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landscape | wildlife | nature | adventure

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CAPTURING THE WONDER OF NATURE A grey heron appears on a shallow riverbank searching for food. It is noticeably thinner than other species, and has a striking plumage with a subtle grey hue. The long wait for a moment like this has paid off. The TLS APO from SWAROVSKI OPTIK turns your desire to share unforgettable moments with others into a reality. This digiscoping adapter connects your SLR or system camera simply and quickly to your STX spotting scope. This means you can always switch quickly between observing and taking pictures. Enjoy moments even more – with SWAROVSKI OPTIK.


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Life in fine detail While settling down over the weekend to catch up with the latest episodes of Planet Earth II from the BBC, I was excited to be offered the chance to test four minutes of Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma footage that the crews shot while working on the series. I’m sure we’ve all been blown away by the creatures and behaviours shown so far, and the quality of the filming is truly extraordinary. The prospect of seeing all this in even more depth and with greater detail had me pushing the ‘yes, please’ button quicker than I could descend on to the sofa. Our lads Oliver and Sam were right there alongside me, with their eyes glued to the screen (there’s nothing like early indoctrination into the magical world of Attenborough to ensure they have a lasting respect for the planet). Sam, who is approaching five, recoiled in fear as the jaguar emerged from the undergrowth on the riverbank while stalking a bunch of capybara. I was not so terrified, partly because I’ve had quite a bit (ahem...) more exposure to all this wildness over the years, but also because my attention was instead


gripped by the seriously unreal detail we could see in the animals’ features. Every hair on their bodies was reproducing in sharp, contrasted relief and it seemed like I could feel the warm breath of the jaguar as it was poised for its deadly attack. When the four minutes were up I wanted to see more, but after a little while my feelings on it shifted. My focus was taken away from what the director had intended, as I was more transfixed with the technical detail in the imagery than I was with the unfolding action. Of course, this is a new experience for me and things will become less distracting as I watch more of this type of footage, but I couldn’t help thinking it was all a bit too much. My imagination was almost entirely sidelined in the experience, as there was no fuzziness left for it to get to grips with. It was compelling for sure but will I soon tire of all the hyper real detail, and long instead for some emotion-engaging lack of definition? Only time will tell.

Steve Watkins

at a glance

Isabel Díez talks to us about her passion for nature – page 16

Theo Bosboom’s guide to shooting superb winter photos – page 30

Daniel Bridge puts the new Pentax K-70 through its paces – page 90

GET IN TOUCH Email Contact the Editor, Steve Watkins, at or Deputy Editor, Claire Blow, at Write to us Outdoor Photography, 86 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1XN Keep right up to date with news by ‘liking’ OP at Follow us on Twitter at


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Theo Bosboom took this beautiful winter image in Noir Flohay, Belgium.

The best images from our Dramatic Landscape Light challenge – page 104

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16 FEATURES & OPINION 16 In conversation with… Isabel Díez Spanish landscape photographer and marine science researcher Isabel Díez talks to Nick Smith about how she creates her exquisite images of the natural world

26 One month, one picture Pete Bridgwood explains why colour grading is a processing technique worth mastering

43 Lie of the land Mark Helliwell adds a human element to his photograph of Brighton’s West Pier

44 Lofoten unseen Beautiful images taken off the beaten track by three young Dutch photographers in the Lofoten Islands

50 Opinion Andrew Parkinson shares his views on the use of flash in wildlife photography

70 In the spotlight Simon Bray discusses his artistic approach to landscape photography

83 Inside track Nick Smith recalls an ill-fated trip to northern China



30 How to capture the beauty of winter

54 Kelsey Head, Cornwall

Theo Bosboom shows you how to capture stunning images that encapsulate the spirit of the season

38 Scotland: The Big Picture In the second part of our new series, Peter Cairns reveals his efforts to photograph a Scottish rewildling icon: the osprey

Chris Simmons braves the elements on a Cornish headland and captures a breathtaking photograph

57 Coire a’ Chaorachain, Highland Stewart Smith shoots the dramatic mountain scenery of the Applecross peninsula

58 Viewpoints Eight top UK locations to shoot this month, including photogenic spots in Devon, Cumbria, Powys, West Yorkshire and South Ayrshire

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38 58




88 Gearing up

8 Newsroom

14 Your letters

74 Life in the wild

Our round-up of the latest outdoor kit to hit the shelves

The latest photography, outdoor and conservation stories

Laurie Campbell explores the photographic potential of lichens in all their fascinating forms

