Exmoor day 3 - deep valleys, purple moorland & wistful ponies
24th November 2017 - 0 comments

Up for sunrise again and the sky was looking particularly tumultuous, I had half a mind to crawl back into my sleeping bag and pretend that my alarm hadn’t gone off. But ever the dedicated photographer, I pushed on and struggled into my clothes while listening out for the timorous pattering of water of canvas, signifying the beginnings of a rain storm that I was sure would arrive at any moment.

Read full blog post
Exmoor day 2 - Punchbowl, winding lanes & Castle sunset
05th October 2017 - 0 comments

I awoke on my second morning in Exmoor National Park at around 6ish in the hope that I would be treated to a decent sunrise. Peering out from the tent, it looked pretty good, there was some cloud about but lots of clear patches as well, which was a perfect recipe for a cracking sunrise.

It was all the motivation I needed to struggle into my clothes in the cramped confines of my canvas abode, and motor on over to the Punchbowl. A dramatic hollow in the surrounding countryside, which is itself in a valley. The nature of the landscape and some of the deposits within it, suggest that it may represent scarring from the only glacier in southwest England during the Pleistocene age. The most recent of earth’s ice ages, that lasted from two and a half million to eleven and a half thousand years ago.

Whatever caused it, left behind a very comely vista, and a perfect spot for a bit of photography, so bravo. When I arrived, the sun hadn’t yet imparted any colour into the sky, as can be seen from the above image, so I had time to pick a spot and get set up.

Read full blog post
Exmoor day 1 - heather, tunnel, waterfall & bog monster
26th September 2017 - 0 comments

I took another visit to one of my favourite places a couple of weeks ago, namely Exmoor National Park on the northern coast of Devon, for a few days of photography.

I was camping so had my fingers crossed for decent weather, as it turns out my crossed fingers don’t hold much sway with the weather gods, it seems they were intent on chucking down a good amount of the wet stuff, despite my humble orison.

But on the plus side, changeable conditions do favour the courageously valiant photographer, assuming courageously valiant means willing to get a bit damp, and I was. As it happens, between the rain showers there were patches of warm sunshine to light up the landscape, along with some superb cloud formations, so not all bad.

On the first morning I was up for sunrise without delay, I wanted to get over to a little lane I happened to know that curves and meanders over the moorland, and to a spot where it traverses a trickling brook, for what I hoped would be a bucolic view into the park.

Read full blog post
Journey around the West Cotswolds part 2
29th August 2017 - 0 comments

Following on from my last post, here is the concluding part of my visit to the West Cotswolds, and I take a little meander through a couple of the Duntisbourne villages. Picture perfect little hamlets that don’t contain a great deal, but are a pleasure to spend time in.

But first up was a stop at Rendcombe, or to be more precise, a stop at a view looking over Rendcombe College and some of the surrounding parkland. In the panoramic image above can be seen the main college building, built in 1865, along with a section of Rendcombe Park, which was established in 1544.

Next up was a visit to Duntisbourne Abbots, one of four villages to sport the Duntisbourne name in quick succession, because of their location along the River Dunt, a rather unremarkable tributary of the River Churn, as it heads towards Cirencester.

Read full blog post
Journey around the West Cotswolds part 1
26th August 2017 - 0 comments

A few weeks ago I had a little excursion over to the West Cotswolds, around the Stroud area, as it was one of the few areas of the Cotswolds that I hadn’t spent much time. Unlike the gentle rolling landscape that is familiar Cotswold terrain, the west is marked by a steep escarpment down to the Severn Valley. This is known as the Cotswold escarpment, or the Cotswold Edge, and is a result of the uplifting (tilting) of the limestone layer, exposing its broken edge.

As a result, the villages and towns that reside here are so well nestled into the steep, undulating terrain, that from a distance, they often have the appearance of looking like they have grown directly from the earth, and are a natural part of the topography.

