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High Tide in Porlock Marsh

18/09/2020

The biggest tides of the year occur around the New Moon closest to the equinoxes. I travelled to the Somerset coast where these equinoctial high spring tides coincide with sunset. This tree was alive until 1996, when the sea broke through the shingle beach at Porlock Bay and flooded the field in which it was growing, creating a new area of salt marsh. (The breach can be seen behind the tree on the right.) Right on cue, the rising tide flooded the salt marsh as sunset colour spread across the sky. The tide rose higher than I was expecting and continued rising after the tide tables indicated it would have peaked. The photographic opportunities got better and better but by this time I was standing on a small elevated bank surrounded by sea water. When darkness fell and my refuge seemed about to disappear, I waded out.

Caen Hill Flight

14/09/2020

The rising sun shining down Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon canal west of Devizes. This alignment occurs one week before autumn equinox (and again one week after the spring equinox). On the morning I took this, the sun is not quite perfectly placed but the moored canal boat and mist complete the picture, making an attractive scene.

Flowering Heather

04/09/2020

Dawn sky echoing the colour of flowering heather in the New Forest.

Milky Way over Durdle Door

20/08/2020

Clouds clearing to the west reveal the core of the Milky Way, along with Jupiter and Saturn, over Durdle Door on Dorset's Jurassic Coast. This photograph was captured during my Milky Way and Jurassic Coast Photography Tour, which included comprehensive tuition on how to process images to bring out all this detail. For more images from this tour, see this gallery.

Stonehenge by Moonlight

12/08/2020

In this image made at 2am after several hours trying to photograph Perseid meteors, Stonehenge is slightly backlit by the third quarter Moon, low in the sky to my right. I like the way the subtle interplay of moonlight emphasises the antiquity of the stones. There was a series of spectacular lightning storms in progress about 60 miles to the north which are illuminating the sky behind. The bright star just to right of centre is Capella.

Sunflowers at Sunrise

01/08/2020

This lovely field of sunflowers beside a main road across Salisbury Plain has become a popular visitor attraction. By arriving before sunrise, I had the field to myself and was able to set up a pleasing composition to make the most of the first, best light of the day. Sunflowers face east, to greet the rising sun. This warms them up more quickly in the morning and attracts pollinators.

Plough and Windmill

23/07/2020

Aspects of celestial and terrestrial agriculture: Plough and Windmill. Comet NEOWISE can be seen between the sails. Photographed during one of my astrophotography evening workshops in Wiltshire. 20 seconds at F/2 and ISO 1600.

Brown hawker

21/07/2020

Brown hawker (Aeshna grandis) patrolling the River Kennet in Wiltshire this afternoon. This highly territorial species is hard to photograph in flight as (unlike the Southern Hawker) it is not inquisitive and doesn't hover. I returned home with over 200 images, of which many had no dragonfly in them at all and of those that did, only one was sharp.

Comet NEOWISE

11/07/2020

July 2020 saw the first bright comet in Northern Hemisphere skies for over 20 years. I photographed it rising beside St Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor at 2.15am on the first clear night after perihelion (closest approach to the Sun). Using a 400mm telephoto lens, I had to limit my shutter speed to 2 seconds to avoid trailing of the comet and background stars resulting from Earth's rotation. Despite the early hour, two comet-watchers who happened to be on Glastonbury Tor completed the scene.

Gathering Storm over Opium Poppies

27/06/2020

Grown under license for medicinal purposes, opium poppies are a striking element of the midsummer countryside. I photographed this field near Hungerford in evening sun, as dark storm clouds approached from the south giving an unusual colour balance. A short telephoto (84mm) lens compressed perspective, pulling the distant tree clump into the image and making the poppies appear dense; requiring multiple frames to be focus-stacked. No opium poppies were harmed in the making of this photograph but one photographer got thoroughly drenched.

Sunset at Westbury White Horse

26/06/2020

Perched on the north-western edge of Salisbury Plain, Westbury White Horse is well positioned for evening light. This image is captured with a fisheye lens to include both horse and sun, making a balanced composition that is only possible around the summer solstice. I was lucky with the sky.

Moon and Tide

23/06/2020

The highest tides each month (spring tides) fall two days after New Moon and Full Moon. High spring tides at Clevedon in Somerset are at 9.30pm BST, coinciding with sunset in June. An hour after sunset, the tide had started to fall leaving reflective wet rocks at the top of the beach, whilst the two-day old crescent Moon was well-placed above the end of the pier.

Barn Owl

21/06/2020

Barn owl caught by the last rays of evening sun against a downland background that is already in shade. Exposure of 1/1250 second at F/8 and ISO 800 was set manually to correctly expose the pale feathers of the owl against a contrasting background. I love these iconic birds, of which we are fortunate to have a good population in Wiltshire.

Summer Solstice

20/06/2020

This Neolithic dolmen on the Marlborough Downs was constructed 4,500 years ago to face the rising sun on the winter solstice. Now only the entrance stones remain and looking through them in the opposite direction, they frame sunset on the summer solstice.

Meadow From Below

30/05/2020

A meadow featuring ox-eye daisies, meadow buttercups and ragged robin, looking straight up. My camera can see what I never can directly, as I can't get my eyes that close to the ground! I captured this image with my Canon 5D IV and an 8mm fisheye lens. At 5.35pm, the sun was low enough in the sky to illuminate the flower heads but just screened from the camera lens, forming a starburst at top left (11 o’clock position).

Great Bustard

26/05/2020

With maximum recorded weights of up to 21 kg, male Great Bustards are the world’s heaviest flying birds. Huge in size and robustly built, they are stately in appearance with a heavy chest and characteristically cocked tail. These charismatic birds are indigenous to England but thanks to their popularity on banquet menus and trophy hunting, became extinct in 1832. The Great Bustard Group was formed in 1998 to reintroduce this iconic species to its natural habitat of rolling grassland on Salisbury Plain. I photographed this male bustard displaying from a specially built hide near the release site.

