Shetland

Well, after an extremely stressful couple of weeks we finally moved into our new home on Shetland just before Christmas. For the first few nights all we had were a couple of camping chairs, a pump up mattress, our camera equipment and a few bottles of red wine so it was a splendid sight when the Britannia furniture lorry pulled onto the drive.

Since then we have been invited to a Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve party, experienced 70mph winds, one power cut, the Scalloway Fire Festival, snow and the most amazing ever changing light. The weather here is so varied and isn’t a bit like the BBC forecast. The only problem we have encountered so far is that we are always out exploring when we should be painting and searching for jobs….

LPOTY and Brighton & Hove Calender

I’ve had a great couple of weeks. Peter and I spent a night in London for LPOTY award ceremony and then the following week met up with fellow Brighton photographers who have contributed to the 2019 Brighton & Hove Calender.

In London we had a great lunch at “Roast” accompanied with an historic bottle of Malbec before we headed off to Waterloo Station. Apart from entertaining speeches from Charlie Waite and Ray Meers it was very special to see my image “Sand, Light & Shadow” displayed on the huge screen at the station alongside images from photographers that I have admired for years.

In Brighton it was far more low key but just as good to chat over a few beers at the Brighton Tavern. The photos chosen for the 2019 calender are particulary good and I was really proud to have my firework photo chosen for November.

Landscape Photographer Of The Year

A few months I was really excited when I received an email saying that two of my images had been shortlisted in LPOTY. Last week I was even more excited when I received another email saying that one of those images had been “Commended” and would be appearing in the exhibition and book.

I can’t wait for the award ceremony next month….

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Camargue

I have just spent four wonderful days in the Camargue on a photography tour with Jonathan Chritchley. The Camargue is famous for it’s beautiful wild white horses that roam the area and Jonathan made it possible to capture these horses running together through lagoons and marshes.

Shetland

Shetland is stunning and don't believe about what they say about the weather!!!  Peter and I have just returned from a 10 night stay and we had blue skies and 18 degrees. What is even better is there are hardly any cars, only 2 sets of  traffic lights and no litter. It feels a million miles away from the South East where we currently live. 

We spent a week on a guided photo tour with Richard Shucksmith and Josh Jaggard from Shetland Nature and then a few days on our own house hunting. We have been planning a move to Sheland for over a year now and so it was time to start making the dream a reality....

We found the perfect home and with the help of Richard and Josh returned home with an portfolio of great images showing the range of wildlife that Shetland has to offer. All in all it was a great success and we can't wait to return. Now all we have to do is sell our house........

 

 

Svalbard

Nine days aboard MS Origo 

    

 

 

Svalbard in the winter is beautiful, isolated, atmospheric and damned cold.....It never gets dark so deciding when to catch a few hours sleep is difficult as you feel certain that you will miss something in the ever changing landscape. The noise of the ship’s engine, the cracking of the ice and the gliding northern fulmars were all part of the magic.

We were lucky to have six polar bear sightings as well as two orcas that swam alongside the ship for an hour or so. It was midnight when we spotted them and it was the first night of the midnight sun. We were sailing at 80˚37’’ along the pack ice with a steaming ocean that looked like it was on fire which made this such an unforgettable encounter. I have travelled to some beautiful destinations but Svalbard is really special and definitely needs to be revisited.......

Snow

We have had three days of wonderful snowy conditions with the added bonus that the roads were driveable so I managed to get to one of my favourite places. Each day the light and amount of snow differed creating very different images.

Dovrefjell

I think that it was just over a year ago that I came across some wonderful Musk Oxen images taken by Floris Smeets. I did some research and found out that Floris lives in Norway and runs a company called “Your Norwegian Nature” specialising in guided wildlife and landscape photo tours. The thought of taking photographs of large hairy beasts surrounded by snow was very appealing so after chatting it over with Peter I contacted Floris.

Floris was really helpful and explained that we would be taken up into the Dovrefjell mountains on sleds pulled by a team of dogs. Once there we would camp for the next three nights in an expedition tent. Trekking out daily to find the Musk Oxen. To me this sounded like an amazing adventure and Peter was equally excited. It was only later that it dawned on me that I would be sleeping in a tent in artic conditions with no access to any of life’s comforts, hot water, toilets, heating….. Much to Peter’s disappointment I managed to convince him that two nights would be more than enough, so a date was set.

Floris picked us up from Oslo airport and drove us to a log cabin where we would spend our first night. As soon as we entered the cabin the cold hit you, it was around -24 degrees. Unfortunately the heating had been turned on in cabin 21 and we were staying in number 12. 

The following day we loaded up our kit and were taken to where our adventure would begin. Floris spoke to the dog man and came back saying that unfortunately as there were severe weather warnings we could only stay in the mountains for one night. I’m not sure if I felt sadness or relief. Anyway the sleds were loaded and off we set. Standing on the back of the sled isn’t easy, at the first corner the dogs went right and I was catapulted off in the opposite direction….

We hadn’t been going that long when we came to an abrupt halt as there were four Musk Oxen blocking our route. Floris was amazed as he had never ever seen them below the tree line in Winter conditions before. After a huge amount of barking from the dogs and talking between Floris and the dog man it was decided that as it was impossible to pass the Musk Oxen we would spend time with them while the dogs and sleds returned to base and Floris could come up with a cunning plan.

