During a lecture tour in South Devon, I made a trip to Ladram Bay to photograph one of the sea stacks illuminated by the gibbous moon. Red sandstone looks fantastic by moonlight, which provided a good balance with the stars. Orion is towards the top right, whilst adjacent to the stack is Sirius on the right and Procyon on the left. To capture all the stars I wanted, I made three overlapping images with my 24mm lens and stitched them together using PTGui. Exposure of each image was F/2.8 for 20 seconds at ISO 1600.
In southern England, Autumn 2017 is lasting well into the middle of November. I discovered this lane in Rockley for myself and have visited many times but on this particular morning, as I made my way home for breakfast after a 4am start, everything came together perfectly. Heavy rain a couple of days previously had flooded the track, still air made a reflection and great light fulfilled the scene's potential. I composed with the dominant arching branch and its reflection framing the scene and the track leading the eye to ... where?
Situated in the northern Lake District, Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in England. On a still, frosty morning at the end of October I made my way up a hillside to Tewet Tarn, planning to photograph a reflection of the mountain. I needed wellington boots to wade into the edge of the tarn in order to use this trio of rocks as foreground. My reward was not only a perfect reflection but also a fantastic interplay of subtle light as dawn approached, turning the mountain first pink and then gold. For more images see my Lake District in Autumn Gallery
I arrived at this solitary silver birch tree on the north shore of Buttermere before first light. It was overcast but the clouds were forecast to break around sunrise, giving the possibility of good colour in the sky. I composed with the tree close to the lowest point of the mountains on the horizon, which corresponds with the location of sunrise. The clouds were propelled by a brisk wind, so I waited for them to form a pleasing configuration around the tree. Although the surface of the lake was rippled, an 8 second exposure brought out a partial reflection of the mountains. The whole image is dominated by the restful pastel tones of a Lake District autumn.
I positioned myself behind a high sea wall to capture this image of another photographer at Milton on Sea in Hampshire, as Storm Brian sent a huge wave over the promenade. The solitary figure, lifebelt and seats give scale to this image. Minutes later, an even bigger wave overtopped the wall and soaked me from head to toe.
The results of the national Landscape Photographer of the Year competition were announced today and I am pleased to have been awarded a Commendation in the Classic View category for the first photograph I made in 2017. Deep in the Dorset countryside, ruined Knowlton Church is situated within a Neolithic henge. I chose to make this image a few minutes after sunrise on a heavily frosted January morning. I like the way the low sunlight embraces the earthworks, emphasising their subtle contours. Frosted grass brings the scene to life. My image conveys a sense of the many layers and millennia of history at this sacred site, from prehistoric pagans to medieval Christians.
October is the rutting season for Britain's largest indigenous land mammal, red deer. At sunrise on this Sunday morning, a little mist swathed the hollows of Richmond Park. I approached a herd of deer with the sun directly in front of me and as I did so, this stag proclaimed his ownership of a harem of hinds with a full-throated roar at potential intruders. By focusing on the deer and exposing for the background, I captured a silhouette of the stag with a diffuse backdrop of golden mist. I like the way sunlight glints off his antlers.
I made this image while leading my Dartmoor Tors and Hidden Valleys Photography Tour. After an early meal, we ascended Great Staple Tor before sunset on a fine evening and waited for the sky to become fully dark. The rock pillars make excellent silhouettes and the familiar constellation of Ursa Major lies low in the evening sky in September. I composed so that the "handle" of The Plough wrapped around one rock pillar and Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern sky, is positioned to the left of another rock pillar. A 20 second exposure has rendered the stars sharp without motion blur from the earth's rotation. ISO 3200 has recorded many background stars and post-processing with Starspikes enhanced the first and second magnitude stars. My next Dartmoor tour
will run from 18 to 21 October 2018.