Moonraker

07/05/2020

In the 18th century, smuggling was a significant activity in rural England and Wiltshire was on the route from the south coast to customers in the Midlands. A folk tale, first recorded in 1787, relates how some local people had hidden smuggled barrels of French brandy in a village pond, reputed to have been The Crammer in Devizes. While trying to retrieve the contraband at night with agricultural rakes, they were caught by customs officers. The locals explained themselves by pointing to the reflection of the Full Moon and saying they were trying to rake in a round cheese. The revenue men, taking them for simple yokels, laughed at them and went on their way. The moral of the story is clear; Wiltshire folk are resourceful and should not be underestimated. This is why the county’s inhabitants are proud to call themselves Moonrakers. Image taken at moonset on the Marlborough Downs from a distance of 680 metres with a 400mm lens plus 1.4x teleconverter, 1/4 second at F/16 and ISO 400.

Whitebell

20/04/2020

About 1 in 10,000 wild bluebells lack pigment. I found one of these albinos in a Wiltshire wood and thought it would make a good photograph amongst its blue counterparts. By shooting with my aperture wide open (F/3.5), only the white flower was in focus and the all the others became a soft haze of blue.

Hairy-footed Flower Bee

06/04/2020

Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes) visiting cowslips in my Wiltshire garden. This handsome solitary bee is one of the first to emerge in spring. I pre-focused on the flower having set exposure of 1/400th second at f/11 and ISO 400 and waited for bee.

Earthshine

26/03/2020

The two day-old crescent Moon is only 5% illuminated by the Sun. To an observer on the Moon, Earth would appear 95% full and more than 40 times brighter in the lunar sky than a Full Moon appears in our sky. That sunlight reflected from Earth faintly illuminates the night side of the Moon. This image was captured with my Canon 5D MkIV camera and 400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, giving an aperture of F/8. To correctly expose both the day and night sides of the Moon, I bracketed three exposures at ISO 6400: 1 second, 1/8th second and 1/60th second. I merged the three frames manually in Photoshop to show the Moon as I saw it.

Great Crested Grebes

16/03/2020

The spring courtship ritual of great crested grebes is fascinating to watch. Both male and female first feign disinterest, then rise up from the water and present each other with bouquets of water weed.

River Kennet at Dawn

19/02/2020

Storm Dennis brought heavy rain to much of England. The ground was already saturated by a notably wet winter, so even chalk streams like the Kennet in Wiltshire overtopped their banks. Two days later, water levels at the top of the catchment were already falling, leaving debris stranded on the flood plain. I composed looking along the length of the river with West Overton Church as a focal point in the background. In the foreground, the river bank and a little flood debris on the left are balanced by a fence on the right. But it is the gorgeous pre-dawn sky and its reflection that really makes the picture.

Churchyard Snowdrops

12/02/2020

Sometimes it is good to be able to walk out of the house and take a photograph without having to get in the car first. These frosted snowdrops were in a village churchyard on the Marlborough Downs this morning. The sun rose in exactly the right position to complete the composition. The image comprises nine RAW files of identical composition: three at different points of focus (for focus stacking), each at three different exposures (for high dynamic range processing). The result is an image that is correctly exposed and fully sharp throughout.

Storm Ciara

09/02/2020

Porthcawl in South Wales is exposed to the full fury of Atlantic storms. Standing on the end of the promenade, I photographed these spectacular waves breaking around the lighthouse during Storm Ciara using a shutter speed of 1/1600th second to freeze the action.

Freezing Fog

21/01/2020

Freezing fog is quite rare in southern England but creates exceptional conditions for photography. I captured this image of sunrise over Salisbury Plain looking across the misty Vale of Pewsey from Golden Ball Hill on the Marlborough Downs using a 182mm telephoto lens. I like the way the rising sun is balanced in the image by the clump of trees on the right.

Floodplain at Charlton-All-Saints

20/01/2020

The Salisbury Avon is a classic chalk stream, rich in wildlife, winding its way through the countryside of south Wiltshire on its way to the sea at Christchurch Harbour. Prolonged winter rainfall has saturated the ground, resulting in localised flooding. Tall riparian trees, frosted ground and a great dawn sky give character to this winter image.

Astrophotography Exhibition

18/01/2020

My landscape astrophotography exhibition opens on 18 January 2020 at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

For thousands of years, people have been fascinated by the beauty of the night sky. But it is only in the last century that we have discovered the huge scale of the Universe that can be seen by our unaided eyes. More recently advances in digital cameras have enabled us to photograph fantastically distant objects in unprecedented detail and this exhibition presents images of the Universe over spectacular landscapes on Earth.

Robert's book Photographing the Heavens: Images of Earth and the Universe is available in the Museum shop and the author will be signing copies at the Museum on 18 January.

More details.

Dunstanburgh Castle at Dawn

13/01/2020

This view of Dunstanburgh Castle from the north benefits from a foreground of wave-rounded basalt boulders. In winter, the sun rise behind the castle giving the possibility of attractive tones in the sky. To work, the boulders need to be wet and reflective so a falling tide is needed. I was lucky that on this occasion I was able to shoot from a rocky outcrop, providing stable footing and a good foreground composition. I used a 6 stop neutral density filter to slow down the exposure and show the waves as a misty effect around the boulders. Three exposures at F/16 for 10 seconds, 2 seconds and 30 seconds captured the whole dynamic range of the scene.

Bow Fiddle Rock

06/01/2020

Bow Fiddle Rock is an elegant natural rock arch at Portknockie on the Moray coast of Scotland. I photographed it by gibbous moonlight, with the bright stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation of Gemini above and to the right. An outcrop of intertidal rocks made a good line-in line, requiring a separately focused frame, combined in processing, to get the whole scene within the depth of field at F/2.8.

Pine Marten

04/01/2020

These charismatic mammals making a recovery and have been reintroduced outside their Highland stronghold to parts of the Scottish lowlands, Wales and England. A little honey and raisins kept this pine marten busy while I photographed it from a hide in Dumfries and Galloway using a powerful flash.

