2016 Articles

Kimmeridge Bay Sunset

22/12/2016

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. ...more

Royal Crescent

11/12/2016

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. ...more

Berrow Wreck

04/12/2016

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. ...more

Flying Penguin

27/11/2016

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. ...more

Elephant Seal

23/11/2016

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. ...more

King Penguin

21/11/2016

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. ...more

Perigee Full Moon

13/11/2016

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. ...more

Autumn in the Peak District

31/10/2016

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. ...more

Ystradfellte Waterfalls

22/10/2016

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. ...more

Red Deer Rut

17/10/2016

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. ...more

Dartmoor Photography Tour

30/09/2016

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. ...more

Golf Club Photography

23/09/2016

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. ...more

Dawn at Caen Hill Locks

14/09/2016

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. ...more

Southern Hawker

08/09/2016

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. ...more

Salt Cellar

30/08/2016

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. ...more

Devil's Den at Night

18/08/2016

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. ...more

Porlock Weir

13/08/2016

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. ...more

The Purple Empire

14/07/2016

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. ...more

Bamburgh Castle

02/07/2016

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. ...more

Midsummer Dawn

19/06/2016

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. ...more

Lady's Slipper

05/06/2016

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. ...more

Bolton Abbey

22/05/2016

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. ...more

Great Yews

14/05/2016

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. ...more

Orange Tip

08/05/2016

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. ...more

Shades of Green

07/05/2016

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. ...more

Llyn y Fan Fach

05/05/2016

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. ...more

Leaping Roe Deer

20/04/2016

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. ...more

Frosted Fritillary

17/04/2016

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. ...more

Glencoe

31/03/2016

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. ...more

Kilchurn Castle

30/03/2016

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. ...more

Kynance Cove

16/03/2016

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. ...more

Green Bridge of Wales

06/03/2016

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. ...more

Silbury Hill

24/02/2016

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. ...more

Goldfinch

18/02/2016

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. ...more

Storm Imogen

08/02/2016

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. ...more

Langdale Pikes

16/01/2016

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. ...more