Pounded by Pacific storms, the Oregon coast has fragmented into countless sea stacks. I like the simplicity of this composition made after sunset, with rock silhouettes forming an asymmetric balance. Made on a falling tide, the wet beach reflects both rock stacks and sunset. More sea stacks feature in my Oregon Coast Gallery
I travelled to Oregon to photograph the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017 under perfect viewing conditions. This composite image shows the different stages of the eclipse captured over two and a half hours. Totality at my observing location lasted just 1 minute 18 seconds, during which time I worked fast to photograph the diamond ring, solar corona, prominences and Baily's beads using a wide variety of different exposures. The resulting images can be seen in my Total Solar Eclipse gallery
Alpine wild flower meadows are a glorious, though fleeting, spectacle of nature. Above the tree line, the growing season is just a few weeks betwen snow melt in July and snow fall in September. I found these broadleaved lupins on the slopes of Mount Rainier and thought they made the perfect foreground to the glacier-clad mountain. The contrast between fragile flowers and harsh ice is offset by the lupins complementing the colour of the sky. In order to balance the flowers and the mountain in the frame, I had to work very close to the lupins with my 16-35mm wide angle lens. Even stopped down to F/22, there was insufficient depth of field to get the whole image sharp. I therefore made three frames with identical compositions and exposures but different points of focus, which I combined using Helicon Focus software to produce a finished image with both lupins and mountain in sharp focus. For more alpine flowers see my Mount Rainier Gallery
Hoh rainforest on the Olympic peninsula of Washington State is drenched by more than 3 metres of annual rainfall. Even in the relatively dry month of August, these bigleaf maples (Acer macrophyllum) are draped in moss and surrounded by luxuriant ferns. In order to make this picture, I returned when clouds briefly covered the sun giving diffuse light. This creates more saturated colours and avoids bright highlights where shafts of direct sunlight penetrate the canopy. Please visit my Olympic National Park Gallery
To photograph these juvenile buzzards in their nest, I used a hide mounted on a scaffolding tower 5m above the ground. During the middle of the day, the light was too harsh and contrasty, creating many highlights in the background, but by early evening it was softened by light cloud which enabled this more pleasing image. Despite waiting nearly all day, the parent birds did not return to feed their adolescent young. It was tempting to think that the adults had their fill of parenting and were encouraging their offspring to take flight and find their own food.
The delightful town of Whitby in Yorkshire is situated on England's east coast. However, the local coastline has a north-east orientation, such that for a few weeks around midsummer when the sun sets far to the north, it can be seen over the sea. I positioned myself in the churchyard of St Mary's Church overlooking Whitby's elegantly curved harbour arms. When the sun briefly appeared from behind clouds I had the shot I wanted - an east coast sunset.
While I was leading a photography tour in Northumberland, my group was particularly keen to capture images of puffins in flight carrying sand eels to their chicks. Northumberland's Farne Islands has 80,000 puffins and is easily the best place in England to photograph them. However, getting sharp images of these fast-flying birds is not straightforward. Key to success is bright overcast conditions to give abundant but not overly contrasty light; a carefully chosen location with a view of puffins as they approach so the autofocus has time to lock on; and manual exposure - in this case F/8 for sufficient depth of field, 1/1,600th second to get the body of the bird absolutely sharp and ISO 640.
Great skuas are aggressive, predatory birds of the subarctic. These two males Shetland were disputing conjugal rights to a nearby female, who appeared to be looking on in dismay as they tried to gouge each other's eyes out with their beaks. I shot well over 100 images in a few minutes and it was only when I looked at them afterwards that I could see the details of what was going on. In this frame, the bird on the left has pincered the bird on the right with its beak and is using the force of its wings to subdue it on the ground.
I captured this view of the most northerly point in the British Isles on the island of Unst in Shetland, at latitude 60.85 degrees. Unst's Hermaness coast is exposed to the full fury of Atlantic storms, evidence of which can be seen in the huge sea stacks carved from the headland. A spectacular rock arch can be seen to the left whilst in the distance, Muckle Flugga lighthouse clings precariously to the northernmost stack.