The Old Man of Coniston

03/01/2020

The Old Man of Coniston is one of the best-loved mountains in the Lake District. I photographed it from Kelly Hall Tarn, providing a well-balanced foreground and a reflection. It was important to select just the right position to achieve separation between the boulder and reflection of the mountain. The dawn sky was mostly cloudy but it was just thin enough for spectacular colour. As the sun rose behind me, the sky over the Old Man lit up and completed the scene.

Silbury Hill

02/12/2019

Now it feels like winter has arrived! A stitched panorama of Silbury Hill before sunrise, surrounded by a frozen moat and a little hoar frost, with a gorgeous pink sky.

Freshwater Bay

24/11/2019

A welcome shaft of sunlight illuminates chalk cliffs at Freshwater Bay on the south coast of the Isle of Wight on an otherwise overcast morning. At the top of Tennyson Down, 147m above sea level and 2.5 km from this viewpoint, a huge granite cross is just visible in this photograph. It is a memorial to the life of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, who lived nearby and walked here nearly every day. A neutral density filter enabled a 20 second shutter speed, smoothing out the movement of water around these impressive sea stacks.

Buzzard

17/11/2019

Buzzard photographed from a hide on the Marlborough Downs. Contact me if you are interested in booking this hide.

Teffont Evias

04/11/2019

A tranquil rural scene at Teffont Evias as autumn colour reaches its peak in Wiltshire. Described as one of the most beautiful parishes in England, the village has an uncluttered, timeless feel. The church and adjacent farmhouse are viewed here across the village pond and well-tended pasture with grazing cattle; a scene reminiscent of a Constable painting. I selected this shooting position very precisely so that a parked car adjacent to the church was hidden behind the branch of a yew tree.

Landscape Photography Course

03/11/2019

The cascade at Bowood is Wiltshire's largest waterfall, here in full flow after heavy rain. This image was taken during my Landscape Photography Course in association with Lacock Photography. The next landscape photography course will run from 6 to 7 May 2020.

Mist at Buttermere

28/10/2019

An exceptional morning at Buttermere on the final day of my Lake District Photography Tour. First the rising sun illuminated the western lakeshore with golden light, then mist rolled up the lake to frame the perfectly reflected mountainside. The effect lasted less than five minutes before the warmth of the sun created ripples which broke up the reflection. A four stop neutral density filter helped bring out the reflection.

Autumn in the Lake District

27/10/2019

Beams of sunlight breaking through cloud can make for dramatic photographic conditions. Viewed from Hardknott Roman Fort, the sun briefly catches Hardknott Pass, which is reached by England's steepest road. This cold and windswept outpost on the Cumbrian Fells must surely have been one of the least popular postings in the Roman empire. More images from this Lake District in Autumn tour.

Petra

16/10/2019

Situated high in the mountains of southern Jordan, Ad Deir is the largest, best preserved and most dramatically sited of Petra's many ancient monuments. Seen here from a little-known viewpoint, its red sandstone glows in a fleeting moment of late afternoon light during my Jordan Photographic Discovery Tour. More images from this tour.

England's Temperate Rainforest

29/09/2019

A wet morning gave vibrant colours to the luxuriant mosses and ferns of Wistman's Wood, an Atlantic wet woodland in a Dartmoor Valley. I composed to exclude any distracting chinks of sky.

Great Staple Tor

27/09/2019

Great Staple Tor on the first evening of my Dartmoor Photography Tour. This shooting location shows its twin pillars well-placed in the frame. Menacing clouds parted for a few minutes to give some crepuscular rays beside the more distant pillar. I made three exposures at different shutter speeds to capture the full dynamic range of the scene, fully revealed when they are combined in processing.

Stonehenge at Night

25/09/2019

Stonehenge during my night photography workshop conducted in association with English Heritage. Light from the nearby town of Larkhill illuminated the clouds to make a dramatic backdrop. No filters or processing enhancements have been used in this image.

Star trails over Ludgershall Castle

19/09/2019

Ludgershall Castle is a ruined 12th century royal residence in Wiltshire. I made 110 30-second exposures at F/2.8 and ISO 1600, which I combined in processing to show the result of Earth's rotation over one hour. Because the castle was close to my camera, I needed additional depth of field to get it sharply focused so I made an additional exposure at F/8 for 4 minutes for the foreground. The terrestrial landscape is lit by gibbous moonlight.

Photographing the Milky Way

27/08/2019

A member of my Namibia Photography Tour group photographing the Milky Way from the Giant's Playground. The iconic foregrounds and exceptionally dark foregrounds of southern Namibia are ideal for photographing the core of our galaxy, which is high in the sky during August evenings. Including a human figure gives scale, context and a focal point to the image. I captured it using a Sigma 14mm F/1.8 Art lens at an exposure of 20 seconds at F2 and ISO 6400.

Silent Sentinels

22/08/2019

Around 700 years ago, shifting sand dunes cut off the surface water supply to Deadvlei in the Namib Desert. Its trees died but centuries later their skeletons remain, preserved by dry desert air. We arrived before sunrise and selected this composition, then waited for the rising sun to fully illuminate the dune beyond to capture images of dead trees silhouetted against a backdrop of gold to give this painterly effect. In order to get all the trees in sharp focus, two frames were required, one focused on the nearest tree and the second on one of the others, which were then combined processing.

Desert Camouflage

19/08/2019

Sidewinding adders (Bitis peringueyi) are superbly camouflaged in desert sand, enabling them to seize small reptiles with their poison fangs. We found this young adder in the Namib Desert during my Namibia Photography Tour and photographed it using a 180mm macro lens to fill the frame, whilst keeping a safe distance.

Forest Camouflage

06/08/2019

The degree of camouflage that has evolved in Madagascar's eastern rainforests is astonishing. This image shows the front half of a leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) but it can take a little while to spot. The gecko is side on and head down, its eye about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom near the centre line. Its toes blend into the bark towards the right hand side. Photographed using twin macro flash to give even illumination with slight directionality, so the gecko casts a faint shadow on the tree behind.

Dancing Lemur

01/08/2019

Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) is one of Madagascar's most charismatic lemurs. Being highly arboreal, its long back legs evolved to leap between trees but make running on all fours impracticable. To move over open ground, sifakas run in an upright posture, using their arms for balance, in a gait that appears much like dancing. This is tricky to photograph as one never knows which way the sifakas are going to run and a good picture requires them to be in full sun. We spent a couple of afternoons perfecting our technique on my Madagascar Photography Tour.