The plan was that we would sleep in the heated log cabin for the next few nights and trek up and down the mountain each day. What a plan, in addition to spending three days in the company of four extremely photogenic Musk Oxen we had comfortable beds, hot showers, great food and beer……

This was a truly amazing trip with unique photos of Musk Oxen surrounded by trees. Thank you Floris and hopefully see you soon.

Bull jumping in the Omo Valley

Two faboulous weeks spent in the Omo Valey with Marius Coetzee. This has to be one of the hardest but most rewarding treks that I have have taken so far. It was hot and dirty but one of those experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your lifetime. If I close my eyes I can still hear, see and smell everything that was associated with a bull jumping ceremony that we attended. 

The Hamar people have some bizarre rituals and one of these is the bull jumping ceremony. This ritual allows a young  man to prove his worth to an intended bride’s family by jumping over a line of bulls.  It also signifies his advent into adulthood. Prior to this the women dance, drink coffee and allow themselves to be whipped by the male members of their family as a symbol of their love. The scars on their backs are not for the feint hearted…..

Storm Brian

Peter and I had visited Newhaven several times before Storm Brian to find the ideal shooting sites for the next big storm. So armed with wet weather clothing and numerous wipes to dry our lenses we headed off just before high tide on 21st October to capture the full force of Brian.....I can only describe it as great fun, exhilarating and very wet !!

 

Richmond Park

I find the rut such an exciting time of the year. There is nothing better than arriving at Richmond Park just before sunrise and hearing the resonating sound of bellowing stags coming from every direction. Then there is the dilemma of choosing where to go and which stag to follow....If only the light, the stag and background would all come together!! Oh well there always the added bonus of a sausage and egg bap in one of the cafe's before the journey home.

 

Another Time

Another Time is a series of one hundred, solid cast-iron figures by Antony Gormley who is known for his sculptures and installations that explore the experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body.

There are currently three statues situated in Kent, one in Margate and two in Folkstone which I have recently spent time with. What is great about these statues is that they have been placed where they are tide dependant so you need to do a certain amount of planning in order to see them as well as getting the light right. 

These are a few of my favourite Gormley images.....

Ouse Valley Viaduct

I've recently spent several early mornings at the beautiful Ouse Valley Viaduct trying to capture images that do justice to this magnificent structure.

The viaduct was completed in 1841, it contains 11 million bricks, is 96 feet high and is carried on 37 semi-circular arches, each of 30 feet. It was designed by John Urpeth Rastrick in association with the architect of the London to Brighton railway, David Mocatta and has been described as "probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain."

Harvest Mice

Last Saturday, Peter and I met up with a friend and spent a wonderful afternoon with Dean Mason in Wimbourne. Dean is a self taught photographer who was the winner of the BBC's Countryfile Calendar competition 2017 with his stunning water vole image

Dean now owns his own company "Windows on Wildlife". We attended one of his harvest mice workshops and had great fun taking images of these wee mice. 

Skokholm

Skokholm is a tiny island off of the Pembrokeshire coast. There is no heating, no electricity, no wifi and no hot water unless the sun shines..... It is an idyllic location if like me you want to take photos of puffins with sand eels in their bills. There are thousands of the wee birds and no more than 26 people on the island at one time. As well as puffins there are Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrels, Guillemots, Razorbills and rabbits.

I have just returned from a really magical time on the island. The weather can only be described as wild and challenging.... so much so that I had to stay an extra night as the sea was too rough for the boat to land. It was a shame that it couldn't have been longer.....Two things I have learn't from this trip is that my goretex jacket is no longer waterproof and tinned curry is actually very tasty !!

 

 

Bosham

On Saturday 3rd June, Peter & I went to the opening of Valda Bailey's exhibition at The Bosham Gallery. The Gallery overlooks Bosham's beautiful harbour and is a the perfect location for viewing Valda's "Fragile" collection. It was a lovely evening, wine, canapes and interesting people. 

We returned a few days later with our cameras and these are a couple of my favourites.......

Peak District

Every year Peter and I (plus Tod the dog) head to Bakewell in the Peak District where we spend a week walking, drinking local ales and eating too many cornish pasties. As well as taking normal images we were excited about using ICM !!!

Valda Bailey

We have just spent a day with Valda Bailey. Valda is not only an extremely talented photographer but also a lovely lady. Coffee and bacon butties to start with followed by eight hours of learning a few of Valda's techniques.....Practice, practice and more practice now required, plus creativity and inspiration!!!

London

Peter and I spent the weekend in London to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We stayed on the South Bank and had great fun taking what we thought of as "creative" shots of the city....... I'm sure some people will disagree!

Abstract

Last week the weather was typical of this time of year, wet, windy and gloomy so Peter and I decided to head for the coast. We had been inspired by the stunning abstract images produced by Jan van der Greef so now seemed the perfect opprtunity to try for ourselves.

Armed with warm clothing, a camera, tripod and several filters we arrived on the beach just as high tide was at its peak. I had decided that I was going to take wonderful, soft blurry waves.... hmmm, nothing is ever that simple!! The waves wouldn't break as I wanted, the lens was constantly covered in spray and the first 100 images or so were either overexposed, underexposod or just plain poor. 

After a couple of hours however we both said that we had had a great time and believed that we had taken some images that we would be pleased with. We headed home with massive smiles on our faces and wanting to have another go.