in focus

People often ask me about my images...

...these questions vary from "where is that place?" to "why did you choose that angle?" to "how did you get that effect?" or "why black & white?" with many, many other questions in between.

I've picked out some personal favorites and given some background information. I'll keep adding images; these may be a favourite visually, or the back story might put a smile on my face.

I hope you enjoy!


the tranquility of effort...

the tranquility of effort...

It still surprises me how many great landscape images are taken so close to car parks - but I guess the car parks are where they are because there’s a beautiful view to be seen!

This view of Cranborne Chase is slightly different. While perched on the grassy incline framing my image, I can see the viewpoint marked on maps a few hundred metres to my left. There is also a National Trust car park a hundred metres or so further up the hill behind me catering for the visitors to Win Green and the great views on offer from up there.

This view is also different in the fact you need to make an effort and leave the Win Green car park, head through a gate and then walk across and down the sloping field - you can already see this natural amphitheatre from up top, but as you move position it really seems to open up in front of you - the further you go, the better it seems to get!



a blooming lovely evening

a blooming lovely evening

This next “In Focus” covers an image captured over a period of a few weeks, with some serious detective work involved. Now, I can’t take the credit for the detective work, and have to take my hat off to my photography buddy, Mike. This field of poppies is viewable from quite a distance, but the part that’s not easily visible is the access! Well, not to be put off, Mike got in touch with the local council, who put him in touch with the county councils, who gave him the number for…who said you need to speak to... Many phone calls and emails later, Mike had the contact number for the manager of the farm that this field forms a part of.

To explain a little about UK farming… Certain pesticides used to be used to eradicate weeds etc from crop fields. In our ever-increasing desire for “cleaner” foods, pesticides are used less and less as well as the chemical-based delivery methods. Think back to the last time you saw an airborne crop sprayer? These days, you often see early flowering wild plants, such as poppies, growing among later harvesting crops such as barley and wheat.

Now, a poppy, despite it’s beautiful shape and colour, is viewed as a weed by a farmer – and our farmer was fairly new in his job, and was uncertain of letting us advertise his “field of weeds”. We struck the agreement that he would grant us access to his field, as long as we didn’t advertise the farm it was part of or giveaway the location – now that’s a deal I can shake on!!



faith - and persistence!

faith - and persistence!

My wife hails from Jersey, in the Channel Islands, so we make regular trips there to catch up with family and friends. It also gives me a pretty good excuse, if I ever needed one, to take my camera and capture some of the stunning scenery on the island.

La Rocco is a defensive tower from the Napoleonic era, and situated a half mile off St Ouen’s beach on the western end of the island. I’ve been to St Ouen’s on many occasions, but never yet managed a photographic outing through the combination of wrong tides, strong wind or just generally bad luck – plus La Corbiere lighthouse is a short distance from here, and usually pulls me (as you will see from my other Jersey images).

Some time ago, a well-known pro landscape photographer told me you know when you’re a true landscaper when you obsess over four weather forecasts on an hourly basis. Well, on this particular day I was definitely a true landscaper! We had been in Jersey for a week and only had a couple of days left, and I hadn’t managed to make any images yet – I hadn’t even taken my camera out of its bag!



sunrise, best time of the day...

sunrise, best time of the day...

For several months before capturing this image, I had been heavily involved in a major project for a company, shooting hundreds of products under lights in a white tent, so it was particularly pleasing to finally get out with my camera for some personal work. With a series of Landscape Photography Workshops kicking off later in the month, it was time to head out and double check potential venues. The last thing I need is to arrive at a venue, and find workmen rebuilding my foreground interest or blotting out the planned views!

I was hoping to carry out these recce’s with some photography buddies as I’d not seen them for ages, but they were unable to make it through one thing and another, which left me on my own for this outing. It’s a shame I was all alone, but it really did strike home to me why I prefer sunrises over shooting at any other time of day!!

Arriving at my parking space over an hour before sunrise, I quickly changed into my welly boots, pulled on my woolly hat and strapped my tripod on to my backpack – and was very glad I’d decided on full winter gear as it was -3oC despite being in British Summertime!



juggling numbers...

hengistbury head, pre-dawn

I think I will always prefer sunrises - for multiple reasons.

The air is so much clearer and cleaner, especially when at the water's edge. The quality of light is usually so much crisper. Both of these probably due to the lack of pollution that we humans haven't been able to churn into the atmosphere yet.

I also quite like the thought of me being the only person (or certainly one of only a few) to witness the event. For those who know Hengistbury Head, there is a good number of beach huts behind where I'm stood to make this image, with many huts exhibiting signs of overnight occupation. Yet I appear to be the only (concious) human...

