camera, myself being a creative type was happy with the tools in hand, though a more casual user may opt for a compact or even a phone camera. Some of the walks extended into the evening for some pictures I am pleased with in DSLR image quality and the bright contrast days made the DSLR useful to recover bright highlights and to expose the dark shadows better than a smaller compact. And being limited to a prime lens during the day didn't lose any opportunities in the picture making process, just heightened the creative process. The 35mm lens provided good manual focus experience throughout the trip. The small prime lenses, together with a thin leather neck strap for the DSLR didn't attract any attention from passer-bys. 

 


And me in front of the lens. Like most photographers, I enjoy being behind the lens...being creative.


Lynmouth bathed in the summer evening light. I quite liked the black and white conversion to suit the quaint style of buildings. My type of place. 

 

And higher up at the end of the day. 


Along the long walks, every corner presented something new to photograph even if it is during the unorthodox daytime hours. My daytime shots are all handheld, and most were with low ISO's anyway because of the brighter daytime light. I like creating all the time, it's more natural for me to create than not to create. 


Another dawn trip out to the coast, the day consisted of taking pictures at sunrise then a long day of walking passing this spot at sunset. It was fairly tiring burning the candle at both ends but very enjoyable!

 
Devon-1-3.jpg

 

 

and here's the camera in action during the sunrise shoot. I would of probably added a light ND gradient filter during the exposure but didn't have my LEE adapter ring at hand, though it wasn't essential on this occasion.  (phone snap)


The daytime picture making process presented some nice surprises, such as this capture.


 

Along the coastal walks there were long stretches of unspoilt forest area on the steep gradients. Here are some groups I enjoyed studying during the walks. Using elements such as patterns, shapes, form, negative/positive space, colour contrasts are some integral parts to make up my photography. If it looks balanced to me I tend to take the shot, regardless of 'guidelines'. These small series below is probably my favourite of the trip, perhaps because it was an unexpected encounter and taken in 'manageable' evening light when I was passing.

and some more along the long stretch of unspoilt coastline. Unlimited opportunities.


 

The footpath signs came in handy during those dubious junctions

 

 

 

but we did unwittingly walk along some footpaths that suffered landslips. This is far as I could go before it got too unsafe and as you can see the path was no more. I'm glad I took a shot to record the event. The ordinance survey map was also useful for those unsure moments and for those other ambitious moments of taking an alternative route back.


ISO2000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/80 sec

ISO2000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/80 sec

 

The summer can mean 'burning the candle at both ends' with long hours in between but with the camera at hand anyway I took some pictures in low light handheld. Lynmouth. 

 

ISO 32000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/40 sec

and as the day reached into the night, the ISO went higher, ISO 32000 for the picture above. Again handheld looking out to sea towards Wales. I quite like this picture, perhaps it was to end a long day of walking and enjoying soaking up the views. Capturing the image at a high ISO with slight image noise maybe adds a little suggestive raw mood. I do not conform to any strict photography rules, all my favourite great photographers I look up to make pictures that please them and conveys a higher emotion. Inspiration creates a chain reaction. 


More coastal woodland captures in monochrome


So that's the end of the blog, the finer picture selection process will take far longer,  than the exposures, as much as it will take.  

Britain is a fairly small country in comparison to others but the beautiful landscape is incredibly diverse and rich in character. 

With all these new pictures I will update my galleries soon, and print out a few large fine art prints. 

New pictures to the galleries

Here are some recent new pictures added to the galleries. In Hampshire of course my county of residence. Like most of my work, based in local areas, which I thoroughly enjoy working out the best way to make the picture, methodical in techniques but also leaving an element of instinct on the visionary side, an artistic gesture. The pictures I find are just by exploring looking for elements such as shape, colour, space, texture and form as a basis of composition, regardless of location and disregarding the common conception of a cliché focal point of a famous building or view for example. This way the possibilities are endless, challenging but much more rewarding from a personal and artistic point of view.