Baobab under the Milky Way

24/07/2019

Grandidier's Baobab (Adansonia grandidieri) is the largest of Madagascar's six species of endemic baobab trees (compared to one species in the whole of mainland Africa). On this July evening, the bright core of the Milky Way was high in the sky, with Jupiter just above it. The small Magellanic Cloud can be seen to the right of the baobab, whilst the Large Magellanic Cloud is just breaking the horizon in the centre of the image. A 20 second exposure at F/2 and ISO 3200 has brought out fantastic detail in the Milky Way, whilst the baobab is lit by a little stray artificial light from the small village at the adjacent Avenue of Baobabs.

Eclipse of the Moon

16/07/2019

The first partial lunar eclipse at moonrise to be visible in Britain for nearly 13 years was keenly awaited. I positioned myself about 1 km north-west of Colmer's Hill in Dorset, giving a clear line of sight to the position of moonrise over the Isle of Portland on the horizon. While I was waiting, a herd of 25 bullocks came to investigate what I was doing in their field, completely encircling me so they could all have a look. Having persuaded them to move on by waving my tripod above my head, I then had to wait for the moon to clear some thin cloud lying on the horizon. Single exposure of 0.5 seconds at F11 and ISO 800.

Marbled White and Moon

15/07/2019

I captured this image on the Marlborough Downs as a single exposure in camera using a 300mm lens and macro twin flash to light the butterfly. It was tricky to get the camera in exactly the right position for the butterfly, which was waving around in a slight breeze, to be against the disk of the Moon and to keep autofocus locked on the butterfly when it kept trying to wander 400,000 kilometres beyond it. I took 290 images with a success rate of less than 1%.

Lindisfarne Castle

01/07/2019

Rising out of a rocky crag on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, this castle makes a compelling focal point in a landscape photograph. A rocky, lichen-encrusted shore makes the perfect foreground and a dark, menacing sky completes the scene. I captured this image during my Northumberland Seabirds and Castles Tour. For more images click here.

White Horse under Dark Clouds

15/06/2019

I walked up Cherhill Down on an evening of heavy showers and sunny intervals in the hope of getting this kind of lighting. It is worth spending a while getting rained on when I can see it coming.

Bee Orchid

09/06/2019

One of Britain's best-loved flowers, the bee orchid has evolved to trick male insects into trying to mate with its flowers and thus distribute its pollen from one flower to another. The result is that the orchid achieves fertilisation whereas the bee does not! In order to get a good depth of field for the orchid and a diffuse background, I took nine frames identical in composition and exposure but with slightly different points of focus, then combined them using focus stacking software.

Poppies at Sunset

06/06/2019

It is not possible to be sure in advance where poppies will appear each summer and that is part of their charm. This display on Salisbury Plain is visible from the eastbound A303 in Wiltshire. I composed with the earthworks of Yarnbury Hill Fort on the skyline and made the most of a spectacular sky.

Box Tunnel

22/05/2019

The western entrance to Box Tunnel on the Great Western Railway, a masterpiece of engineering by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I waited 1.5 hours for an exiting train to coincide with sunshine and chose a shutter speed of 1/13th second to give motion blur to the train.

Crackington Haven

11/05/2019

Crackington Haven on the north Cornish coast just after sunset. A rising tide was chasing me up the beach, with waves wetting rocks above the waterline. I used a neutral density filter to achieve a shutter speed of 3.2 seconds, sufficient to smooth out of the water surface and concentrate the viewer's attention on the leading lines formed by the rock ledges running from each corner.

Glastonbury Tor at Dawn

10/05/2019

Glastonbury Tor just before sunrise, with a little mist rising from the Levels. I positioned myself with a view through the door of St Michael's Tower and a gate silhouetted at bottom right.

Bluebells, looking straight up

29/04/2019

A different take on bluebells in West Wood near Marlborough. I placed my camera on its back with a fish eye lens set to its widest focal length of 8mm and smallest aperture of F/22. The result captures the whole sky - a canopy of beech trees framed by bluebells.

Sea Eagle in Action

09/04/2019

The White-tailed sea eagle is Britain's largest bird of prey, with a wingspan of almost 2.5 metres. I captured this image during my Mull Otters and Eagles tour as the eagle swoops to take a fish. A shutter speed of 1/1,600th of a second has frozen the action whilst an aperture of F/8 gave sharpness from wing-tip to wing-tip. For details of next year's tour, please visit my Mull Photography Tour page.

Snakeshead Fritillary

03/04/2019

Snakeshead fritillaries are flowering early this year, no doubt thanks to our mild winter. Many at Upper Waterhay Meadow, adjacent to the River Thames in Wiltshire, are white (Fritllaria meleagris alba), though this one retains a hint of chequered pattern. It astonishes me how such a delicate plant can survive being hard frozen by April frost, which we had early this morning. This ability enables them to flower before other grass and other plants outcompete them later in spring.

Corfe Castle

31/03/2019

The rising sun breaking through dawn mist at Corfe Castle. I selected my location on the flank of West Hill so the castle stood against the sky, to the right of the hill over which I knew the sun would rise. I was careful to retain separation between different parts of the ruined keep and to hide obtrusive modern development. Nothing has been cloned out of this image! The resulting composition gives a timeless feel to this 12th century castle, which was ruined in the English Civil War following its capture by Parliamentary forces in 1645.

Adders

29/03/2019

Britain's most beautiful snake is best photographed when basking in early spring sunshine. As morning fog cleared in the Forest of Dean, I spent an hour with them before they reached their optimum temperature and moved off into undergrowth.