The Chequered skipper is found only in a few glens in the western highlands of Scotland. It is the 58th and final species of British butterfly I have tracked down and photographed. Images of all 58 and the story of finding them are told in my new illustrated talk Butterfly Summer
I have long wanted to photograph ospreys fishing and travelled to Aviemore in Cairngorms National Park to do so. Two 4am starts and nine hours in a hide produced just a couple of minutes of good photography but I was not disappointed. It is extraordinary to watch these magnificent birds dragging huge trout from the water, straining their wings to get airbourne. By pre-setting my shutter speed to 1/1250th of a second and selecting a single focus point over the bird's head, I was able get the head and fish sharp whilst the osprey's wings are blurred by motion.
An extreme rarity in Britain, the monkey orchid is named for its bizarre flowers, each of which contains a tiny simian figure with flailing arms and legs. I found this one on chalk downland in Kent and with my aperture set to F/8, made several images with identical compositions but different points of focus. I then combined the images using focus stacking software to create this finished result, which has a good depth of field throughout the flower but a diffuse, soft focus background.
Although widespread, tawny owls are our most nocturnal owl, making them difficult to photograph in the wild. I spent all night in a hide in Lincolnshire, my camera trained on a carefully sited perch baited with dead mice and illuminated with a focusing light. To make the photographs, I fired twin flash guns by wireless remote control, giving a pleasing light on the owl that is free of harsh shadows. Of the many images I captured during the night, this one has the most impact as the owl is staring straight at me.
Like it or loathe it, oil seed rape is a striking feature of Wiltshire's spring countryside. I enjoy finding new compositions each year as the crop is rotated through different fields. This one seems partcularly effecive, with tractor lines talking the eye to a vanishing point near a few derelict buildings slightly right of centre, balanced by the clump of trees on Morgan's Hill on the left. I had to raise my camera above eye level to optimise the foreground of rape. I visited three times before I got a suitably interesting sky to complete the scene.
Gopher Wood in Wiltshire is a magical place, packed with characterful trees and a stunning ground flora of bluebells and ramsons. Of the many compositions I made this May Day, I like this one best as it captures the feel of an ancient woodland.
With a wing span exceeding 2 metres,white-tailed sea eagles are Britain's largest bird of prey. Once extinct in the British Isles, they have been reintroduced to the Western Isles of Scotland. I made this photograph from a boat off the west coast of Mull. The eagle swooped to seize a fish thrown into the water, enabling me to track it using predictive auofocus and a shutter speed of 1/1,600th second. Overcast lighting, a common feature on Mull, required a high ISO but suits the subject as it avoids excessive contrast and a difficult to expose shadow on the undeside of the bird's wing.
I led a five day tour to photograph the iconic birds and manmmals of the Cairngorms, including mounatin hare, red squirrel, pine marten, ptarmigan and red grouse. We found this ptarmigan in a corrie high on the flank of Cairngorm mountain. Although it was still March, snow had already melted and the ptarmigan had moulted into its summer plumage, giving almost perfect camouflage against the heather of its high moorland habitat. More images from the tour can be seen in my Scottish Wildlife Gallery
The Old Man of Storr is the tallest of three bizarre rock pinnacles, formed by the Trotternish landslip on the Isle of Skye. The mountainside faces east and to get the best light, the ascent must be started in darkness. This classic view is looking down from a rocky knoll to the north as the rising sun bathes the pinnacles in golden light. A small group of photographers at the bottom left of my image shows the scale and grandeur of the scene. For more images of Skye's stunning landscape, see my Skye Gallery
This image of Rannoch Moor was made two days after the spring equinox but fresh snowfall gives the impression of mid-winter. Made in numbing cold close to sunrise, I liked the way that snow and frost etches every twig of the trees and the perfect symmetry cresated by its reflection. There are more images from this shoot in my West HIghlands Gallery