My first stop was in the beautiful town of Painswick, which first appeared in the Domesday Book, as Painswik, probably named for an earlier lord of the manor, Pain Fitzjohn, one of King Henry I ‘new men’ and who also owned Ludlow Castle in Shropshire.

One of England’s oldest wool towns, and sitting on a hilltop, it is one of the best preserved settlements in the Cotswolds. Built from the mellow honey-coloured stone from nearby Painswick Beacon, the town justifies its name as ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’.

Read full blog post
Landscape Photographer: How Hard Can Becoming One Be?
23rd August 2017 - 0 comments

From the team at PhotoWhoa, who curate and promote awesome photography products that help you improve your photos, is a guest post on what's involved in becoming one of the Best Landscape Photographers.

You can check out their curated products, and learn from the best photographers in the world right here

Looking at stunning photos of the aurora borealis, one could wonder how hard taking such a picture could be? It’s just pointing the camera in the right direction and clicking a button, right? Wrong, becoming one of the Best Landscape Photographers is so much more complicated than that.

There is the lighting and the camera quality to consider, and that’s just the basics. Andrew Carter describes landscape photography as an image that has a purpose. It should tell a story, placing the viewer at the scene and evoking an array of emotions within them.

This requires skill, and cannot be achieved by simply turning the camera round and taking a snapshot. In order to become a landscape photographer, you need to be willing to take risks; to go on adventures, to brave the heights and ignore the cold.

Here are some tips that can help you to become a professional landscape photographer.

1) Be prepared

Anne McKinnell discusses the importance of being prepared in her e-book ‘Before The Shutter'. A landscape photographer, out in the open, will need to be ready for anything. The storm may be on the horizon and the light may flicker as the clouds move. In such situations, a skilled photographer will make every moment count. At the moment, the e-book is completely free. This is great because it’ll allow every young photographer out there grasp the skills needed to take stunning photographs.

2) Capturing the viewers’ attention!

In photography, half the challenge is capturing the viewer’s attention. Alexandre Buisse discusses his technique in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1. You could adapt his style of capturing pure, raw danger. Alternatively, you could try to capture images that revive nature, taking something that’s deceptively simple and turning it into a work of art. Carla Fernandez Andrade, another photographer in the collection, could give you some great advice on finding the best places to capture.

3) Lighting

This is perhaps one of the key elements of photography. Lighting can make an image look glum or terrifying. It can even make a boring, sad image look revived and happy! If you are a landscape photographer, keen on taking pictures of nature, you should take the time of day and the weather into account before you shoot!

4) Composition

The composition can simply involve colors or it can refer to pictures being placed together to form stunning photographs. The latter is a style adopted by both Jeremy Dyer and Pep Ventosa in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1. Dyer takes pieces of other ‘found photography’ to create stunning, intense landscapes while Ventosa uses shapes, and colors to distort an image and turn into something mesmerizing. Reading their interview could help you to create something awe inspiring too!

5) Capture the quiet, before the storm!

In photography, timing matters. A second can make the difference between capturing a gorgeous sunset, and a murky colored view. To capture a brilliant image, you could try setting your camera up and taking multiple photos at once. You never know what you’ll miss if you blink or sneeze but a good camera won’t miss much. Try reading the interview by Morgan Levy in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1, you might pick up some crucial tips. She’s known for her ability to capture the ‘impenetrable’ stillness of a scene.

6) Location may not matter

Being a skilled photographer means making the most of every situation. Practice and experimentation can help you do this. A skilled eye, nurtured with time and experience will allow you to make the most of the back alleys, abandoned buildings, and dirty streets. Try reading Eirik Johnson’s interview in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1, the tips he gives could start you off on this artistic journey.

7) A good camera

A camera can really make a difference. It can’t replace skill, but it can definitely help you on your way. There is a range of cameras in the market, you don’t have to stick to a clunky DSLR. There are attachments for your smartphone camera that allow you to take high-quality images on the go. Saying that, if you would like some advice on developing your photography intuition, check out the interview with Linda Alterwitz in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1.

