Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Year Of The Rainbow

It's getting to the time when I've got to start thinking about my 2014 review post... but in doing so, I've realised that one thing has stood out more than anything else this year... rainbows.

For some reason, whether by luck or (lack of?) judgement, I've not really photographed many of these lovely things until this year... but following on from a pretty wet and windy sunrise on Curbar Edge last January I've been lucky enough to find myself out in the perfect conditions on numerous occasions. Sometimes this has been through forecasting errors, I've expected blue skies and had torrential downpours, sometimes through careful planning and picking a location that will work for them, and sometimes I've been in the right place, waiting for them, but to no avail. 

Whilst rainbows are obviously beautiful, they tend to come in the most challenging of conditions - when wind blows heavy showers through and light shoots down in and around them. To make matters worse, the wind always seems to be blowing into the lens, so with all the water flying about it makes shooting them quite an ordeal. You mentally compose your shot, pick your settings, push your camera to its limits in terms of technical stuff, then quickly put it to your eye, shoot, hope for the best, dry it off and repeat - until you've got one you're happy with with minimal rain spots to clean up.

So anyway, here are a series of rainbows that I've seen this year - with each photo being on a different occasion.

Friday, 7 November 2014

I Saw The Light Fading Out

My last days in Sheffield meant I just had to do a walk I've done many times before - a firm favourite, with, in my opinion, the grandest view in the Peak... the walk around Grindsbrook. The forecast was for low cloud clearing as the sun raced towards the horizon, which gave me lots of hope for some very dramatic photo opportunities. As it happened, the sun never got close to showing itself and, if anything, the cloud just got thicker and lower - I counted myself lucky that I was above the rain level.

Still, this thick fog gave me something else to do. There are few places in the north of England where you can escape from other people quite like Kinder Scout. Normally this requires making the hop across the peat bogs to the northern edge, where you can go hours on end without seeing so much as a trace of another person - but in weather like this, I knew it was a safe bet that I'd have the mountain to myself (bar the footprints of the lone fell runner I saw descending as I set off).

So, no sunset for me, but an intriguing challenge to collect a set of photos as the light faded that I'd be proud of - as a fitting end to my regular visits to this most dramatic part of the world. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Putting It All Together

There's been a lot of talk of late about how much processing is too much processing - amongst a good mix of non-photographers, novice photographers and pretty much professionals. It's been interesting to read on the one hand and yet so frustrating on the other. So in this post - I'm going to go over the steps I took to achieve this photograph:

The final image.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

York 2015 Calendar

This is a very quick post - but I've recently been made aware of the opportunity to produce York 2015 calendars and I'm looking for outlets.

The calendars will be A4 (fold out to A3) spiral bound and I'm looking to sell them at £5.50-£6 depending on quantity and retail price - estimated to be around £8-10. 

The selection of images will be as follows: 

They will be produce by The Calendar Company and have a very similar appearance to this Sheffield version:

I'm only looking for an expression of interest - and details can be discussed or hard copies delivered. 

Let me know if this would be of interest to any of you!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Landscape Thoughts

This blog post was motivated by the following panoramic image of Sheffield after it did the rounds on Twitter. It's a good topic to write a blog post on as the story behind it pretty much sums up my photographic life in its entirety... so here goes. It was originally written for the Storying Sheffield blog - which I've copied across to here - so apologies if some of it is a bit too much about my background.

Huge stitched panorama as Sheffield is side lit by the setting sun - so many pixels it could be printed the size of a door - this small size doesn't really do it justice!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Location Guide: Surprise View

The first location I'm going to look at is probably about as accessible and popular as they come - so don't expect to have it to yourself - but do expect to come away with plenty of beautiful pictures. I've chosen this spot as it seems to me to have given me some of my personal favourite photos in all sorts of weather conditions - never letting me down... and, importantly... it is technically within Yorkshire rather than the commonly assumed Derbyshire. I had to start with a Yorkshire location, after all.

Surprise View (and Millstone Edge) sits proudly above Hathersage, easily accessible by train on the Hope Valley line or by car/bike/bus on the A6187 road (straight out of Sheffield along Ecclesall Rd.) where it has it's own car park. 

I'll cover this area in a short circular (imaginary) walk. Starting at the car park I'll head west and continue clockwise around the area until ending up back at the start. One thing I should also mention before going too much further is that it's highly recommended that you take a camera/lenses capable of both wide angle and telephoto. The photos here were shot at anything between 17mm and 200mm (full frame).