The iridescent kingfisher is Britain's most jewel-like bird and one that is highly sought by photographers. Kingfishers are shy and dive so fast there is no chance of following them with a camera. I captured this image of a surfacing female from a hide on a tidal riverbank. A reflection pool was set up in front of the hide with a small tank in the centre into which I placed the fish. This guaranteed the location at which the kingfisher would dive and emerge, hopefully with its catch, enabling me to fix the position of the camera and pre-focus. I was shooting 6 frames per second at a shutter speed of 1/3,200th second to freeze the action. Pressing the remote release shutter as soon as the bird left its perch, its whole dive was over and it was back on its perch in less than the two seconds it took to fill the canera buffer with images. Please visit my Kingfisher Gallery
Spectacular scenery, long hours of winter darkness and proximity to the arctic circle makes Norway's Lofoten Islands an ideal location to photograph the northern lights or aurora borealis. I found this location on the eastern shore of Kjerk Fjord on Moskenesoya Island in the afternoon and returned after dark. With the full moon behind me, I waited four hours wrapped up against the cold for clouds to part and the aurora to appear. The celestial light show started around 11pm with a bright aurora over the southern side of the fjord. I quickly recomposed my intended shot to include this traditional cottage overlooking the fjord. A 3.2 second exposure has recorded the form of the quick-moving aurora, whilst an aperture of F/2.8 and ISO 1600 correctly exposed the moonlit peaks and cottage.
In northern Norway, the sun does not rise for several weeks around midwinter. When later in winter the sun does rise, it does so at a very gentle angle, skimming the highest mountain peaks long before it reaches the frozen fjords between them. I made this image of Bals Fjord as the first rays of sunlight caught a distant peak. Only the softly pink sky (known as the "Belt of Venus") gives colour to a landscape dominated by ice and snow. For more arctic images, see my Arctic Norway Gallery
In winter, sunrise can be viewed through Snowdonia's Llanberis pass, shining down the length of Llyn Padern. I used this distinctive lone tree on the lake shore as the main subject and positioned my camera low down to capture a starburst effect as the sun shone through a small gap formed by the tree's twisted branches, an effect that lasted only a few seconds.
Conwy Castle is a fine example of Medieval military architecture. Knowing that the castle is lit at night, I decided to make an image across the Conwy Estuary at dusk. I chose a fine evening when low tide coincided with sunset to enable a foreground of reflective wet mudflat and positioned myself so that a winding creek leads the eye into the frame. I made my image about 40 minutes after sunset to take advantage of cross-over lighting, when there was a balance between artificial light on the castle and ambient light on the landscape.
Kestrels are amongst our most familiar birds of prey but they are wary of close approach. After waiting for an hour in a hide, I photographed this female alighting on a post baited with a dead mouse.
The Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons is an impressive ridge with a steep north-facing cliff carved by glaciers. Llyn y fan fach nestles in the corrie, encircled on three sides by the mountain range. I decided to make an image in snow and knew that overcast conditions would be required, as the winter sun is too low in the sky to reach the cliff face or much of the lake. I ascended the slope west of the lake and looked for suitable foreground when this rock outcrop caught my attention. Its inclusion balances the dark lake on the left and creates a sense of depth, allowing the eye to follow the line of cliffs as they wrap the lake in a frosty winter embrace.
Kimmeridge Bay on Dorset's Jurassic Coast faces south-west, perfectly oriented for midwinter sunset. I made this image the day after the winter solstice, to take advantage of the position of the setting sun and attractive clouds. The tide was falling, which exposed just enough wet limestone ledges to reflect colour from the sky. I chose this composition because the pattern of clouds and rocks all lead the eye fro each corner of the frame into the centre. The inclusion of Clavel Tower on the left upper third breaks the symmetry and balances the image.