Milky Way

09/03/2019

Stitched panorama of the Milky Way over Wadi Rum at 4.30am during my Jordan Photographic Discovery Tour. I made a set of 10 overlapping images from north (on the left) to south (on the right) with a 24mm lens in portrait orientation, each exposed at F/2 and ISO 3200 for 20 seconds, then stitched them together in Lightroom. The bright core of the Milky Way is where the centre of our galaxy lies, rotating around a supermassive black hole at a distance of 25,000 light years, forever hidden from our view. Much closer to Earth, three of our solar system's planets can also be seen: Jupiter against the galactic core, Saturn below it and Venus just risen near the centre of the image.

Desert in Bloom

09/03/2019

Our comfortable tented camp in Wadi Rum was very well situated, with a view onto this striking east-facing mountain. Recent rain had brought a floral carpet into bloom. A few minutes after sunrise, I captured this image, the low angle of sunlight emphasising the ripples in foreground sand and imparting rich colours to the mountain beyond. For more images from my Jordan Photographic Discovery Tour, visit this gallery.

Petra

05/03/2019

This superb viewpoint over one of Petra's best known monuments, The Treasury, is reached by a steep uphill climb. Bright overcast conditions were perfect, bringing out rich colour in the sandstone whilst avoiding harsh shadows. I asked a local Bedouin to pose on the cliff top for my photography tour group to photograph, giving a wonderful sense of perspective.

Winter Sky

22/02/2019

Orion, Sirius and Pleiades over Martinsell Hill in Wiltshire on a winter evening. I timed my arrival to coincide with moonrise and as the gibbous moon rose above mist in the Vale of Pewsey behind me, it bathed the Scots Pine in soft, cold light. Less welcome was brisk wind during my 20 second exposure, which has caused a little motion blur in the pine branches.

Sandstone Rocks

07/02/2019

Pastel tones of sunrise complement the sandstone rock pillars of Ladram Bay in Devon. I chose to make a fairly tight, portrait-shaped crop in order to simplify the scene, reducing it to just two rock pillars leaning in opposite directions. A four stop neutral density filter further simplified my composition by smoothing out the motion of the sea. This finished image was made by combining three consecutive exposures separated by two stops (0.8 seconds, 3.2 seconds and 13 seconds) in order to retain detail in the rocks and the bright areas of sky where the sun had just risen.

Martinsell Hill

30/01/2019

I like the squeaky crunch made by freshly fallen snow as it is compressed under hiking boots. Especially at dawn, when there are no other footprints in the snow, providing certainty that no-one else has trodden through or gazed upon the unfolding scene beforehand. However, when I reached the summit of Martinsell Hill in Wiltshire this morning, I found a rabbit had got there first. I decided to use its tracks as leading lines to the much-photographed pine tree. As the risen sun was only just out of frame, I shaded the lens with my hand to avoid flare. Sharp focus from front to back was ensured by making three images at different focus points, which I combined in processing using focus-stacking software.

White Horse in Winter

23/01/2019

I have tried to realise the potential of this winter composition at Alton Barnes in Wiltshire many times over the last 15 years. Today all the elements finally came together to make this image. A dusting of overnight snow turns the horse gleaming white and picks out the tractor route to form leading lines. I set up my tripod and waited for a brief shaft of sunlight to bathe the White Horse in golden light. Differential lighting across the scene emphasises the main subject, whilst dark clouds beyond Milk Hill add some drama.

Fountains Abbey at Night

29/12/2018

The night sky viewed from within Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. I made this image with an 8mm fish eye lens pointing straight up, to show the whole sky in a single frame. The constellations of Auriga and Gemini are framed by the arch at the bottom of the image, Cassiopeia is almost overhead and the Square of Pegasus towards the top right. I lit the interior of the Abbey with a little torchlight to bring out some detail in the stonework.

Jurassic Coast Photography Tour 2018

21/12/2018

Winter solstice sunset at Portland Bill, photographed on my Jurassic Coast Photography Tour. We were treated to big waves on both east and west sides of Portland Bill, followed by a superb sunset. I selected this viewpoint from which the sun, setting at its southernmost point on the horizon of any day in the year, disappeared right behind the lighthouse. A shutter speed of 1.3 seconds has blurred the movement of waves just enough to form a pleasing foreground pattern and captured reflected colours from the gorgeous sky. More images from this tour can be seen key [730710] doesn't existhere.

Sheep at the end of the rainbow

09/12/2018

Sunshine and showers can make good landscape photographs. Setting out under overcast skies, I was hoping for late afternoon sunlight to break through and catch this clump of trees on Salisbury Plain with dark clouds beyond. When I arrived, I was treated to a bonus in the form of a rainbow with a flock of sheep at the end of it.

Moorhen

07/12/2018

Moorhens are ordinarily matt black in colour but low winter sunlight brings their plumage to life, especially when reflected off water. I found this one at Slimbridge and waited for it to face me and bend to take a drink, so the bright red forehead almost, but not quite, touches its reflection.

Astrophotography in the RPS Journal

26/11/2018

The Royal Photographic Society has published an article about my astrophotography in the December 2018 issue of its Journal. You can read the article here. The article is based on the content of one of my Astrophotography Workshops at Lacock Photography. For details of my tour to Namibia, one of the best destinations in the world for landscape astrophotography, visit my Photography Tours page.

Golden Toadstool

14/11/2018

Fly agarics are quintessential toadstools and popular photographic subjects. I made this image just after sunset at Spye Park in Wiltshire, shining a small torch onto a gold reflector to illuminate the fungus. In order to get the camera low enough to the ground, I mounted it upside down beneath a horizontally extended tripod column. To give sufficient depth of field for the main subject whilst maintaining a diffuse background, I made several images of identical composition at different apertures and focus stacked them.

Light at the End of the Tunnel, Savernake Forest

13/11/2018

The ancient hunting forest of Savernake is Wiltshire's largest area of woodland. The leaves tend to last longer on the trees than at other locations, perhaps because the size of the forest offers protection from wind and frost. I made this image looking down the main drive through the forest at 9am, with the sun straight in front of me. My first composition was from the middle of the drive but I found that by stepping just two metres to the right I could achieve a much more interesting, asymmetrically balanced composition. Backlighting filtering through the leaf canopy brings the leaves to life and an intriguing pool of sunlight further along the track draws the viewer through the image to a well-placed focal point. I took care that the sun was hidden behind a tree and not falling directly onto the front element of my lens.

