2017 Articles

Durdle Door

15/12/2017

Around midwinter, sunset can be photographed through the arch of Durdle Door in Dorset. I made my image with a fish-eye lens at 15mm focal length. I like the curved perspective the fish-eye gives to the bay and the wave. By keeping the horizon straight across the middle of the image, I was able to avoid that becoming curved too. ...more

Abandoned Millstones

09/12/2017

These abandoned millstones lie at the foot of Stanage Edge in the Peak District. I had noticed during a previous visit last year that the face of the millstone in the centre of the image is oriented towards winter sunrise. Returning, I captured this image 35 minutes before sunrise on a snowy December morning, as the lightning sky in the south-east starts to catch the spiral of snow on the millstone. The resulting picture looks almost as cold as I felt. Unfortunately, by the time the sun actually rose at 0802, clouds had covered the whole sky. ...more

Kestrel

07/12/2017

I photographed this male kestrel from a hide in Worcestershire. I nailed the dead mice to the fence so the kestrel and his mate would spend some time ripping them out while I filled my memory card with images. ...more

Wembury Point

01/12/2017

I photographed Wembury Point in south-west Devon about half an hour after sunset. In December, the sun sets just to the right of the Great Mewstone, leaving the sky suffused pink, yellow and orange. High tide had just turned, leaving the rocks wet enough to be reflective, whilst an 8 second exposure has smoothed out the motion of the sea. I like the way that the west-east dip of the foreground rocks echoes that of the distant Mewstone, suggesting that the Mewstone is a scaled-up version of its cousins on the beach. ...more

Ladram Bay at Night

29/11/2017

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. ...more

Wiltshire Beech Avenue

13/11/2017

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?

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Skiddaw reflected

30/10/2017

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. ...more

Buttermere at dawn

29/10/2017

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. ...more

Storm Brian

21/10/2017

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. ...more

Landscape Photographer of the Year - Commended Image

16/10/2017

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. ...more

Bugling at Dawn

15/10/2017

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. ...more

Great Staple Tor at Night

21/09/2017

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. ...more

Oregon Coast

24/08/2017

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. ...more

Total Solar Eclipse

21/08/2017

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. ...more

Alpine Meadow

17/08/2017

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. ...more

Verdant Tapestry

14/08/2017

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. ...more

Buzzards

17/07/2017

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. ...more

Whitby Sunset

07/07/2017

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. ...more

Farne Islands

05/07/2017

Northumberland's Farne Islands have 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. ...more

Fighting Skuas

11/06/2017

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. ...more

Muckle Flugga

11/06/2017

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. ...more

Chequered Skipper

02/06/2017

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. ...more

Catch of the Day

02/06/2017

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. ...more

Monkey Orchid

21/05/2017

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. ...more

Tawny Owl

08/05/2017

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. ...more

Field of Gold

01/05/2017

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. ...more

Gopher Wood

01/05/2017

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. ...more

White-tailed Sea Eagle

06/04/2017

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 autofocus 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 underside of the bird's wing. ...more

Old Man of Storr

26/03/2017

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. ...more

Spring on Rannoch Moor

22/03/2017

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 created by its reflection. ...more

Kingfisher

20/03/2017

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. ...more

Aurora Borealis, Lofoten Islands

10/02/2017

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. ...more

Arctic Dawn

09/02/2017

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 key [716448] doesn't existArctic Norway Gallery. ...more

Sunrise, Llyn Padern

27/01/2017

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. ...more

Crossover at Conwy Castle

26/01/2017

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. ...more

Black Mountain in White

13/01/2017

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. ...more