Bath's famous Royal Crescent is a tricky subject to photograph in its entirety. Facing due south, it needs low sun at midday to get the best illumination, evenly lighting the terraced houses from end to end. Because the crescent is long and thin, a dramatic sky is necessary to complete the composition. My chance came just two minutes after local noon when low December sun momentarily broke through gathering clouds to cast golden light against a stormy sky. I positioned myself opposite the exact centre of the crescent and, working quickly before the light was lost, made three overlapping images which I stitched together to create this panorama.
In March 1897, the Norwegian barque SS Nornen was wrecked off Burnham on Sea in Somerset. More than a century later, the bones of the ship are still visible at low tide. Scour by the sea has excavated the fine sand from around the wreck so water remains within the hull, reflecting colour in the sky. Its stern oriented towards the south west, the wreck aligns with winter sunset.
Rockhopper penguins are feisty, tough and determined. Often nesting high on cliffs, they must make long treks each day to and from the sea. At this cliff on Pebble Island, rockhoppers are well practiced at leaping between ledges in order to traverse the steep climb. A shutter speed of 1/1,250th of a second and a frame burst rate of 8 frames per second enabled me to capture one in mid leap - the nearest image possible to a flying penguin! For more South Atlantic wildlife, see my Falklands Gallery
Weighing up to four tonnes, elephant seals are the world's largest Carnivora and not to be messed with. As they are cumbersome on land, I was confident I could outrun one. However, making an impressive image required getting close, shooting from a low angle and capturing the elephant seal bellowing. That took nerve, perseverance and a readiness to leap to my feet when the elephant seal lunged at me.
At 90cm (3 feet) in height, King Penguins are impressive and characterful birds. I spent a day at Volunteer Point in East Falkland in overcast, windy and rainy conditions, My reward came in early evening when the sun broke through for a few minutes, giving great light against a foreboding sky to the east. I selected a wide angle lens and lay down on the beach to emphasise the height of this magnificent penguin, placing its head against the sky.
November’s full moon was the closest to earth and therefore the biggest full moon in 68 years. Although the moon would not be visible from Wiltshire at the actual moment of full moon and closest approach, from a photographic point of view I wanted to make images at moonrise to include some terrestrial landscape. On 13 November the (almost) full moon rose at 4.16pm and the sun set at 4.20pm. This provided a period of about 10 minutes when the moon and the terrestrial landscape were of similar brightness, enabling them to be included in the same image using a single exposure. My chosen location was Charlton Beech Clumps on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, providing a clear view to the north-east. Encroaching cloud held off just long enough to capture the huge pink-tinged moon as it rose behind the beech clump.
After several overcast days, the final day of October was sunny and almost windless. The northern arm of Ladybower reservoir is surrounded by hills, making it sufficiently sheltered for the water to be still even in the afternoon. Using a 10 stop neutral density filter I achieved a shutter speed of 30 seconds, which brought out a strong reflection of larch, beech and oak trees in their autumn splendour on the lower slopes of Derwent Edge. For more images taken on this trip, see my Peak District gallery
Sgwd y Pannwr (Fall of the Fuller) is a beautiful waterfall near Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons. It has a number of tiers and cascades in different directions as it plunges into a gorge on the Afon Mellte. A foreground of wet rocks and fallen leaves, together with a hint of autumn colour in the trees surrounding the gorge, provide an attractive setting for a landscape image. A polarising filter reduced reflections from the wet rocks and slowed down my shutter speed. I bracketed the shot at 0.4 seconds, 1.6 seconds and 6 seconds, then assembled the final image using Photomatix. This has brought out the textures and tones of the rock, given a pleasingly blurred effect to the cascades and recorded a little swirl of eddying water in the mid-ground.
During October, red deer stags guard harems of hinds, warning other males to keep away by roaring. I stalked this stag in Windsor Great Park, where deer live wild, albeit within a fenced perimeter. His seasonal enthusiasm is evident! A shutter speed of 1/800th second has caught him in mid-roar. A fly displaced by his bellow can be seen being blown forward.