Hoopoe

09/11/2018

Hoopoes are rare in Britain and the arrival of this one in rural Wiltshire resulted in considerable interest. This is the 150th bird species I have photographed in Britain, all of which can all be seen in my British Birds Galleries.

Andromeda Galaxy

02/11/2018

The Andromeda Galaxy, photographed from my Wiltshire garden. Situated 2.5 million light years from Earth and containing around one trillion stars, this spiral galaxy is larger than our own Milky Way. I photographed it with my Canon 5D Mk iii and a 400mm lens at F/5.6 and ISO 3200. The light used to produce this image was acquired during 50 exposures of 45 seconds each, stacked in processing. Thanks to Gavin James for the use of his tracking device to compensate for Earth's rotation during each exposure and generously provided assistance.

Autumn in the Lake District

26/10/2018

Langdale Pikes viewed from Loughrigg Tarn during my five day Autumn in the Lake District Photography Tour. The moody, overcast sky is an important part of this image and we had to wait for shafts of sunlight to illuminate first the peaks and then the foreground. Knowledge of the location, time of year, time of day and ideal lighting conditions, along with patience, paid dividends. For more images from this tour, please visit my key [728540] doesn't existLake District 2018 Gallery.

Landscape Photography Workshop

22/10/2018

Doric Temple reflected in the lake at Bowood, photographed during my Landscape Photography course based at Lacock Photography.

Dartmoor Photography Tour

20/10/2018

My autumn photography tour on Dartmoor was blessed with excellent weather, giving great conditions for sunrise and sunset photography. We made this image of the charming church of St Michael de Rupe on Brentor a few minutes before sunset, benefitting from golden light on the church and perfectly situated wisps of cloud in the sky. For more images from the tour, visit my key [743184] doesn't existDartmoor 2018 Gallery. Details of my 2019 tour can be found here.

Swanage Pier

06/10/2018

I was invited to run two landscape photography workshops as part of the Royal Photographic Society's Visual Art Group autumn weekend in Dorset. It was raining heavily on Saturday morning so I took the group to Swanage Pier. Wet planks reflected light from a grey sky, bringing this image to life in a way that would not have occurred on a dry day. The wind direction was northerly and hence not driving rain directly onto our camera lenses. I increased contrast in the sky using a virtual graduated filter in Lightroom.

Spinnaker Tower

29/09/2018

Graceful Spinnaker Tower has become an iconic image of Portsmouth. I wanted to capture the pink sky about 10 minutes after sunset and also the time of crossover lighting, when there is a balance between ambient light from the sky and the artificial lights on the tower. I made two shots with identical compositions, six minutes apart, and blended them in Photoshop using the Lighten mode to give this finished result.

Solar Alignment

15/09/2018

On 15 September each year, the sun shines down the length of Caen Hill locks in Devizes for a couple of minutes shortly after rising. It also occurs on 28 or 29 March. This image is a high dynamic range capture of four RAW files at different exposures to record detail in the shadows as well as the highlights. The only digital alteration was removal in Photoshop of an unsightly rubbish bin beside the towpath.

Westbury White Horse

01/09/2018

A sunlit subject with a dark, stormy sky behind it usually makes dramatic lighting so it is a combination I often seek. For this image I used the classic compositional gambit of the main subject (Westbury White Horse) on one intersection of thirds and the foreground interest (a conveniently situated white cottage) on the opposing intersection of thirds. It has been done countless times before - because it works!

Waiting for Sunrise

24/08/2018

I arrived at this field of sunflowers on Salisbury Plain before sunrise and noticed that they were all facing east, as if waiting to greet the rising sun. Apparently when they are growing, sunflowers follow the sun around the sky but when mature and less supple, they settle down and face east. That warms them up quicker in the morning, which makes them more attractive to bees (Atamian, Hagop et al. “Circadian Regulation of Sunflower Heliotropism, Floral Orientation, and Pollinator Visits.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 5 Aug. 2016, science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6299/587.full). Photographically, I love the scene and composed with the tree clump central in my image, allowing the hedge line to its right and the soft clouds on the left to give asymmetric balance. A pink-tinged line of cloud creates a subtle leading line from top left to the tree clump.

Our Galactic Centre

16/08/2018

Milky Way and Mars over Durdle Door. I captured this image from the clifftop by making five overlapping frames, each exposed for 20 seconds at F/2, using a 24mm lens in landscape orientation. I then stitched the five frames together in Lightroom to create a vertical panorama. A Perseid meteor, distinctly green in colour, was captured on the fourth frame against the Milky Way. Both Mars and the Milky Way are reflected in the English Channel, creating shining paths of light in the dark sea.

Wheel of Stars

14/08/2018

One hour of star trails over Wilton Windmill. By positioning myself so that the Pole Star was directly above the windmill and making 120 consecutive 30 second exposures, I showed the effect of Earth's rotation as a giant wheel of stars, echoing the daytime rotation of the windmill's sails. A Perseid meteor can be seen just to the right of the windmill. I lit the windmill with a small torch for a few seconds on the final exposure. All 120 exposures were cleaned of aircraft and satellite trails and stacked in Photoshop.

Terrestrial and Celestial Transport

04/08/2018

The International Space Station passes over the Prince of Wales Bridge. This image is a montage of 20 exposures of 10 seconds each at F/4 and ISO 800, all identical in composition, capturing the trail of the ISS as it moves from west to south across the sky. Because the ISS is moving, its brightness depends on aperture and ISO but not shutter speed. Hence by reducing the length of each exposure, I was able to make the bridge darker while maintaining the brightness of the ISS to balance the image. The exposure I used was the maximum I could while not blowing the highlights in the bridge. In processing I pushed the exposure of the whole image by +1 stop and then held back the exposure of the bridge using a virtual -1 stop ND grad. I combined the 20 frames as layers in Photoshop. Because the sky got darker between the first and last frame (3 minutes 20 seconds apart) I blended the 20 frames using the Lighten mode and then overlaid the ISS trail onto the background of the first (lightest) image, so as to show Jupiter (towards the left, between the bridge and the ISS) and the stars as points rather than trails. It is a pity there some murk over Newport that obscures the western end of the ISS trail; I was hoping to see the ISS rise between the bridge pillars.