 If you've got any questions, would like clarification on anything, would like to purchase prints or would like to discuss tuition at this location - just get in touch on the contact me page of my website - I'm much more likely to receive your message there than in the comments on this blog post.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Eurgh... Competitions...

Over the last few months I've noticed this, and become annoyed by this, more and more. This key phrase that always appears somewhere in the small print of competition entry rules:

"each entrant grants a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence to the Promoter to feature any or all of the submitted images in any of their publications, their websites and/or in any promotional material"

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Views From Above

As usual, any photos seen here are for sale, even if they've not yet made it onto my website.

For my birthday last year, from my family, I received a helicopter ride over the Peak District - following the route of the Dambusters and taking in Chatsworth House. For someone who has never flown before in any way whatsoever, this was quite exciting.

There was the general feeling of flying which was one thing in itself, especially in something as manoeuvrable as a helicopter - but to see places I know so well, paths I've walked so many times, and imposing edges look so tiny - was quite amazing. I was lucky to have booked on a day with the most spectacular skies possible - with heavy showers and sun providing quite a show. In terms of photography - this was obviously a whole new challenge... I decided to take my 24-40mm lens and circular polariser - as I knew I'd be shooting through the windows of the helicopter - and this turned out to be a very, very good plan. You never get high enough to need more than 70mm and the polariser was a life saver regarding the reflections and glare in the windows. In the small space of the helicopter it's hard work to constantly be changing the angle of polarisation, composing around the window bars, avoiding unwanted reflections and still achieving a composition that works - but at least a few times I feel like I have achieved this.

Whilst the following images may change, and be updated, as I've rushed to get them sorted in time... here are just some of the views I was fortunate enough to take in.

Helicopter in the Peak District, Derbyshire
Before takeoff. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

A Weekend In Burtersett.

I was recently given the opportunity to go and spend a weekend in a holiday cottage in Burtersett, near Hawes - in upper Wensleydale, in return for a series of landscape photographs. Now, I know the area very well as it is only an hour away from Richmond, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be based there so I was happy to take this opportunity. There was no pressure on the photos, as we all know that at this time of year the quality (or even possibility) of any photos is highly dependent on the weather... but even for my own sake, there was an internal pressure to make the most of the weekend regardless of what the weather threw at us... and by god did it throw stuff at us. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Filter Or Bracket?

One thing that has just been brought to my attention, before I go on, is that I don't mean bracketing as in letting your camera do all the work... -2,0+2... I mean controlled, manual bracketing... 

An interesting question just came up on Twitter. It's a question that most photographers will 'know' the answer to - but I'd like to disagree. So these are my thoughts on exposure bracketing versus the 'proper way'... using filters (this isn't trying to get at anyone, by the way, you're all lovely - I've just always had the feeling that bracketing is a 'lesser' thing).

In general, I think it's fair to say that exposure bracketing is looked down upon in comparison to spending time on location setting up a clever filter combination to make the most of the available light - but I think this is largely historical - from the good old days of film.

So... here are the benefits to not using filters:
1) They cost money, why pay for something that could be done for free?
2) Is there any difference between filters and bracketing? Really? With filters you let a certain percentage of the total number of photons hit the sensor and 'light up' whichever pixels. With bracketing you do the same thing, the final image has no difference whatsoever.
3) Time. On location you have (usually) a set amount of time. The sun will rise, you have - for the purposes of argument - one 'golden' hour to take your photos in. Using filters slows this down. Whilst you're busy setting up filters for the difficult light the sun is throwing at you, you could be exploring new compositions. No matter how well you know a place, there is always a new view to be explored... so why not explore it? This is always the case for me - at most places in the Peak there is always one other photographer around who is spending an age on one shot... well done him, he got the one shot... but I got that one shot and 10 others to go with it. Who knows, maybe one of those will win LPOTY this year (wishful thinking...).

And the benefits of filters? (I may add to this list as people inform me of new ones)...
1) It's nice to get things right in camera... and saves time in processing the images when you get home.
2) It makes you slow down and think about each shot more.

Bonus thoughts:
Whilst some people will obviously abuse this, taking a hundred exposures of the same scene and finding the right one when they get home - it isn't fair to tarnish all bracketing with that brush. Personally, I'm fully aware of what I'm doing whilst on location and know exactly how I'll merge them when I get home. My mind sees only the final image and the ratio of photons hitting each part of the 'effective sensor'... exactly the same as anyone composing a shot 'in camera'.