I led Naturetrek's first photography holiday to Dartmoor, visiting the most dramatic tors and spectacular hidden valleys. The group photographed Great Staple Tor at night, which I illuminated using torchlight. The clouds are lit by the lights of Tavistock in the valley below. For details of next year's tour, visit Naturetrek's website
I was commissioned by Marlborough Golf Club to take a series of landscape photographs of the golf course for use in corporate sponsorship, advertising and the club's website. I fulfilled the brief by capturing early morning and evening light, showing this top-class golf course at its best in its very attractive downland setting. Images were taken between the end of August through to early November, when the greens are sharply delimited, attractive soft light interplays with morning mist and the onset of stunning autumn colour. For more golf course images, see my Marlborough Golf Club gallery
On 14 September, the sun rises directly in line with the top of Caen Hill locks in Devizes. The best view was about 30 minutes before the sun appeared as spectacular dawn colours were reflected in the still water of the Kennett and Avon Canal.
Dragonflies are tricky to photograph in flight because of their superb vision, speed and aerobatic skills. Southern hawkers, however, are inquisitive so I sat down beside a pond at Red Lodge wood in Wiltshire with my telephoto lens and waited for one to come and investigate me. It hovered for a few seconds, just long enough for my autofocus to lock on. With a shutter speed of 1/800th second and an aperture of F/8, the body is pin sharp but the fast beating wings are blurred by motion and the narrow depth of field.
The salt cellar is one of several photogenic rock formations along Derwent Edge in the Peak District. I timed my visit to coincide with flowering heather and sunset, giving strong side-lighting and rich tones to the rock. Waiting until there was just the right amount of cloud in the sky completed the image.
Devil's Den is a Neolithic dolmen, screened from light pollution in a valley on the Marlborough Downs. Visiting after astronomical twilight and the moon had set, I composed with the north pole star at the top right of my image and used a torch to light the stones. By combining sixty consecutive 30 second exposures I created star trails around the pole star.
Failed groynes on the beach at Porlock Weir in Somerset can make a striking composition when low tide coincides with sunset. A neutral density filter enabled me to lengthen the shutter speed to 13 seconds, smoothing out the waves in the Bristol Channel to create a serene image.
During July, Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire offers one of Britain's quirkiest wildlife spectacles. From mid to late morning, dozens of our most aristocratic butterfly, the Purple Emperor, descend from the treetops to imbibe salts along the rough track through the woods. So intent that they seem oblivious to human disturbance, sometimes they settle on clothing, legs and arms to drink sweat. The purple of male Emperors is a structural colour, caused by light refraction in the scales of their wings, and can only be seen when viewed from the right angle. I was able to lean right over this Emperor, camera mounted on a monopod looking straight down, to get the colour showing in all four wings. Purple Emperor is the 50th species of British butterfly I have photographed and images of all these species can be seen in my website galleries
Bamburgh Castle occupies a commanding position on the Northumberland coast. In the summer months the view from the north is well illuminated by evening sun. I chose this shooting location as the rock ledge exposed by low tide forms a leading line towards the main subject, whilst the form of the rocks complements the castle. Although it was too windy for a reflection to form, the image is enhanced by good cloud texture in the sky.
At the summer solstice, the sun rises at its most northerly point on the horizon, enabling compositions that cannot be achieved at any other time of year. I made this image at Avebury the day before the solstice, to take advantage of beautiful weather conditions. Around 4.30am the clouds turned pink and then just before the sun rose at 4.49am, soft mist enveloped the downs beyond the standing stones. My presence disturbed some sheep lying around the sarsens but after they had overcome their initial curiosity and gone back to sleep, I thought they added to the composition.
In Britain, the exotic-looking Lady's Slipper orchid grows in the wild only at a handful of limestone grassland sites in north-west England. I photographed this flower just as the early morning sun began to catch it. Using a 300mm lens with extension tubes enabled close control of depth of field. A wide aperture gives a pleasingly diffuse background and to get the flower sharp I made five images with identical compositions but different points of focus. I combined the five shots using focus stacking software to give a finished image that has good depth of field for the flower but retains an out of focus background.