Monochrome Woods

Monochrome Woods

Last light on the South Downs

Last light on the South Downs

'Painterly' trees brought me back to my painting days, New Forest

'Painterly' trees brought me back to my painting days, New Forest

2015 landscape photography review

Here is my 2015 landscape photography review for my own record and reflection and for anyone else who wishes to read. Not necessarily my most popular and best pictures but ones that hold an element of contemplation, experience or progression.

2014 ended in a high with an enjoyable outing in the New Forest, Hampshire with a heavy hoar frost. The experience was breathtaking and the beauty was truly beyond my imagination, there are no words to match those type of experiences. 

So now we enter 2015, and still in the New Forest and again a frost but with a lighter touch. I remember standing here settling down to take this very landscape picture, when only moments later a group of ponies entered the corner of my eye. As the first pony approached I likely switched to continuous shooting mode and upped the ISO to capture the moment in my frame. What I particularly like about this picture in the New Forest is the little trace of human activity in the landscape and the free soul striding where one pleases. Perhaps a rare engagement now in our modern society. 

First favorite image of the year, New Forest wilderness


Spring.....who cannot like the invigorating charm of Spring from the dark depths of winter when nature wakes up with a bang. I like venturing into my neighbourhood South Downs, when the grass is fresh and vibrant. I was brought here in my childhood, now I come here with a camera as an adult with a discipline in art and even explore the same places from childhood with fond memories and pleasure.  I would like to expand on this category to get the feel of the place, as well as specific pictures to be had .......watch this space.

Places like the Lake District get huge attention, but in photography forgotton, dismissive scenes hold there own great suprises

Places like the Lake District get huge attention, but in photography forgotton, dismissive scenes hold there own great suprises


This picture was taken in the heart of summer, by chance I passed a massive purple field of borage whilst out on a drive in the country and just had to return the same sunny day in the evening with my camera. The field of purple was so expansive, I explored a footpath round the perimeter to seek colour contrasts in the landscape and was greeted with this view. I stayed grounded, slowing down to natures pace into the evening for the light to warm and the shadows to grow deeper. I think this picture is not quite there and room for improvements on this occasion but I enjoyed the discovery and immersion of the bucolic English countryside on a summers evening, just like I enjoy viewing one of Charlie Waite's classical English landscapes and this experience ran parallel, well for me anyway. 

Summer can be as good as any season to photograph, embrace it all 

Summer can be as good as any season to photograph, embrace it all 


Another mid-summer picture. Longer daylight hours provide more time to be outdoors for me. It seems spring, autumn and winter are the most celebrated seasons for the typical landscape photographer, but I still enjoy spending the evenings watching the sun go down amongst the wild flowers and birds singing in the heart of summer, certainly a contrast from the dark and stuffy winter evenings indoors.  

Running your hands through summer wild flowers, is that what bliss means

Running your hands through summer wild flowers, is that what bliss means


The other half of the year saw me shift my focus on more detail shots of a woodland theme. This was not a preconception, as most of my work is being reactive to my surroundings, just an evolution and new branch in my style that fell into place. My second home is the New Forest, and now I enjoy treating small pockets of the area intimately. I sincerely believe you can find decent and interesting places to photograph just by exploring, rather than going to popular landmarks. I have found having at least two places called home to photograph intimately exercises the creative mind and broadens the portfolio.  

I enjoyed September for the suggestive speckles of autumn colour just as much as the typical brute colours at the height of autumn that everybody seems to shout out about.

