The Mourne Mountains in Co. Down, Northern Ireland do indeed sweep down to the sea, just as the song rehearses, but for those who live to the north of them, they are invariably in shadow. The result is often just a looming darkness beyond Newcastle, but, on the right occasion the shadows lend something to the whole. On an unseasonably warm September day I found myself at Murlough Bay, watching the swimmers (yes!), and seeing the blue tinged Mournes beyond.
It’s probably quite obvious from looking at my images, but I do prefer a pale palette, even when the weather is overcast. One of my favourite locations is set on a drumlin island on the inner shore of Strangford Lough. This image is from Nendrum, on Mahee Island. It’s the remains of the buildings used at one time by a monastic community, and it’s been a go to for me for more years than I care to remember.
When all else fails, and you can’t get out and about with your camera, there’s always the garden. You can go for macro photography to capture the detail of the flowers, or the bugs, or you can zoom out and try to capture the whole thing. I prefer a middle ground. Using my original nifty fifty from OM-10 days on a new digital body I can get some lovely shallow DoF which allows the flowers to stand out. There’s a softness to the image which suits the subject perfectly.
In these staycation days more and more holidaymakers are rediscovering the fun of the Great British Seaside resort. It’s true that many of these are a little shabby and down at heel in places, but they are also iconic features of the the British coast, and still have beautiful beaches and stunning views. Even the weather worn buildings lend a certain charm. I confess that I prefer cloudy skies to bright blue expanses – it just adds to the atmosphere (literally too).
This photo was taken when I had a few days in Weymouth, Dorset, on the South Coast of England. The beach was sandy and smooth, the bay was calm enough for pedalos, and there was coffee on the beach – what more could you ask for?
For many photographers our horizons have been severely reduced. And yet, it’s strange that in being limited to a much smaller radius of travel, how much more we see that in other times we would have just driven past. One such spot is this stile, set on an old Roman road, just south of High Street in Hurstpierpoint.
The very first time we found this on one of our isolation exercise walks I knew it would make for a lovely sunset photograph, and so, we’ve revisited, aiming for dusk in the hope of seeing just this sort of sunset. So, the moral is, even when your horizons are restricted, keep an eye out for that new viewpoint that is just around the next corner, or field.
One of the things that I try to do with my landscapes is to reduce the image to a minimal set of components – sky, sea, land. Sometimes I go to great lengths to hide the clutter that surrounds most of our beautiful views. It seems a rather logical progression from that to attempt to produce that minimal set of elements in a graphical way – essentially only placing into the image that which is a strong self contained element. Here’s an image that I produced from a ‘drive by’ photo of Rathlin Island, off the coast of Northern Ireland. I hope you like it 🙂
There’s a wonderful soft light to the South Downs, and there are spectacular views from the top of the Downs all the way to the coast, and along the spine of the chalk hills that comprise the South Downs.
One of the enchanting aspects of walking the Downs is the sense of layers that are laid out before you. Ditchling Beacon is my nearest viewpoint, and it’s the perfect place to capture these layers. First of all there’s the grass along the paths, and the wildflowers along the fences. Then there are the fields of every shade and colour in the middle distance. And topping it off are big skies.
It’s that time of year again. The sun is out (mostly) and the UK is holidaying. Wherever you choose to go this year there will always be the holiday snaps. Perhaps that’s all you want, a record of where you’ve been, and who you’ve been with, but with the ultimate destination for our holiday photos being social media, we all need to try and make the most of our images.
The single simple improvement to your image, whether it’s a smart phone or a camera, is composition. It’s the easiest thing in the world to point your camera at your loved one and end of with a person front and centre of the shot. It’s also the most boring image.
Here’s one simple tip to help you take a more interesting shot. When photographing a person, put them to one side of the centre, but looking towards the centre of the image. A good rule is to put the person (or other subject) about a third of the way in from one side, and one third of the way up from the bottom of the frame. The eye naturally follows where someone is looking, so if they are looking out of the frame, your eye will follow. So, place them looking in to the empty space in the image and you naturally follow that.
Take a look at the image above and see how it follows this principle.
The town of Hastings, nestled between two hills on the South Coast of England is one of those archetypal British resorts. There’s the old town, with all its quirkiness, and the new town alongside, stretching the promenade all the way along the coast. The pier has been subject to a recent modernisation project, but from a distance looks just the same as many UK piers.
The beach huts are ubiquitous all along this coast. For most resorts the choice of paint is up to the individual, resulting in many colours, and much fading and flaking. When I saw this set of beach huts by Hastings Pier I loved the uniformity of colour as well as the freshness of the paint. They make a wonderful foreground contrast to the pier and the setting sun.
For anyone who follows this blog this image will be no surprise. I’m constantly looking for the archetypal unfocal image, one that doesn’t draw the eye to a particular spot, but is restful to look at and enduring in its appeal. When the light is right, the light is all you need. In this case the sliver of sand and sea give sufficient context to take the image out of the abstract while still being soft and unfocal.