Sunsets you can watch the weather progress through the day and then make that yay or nay decision later on. Sunrises don't give you that option, and are "in it to win it" events. For those of us who are paranoid about missing them, this usually results in being onsite well over an hour before sunrise which, in this instance, meant a stupid o'clock alarm call (and I was awake before the alarm went off).




a morning’s work

A misty sunrise at Rockford Common

People often ask about my work, and the process I go through to capture an image. This image of the rising sun at Rockford Common is a prime example of my preferred method of working.

Many landscape images you see are versions, or even attempted exact copies, of another photographer’s work. When you look into these often iconic images, you will find thousands of versions of the same view, from the same spot, but not with the same “wow” factor. It also surprises me how many images you see that are taken within a few yards of a car park. While this is no bad thing,  my preference is to capture something new, that I’ve not seen hundreds of times before. Ok, I too have several iconic images in my library, but when you live so close to places like Corfe Castle and Durdle Door it’s difficult not to!

So, back to Rockford Common. Having checked three different weather forecasts on an almost hourly basis for a few days, it appeared there was a good chance of mist developing on this particular morning. Time to clean filters, charge batteries, format memory cards and check in with a landscaper buddy. He was free, so we agreed to meet in the middle of nowhere two hours before sunrise!



wait for it,
wait for it...

wait for it, wait for it...

On a recent workshop, I had a (small) Eureka moment!

Henri Cartier-Bresson called it “The Decisive Moment” while Charlie Waite describes being in “the presence of some wonderful alignment of events”.

To me, this particular Eureka moment (a minute or two after the image above was taken) suddenly made perfect sense of these statements and made me realise that some photographers have “it” – whatever “it” might be.

Having led five very keen photographers on a very enjoyable coastal workshop, we were spending the last few minutes of daylight capturing some final images. Having spent time through the workshop discussing and shooting lead-in lines and foreground interest, the question came up as to how would I suggest capturing the beach with just the sea and no foreground rocks, groynes or other objects.



pink tide, sore feet

Pink Tide, Sore Feet

My wife's family live in Jersey, so we often visit the island as a family to catch up and take a break from things – well, that’s all things except photography!

As well as the catching up with family and friends, chilling out on the beach, enjoying good food and wine, a trip to Jersey just wouldn’t be complete without a photographic outing or two. And if I only have time for one outing, it’s normally to La Corbiere, my favourite lighthouse.

La Corbiere is joined to the island by a causeway, and is best visited during a rising tide so you get plenty of movement in the water, and rocks, sea, sky etc. Visit at low tide and you have a lighthouse and rocks; lots and lots of rocks.




it's behind you!

Ellingham Tree - It's Behind You!!

It’s quite apt that I should choose this image for my next post as I’m typing in the height of pantomime season – but more of that later!

While landscape photography is a solitary pursuit in the main, it’s always nice to head out for a shoot with friends. The last twelve months have been a hectic year for myself and my usual photography buddies and we haven’t had many joint outings this year – in fact, we haven’t had that many solo outings either! Guess what one of my New Year Resolutions is?!

Now, to some of my non-photographic friends this seems an alien concept. They seem to think that I’m colluding with “the enemy” and don’t understand why we would want to venture out together when we’re all vying to make the final step from semi to full-time pro photographer. But, put three of us in a line with tripods virtually touching and you’ll still see three quite different resulting images as we all impose our own style. That always sounds quite grand, and almost pretentious, to me, but it’s true, we would all put a very different spin on the same location and moment in time. For example, one friend would look for the classic composition hidden in the scene, another would massively exaggerate the perspective and aim to distort time while I would probably shoot vertically and emphasise the foreground so you would almost feel your toes at the base of the frame.

Which brings me back to me featured image, “A Moment Of Colour” – and before you ask, it’s near Ellingham, just off the A31 running though the heart of the New Forest. As I mentioned before, a friend is an exaggerator of perspective and stretcher of time, and he had seen an image of mine of a dead tree with a lovely shape. This dead tree is also all on its own in a great big clearing, so quite easy to isolate. We decided to visit the venue together a) because we hadn’t seen each other for ages and b) so I could show him where the tree is.




mono opportunities

Mono Opportunities - Mogshade Mirror

Now, believe it or not, this was taken on a beautiful morning, when the sun had risen through the mist, giving me lovely reflections across the pond. But, this was an hour after sunrise, the sun was above the mist, and my morning was almost done.

Being one to fully investigate each photographic opportunity, I walked around this pond surveying each angle for possible images. The lone oak tree in the distance is a personal favourite of mine, and has featured in many of my New Forest images. I love this tree and pond, but have never managed to successfully combine the two, as there is a thick swathe of trees normally viewable in the distance, which makes the oak tree merge into the background. But on this occasion the early morning mist was obscuring these trees – I spotted an opportunity!

Such a relatively simple scene was crying out to me to be shot in Mono; lots of contrast, different shapes and wildly different textures in the log, water and background…