The speckles of colour can be suggestive and evenly distributed

The speckles of colour can be suggestive and evenly distributed

Most of my pictures are native 3:2 ratio, but not strictly necessary 

Most of my pictures are native 3:2 ratio, but not strictly necessary 


One day I was exploring a new area of local woods and by accident lost part of my tripod. So a couple of days later I looked out of the window and thought...what a miserable day out there, grey and drizzle, better return to the woodland to try and find my missing part. The mission felt like a chore but brought my camera anyway without much confidence. As I got deeper in the wood thinking there is no chance of finding my lost property in this drizzle, a thick layer of mist cloaked the trees round the corner. Eyes raised, my fortunes turned, no time to find my missing part, my attention now was pure misty woodland indulgence. I managed to prop up my tripod with a stick and started shooting this natural beauty for a few hours until dusk. I took some of my favourite pictures of the year from that fate and a good reminder not to doubt the weather and the outdoors but embrace it. And I managed to collect my tripod piece eventually.


Now in autumn and with atmospheric conditions forecasted, I treated myself to a last minute trip up to the Peak District. The reward was magical, surrounded by an infinite tapestry of natural beauty and was very pleased with the performance.  I like going to new horizons to invigorate my creativity as well as broaden my portfolio. The north of England has some of the finest topology in the country but to be fair anywhere can be good as any with some vision and intimacy.  


So autumn has ended and now we landscape photographers are treated to a new canvas of sparkling frost and pure white snow of winter. Well like most places in the country the winter was wet, grey and windy for the length of it. Admittedly my camera didn't see many dawn trips with yet another grey mild morning rising but as I am a creative type and with the duty to walk the family border collie everyday during the festive holidays I was still armoured with wellies and my humble compact camera at least. No filters, tripod or all the other expensive accessories modern mainstream photography demands, just an ordinary compact and being receptive to engagement. Taking quick instinctive pictures purely on a sensory basis glimpsing art in nature from the mostly forgotten yet plentiful footpaths of Hampshire in the rain, is kind of 'photo sketching'. I chanced my unsealed compact to malfunction from the driving rain, but it's still going strong. There are no Icelandic shorelines, Highland mountain ranges nor viewpoints from car parks here, yet this winter experience has turned out a very enjoyable free-flowing creative exercise with the liberation of taking instinctive pictures on the move with no meticulous study or hardware baggage. Perhaps landscape photography is not tied to being in famous, popular locations, but simply about 'seeing' art in nature, and nature is all around us.



That's the end of the documented review, but my picture review is still alive from that year, there will be pictures I have taken yet to be surfaced. The first half of the year saw me taking mid-range pictures of the landscape, then the second period was mostly about autumnal detailed shots before free-flowing photo sketching in the wet winter.

Not sure what pictures will appear in 2016, I only have two in mind that I would like to take in certain conditions, the rest will find their own way just be reacting to my surroundings and enjoying the environment. My styles will hopefully mature for the better, I feel my standard has risen a little further throughout 2015. Pictures have been taken and new seeds have been sown. As well as taking pictures, there are background influences of course, notably the talents and masters of landscape photography bygone and present will continue to effect my understanding of what art is. 

Since taking up landscape photography my creative being is buzzing. My fundamental joys of nature, art and outdoor exertion are all integrated in what is known as landscape photography, here's to 2016. Enjoy the outdoors and creating art.

 

 

 

 

It takes time to make a photograph

This is my blog for my Peak District landscape photography trip, way back in October 2015. Not freshly written as it's the new year but for me it takes a while to compile all the photographs I like and to share with the world. The trip it self was magnificent and purely photography based as it was a response to atmospheric and imminent  weather forecasts, so I packed my bag and went on the road. 

Now before I give the impression landscape photography is easy, it's not for a compelling and original body of work. My previous trip to the Peak District resulted in an absent of any good photographs I liked. The weather didn't work with what I was producing and simply I was 'not good enough' to adapt and be resourceful to churn out compelling work. Though perhaps 'not good enough' is not really the way I like to describe the event, just good experience for the next episode. I wasn't disappointed with the lack of good photographs as my mind is just  switched on in awe with the world and it takes a while for a photograph I produce to grow on me.  One thing I would like to point out just being outdoors and enjoying nature is good enough for me, but being creative is an extra bonus I'm willing to take. 