8) Telling a story

When people snap a selfie or a family photo, it’s usually because they are trying to capture a memory. In a few years, they will look out and think ‘hey on that day, this happened!’ It’s the same with landscape photography, expect as a professional you’ll want to tell your viewers a story rather than simply capture a memory. This can be hard, but it certainly isn’t impossible. After all, Derek Shapton manages to do it and was willing to give you some great advice in the Best Landscape Photographers Collective Vol. 1.

In the end, what does it take to be amongst the Best Landscape Photographers?
You need to develop skills through practice and experimentation and be willing to persevere through failure.

This will help you to learn the type of stories you like to tell, the kinds of situations that are best portrayed in your photography and the lengths that you're willing to go to capture them. Just remember, ‘there is always more than meets the eye’ you just need to be willing to see it!

To improve your photography, and be the best landscape photographer you can be, don't forget to visit
Cornucopia of wildlife at Ouse Fen 02
07th August 2017 - 0 comments

Part two of my little expedition to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, which finds me on the lookout for its smaller inhabitants as they hide in undergrowth, doing their best to keep out of my way as I trample through their habitat.

Which makes it sound like I'm engaged in some sort of wanton destruction of their little homes, and in a sense I am, and I'm glad. No of course I'm not, but there is so much happening in the shrubs and the grasses, that just the act of walking among them reveals a bounty of wildlife, as they scurry or flap their way to safety.

So a keen eye allows you to follow their journey, and hopefully snap them as they temporarily rest among the brush, it's actually a very absorbing way to spend some time, as it engages you completely. No wonder grasshopper is the name of a yoga position.

Read full blog post
Cornucopia of wildlife at Ouse Fen 01
06th August 2017 - 0 comments

Another visit to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, a place I can’t seem to keep away from at the moment, mainly thanks the plethora of insect life that throng the flower meadows this time of year.

So cue some close up images of moths, butterflies, ladybirds, wasps, crickets, grasshoppers, skippers, spiders and dragonflies.

I’ve stuck half of them in this post and the rest will be in the next one, so check back in a couple of days for more colourful insect goodness.

Let the show begin…

Read full blog post
Unusual trees at Hayley Wood
26th July 2017 - 0 comments

One of the many important woodland sites managed by the Wildlife Trust in this part of the country, is the always interesting Hayley Wood. I took a trip over there recently, with my camera in tow, to get a few shots of the interesting trees that it contains.

A large wood in this area of the parish was mentioned in the 1068 Domesday Book, but by 1251 it had been split into two: Hayley Wood and Littlehound Wood. Agriculture in the area declined after 1350 and the wooded area expanded, and by 1650, Hayley Wood covered 120 acres and Littlehound 40.

Around 1655, Littlehound was 'new stubbed' and disappeared under cultivation, although its outline can still be seen in the form of field boundaries. Hayley Wood however, was confiscated from the Bishop of Ely by Queen Elizabeth in 1579 and became privately owned. The woodland was bought in 1962 by the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Naturalists' Trust, for preservation as an undamaged example of coppiced woodland.

Read full blog post
Here be dragon(flies) and a damselfly
24th July 2017 - 0 comments

Following on from my recent, and relatively unsuccessful trip to get some images of dragonflies, I decided to give it another go, but at a different location. And thankfully it worked out a lot better.

These little beauties were a lot more cooperative, and sat still for minutes at a time in some cases. Which meant I wasn’t left to ineptly flounder about, in a bumbling clownish manner, in an effort to track them on the wing. I could take my sweet time about it, within reason of course.

As an added bonus, there were a few different species about as well, so I could get a bit of variety in the shots. I still can’t decide if dragonflies up close are the stuff of nightmares, or incredibly beautiful, but whatever they may or may not be, they are certainly an interesting subject to photograph, and I was there for a good couple of hours or so, snapping away.