I may not conform to the norm in photographer circles here... but I was brought up with 3 siblings. On any walk we had - which was where landscape photography took hold - I was in a rush due to having 5 other people hurrying me along. As such, I see compositions and I shoot them... there's no time to mess around with filters. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so - it means you have to be more creative with your initial view of a place. Of course it's nice to explore a place and get a feel for it, but that isn't always necessary. So... I've been brought up on a habit of shoot... move on... shoot... move on... shoot. If that means I get more good shots out of a single day, then that's a good thing. Using a tripod (which I do almost always now) is quite enough to slow me down... if you don't have enough time to think whilst playing with the knobs on your tripod... then there's something wrong.

This point doesn't apply to everyone, but Facebook. I have a Facebook page - so it's important to get plenty of photos to feed my adoring fans (they really are adoring, by the way).

Why must people always place quantity against quality? Why can we not have both? My general aim when I go out is to take a few quality photos and plenty of decent photos. I know the quality ones before I've even taken them - so it's not a scatter gun approach - but I do take a lot of photos. No piece of nature is really worth overlooking... who knows, in 10 years time when my tastes have changed I may appreciate a composition I previously hated and be glad that I recorded it and can find it on my hard drive.

And another thing... going back to the time arguments on both sides... filters take more time in the field, bracketing takes more time at home on the computer. I may not speak for you all, but as I mentioned right at the start - we have a set amount of time, dependent on light, in the field - but at home (ignoring work obligations) we have endless amounts of spare time.

Finally, none of this is to say that HDR in the usual sense is good. I try to avoid that (although, in certain circumstances it can be pleasing)... more that there is no real difference between the final image if bracketed images are merged thoughtfully. And, time is on your side if you're bracketing.

This is by no means a comprehensive answer to all of these questions/thoughts (as you might have guessed) - but I think it's a good starting point, whilst obviously going against the filters view.

I'd love any argument that can make me change these thoughts...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Bex: Behind The Scenes

I don't think I've ever had a plan that's taken as long to come to fruition as this one. I've wanted to shoot Bex for a long, long time and yet various things always seem to have come up to stop that from happening... until this week!

Myself and Ian (, who I know quite well from Twitter, had been talking about maybe renting a studio together and somewhere I'd always wanted to shoot in was Hallam Mill - an amazing building with loads of space, props, and - most importantly - the most wonderful windows in the world. This would mean going over to Stockport, which is pretty convenient from Sheffield, and fortunately is (I think) where Bex now lives(ish) - so it seemed the perfect opportunity. Finally things slotted nicely together.

Having never worked in a studio of any sort before - it was a good opportunity just to get a feel for this type of thing in a relaxed setting with people who, despite me having never met them before, I felt I knew quite well. Both Ian and Bex turned out to be every bit as friendly as I suspected - and with Bex it was especially nice to have someone experienced who just got on with things without any need for direction... allowing me to focus on getting my bit right.

So, I'm still in the process of finalising the 'proper' images, but here are a few outtakes/behind the scenes type stuff which I hope they won't mind me sharing! For the last image, if you can make it all the way to the bottom, I'll share a new 'proper' one too... so enjoy!...

Monday, 6 January 2014

People 2013

As most of you have probably already seen my 2013 Landscape Summary I thought I'd move quickly onto a second, shorter post... on a few of the photos I've taken of people this last year.

Whilst the vast majority of my time has been spent working out in the countryside, I have tried to include a decent number of people in my work - whether that be models, strangers, friends or work colleagues... and definitely have a few photos I'm happy with. So here are a few of them...

Harley-Dee and my first ever shoot indoors.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2013 In Pictures

Let me start by just reminding everybody that any image seen here can be purchased from

As we're now a few days into the new year and I've finally had the chance to sit down for an hour so without too many distractions - I thought it was about time I got on with what I've been meaning to sort out for a while now - and do a blog post summarising my photographic exploits of 2013.
Cloud inversion at sunrise on Mam Tor and Lose Hill in the Derbyshire Peak District
Taken close to 4am, well before sunrise. Alone on Mam Tor - the most magical moment of the year as the full scale of the inversion and loneliness dawned on me. An amazing, quiet 20 minutes stood there - barely able to take photos as I took it all in. Mam Tor, Peak District.