The thing is we live in a consumerized world where success and need is thought to be expected in an instant but all the great artists had to grow and mature before they blossomed. It's good to slow down at nature's pace once in a while, just like waiting for a cloud to bring a vista together or for the sun to drop lower to warmth the light and seduce the shadows after all human beings are still developed in accordance with mother nature's cycle and pace.

With another window of opportunity now open in October I was  ready to go with another Peak District outdoor immersion, I had to go again it's a beautiful place. The beauty I witnessed was almost overwhelming and taking a good photograph can be harder with my mind already content but I am very happy with the outcome of the pictures below. Perhaps I will share some more pictures from the same trip, time will tell...

 

 

Landscape photographer of the Year awards 2015

I am pleased to announce one of my pictures has been commended in this years Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. 

Taken on the South Downs in West Sussex when I decided to go a little further east from my local Downland haunts. It was Saturday afternoon almost a year ago and it was nice to explore new landscape for a change. I was already content with a bout of exercise and lungs refilled with fresh air, so started to drive back home but before I reached the junction I could not help notice the 'light modelling' accentuated on the rolling hills from the lower sunlight and made a snap decision for a U turn. I had enough time to back track and after a couple of hills was presented with this view. Lens flair was an issue with the low sun rays almost directly hitting the lens and with wind vibration on the telephoto but just about pulled out the image. 

Instinct paid off on this occasion and good reason to venture again a little further along the South Downs. 

The exhibition will be held at London Waterloo from 23rd November 2015 until the 7th February 2016 and will also include a large digital display.  My picture will also be published in Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 9 book released today. 

 

Free Range - South Downs, West Sussex

Speckles of Colour

There are fragments of wonderful woodland across the country, near and far that were perhaps at one time joined together before humans broke up the network.

For every forest or wood there is a picture that's waiting to be discovered. These woods can remain unnoticed from a artist's visionary perspective, the framework stationary for decades and centuries, with only the seasons and weather cycling momentum. The sequence of pictures taken below for example are from very quite woods in the New Forest almost forgotten and left to its own devices. The only people I witness are the local dog walkers, enjoying the wood in their own way. 

September is the start of speckles of colour emerging from all the greens in the forest, before eventually domineering the colour space. The height of autumn is often celebrated but I like and maybe more the suggestive speckles of colour providing attractive echoes and order of colour. After all nature is a place to be at peace, at one and contentment. 

The rich resource of the wood in now forgotten on a community level but now once again appreciated through the artist's connection  and the respectful nature of taking a harmless photographs. 

 

New Forest Open Art Exhibition 2015

I am delighted to say my work is displayed at the New Forest Open Art Exhibition. The exhibition is open to all mediums and the majority of work is painting so I'm pleased my submission was accepted and also received a runner up award as the quality is very good.

Before delving into landscape photography my creative release was painting, then I found I could be creative but outdoors my other interest (or necessity) by using a camera and so landscape photography was born. Art and nature combined cohesively.  I wouldn't say photography is any easier than painting, developing a vision and 'seeing'  is a slow process regardless of technique,  framing a faultless composition instead of shaping the framework to one's needs and the scrutinization and rendering of pixel colours and tones to alarm the evocative part of the mind are a few examples so. 

The exhibition is free and open until 12th September at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst Hampshire. 

 

Workshop with Charlie Waite and Sue Bishop

Recently had a very pleasant workshop with Charlie Waite and Sue Bishop at Lordington Lavender in West Sussex. My first experience with a Light and Land workshop and since I am a firm admirer of master landscape photographer Charlie Waite, with his workshop services offered just over the border into West Sussex I was inclined to participate. The more I look at Charlie's pictures, the more I see and the description 'his style is unique in that his photographs convey a spiritual quality of serenity and calm' is very fitting.

First Charlie gave a talk about his thoughts of his 'Silent Exchange' exhibition which led onto different photography subjects. And then Sue discussed the art and technique behind her excellent flower photography and myself being a newbie to flower photography, there was a lot to be learned. 