Your feedback, opinions and musings on all things photography-related

90 Camera test: Pentax K-70

10 Out there


76 Photography guide Laurie’s seasonal highlights, world wildlife spectacles and 10 of the best places in the UK to see red squirrels

79 A moment with nature

Daniel Bridge tries out Pentax’s competitively priced and weatherproof DSLR, the K-70

Our pick of the best photography books, plus inspiring albums to listen to while creating images

58 Your chance Find out how to get your work published in OP

61 Reader gallery 12 The big view Inspiring photography exhibitions, plus nature talks and outdoor events

Our pick of this month’s best reader images

86 Next month

Nick Hanson makes the most of an opportunity to photograph roe deer atop Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire

A sneak peek at the March issue of Outdoor Photography

80 On the wing

See the winners of our ‘dramatic light landscapes’ photography competition

Steve Young visits a local nature reserve to photograph overwintering short-eared owls

104 If you only do one thing this month…

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 9 FEBRUARY 2017 Interview with Polar photographer Joshua Holko Travel Photographer of the Year – see the winners On test: Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII

112 Where in the world? Correctly identify the location featured and you could win a set of Lifeventure dry bags

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COVER + 30 Theo Bosboom is an award-winning landscape and nature photographer based in the Netherlands. In 2013 he gave up his job as a lawyer to become a full-time professional photographer; a step he hasn’t regretted for one second so far.


06 Richard Peters’ passion for wildlife photography was inspired by growing up watching BBC wildlife documentaries. This passion has taken him to some beautiful parts of the world. He is a Nikon Ambassador and his work has been awarded in several major photography competitions.


Isabel Díez specialises in landscape photography, which links her two main passions, nature and art. Her subjects range from her beloved Basque coast to the lava flows of Hawaii. Textures, shapes and colours change, but all her landscapes have a strong aesthetic sense. They are evocative, intense and, at times, mysterious.


Based in the Scottish Highlands, Peter Cairns is a conservation photographer with 17 years experience. Co-founder of several major projects, such as Tooth & Claw, Wild Wonders of Europe and 2020VISION, Peter is now working on a long-term project titled Scotland: The Big Picture.


Editor Steve Watkins Deputy editor Claire Blow Assistant editor Anna Bonita Evans Designers Jo Chapman and Toby Haigh

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43 Mark Helliwell is an award-winning landscape photographer based in Cheshire. He left a career in medical communications in August this year to pursue a professional career in photography, specialising in teaching and running landscape workshops.

Mart Smit is a Dutch-based nature photographer. His pictures show his love for nature and the stories he would like to share. Together with his dad he started the company Smitinbeeld to provide presentations, workshops and photo tours in the Netherlands and around Scandinavia. He worked with David Peskens and Tjeerd Visser (also pictured) on the Lofoten project in this issue.

Andrew Parkinson is a multi award-winning wildlife photographer and a feature contributor to National Geographic. He works exclusively with wild animals, supplies his images to nine international agencies, and is one of the 2020VISION project photographers.

After 30 years in advertising, Chris Simmons left London for Cornwall to ‘live the dream’ and shoot seascapes. Today, from his studio in Crantock, he combines commercial work with running one-to-one B&B workshops.

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79 Stewart Smith is a photographer and writer based in Cumbria, and can usually be found somewhere up a mountain in the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands. stewartsmithphotography.

Nick Hanson is a multi award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer from Scotland. He is based on the East Yorkshire coast , but currently spends most of the year on the Isle of Skye working as a photographic guide for Marcus McAdam Photography.

16 + 70 + 83 Nick Smith is a writer and photographer specialising in travel and environmental issues. He is a contributing editor on the Explorers Journal and is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Daniel Bridge can usually be found in the woodlands and nature reserves of Essex, where he’ll be running workshops, giving private tuition, or just nose-deep in moss, looking though a macro lens.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE Kirk Norbury, James Grant, James Osmond, Dave Fieldhouse, Paul Holloway, Aidan Maccormick, Drew Buckley, Laurie Campbell, Steve Young, Pete Bridgwood, David Handson

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Outdoor Photography considers article ideas for publication, which should be sent to the Editor, along with a stamped self-addressed return envelope if you require your material back. GMC Publications cannot accept liability for the loss or damage of any unsolicited material. Views and comments expressed by individuals in the magazine do not necessarily represent those of the publishers and no legal responsibility can be accepted for the results of the use by readers of information or advice of whatever kind given in this publication, either in editorial or advertisements. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd. With regret, promotional offers and competitions, unless otherwise stated, are not available outside the UK and Eire. GMC Publications cannot accept liability for the loss or damage of any unsolicited material.