The classic view of Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales features this row of stepping stones across the River Wharfe. By visiting soon after sunrise I captured pleasing light on the ruined priory. The river was flowing quite fast after rain the previous day but the stepping stones were holding the water back just enough to create a still area upstream. Using a 10 stop neutral density filter enabled me to lengthen the exposure time to 30 seconds, which has blurred the water flowing between the stones and brought out the reflection of the priory.
Great Yews, on Wiltshire's border with Hampshire, has a grove of pure English yew Taxus baccata. The wood has an almost reverential atmosphere reminiscent of a cathedral, with great tree trunks taking the place of stone columns and sunlight filtering through the canopy as if through stained glass. Around 7pm, the low angle of the sun means hardly any direct sunlight penetrates the wood so I was able to photograph using reflected light, which reduces contrast and gives richer tones to the gnarled trunks. I searched for some time to make a composition that conveys the fairy-tale qualities of this wood, finally settling on a view of ancient yews and a collapsed branch framed by two adjacent yew trees.
With their cryptically coloured underwings and startling upper wings, orange tips are one of my favourite butterflies. Their larval foodplant, cuckoo flower, grows in a meadow adjacent to an ancient woodland near my home so I looked for the butterflies on a sunny afternoon. A strong colony was flitting around the sunny rides and open areas of the wood. Returning in the evening just before sunset, a careful search revealed an orange tip roosting for the night. By photographing it on a bluebell, my image achieves a pleasing colour balance and conveys the spring flight period of this dainty butterfly. I mounted the camera exactly parallel to the plane of its wings so they would be sharp with an aperture of F/5.6 and cleared away distractions from the background. Gently stroking the resting butterfly with a fine paintbrush persuaded it to reveal its fiery upper wings for a few seconds while I made the image.
Young beech leaves have a vibrant, translucent quality that lasts just a few days after they unfurl. With this timing in mind, I took a group of photographers to the beech avenue near Kingston Lacy in Dorset. The busy road from Blandford to Wimbourne runs through the avenue and I tried some compositions using the road as a leading line but none were satisfying. By stepping a few metres away from the road I was able to frame these veteran beech trees, their leaves at precisely the right stage of formation to screen the sky and give the desired shade of green. A passing cloud covered the sun just long enough to avoid contrasty light and harsh shadows. I like the restful quality of the resulting composition.
In the west of the Brecon Beacons, this beautifully situated glacial lake is almost encircled by the Black Mountain. Lying in the shadow of steep north-facing cliffs, sunrise is only visible over the lake in May, June and July. I ascended the slope west of the lake and made a panorama of overlapping images at the moment of sunrise to show Llyn y Fan Fach in its stunning setting.
Spring is the best time to photograph farmland wildlife, before crops grow tall enough to hide the animals. I walked around Pewsey Hill Farm soon after sunrise until I disturbed a pair of roe deer. Adopting an unobtrusive position on the downland slope, with the sun behind me, I was fortunate that the deer ran across a field of oil seed rape, leaping and bounding. The key to getting this image sharp was pre-setting the exposure to F/5.6 and 1/1,250th of a second, a high burst rate of 8 frames per second, selecting the central autofocus point and keeping it over the deer as I panned across the field. I like the dynamic posture of the deer and the fact that all its legs are well clear of the ground, giving the impression that it is hurtling through the air.
The snake's head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) is a nationally rare plant, of which most of the British population is found in Thames vale meadows of north Wiltshire. Flowering in mid-April, it astonishes me how these delicate plants are able to withstand hard frost. I arrived at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Clattinger Farm meadow before sunrise to capture this image of a fritillary encased in tiny crystals of ice. Using a 230mm telephoto lens with the aperture wide open enabled me to show the fritillary in sharp focus, well separated from a diffuse background.
