Luck in landscape photography.

There is a real element of luck in landscape photography. How will the light be? What will the tide be like? Have I already missed the best time of day?

I think that’s true, but you can also increase your chances of being lucky by getting out as often as possible. This week I spent a couple of hours at my local beach, and really nothing was working photographically. I waited until sunset and was just giving up when the light suddenly appeared.

If I had followed my initial thought, which was to give up and go home, I would not have seen this light and would never have gotten the image.

So yes. we are lucky if we get great light - but can you increase your chances of being lucky by just being out there!

Intimate Landscape Photography

Simplicity and elegance is all around us if we look for it.

Anyone can take great shots of flowers, so why not get out and have a try!

You don't need any expensive equipment - most phone cameras are great for this kind of shot. The key is to get down to ground level, choose a subject that is isolated from other flowers (no overlaps in the background!) and ideally shoot in soft light (e.g. when it's cloudy). If your phone has a "portrait" mode, use that to blur the background.

A square crop helps make the image pleasing to the eye.

If you’d like to further improve your landscape photography, why not book yourself onto one of my workshops. It really is the best way to develop as a photographer!

Check out the page for full details

Just another sunset....

Sometimes it’s hard to resist getting out at sunset. Especially at this time of year, when the sun is setting around 9pm in the UK. We’re not quite there yet, but I always find June - August quite challenging photographically, as the days are very long and the light isn’t always conducive to shots like this.

This year though, I’m going to make a conscious effort to find different types of shots to see me though the summer. Keep coming to the blog to see how I get on!

For now, just another sunset from me.

Oh…. but I do love it ;-)

"Rule number 1 - never shoot in the midday sun." Really??

As photographers we are conditioned to always seek-out the best light, and most often that is to be found around sunrise and sunset. At these times the sun is low in the sky and it creates a very pleasing soft light that can really enhance an image.

Probably for that reason I think I’ve been conditioned to avoid “harsh” light, which can make images look flat and uninteresting. That can be the case, but when there are clouds in the sky, that isn’t always true. This shot was taken at almost exactly midday, but the clouds defused the sunlight enough to allow for a really pleasing image. The colours in the sea and the sand are particularly striking I think.

Photographers can get a bit obsessed with “rules” in photography. I prefer to think of them as guidelines rather than rules. They do help, but we shouldn’t be constrained by them. I’m glad I ignored them on this occasion and took the shot anyway!

Working hard to get the shot!

We’ve been enjoying some lovely weather here in the UK, and this sunset ended an amazing day. The sky was a deep orange glow for jus a few minutes before it set.

I really like the way the river meanders through the scene towards the mountains in the background. There was a bit of climbing involved in getting this photo. Often though the best results come after the most effort. I hope you like it.

When is a landscape photograph not a landscape photograph?

There’s a debate amongst landscape photographers as to whether a landscape photograph with people in it is actually a landscape photograph at all. I must admit I hardly ever include people in my photographs, mainly because I want the landscape to tell the story of what it was like to be there at the time.

This image was an exception though. I think the boat really helps to tell the story of this photograph. Without the boat it is just an image on an (albeit very nice) rainbow. With the boat included it tells much more of the story of the day and you can start to imagine what it must have been like for the fishermen in that weather.

So is a photograph with people in it truly a landscape photograph? Is it travel photography? Does it even matter?

I’ll let you decide that for yourselves. Thanks for looking :-)

Waterfalls are tricky to photograph.

I had a long trip this week for work, but had an hour or so spare on the journey, so decided to stop and take an image in a location I love, but hadn’t been to for a few years.

This waterfall is from a place called Big Burn Falls, close to the village of Golspie in Sutherland, Scotland. It’s hidden away but well worth a visit if you get the chance.

I was really surprised - but in hindsight shouldn’t have been - at how much water there was cascading down the falls. It’s now officially Spring here in the UK, and heavy rainfall is almost guaranteed. Because of all the water, it was difficult to capture the detail within the falls. I think I did the best I could with this image, but I look forward to going back when the flow is less rapid.

There are some amazing rocks that I think will make the image even better with less of a torrent to block them.

It can also be difficult to give your waterfall shots scale and context, which is why I included a significant section of river in the photograph. It gives that sense of both scale and context, which would be lost if the image was just the falls themselves.

I also loved the green moss and foliage on the rocks, which I think enhances the picture a lot. I hope you love it too, and bear these things in mind when you’re taking pictures of waterfalls. They can often look amazing to the eye in 3 dimensions, but it is tricky to turn them into great 2 dimensional images. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

Embrace the grey

The weather this week can be summed up in one word. Grey.

It’s important not to fight the weather, but to use it to your advantage. A grey sky can still produce a pleasing light, it’s just softer and less dramatic.

Whenever it’s grey I tend to look for more subtle and intimate images, often, as in this case leaving the sky out of the frame altogether.

This singe birch tree stood out to me, and I used a long lens to compress the perspective against the trees behind. To me it’s a good example of how to “embrace the grey” in your photography. If you’d like to learn more please consider booking yourself onto one of my workshops. I promise, whatever the weather and however accomplished you already are as a photographer, you will learn a huge amount! Thanks for looking :-)

Simplicity is key.

This week was one of those when it was difficult to get out with the camera at all, just so much happening at home. I did however capture one image of my local area.

This is literally a few minutes from my house and only a slight diversion from where I was going on that day. It’s a place I know well, and the light persuaded me it might be worth a shot.

This image won’t win any awards, but given it was captured impromptu I’m really pleased with how it came out. The key to this is simplicity.

It’s a very simple image, with no distractions, and often that works well. It was a windy day so I used a 30s exposure to smooth the water. The result is a feeling of calm.

For those photographers amongst you, or those who want to develop their skills, keeping it simple is a great lesson to keep in mind. When you try and over-think images, they can be less effective.

I hope you like it, and thanks for looking :-)

Why kit isn't important.

This week I took the family for a short break to Scotland’s Moray Coast. It was great to get away and see some places I hadn’t been to for a while, and for my children it was all new. I took this picture of Bow Fiddle Rock while we were there.

It’s unusual to find the sea so calm and although there wasn’t an amazing sunset to photograph I think the cool tones work well. While I was there I met two fellow photographers who were there to capture the moon rise - which co-incidentally was due to be visible through the arch at the time. As it transpired it was cloudy and the shot didn’t materialise, but it’s one I’ll keep an eye on for next time!

One of the gentlemen I met had an incredible Hasselblad camera, probably worth £50,000 or more, but I was flattered that he enjoyed looking at my image, taken on a camera worth about 1/20th of that. While I’ve no doubt he would get amazing pictures with his camera, what was more important was his knowledge of composition, light and technique.

To get this shot was tricky, I had to get very low to the rocks in the foreground and technically it posed a few challenges of composition and sharpness. But I did get the shot, and I would have got the shot with the £50,000 Hasselblad or a £500 DSLR. Achieving great images is nothing to do with kit, it has everything to do with the photographer - and the good news it can be learned! Workshops are a great way to learn, but so is just getting out there are trying new things. I can’t wait to come back to this spot again!