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Night visitor by Richard Peters This image is of an urban fox walking across my back garden during a rain shower. I had taken a similar photo a few nights earlier, trying to create a dramatic backlit silhouette, but when I saw that rain was forecast I knew it would provide the extra ingredient to make the image really stand out. With the aid of a motion sensor I was able to ensure the camera would trigger at just the right moment. Nikon D810 with 50mm f/1.4 G lens, ISO 200, 1/250sec at f/8, Nikon SB28 Flash, Camtraptions PIR sensor

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Making space for nature

Beavers welcomed back to Scotland

With ever increasing pressures on the British landscape, it’s heartening to learn about initiatives to expand and improve our precious green spaces. Here are three projects that will benefit wildlife and those who value the natural environment...

government’s decision. Jonathan Hughes, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: ‘This is a major milestone for Scotland’s wildlife and the wider conservation movement. The beaver is one of the world’s best engineers. Their ability to create new wetlands and restore woodland is remarkable and improves conditions for a wide range of species such as dragonflies, otters and fish.’ The beaver is one of the star species of Peter Cairns’ new bi-monthly series for OP, Scotland: The Big Picture, which champions the case for a wilder Scotland (see page 38). Peter told us: ‘The beaver’s return will add a new dynamic to Scotland’s rivers and wetlands, with a wide range of other species benefiting from their unique engineering skills. Beavers are also a tourism asset and will help support rural communities by attracting nature lovers, photographers included.’ Find out more about Scotland’s beavers at

Anglezarke Moor © Steve Martin

Beavers reintroduced to Scotland will be allowed to remain in the country following a landmark decision by the Scottish government to reclassify them as a native species. It is the fi rst time an extinct native mammal has been returned to the UK. Around a dozen Eurasian beavers are now present in the Knapdale Forest in Argyll as a result of the Scottish Beaver Trial, a five-year project exploring how the species can enhance and restore natural environments. The animals are also thriving on the river Tay, where a population was illegally released. Both groups will be allowed to extend their range naturally, but their activity will be carefully monitored and managed, particularly where it impacts on other land users such as farmers. The two lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial – the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland – have welcomed the Scottish


In north-west England, one of the country’s richest landscapes, the West Pennine Moors (pictured above), has been given legal protection for its nationally important wildlife and habitats. The designated area stretches nearly 50 square miles between Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire, down to Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester, and is the largest site of special scientific interest (SSSI) created since 2004. The upland environment supports an impressive array of breeding birds, including merlin, curlew, snipe, lapwing and redshank.

Scottish native beavers were hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

© Peter Cairns/

On the Solway Firth, RSPB Scotland is to expand its Mersehead reserve, one of the most important sites in the UK for barnacle geese. A successful fundraising campaign has enabled the RSPB to purchase 112 acres of land surrounding its existing reserve. Over the next three years it will be transformed into wildlife friendly habitat, providing a home for species such as redshanks, reed warblers, otters and natterjack toads. See a 360º photo of the reserve at donate/appeals/mersehead-appeal. With as many species per square metre as a rainforest, RSPB Canvey Wick in Essex is living proof that postindustrial sites can be richer in wildlife than arable greenbelt, and the nature reserve is about to get bigger and better. It will soon grow to five times its existing size, to span an area equivalent to 122 football pitches. Recently featured on the BBC’s The One Show, it is one of the most important sites in Britain for endangered invertebrate species such as shrill carder bee, fivebanded weevil wasp and scarce emerald damselfly. For information about visiting, go to

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Feeding frenzy An underwater image that captures the drama of the sardine run in South Africa has won the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest. French photographer Greg Lecoeur waited two weeks for the opportunity to witness and capture the natural spectacle, where millions of sardines are preyed on by marine predators such as dolphins, gannets, sharks, whales, penguins, sailfi shes and sea lions. The hunt begins with common dolphins, which have developed special hunting techniques to create and drive bait-balls to the surface. In recent years, probably due to overfishing and climate change, the annual sardine run has become more and more unpredictable. Find out more about the competition at

© Federico Veronesi

© Greg Lecoeur/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year


120,000 – the amount, in GBP, that has been raised for elephant conservation (so far) by the Remembering Elephants photography book and exhibition (first featured in the October 2016 issue of OP). Work is underway on the next book in the series – find out more at

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017


The Geiranger fjord, Norway.