Read full blog post
Beautiful blue butterflies
22nd July 2017 - 0 comments

In my recent excursions to photograph the insects that are about and about in abundance this time of year, I have had an eye out for blue butterflies, but I’ve not actually come across any, and the more I didn’t see any, the more I’ve been hankering to discover some.

The common blue would be the species I’d most likely find, as it is the most widespread of the blue butterflies in Britain, and as the name suggests, it is one of the most common butterflies in Europe.

Read full blog post
Insects and abstracts at Ouse Fen
19th July 2017 - 0 comments

In my continuing quest to photograph some of life’s smaller participants, namely the multitudinous variety of insects that are scampering and buzzing about this time of year, I took another trip to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, predominantly in the hope of encountering some dragonflies.

In fact I took a couple of trips over there, as although I managed to get a couple of dragonfly shots on my first attempt, it was a challenge to say the least. I had found myself a spot at the side of a large lake, among the tall, green stems, as I knew from experience that it was a popular place for the dragonfly community. But because they never settled, my only option was to try and catch them on the wing, and they do not hang about.

Read full blog post
Holme Fen Butterflies
09th July 2017 - 0 comments

Last weekend I paid a visit to one of my favourite places, namely Holme Fen Nature Reserve. This beautiful woodland oozes atmosphere, and is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, mainly thanks to its dense forest of silver birches, which have to be one of the most charismatic of all the UK trees.

I won't go into the history of the Holme Fen, as fascinating as it is, and although there are a smattering of pictures in this post of the woodland, I have taken plenty more through the various seasons, all of which can be found here, here, here & here.

No, I was off to get some images of the summer wildlife that abounds in this Natural England run nature reserve, in particular, the various butterflies that call this place home while they are on the wing.

There were thousands of these colourful little flappers galavanting about the place, twirling around each other and flitting hither and thither above my head, and sometimes on it, if I was standing particularly still, trying to get a picture.

Below are a selection of images taken that day, when the butterflies were at rest, or sipping nectar, predominantly from the blossom of blackberry bushes, of which Holme Fen boasts an impressive number.

Read full blog post
Fen Drayton nature reserve
05th July 2017 - 0 comments

Over the weekend I took a trip to Fen Drayton, to visit the RSPB run nature reserve that can be found there. I was still on a hunt for wildlife and I thought I might find some suitable natural nuggets within its environs.

There wasn’t as much birdlife as I thought there might be, but I made up for it with some shots along the River Great Ouse, which runs through the reserve, and from rummaging through the undergrowth on the hunt for smaller quarry.

The reserve, a 108-hectare area comprised of several lakes formed from exhausted sand and gravel pits, is home to around 190 bird species, many of whom must have been in hiding when I visited. In times of heavy rain and river flooding, the entire reserve goes under water, including car parks and most rights of way.

It is planned that the reserve will become part of a much larger wetland area along the River Great Ouse, linking to the Hanson-RSPB Wetland Project at Ouse Fen, which should become Britain's largest reedbed within the next 30 years. In fact it was at Ouse Fen that the images from my last two blog posts were taken.

Read full blog post
Birdlife at Ouse Fen
02nd July 2017 - 0 comments

Following on from my last blog post where I expressed my disgruntlement at not being able to photograph the myriad birdlife at Ouse Fen RSPB nature reserve. Mainly thanks to the lack of telescopic prowess of my lenses, and where, to my shame, I told the birds to go shove it, for which I wholeheartedly apologise, I decided to give it another go.

My lenses had not suddenly acquired new found abilities you understand, but I was ready to do something I have always tried to shy away from if at all possible. I was prepared to crop my pictures, and boy did I have to crop them. I've always been of the mind that if the composition cannot be found while actually taking the photo, then to leave it be.

But needs as must, and I snapped away with blithesome abandonment, ready to hack away at the images when back in front of my computer, which is exactly what I did. So below are a selection of pictures from that reckless afternoon with the birds, along with a brief description of each one appropriated from the RSPB.