Then we headed to Lordington Lavender field. Charlie gave a talk on multiple exposure photography, which was pleasing as I am a fan of this technique on the side of my regular photography style.

Now it was time to delve into the actual process of photography into the lavender field and wild meadows bordering the lavender, and Charlie and myself discussed how interesting it was that all the participants separated, honing in on their own individual vision and craft. 

Here are some pictures taken during the day, no masterpieces but I believe workshops are not about the immediate result,  more so about the fine tuning process of the interconnections between human experience, art and technique. 

 

Spring Art Centre Exhibition

One of my prints titled 'Free Range' is being exhibited at the Open Art Exhibition at the Spring Art Centre in Havant, Hampshire. There are a variety of work on display using different media. It was nice to see all the work on show during the artist's preview evening. It is always good for the mind to see art from a variety of sources for inspiration and for ideas and style to build upon -quote  “You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams. 

And that is why it takes time for the artist to develop, consciously and sub-consciously collecting and assembling influences, resulting in the creative output using the pencil, brush or even the camera with one's signature. 

The successful acceptance to exhibit provided the task to print out  'Free Range' for the first time. As any landscape photographer knows, printing a fine art image is not so straight forward and requires a little more knowledge than just pressing print.  As the viewer can see in the image, the light source is back lit, contre jour  and this was intentional on my behalf to highlight the dramatic lighting effect. But back lit scenes are problematic for the camera and lens.....the high contrast of light and dark can push the camera sensor's dynamic range off the limits and also lens flair can occur when direct light rays bounce off inside the lens, even with a shielded lens hood, resulting in a degradation of image quality and false colour casts. But these technical difficulties are worth the challenge as I favour aesthetics over technical perfection to convey an emotional response.   

A home from home

Spent Christmas in the New Forest in Hampshire. I was hoping for a cold winter for atmospheric conditions, but south of England can be known for mild winters and they have come round regularly in recent years. Anyway as landscape photographer, one has to be optimistic, and after all a walk in the countryside in the fresh air does the mind, body and spirit some good even without producing photographs.

This winter I was rewarded, it wasn't straight forward as I fell ill but still forced myself out on a mild morning  to awaken the senses and came across some good compositions that would look great in atmospheric conditions. Come evening the forecast was for a particularly cold night. This pleased me as it doesn't get overwhelmingly  cold in the south of England but cold enough to produce frost, snow and atmospheric mist and fog. So come early morning, the land was covered in thick frost. Out in the cold I go. A fellow enthusiastic early walker said to me "nice morning to take photographs", hell yes it was. The hoar frost laced all the bare tree branches to the smallest twigs, it was beautiful and the sun still had to make it's presence known. Even the sky looked awesome with broken fast moving cloudscapes up above but it was comfortably still down here.  I took some pictures to warm up and then the sun started break through at the horizon and the warm peachy pink sunlight kissed the hoar frosted trees whilst the sky colourised. It was such a beautiful sight beyond my wildest imagination, the land glowing upon reflection of the peachy-pink sunlight from the cold light blue hoar frost, the juxtaposition was incredible. I think it will be forever locked in my memory of the whole natural experience that no words or even pictures can do justice.  That's what can partly make landscape photography addictive, the realization of our human senses co-existing in rhythm with the natural environment and collectively, the mind relaxing to our once forgotten state of being in the natural world. After all that's where we came from and the urban lifestyle is only a very recent, accelerated way of living. The natural world is a home from home. 

Here are some pictures of the hoar frost. 

ME/ICM workshop

In December I attended a workshop with top photographers Doug Chinnery, Valda Bailey and Chris Friel at Rye Harbour, East Sussex. I love their work, they excel in their artistic vision. The workshop was a focus on multiple exposures (ME) and intentional camera movement (ICM). This is a different direction from my usual conventional landscape photography and is all about blurring the vision in front of you with multiple exposures and moving the camera whilst exposing adding a little impressionism. It is a great resource when the light, weather and composition are just not quite palatable for conventional landscape photography. Please browse the gallery below.