© Montipaiton/

Land Rover teams up with Magnum photographers to capture epic landscapes Land Rover is working with world-renowned photographic agency Magnum Photos to showcase some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes as part of an ambitious project titled Ultimate Vistas. The first series is by Norwegian photographer Jonas Bendiksen, who has captured epic vistas of his home country, from the awe-insp iring mountains of Trollstigen to the nation’s modern architecture. Further Ultimate Vistas locations will include the USA and China. To watch a film about Jonas Bendiksen’s shoot in Norway, go to

© Jonas Bendiksen

Don’t forget to take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this winter! Simply count the birds in your garden, or a local park, for an hour between Saturday 28 and Monday 30 January and send your results to the RSPB. To register, go to

euros (about £320,000) were paid at auction for the oldest surviving Nikon camera, doubling its original estimate. Assembled in April 1948, the rangefinder is the third Nikon camera ever built. Included in the sale was a Nikkor-H 2/5cm lens.

24,307 sp ecies are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Its latest global Red List includes one of the most iconic land mammals, the giraffe, which has been classified as vulnerable to extinction. Their numbers have declined rapidly, from around 155,000 in 1985 to 97,500 in 2015.

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Conehead mantis © Jonathan Lhoir

Wolf Haven: Sanctuary and the future of wolves in North America

Fauna Garriga Jonathan Lhoir 979-1-09622-200-1 Hardback, €34 (plus shipping) Garriga is the name given to the low-lying scrubland that’s widespread throughout the Mediterranean. Despite being one of the region’s hottest and driest habitats, it is an ecosystem that’s rich in vividly flowering plants and well adapted insect and animal species. For the last few years Belgian naturalist Jonathan Lhoir has been photographing the

habitat, now revealing its beauty in his new book, Fauna Garriga. Inspired by 19th-century naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre and his own childhood fascination with insects, Lhoir has become a master of macro photography. The pictures are intricate, and highlight his skill in blending colour through soft focusing; the results are so delicate that most of his images look like watercolour paintings rather than photographs. His subjects include praying mantis, great capricorn beetle, common yellow scorpion and Mediterranean tree frog, all depicted through his imaginative and creative eye. The book is available from:

Annie Marie Musselman Sasquatch Books 978-1-63217-051-4 Hardback, £16.99 Wolves are a key part of North America’s cultural history, as seen, for example, in Jack London’s novella Whitefang or Native American mythology and symbolism. Adding to the rich representations of the animal is Annie Marie Musselman’s Wolf Haven. This book gives insight to Wolf Haven International, a sanctuary in Washington state that protect s over 200 grey and red wolves (and wolf dogs and coyotes). The pictures capture the sp irit of the sp ecies, often focusing on their chilling, enigmatic stare. Poetic text by nature writer Brenda Peterson complements the imagery, telling us the rescued wolves’ stories. This is a stirring book that pays homage to one of America’s most remarkable creatures.

Saga pedo © Jonathan Lhoir

Time-Lapse Photography: Art and Techniques Mark Higgins Crowood 978-1-78500-209-0 Paperback, £16.99 Divided into nine sections, this useful guide covers the fundamentals of time-lapse and how to maximise the potential of the technique. Outlining the different ways it can be used, Higgins demonstrates how it can produce powerful and inspiring results. The book also explores ideas behind stills photography and video, sharing tips and tricks from both genres.

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TUNING IN… Music’s ability to transport the listener to a different head space is a powerful tool when thinking about, creating or processing photographs. Here’s a mixture of soundscapes, classic albums and new releases to inspire you… Planet Earth II


Hans Zimmer Silva Screen £12.99 The man behind some of the most recognisable film scores of our time (including Gladiator and The Lion King) has collaborated with the BBC for the sequel to the highly acclaimed nature documentary series Planet Earth. With the captivating main theme song (Planet Earth Suite II) introducing the 49 tracks, the music reflects nature in all its power, helping you reimagine the stunning footage from the TV series.