Red Planet

02/08/2018

Mars shining brightly over Stonehenge at 1am, the darkest time of a summer night. Just past Opposition, on 31 July the Red Planet was at its closest to Earth for 15 years. The terrestrial landscape is illuminated by light from the waning gibbous moon.

The Eyes Have It

28/07/2018

There is very little that is sharp in this image but I think that puts all the attention on the amazing complex eyes of this southern hawker dragonfly. This species is innately curious and was hovering to take a close look at me beside a pond in Ravenroost Wood, Wiltshire. I used a 300mm lens wide open at F/5.6 to get just the head in focus, a shutter speed of 1,000th second to freeze the movement of the head (though not the wings and body), ISO 800 for correct exposure and quick reactions to get my focus point over its head before it flew away.

Golden Wiltshire

24/07/2018

The summer heatwave has left much of Wiltshire looking parched. I made this image of Cherhill Down three quarters of an hour before sunset, when for a few minutes warm evening sunlight turned the grass golden. My location was carefully selected so that the contours of chalk downland and texture of dry grass play a prominent role in the foreground. Giving a strong sense of place, well balanced in the composition, Cherhill white horse and the Lansdowne Monument are the key focal points of the image.

Beaver

11/07/2018

Beavers are living wild in the west country after an absence of 400 years. This female was born to wild-living parents two years ago and has now established her own territory, where she and her mate are busy clearing channels and building dams. These shy animals are nature's engineers and delightful to watch.

Dunstanburgh Castle

03/07/2018

Situated on a lonely crag between Craster and Embleton, Dunstanburgh Castle has the most dramatic location of all Northumberland's castles. Although only a solitary tower is visible from the north, the viewpoint benefits from a beach foreground of wave-rounded boulders. As high tide turns these are left wet and reflective, whilst half an hour before sunset, the crag and tower are bathed in warm light. With the boulders in shadow at this time of day, three different exposures were required to capture the whole dynamic range. I used a four stop neutral density filter to give a 10 second shutter speed on the longest exposure, which has pleasingly smoothed out the waves to give a tranquil feeling to the scene.

Arctic Tern

01/07/2018

Arctic tern attacking photographers on Inner Farne during my second Northumberland Sea Birds and Castles Tour in 2018. I photographed with a wide angle lens as it swooped in to dive-bomb our group. By manually setting the focus, the depth of field enabled me to include the island's Pele Tower in the background.

Puffin Delivery

28/06/2018

Puffin delivering sand eels to its nest on Staple Island, photographed during my first Northumberland Sea Birds and Castles Tour of 2018. Getting focus locked on is tricky owing to the speed at which puffins fly and requires careful panning as they approach. A little sea mist softened the light, avoiding harsh contrasts between the puffin's sunlit face and shaded underside.

Military Orchid

25/05/2018

Military orchid is one of Britain's rarest flowers, with just three known sites. I made this photograph after overnight rain in Buckinghamshire. Each of the flowers was at a slightly different distance, so I made five frames at F/8 with identical compositions but different points of focus using my 100mm macro lens. I then combined them using focus stacking software to create this finished result with the flowers sharp and the background diffuse.

Yellowhammer

20/05/2018

Yellowhammers are surely one of our most striking native birds. I thought they would look good against a backdrop of flowering oil seed rape so I tracked down a nesting pair on the Marlborough Downs and set up my hide at the field edge just after sunrise. Both parents were bringing a regular supply of insects for their brood to eat, though the female was working considerably harder than her partner! I photographed the male for his bright yellow plumage, almost exactly the same tone as the rape flowers.

Bantham Beach

14/05/2018

Bantham Beach in south Devon features spectacular rock fins and ridges. Access to the beach is cut off around high tide and I chose the day for this shot so I could get onto the beach just 50 minutes before sunset. Fifteen minutes later, the falling tide had exposed enough of these ridges to make an interesting foreground, whilst the low evening sun imparted golden tones to the rock fins and cliffs beyond. A four stop neutral density filter enabled a 15 second shutter speed, which has pleasingly smoothed out the waves and brought out a reflection of the largest rock fin. The right tidal and lighting conditions for this image come together for just a few minutes on a couple of days per month.

Cuckoo

09/05/2018

Cuckoos are often heard at this time of year but seldom seen. This male has been a regular visitor to Thursley Common in Surrey during May for the last five years. He announced his approach by calling, enabling me to photograph him in the act of landing on a carefully placed branch.

Night sky over Elan Valley

06/05/2018

Far from major towns and cities, the Elan Valley in mid Wales is an International Dark Sky Park. I photographed the night sky over Garreg-ddu reservoir, lighting the Victorian Foel Tower (a water intake) with my hand torch to provide a foreground. Looking due north at midnight, the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia lies over the tower, with the faint band of the Milky Way running through it. The water was sufficiently still to reflect the brighter stars, though slight ripples during my 20 second exposure have turned the reflected stars into short streaks.

Hartland Quay

26/04/2018

Dramatic intertidal rock formations at Hartland Quay in North Devon are best photographed between one and two hours after high tide, as the sea begins to receed leaving reflective wet rocks on the upper beach. Just after sunrise, clouds in the western sky coloured up, whilst a strong westerly wind was sending big waves crashing into the seaward rocks. I used a 4 stop neutral density filter to lengthen the time the shutter was open to four seconds, giving a soft, flowing appearance to the receeding water in the foreground.

Ptarmigan

05/04/2018

Ptarmigan are a demanding species to find, being confined within Britain to high mountains of northern Scotland. A trek through deep snow on the flanks of Cairngorm mountain was eventually successful. Using overcast light, I made a high key photograph in which the ptarmigan's white plumage blends with its snowy habitat to make an almost abstract image.

Mountain hare in snow

04/04/2018

By Day 3 of my Cairngorms Birds and Mammals tour, fallen snow carpeted the Findhorn Valley. This mountain hare had already moulted most of its white winter coat, making it easy to spot on a steep hillside. We were able to approach closely to make portraits of the animal resting, alert and grooming.

