2011 Articles

Silbury Hill


Enigmatic Silbury Hill can be viewed from a wide area of surrounding countryside. I chose Waden Hill, on a frosty morning three days before the winter solstice. The rising sun imparts a warm glow to the hill and raking light across the fields. Sunlight also catches the ragwort, still in flower, providing a compositional counterbalance to the hill. I mounted the camera low to the ground so as to make the most of the frosted grass as foreground. ...more

Grey Seals


Donna Nook in Lincolnshire hosts one of the largest and most accessible colonies of breeding grey seals. As the tide fell, I trekked across more than a mile of mud and sand to reach the main colony on a sandbank. Crawling on my tummy, I was able to approach some of the seals close enough to shoot using a wide angle lens, giving this unusual perspective. ...more

Starburst in Emerald


The lakes of Slovenia's Julian Alps are wonderfully clear and emerald green. I made this image as the sun rose above the mountain on my left, creating a brilliant reflection in Lake Jasna that counterbalances the view of distant Mount Prisojuik. ...more

Island in the Mist


Slovenia's Lake Bled is ringed by mountains and surrounds a tear-drop shaped island topped by the Church of the Assumption. Arriving before dawn, I selected a location from which Bled Castle, high above the opposite lake shore, balances the image beyond the church. As early morning mist rose from the lake, the island appeared to be floating in clouds. Gondolas rowing through the mist to the island complete the image. ...more

Theatrical Sunrise


Minack Theatre is carved into a steep cliff near Land's End. In the first week of October, the sun rises over the sea right beside Logan Rock, placing it centre stage. Sitting in the third row, I made this panoramic image by stitching together ten overlapping wide angle frames. ...more

Wheel over Wheal Coates


The ruined engine house at Wheal Coates tin mine clings to a Cornish cliff top. I spotted the potential for a night image on a previous visit, noticing that the best aspect faces due north. I set up with the North Star directly over the apex of the roof and made thirty, 30 second exposures to record the movement of the stars over 15 minutes. I lit the engine house itself using my torch. ...more

Damsel in Distress


This common blue damselfly has been ensnared in a spider's web and its struggles drew my attention. The spider injected it with venom and retreated while the poison took effect. I took my chance to get my tripod in place, compose the shot, select exposure and remove distracting grass stems from the field of view. When the spider returned to claim its feast, I had my image.

For more damselfly and dragonfly photographs, see my British Insects Gallery. ...more

Marbled White


Resembling a flying chessboard, marbled whites are amongst my favourite butterflies. I found this one on the Marlborough downs at 7am on a cool, damp July morning. As the butterfly was too cold to move, I set my camera up on a tripod, choosing a position so all of its wings were in focus at f/13 whilst the background was diffuse. Half an hour later the sun broke through, reflecting from beads of overnight dew coating the butterfly. There are even tiny droplets on its eyes. ...more

Brown Bears


The boreal forest or taiga of Finland is one of Europe's largest areas of wilderness. During summer, brown bears cross the border from Russia looking for food. I spent two nights in hides at Martinselkosen Eräkeskus, just south of the Arctic Circle, watching more than 50 bears. My photographs include family groups, cubs climbing trees and big grumpy males defending their feeding areas from other bears. I was also able to photograph the rare and spectacular great grey owl.

For more bear photographs, see my key [412210] doesn't existWorldwide Mammals Gallery. ...more

Open Garden


We opened our garden under the National Garden Scheme on 19 and 26 June. Together with a number of private visits, we received over 300 visitors and raised more than £900 for National Garden Scheme charities, including Marie Curie Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support. ...more

Sea of Poppies


A friend tipped me off about this Cotswold field the previous week and I went to check it out a few days earlier. The orientation seemed perfect for sunset so I returned with a step ladder. Clouds scudding across the sky propelled by a brisk wind offered the possibility of a few moments of direct sunlight. My elevation provided by the ladder avoids the motion blur that would have recorded had the poppies been nearer to my lens and gives the image an abstract feel. The sea of poppies is well balanced by a dramatic sky. ...more

Red Kites


Gigrin Farm in Powys has become well-known as a feeding station for red kites. Once persecuted almost to extinction in Britain, hundreds of these superb, aerobatic birds can now been seen daily snatching meat provided by the farmer. It is a great place to practice flight photography, using focus tracking and high speed shutter bursts to follow the birds as they turn and dive. Elsewhere buzzards are impressive birds of prey but at Gigrin they seem small and dowdy by comparison to the kites. ...more