Jóhan Jóhannsson Decca (UMO) £9.99 Loosely based on Ovid’s version of the Orpheus myth – where a minstrel attempts to bring his dead wife back from the underworld – Orphée will take your breath away in the first few seconds of the opening track. Buildup, orchestral variety and ambient recordings (a comforting crackling can be heard throughout) are key to this album’s power. Good Morning Midnight will no doubt be a favourite.

Island Songs

James Horner: Collage – the last work

Ólafur Arnalds Decca (UMO) £9.99 After releasing three albums (check out For Now I am Winter, if you haven’t already), young Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds embarked on a different creative process for his latest project. Island Songs is comprised of seven serene tracks Arnalds wrote in as many weeks, stopping off at seven locations in his native country to collaborate with local musicians. Particles is the highlight of the collection and you’ll have Árbakkinn on repeat.

James Horner Mercury Classics £9.99 Collage is the last finished concerto by composer James Horner, recorded shortly before his untimely death in 2015. The uplifting one-movement piece, written for a full orchestra and four horns, has Horner’s signature lush orchestrations and strong melodies. This recording (performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) is accompanied by some of Horner’s best-loved film scores, including Iris.

TWO CLASSICS FROM THE VAULT… The Great Animal Orchestra Richard Blackford and Bernie Krause Nimbus Alliance £7.99 English composer Richard Blackford and American recordist Bernie Krause joined forces to produce a radical five-movement symphony to enhance our understanding and appreciation of the natural world. A collection of soundscapes that combine exceptionally high quality recordings of the natural world with instrumentation, this is a masterful and unusual creation that will reveal to you the joys of the sounds of the wild.

Riceboy Sleeps Jónsi and Alex Emd International £12.25 Released in 2009, Riceboy Sleeps is the musical brainchild of Icelandic band Sigur Rós member Jónsi Birgisson and his partner Alex Somers. An allinstrumental album, the pair recorded the tracks with acoustic instruments and then digitally manipulated and remixed the sounds to powerful effect – the string sections are really special. More ethereal and experimental than Sigur Rós’ back catalogue, the dreamlike and atmospheric sounds on the album will move you.

FROM THE LEFT FIELD: BOOKS TO INSPIRE Photography Reinvented: The collection of Robert E Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Princeton University Press 978-0-69117-287-3 Hardback, £34.95 Authors Sarah Greenough and Philip Brookman had an ambitious task: to complete a survey of works that have changed the course of contemporary photography. Narrowing the focus slightly by exploring one (albeit vast) archive, the pair selected 35 works by 18 acclaimed photographers to highlight how each piece reflects the ways the medium has changed. Expect to see an array of excellent photography: works by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Andreas Gursky will be of particular interest, as well as those outside the realm of landscape, including Cindy Sherman and Thomas Struth, but which are equally relevant and thought provoking.

August Sander: Landscapes – Photographs 1926-1946 University of Chicago Press 978-0-22639-946-1 Hardback, £45.50 Best known for his portraiture work shot in the mid 20th century, August Sander also published six books of his landscape photography. The last of the series, first released in 1935 and then re-published in 1974, has been printed for the third time in English, bringing Sander’s work to a new audience. The black & white pictures are of the Lower Rhine in western Germany after the First World War. Described as a photographic lament by art historian Wolfgang Kemp, the series’ feeling of melancholy encapsulates the tumultuous political situation of the time through ominous skies dominating the compositions.

Egon Schiele: Landscapes Prestel 978-3-79138-346-0 Paperback, £14.99 Austrian painter Egon Schiele – a protégé of Gustav Klimt – made his name through his sensuous figurative work where twisted body shapes and use of colour marked the artist as a pioneer of expressionism. Here we see his spirited st yle applied to different subject matter: the countryside and his native Vienna. First published in 2004, this updated paperback edition includes nearly 100 landscapes. His works are printed next to illustrative photographs of the same locations from the same vantage points, allowing the reader to see Schiele’s creative decisions on how to best represent the scene. His muted colour palette also evokes a strong sense of the landscape.

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EXHIBITIONS NOT TO MISS RPS International Print Exhibition 14 January to 11 March The Museum of Somerset, Taunton Held almost every year since the Royal Photographic Society was established in 1854, the International Print Exhibition is the longest running photography competition in the world, and it covers a wide variety of genres. Most of the entries were from the UK, but photographers based elsewhere in Europe, in America and the Middle East , were also among the shortlist . In June the exhibition travels to Belfast International Photography Festival, then on to the Retina Scottish International Photography Festival in July.