Read full blog post
Colourful insects & flowers in close up
28th June 2017 - 0 comments

A couple of days ago I took a trip to Ouse Fen, an RSPB run nature reserve, in the hope of getting some shots of the abundant bird life that takes up residence there this time of year. It is home to a multitude of geese, ducks, swans, gulls, coots, terns, grebes and cormorants, along with a few herons. Some of which have travelled for thousands of miles to breed on its lakeland islands.

Unfortunately, even though it’s easy enough to get pretty close to the colonies, I just didn’t have the capabilities with the lenses I own, to really get close enough for any meaningful images. So after endless whirling around, trying to follow the birds as they flew overhead, and attempting to catch the terns as they speared into the water on the hunt for fish, I decided that I was wasting my time, and the birds could go shove it

Instead I concentrated on the local insect life, as there were a plentitude of wild flowers about, which were attracting an abundance of butterflies and other arthropods, so I aimed my camera at the ground instead and got a few shots of these colourful citizens of the shrubbery…

Read full blog post
Lynford Arboretum at Thetford Forest
23rd June 2017 - 0 comments

A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Thetford Forest, in particular, to Lynford Arboretum, a beautiful spot located in the North East corner of the forest, and somewhere I’d not been to before, so I was keen to give the old camera a bit of an airing and to see what I could see.

Owned by the Forestry Commission, it is the UK’s largest man made lowland forest and covers over 18,700 hectares, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The forest was created after the First World War to provide a strategic reserve of timber, since the country had lost so many oaks and other slow-growing trees as a consequence of the war's demands.

Read full blog post
Cotswolds tour part two
05th June 2017 - 0 comments

On the second day of my mini tour around the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, I found myself in the early spring sunshine on the banks of the River Windrush, as it slowly ambles through the popular Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water.

The term village of course is somewhat of a misnomer, as the number of permanent residents in Bourton outnumber those of nearby Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, both of which are considered small market towns, despite neither of them boasting a market. It’s all very confusing.

During peak tourist months, the number of visitors easily outrank residents, which, if you’ve ever visited during the summer, and seen the hordes of people lounging next to the river and milling around the shops, is not hard to believe for a second.

Read full blog post
Cotswolds tour part one
03rd June 2017 - 0 comments

Not long ago, I took a little jaunt around the Cotswolds for a couple of days with a friend of mine who is writing a photography book about the area. We went to scout out a few suitable views that could be included, both the classic spots, and the less visited ones. Which of course gave me ample opportunity to snaffle a few pics of my own, and I took my full English pleasure at such an occasion.

The first stop was the picturesque village of Guiting Power. This charming little place does have its fair share of visitors, as it lies on the path of the Warden’s Way, a popular walking route, but it’s certainly not on the tourist trail, and is never very busy. But with its quiet lanes and quintessential Cotswold stone houses, it is one of my favourite places to visit in this part of the Cotswolds. Plus it has a very decent cafe right next to the village green which doesn’t hurt.

Read full blog post
Bluebells at Waresley & Gransden Woods
17th May 2017 - 0 comments

Following on from my recent visit to see the bluebells at Brampton Wood, I took a trip over to Waresley & Gransden Woods to do the same. I was in two minds whether to go, as there are only so many shots of bluebells you can take in a season until they all start looking the same, so I didn't have high hopes in getting anything new.

Of ancient origin, having been part of the local landscape for thousands of years, Waresley and Gransden Woods are a 54 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest that contain predominantly ash, maple and hazel, with parts of the wood replanted earlier this century with oak, beech and sycamore. They are home to many breeding birds, an abundance of wildflowers, and over 500 species of moth and butterfly.

Thankfully, my misgivings about seeing the same old views of a broad, flat woodland carpet, festooned with azure flowers, puncutated by slender trunks were not fulfilled. And I'm aware I sound like a growling curmudgeon, bemoaning the view of a classic English springtime display of such winsome exquiteness, that it's practically a treasonous offence. But, I have photographed a lot of bluebell scenes over the years, and it's nice to find something new, that's all I'm saying.

Read full blog post