Nash Point


I have visited Nash Point several times but this was the first occasion that there was good light at sunset. For just a few moments, the sun shone through gathering clouds to cast golden light on the spectacular cliffs. I like the range of colours from the grey, striated wave cut platform to the rich tones of the sky. The scale of this landscape is awesome, so capturing this scene required a panorama stitched from seven overlapping frames, each taken with a 10mm lens. ...more

Glastonbury Tor


I found this location in the Somerset Levels while watching bitterns the previous evening. Returning at dawn, I captured the Tor with mist rising ethereally in the foreground. Two birds crossing exactly the right place in the picture were an unplanned bonus. ...more

Frost in May


Spring this year has been warm and dry, so many plants are flowering earlier than usual. However, in Wiltshire frost can still occur in early May. I planned this image of cowslips and green winged orchids at Clattinger Farm when I saw the weather forecast the previous evening. The rising sun, filtered by trees not yet fuly in leaf, provides a focal point in the background. To capture the full dynamic range of the scene, I made three exposures at different shutter speeds and processed them using Photomatix. ...more

Fritillaries in Focus


The flowering of Snake's Head Fritllaries in North Meadow at Cricklade is one of Wiltshire's finest wild flower spectacles. I wanted an image including Cricklade church tower as a focal point as it catches the light a few minutes before sunset. I chose a viewpoint where trees screened the housing estate on the edge of Cricklade. A short telephoto lens (115 mm) compressed perspective, showing dense fritillaries and bringing the church tower into the composition. However, even at f/36 the depth of field was insufficient to get all the flowers and the church in focus. I therefore made three identical frames at different points of focus and blended them using focus stacking software to render the scene sharp from front to back. Each frame required 1.6 seconds exposure time, so a completely windless evening was essential to avoid motion blur. ...more

From Sunrise to Full Moon


I left home at 5am in order to reach Stourhead for sunrise. As I hoped, the daffodils were at their best and bowed down under a cover of sparkling frost, making a magical image. Breakfast in Shaftesbury (and a peek at Gold Hill), then on to Lulworth Cove and Chapman's Pool before meeting fellow photographers Dave Gray and Stephen McGrath at Corfe Castle. We photographed the ruins illuminated by the last rays of the sun and waited for the perigee full moon to rise over the castle as viewed from East Hill. Then on to Portland Bill to photograph the lighthouse by moon light. This composition is one I have made before but moon light balances the rocks and buildings with the illumination of the lighthouse itself. A five minute exposure rendered the sea silky as it washed over the foreground rock platform. ...more

Stonehenge Under The Stars


I wanted to image the stone circle at night with the stars as background. I waited several weeks for suitable weather and arranged access with English Heritage. The result was this 15 minute exposure, showing the movement of the stars caused by earth's rotation. In order to minimise digital noise from a single long exposure, I assembled the image from thirty, 30 second exposures overlaid in Photoshop. The stones themselves are illuminated by my hand torch, painting them with light while the camera's shutter was open. For more photographs, see my Stonehenge Gallery. ...more

Jurassic Coast Landscape Workshop


Photographic opportunities along the Dorset coast tend to be best in winter when the sun rises and sets over the sea. On Sunday afternoon I captured this image of Durdle Door and Man O'War Bay using a panoramic tripod head to take 12 overlapping frames, each exposed three times (-3, 0, +3 EV), making 36 images in all. I stitched together the three sets of 12 frames using Panosticher and then combined the sets in Photomatix to reconstruct a high dynamic range 180 degree panorama. ...more

Starling Ballet


During the winter months, millions of starlings roost in the Somerset Levels. I have visited many times, but on this particular evening they performed a spectacular display, forming huge fluid shapes as the sun was setting. ...more

Sri Lanka


A hectic three week tour of Sri Lanka. Visited no fewer than eight World Heritage Sites and it rained at every single one of them! Definitely one of the best places in Asia to view wild mammals, especially elephants. Photographic opportunities for bird life abounded; peacocks, bee-eaters, hawk eagles and painted storks. Another highlight was watching blue whales in the Indian Ocean. ...more