Above ‘Lightning’ by Bence Máté, Best Portfolio winner, Bird Photographer of the Year 2016.

To 29 January Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Don’t miss the last few weeks of the exhibition of successful images from the inaugural Bird Photographer of the Year, on show at Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The collection is a true celebration of avian beauty and includes pictures by leading exponents of the genre, as well as emerging photographers to look out for. Among the display is work by Josiah Launstein, Robert Canis and Sam Hobson. Andy Parkinson was awarded first place, winning a cash prize of £5,000 for his image of a mute swan.

Winning and other selected images from the 2016 competition are currently on display in the visitor centre at Dorset’s Moors Valley County Park and Forest. The exhibition will continue on its national tour after it closes in Dorset, reaching its final destination, Nunnington Hall, Yorkshire in mid May. To see dates and venues, head to The river Brit at West Bay, looking towards Colmer’s Hill, Dorset.

© Rosie Mathisen

© Ken Crossan


© Yoong Wah Alex Wong

Bird Photographer of the Year

British Wildlife Photography Awards To 26 February Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset Established in 2009 to showcase the beauty and diversity of our natural world, the British Wildlife Photography Awards puts talented wildlife photographers practising in the UK in the spotlight.

Drawing Inspiration To 22 January Fine Foundation Gallery, Durlston Castle, Dorset Winning and highly commended images from the recent Site Seeing photography competition, run by Dorset Area of Outstanding Beauty (in partnership with South Dorset Ridgeway), are currently on show at Durlston Castle. With 36 images in print (plus a slideshow of other successful images on screen), the exhibition showcases the astonishing variety of landscapes in the county.

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© Stephen Healy

ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW: THE LANDSCAPE SHOWN DIFFERENTLY a leading scientist, Fox Talbot was a gifted artist who produced beautiful renditions of subjects he encountered, such as countryside scenes, architecture and studies of flora and fauna.

Life in the wild: A photographer’s paradise

Still from Dave Ball’s An Artist in Search of an Epiphany.

Tabula Rasa II

© National Media Museum / SSPL

To 5 February Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow This group exhibition presents an exploratory photography-based project by five Glasgowbased artists. Each piece is distinct, revealing how the creator has used the medium to express wider concepts such as place, self, memory and history. Frank McElhinney’s Adrift series comprises aerial black & white pictures of now-abandoned sites where Scottish crofters were forced to leave their traditional farming practices. The remains of the buildings clearly show how the gradual build-up of history can be seen in the landscape. Stephen Healy’s work is equally thought provoking: he exhibits a collection of square-format black & white prints that look at tree roots in close-up.

Dave Ball: Searching for the Welsh Landscape To 21 January Aberyst wyth Arts Centre, Ceredigion An eclectic mix of video installations, sculpture and pencil drawings, this solo show is a humorous and intelligent look at whether national identity exist s in the landscape. Among the display is Hillwalking, a satirical video diary where Dave Ball charts his climbing of a mountain without looking at the peak itself. aberyst

SOUTH DOWNS DARK SKIES FESTIVAL Various locations across the South Downs 10 to 26 February To celebrate the recent designation of the South Downs National Park as an International Dark Sky Reserve, this 16-day festival invites you to witness some spectacular celestial sights this February. Highlights include a week of stargazing events with the National Trust at Birling Gap, public lectures about the wonders that can be found in our night sky (and how they got there), and star parties with local astronomy groups across the national park. There will also be an open evening at the Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux. For a full schedule go to

‘The Haystack’ by William Henry Fox Talbot.

Fox Talbot: Dawn of the photograph To 8 February National Media Museum, West Yorkshire Learn from one of the earliest pioneers of the photography medium at this fascinating retrospective on William Henry Fox Talbot’s oeuvre at Bradford’s National Media Museum, which houses one of the most comprehensive collections of his work. Fox Talbot is best known for inventing salt printing and the first negativepositive contact process. As well as being

7.30pm, 1, 2 and 7 March Wadebridge Town Hall, Cornwall For three evenings, Georgina Strange shares her experiences of living on the Falkland Islands. The talk will be illustrated with Strange’s stunning photographs, largely of New Island and its wildlife. Tickets cost £5; to book, email