Red Squirrel in Snow

03/04/2018

Snow was falling on the first two mornings of my Cairngorms Birds and Mammals tour, creating excellent settings for photographing red squirrels.

Glen Affric

01/04/2018

A tranquil loch bounded by Caledonian pine forest and ringed by snow-capped mountains, Glen Affric is a vision of what Scotland must have looked like before most of its native trees were felled. On Easter Sunday morning, the mighty peak of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan is reflected in Loch Affric, surrounded by a foreground of ice.

Frost at Old Man of Storr

29/03/2018

Starting two hours before sunrise, we ascended The Storr to capture golden light on the Old Man and his neighbouring rock pinnacles. Overnight hail was scattered over the ground which, together with a hard frost, brought the foreground to life. I like the way that the first few minutes of sunlight play on the contours of frosted ground.

Misty Morning at Kilchurn Castle

26/03/2018

The second morning of my Glencoe and Skye tour encountered superb conditions at Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe. A perfect reflection, mist descending and the rising sun behind us casting golden light on the hill beyond the castle. Mounting my camera low to the ground, I framed the castle's reflection with two shoreside boulders.

Cold Day at Silbury Hill

19/03/2018

A flooded moat, ice and snow are a rare combination at Silbury Hill; in fact this is the first time I have seen all three at the same time. I liked the texture in the wind-blown snow and made that my foreground, with the boundary between icy moat and snow sweeping in a curve from bottom right through the image towards the main subject. I waited until there was good amount of cloud in the sky, predominantly to the right of the hill so as to balance the bright snow at bottom left.

Big Freeze

04/03/2018

I went to Snowdonia to photograph the effects of the cold weather gripping the country. After several days of sub-zero temperatures, Llyn Cwmffynnon, a glacial lake between Glyder Fawr and Moel Berfedd, is under ice. Intriguing patterns in the ice suggest that the lake froze while wind was rippling the water surface. Although Glyder Fawr was hidden in cloud, I was able to include Moel Berfedd in the background. I spent a while fine-tuning my position to make the most of the foreground rocks so when lovely pink tones spread across the sky at sunset, my composition was ready to go.

Fieldfare

02/03/2018

Harsh weather brings fieldfares into gardens in search of food. I welcome these handsome, fiesty thrushes and put out some apples for them to eat. After a second day of snow, the apples have almost disappeared from view. However, the fieldfares are hungrier and there have been up to four in my front garden, sometimes fighting with each other over apple rights. This one made a well-balanced composition with just enough of the apples showing and the bird almost entirely within the plane of focus. I like the patch of snow on the fieldfare's forehead and used fill-in flash to put a catchlight in its eye.

Star Trails over Knowlton Church

24/02/2018

The ruins of Knowlton church in Dorset are an evocative place. On a clear, cold night, I made 105 exposures of 30 seconds each at F/2.8 and combined them as layers in Photoshop to show the effect of the earth's rotation over nearly an hour. The church and surrounding landscape are illuminated by the waxing gibbous moon.

Claerwen Dam

12/02/2018

Claerwen Dam is the largest of four dams in the Elan Valley of mid Wales, impounding 48 billion litres of water. I asked two passers by to stand on the bridge to show the scale of the spillway, 56m in height. My four stop neutral density filter gave a 0.6 second shutter speed to pleasingly blur the flow in this artificial waterfall.

Sunrise at Devil's Den

07/02/2018

First light revealed a light dusting of overnight snow, so I went to Devil's Den, a Neolithic dolmen in the heart of the Marlborough Downs. The entrance to this ancient burial mound, of which just these standing stones remain, may well have been deliberately oriented towards the direction of winter sunrise. I waited for the sun to reach the exact corner of the aperture, giving a starburst but no unwanted flare.

Crib Goch

05/02/2018

Dawn at Llyn Cwmffynnon in Snowdonia, reached by a steep climb from Pen-y-pass. Perfectly still conditions reflect the snow-capped peak of Crib Goch and a subtly toned overcast sky. My four stop neutral density filter increased the shutter speed to 10 seconds, bringing out the reflection even more strongly than I saw it.

Glaciated Landscape

04/02/2018

Ogwen Valley, Tryfan and Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia, viewed from Pinnacle Crag. My photograph captures the glacial hanging valley of Llyn Idwal, 64 metres above Llyn Ogwen in the larger glacial valley below. Both are overlooked by the serrated, snow-capped peak of Tryfan.

Snowdon at Sunrise

04/02/2018

A pre-dawn hike up the Miner's Track to Llyn Llydaw by our group of 18 photographers was rewarded when the clouds parted at sunrise to reveal Snowdon suffused in pink, orange and gold, along with the waning gibbous moon. Unfortunately it was too windy for a perfect reflection, so instead I balanced the mountain in the composition with a large glacial erratic boulder in the foreground.

Super Blue Moon

31/01/2018

A "super moon" is when full moon coincides with lunar perigee, making it 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an apogee full moon. A "blue moon" is the second full moon in a calendar month. On the last day of January we had both, though unfortunately today's total lunar eclipse was finished before the moon rose in Wiltshire. Standing in a cold, muddy cabbage field, I captured moonrise behind a solitary tree on Salthrop Hill.

Woodborough Hill

30/01/2018

Viewed from Golden Ball Hill on the Pewsey Downs, the distinctive landmark of Woodborough Hill is balanced in this composition by a small group of farm buildings adjacent to a copse of trees. Mist lying in the southern Vale separates Woodborough Hill from Salisbury Plain in the distance. Winter sunrise creates raking shadows across the frosty fields and an interplay of light and shade around the contours of the hill.

Blue tit at reflection pool

18/01/2018

Last year I built a reflection pool in my garden. Raised up on timber uprights to just below the level of the viewing slots of my garden bird hide, it enables me to sit in comfort with an eye-level view of the birds as they come to drink. I placed a log as background and dead leaves to cover the liner. Today's low winter sun shows the plumage of this blue tit to good effect.