Buachaille Etive Mor is a striking pyramid-shaped mountain at the eastern entrance to Glencoe. A small waterfall provides complementary foreground. To make the shot work I needed the waterfall shaded by a cloud and the mountain illuminated by the just risen sun over my left shoulder. The clouds obliged and provided a pleasing interplay of light and shadow as well as some drama to the sky. For more images of Glencoe, Rannoch Moor and the Trossachs, see my West Highlands Gallery
Kilchurn Castle occupies a stunning location at the head of Loch Awe on the west coast of Scotland. I arrived at dawn in the hope of golden light on the castle from the rising sun behind me. Instead I was treated to a subtle interplay of pink clouds and mist enveloping the snow-clad mountains beyond the castle, all perfectly reflected in the still waters of the loch. By retracting the legs of my tripod I mounted the camera low down, enabling the inclusion of some rocks to provide the missing foreground ingredient.
Kynance Cove, its sandy beach flanked by dramatic serpentine cliffs, is known as one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Cornwall. I scheduled my visit for a day when low tide occurred just before sunset, which enabled me to reach a small west-facing section of beach. Having first checked that I would be able to escape through a cave if the beach became cut off by the rising tide, I selected a shooting position framed by cliffs and a foreground rock exposure. As the tide rose, waves ran up the beach to wet my feet, The best colour came about 15 minutes before sunset, as the sun was about to emerge from cloud into a patch of clear sky on the western horizon. A neutral density filter enabled me to make a three second exposure, capturing the movement of water as a wave receded to form leading lines drawing the eye through my image.
The Green Bridge of Wales on Pembrokeshire's Castlemartin coast is described by the Natural Arch and Bridge Society as “probably the most spectacular arch in the United Kingdom, with a height of approximately 80 feet”. There is no beach here and the standard tourist view is from the cliff top to the west, where a viewing platform has helpfully been constructed to show visitors where to stand. I wanted to make a more dramatic, unusual image so I arrived just after sunrise and photographed from the east, looking down at an oblique angle. This enabled me to include bright lichen-covered rocks as a foreground, giving a base and sense of depth to the scene. A pair of gulls on the far end of the limestone arch show the scale of this magnificent natural feature. For more images of this coast see my Pembrokeshire Coast gallery
A huge man-made chalk mound over 4000 years old, Silbury Hill is situated at the source of the River Kennett. After exceptional and prolonged rainfall, the usually dry depression around the mound fills up with water to form a moat. I made this image on a perfectly still, very cold winter morning a few minutes after sunrise. The low sun catches the hill, turning it golden, whilst the margins of the moat are still in shadow. I captured the scene as six overlapping frames in portrait format, each at there different exposures, and stitched them together to form a complete panorama. I like the frosted grass in the foreground, the partly icy moat and the virtual symmetry of the image, broken by the different sized trees framing it at each edge.
So brightly coloured it looks as if it would be more at home in the tropics, goldfinches are the gaudiest visitors to my garden. I constructed a reflection pool, raised up near to eye level as viewed from my hide, and lined it with fallen leaves to capture this image of a goldfinch drinking.
Storm Imogen brought 80 miles an hour winds to the south coast of England and I travelled to Portland Bill to witness it. Walking around was difficult as the wind was close to blowing me over. The sea state around the Isle of Portland was officially described as "phenomenal" by the Met Office. I was unable to get to the west coast without being drenched in sea spray so I had to photograph from the leeward east side. The waves refracted around the Bill were still impressive.
I had prospected Blea Tan at dawn under grey skies on New Year's Day. The potential was obvious so I returned two weeks later, when snow was covering the Lake District. The roads were icy so I drove through Little Langdale in first gear and hiked up the steep road to Blea Tarn at first light. I chose my location with a foreground of snow-topped boulders forming leading lines into the image. Langdale Pikes were neatly reflected in still water between nearby ice and the far edge of the tarn. The rising sun caught the Pikes perfectly, giving about ten minutes of great light before it disappeared into cloud. By early afternoon it was snowing again.