Head for the woods

Immersed myself in local woodland during late autumn. I was very gifted with the weather conditions. Now woodland for any photographer is a troublesome place to go.

Whereabouts to aim the lens for starters with all that random twisted and weaving jungle of twigs and foliage fighting for a shimmer of light, and then the extreme light levels of deep shadows and reflective bright light that even the most advanced cameras still struggle to expose effectively.

But on this occasion the settled mist did wonders to the  woods. The mist most eloquently shrouded the distance into mystery and softened the light so smoothly there was defiantly pictures to be had...I certainly enjoyed this session looking for simple and effective compositions.

Please browse the work below.

Engage to get the result

I made a recent trip to West Sussex near Devil's Dyke along the South Downs. The weather was good with broken cloud and fleeting light early afternoon. Fairly wide angle vistas to profit from the nice cloudscapes were the intention.

After a good roam I started to head back for rest but on the way home the view from the journey home, the light colour temperature started to warm and long shadows started to form.

It felt like the land was calling me and just had to return back on the Downs to answer the beautiful manifestation before me in photographic form. It was at this point I was most excited.

I used telephoto lens to choose my composition and upped the ISO to counteract any camera shake image softening from the wind.

 

South Downs, West Sussex England

South Downs, West Sussex England



Treat the whole land as a blank canvas

So I was passing by in the New Forest and the destination unknown with the camera. I decided to stop by a random layby and set foot on a scratchy footpath too see what I could find in the sea of purple heather. Before me a valley of mist, what potential lies in the mysterious mist is unknown. Free to walk without preconceptions is bliss. Occasions like this provide a heightened compositional awareness of no fixed focal point.

The colours and light were muted with the bank of cloud prolonging the anticipated sunrise. If the sun breaks though the fog, should be good. And when the sun did break through, everything looked beautiful, the whole scene. But the compositional assessment can be slightly distracting with the beautiful overwhelming atmosphere at the forefront of ones mind. Because everything looked amazing, the whole peripheral vision. I hope I made a worthy frame from the enjoyable morning in the New Forest on the unbeaten track. The quite, unassuming tracks can be just as rewarding, with the inclination of original content- treat the whole land as a blank canvas.

Heather Forest

Heather Forest

Trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Had a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was great to visit new territory, a breath of fresh air. With no specific compositions in mind, I had a good roam round.

I was interested in some dawn shoots so one morning climbed up Arthur's Seat for sunrise. The forecast wasn't too discouraging so went for it but the visibility from the top was not poor but limiting. Poor would be the wrong word to use if I can still pull away a photo worth keeping of the limited visibility. So I set-up my camera in aperture priority for a sharp aperture and the exposure required equalled three seconds long. That will do I thought since my tripod, remote release and mirror lock-up was in use only for my family companions to walk into my frame. I took an exposure anyway and like the result of the blurry animated figures below.

Arthur's Seat-1169.jpg

 

 

And from another morning walk on a more sunnier occasion I found myself at this view of Morningside Parish Church. With this photograph the clouds work well with the landscape. Notice the diagonal patterns.

Morning Walk-1156.jpg


I hope I achieved some original compositions from a likely heavily photographed city like Edinburgh. Can't wait for a return trip and further explorations!

Serene Lake

There was not much mist on the land so decided to head somewhere else, and went past Petersfield Lake on the way. There was potential here, with mist on the water or carry on further. 

There are moments when you could be at two or three places at once when the conditions are good, and some quick decision making is required before the sun rises above the horizon and be ready at this small window of opportunity. I took the plunge and stopped by the lake hoping it will pay off.

And I am pleased it did, as the lake looked amazing when the golden rays of early sunlight lit up the sky and mist. It was just down to me to compose the shot, have a fairly fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of boats and wildlife and just have the rising sun out of the frame to get a decent exposure.

Lake Serene

Lake Serene