An audience with Simon King 7pm, 28 January Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry Learn how to look for nature’s clues to understand more about the wildlife living in your area, with Simon King. Tickets cost £21; to book, go to All proceeds go to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Capturing Cley 10.30am to 12.30pm, 11 February Cley Marshes, Norfolk Capture views of the famous nature reserve on camera while the wading birds are looking their best. Participants will be given handheld video recorders. Tickets cost £4 for Watch members, £6 for non-members;

Creative nature photography with Robert Canis 10.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30pm to 4pm, 23 January WWT Arundel, West Sussex Learn how to capture the natural world from a fresh perspective with Robert Canis on this half-day workshop. After a short presentation you’ll venture on to the reserve to photograph wildlife. Tickets cost £50. Find out more at, and to book, call 01903 881530

Floodlit swan evening

Seven Sisters Country Park and the Pleiades by Dan Oakley.

6.30pm to 8pm, 10 to 24 January WWT Martin Mere, Lancashire Marvel at the reserve’s impressive flock of swans by floodlight in the comfort of the Raines Observatory. The evening event includes an informative talk about the whooper swans and their migration. Tickets costs £9.73. Find out more at, and to book, call 01704 895181

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The romanticised landscape


© Anthony Wright

I wanted to thank OP for three recent articles which, along with a couple of my images, have provoked me to consider a question that I have had niggling away for some time. There are two things I need to say: firstly, for some 40 years, I have thought of myself as a Marxist (not very fashionable, I know), and secondly, I love being outside, making photographs and appreciating the beautiful work of others. What I have been wrestling with is how I reconcile my politics with how landscape photography, including my own, is so often interpreted as ‘Romantic’, and the political connotations that brings. The first article that really set me thinking was Rachael Talibart’s ‘The power of the sublime’. I had just returned from Saxony in Switzerland, where Caspar David Friedrich painted Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. I had actually been standing in that spot. What the article does not say is that Caspar David Friedrich’s art is an example of German Romanticism, which was later appropriated and used by Nazism to create an ideology

Location recommendation I have a subscription to Outdoor Photography magazine but have only just read the article by Pete Bridgwood on the Rhue lighthouse (One month, one picture, OP210). In June 2015 I was very fortunate to spend

of nationalism and fascism; a fabricated sublime, golden past that never existed. I think it is very easy to interpret so many of our landscape photographs in a romantic way. They can appear as portraying a lost time, an idealised, romanticised landscape; a landscape that needs walls to be built around it. These are messages that tune in with certain worrying political developments both here in the UK and around the world. To further illustrate my point, I recently took a photograph of Hodge Close quarry in the Lake District using a fi lm camera. I was quite pleased with the result, the composition and the colours of autumn (see above right). To produce an image that further conveyed my feelings at the time, I processed the photograph in a certain way. The result is a completely romanticised image of the quarry, which I like, but it has no sense of the harshness of the lives of those who worked in this hugely dangerous industrial setting. An image such as this could be used to suggest we need isolationism; we need walls, that somehow life was all roses before immigration and multinational business. The other two articles that have helped me bring these thoughts forward are Peter Cairns’ Scotland: The Big Picture (OP212) and

a week near this location and captured an image of the lighthouse that has an amazing resemblance to Pete’s shot. In fact, my photograph was part of a panel titled Aspects of Loch Broom, and it won Ashford Photographic Society’s 2016 panel competition. I have attached one of the images (see left), and cannot recommend this dramatic and beautiful part of our country enough to your readers. It truly is a great place for any landscape photographer, and for me it was worth the long journey from Kent. Anthony Wright, via email

A missed opportunity I enjoyed reading, in the Learning Zone section, the article ‘How to capture the beauty of autumn’

February’s letter of the month winner, Geraint Evans, receives a £100 voucher (plus free p&p) from LumeJet. LumeJet delivers a professional printing service that provides faithfully reproduced, excellent quality prints of your images. Offering a range of printing sizes up to and including one-metre long panoramic prints and photo books, LumeJet delivers high quality, natural looking and accurate prints on traditional silver halide papers by using a brand new RGB digital print head. Find out more about LumeJet’s print services at

© Geraint Evans

Write to us! We love getting your views and responses; email

Andrew Parkinson’s Opinion piece, ‘A red stain on society’ (OP209). Both these articles use photography to make the case for, in my opinion, a better relationship between humans and the environment. Andrew’s hare image is romantic: who would shoot such a sweet bunny? But it is used to expose a wrong. Peter’s images are used to build an argument for the reintroduction of beavers into 21st-century Scotland. I am no closer to resolving my dilemma of my politics and my love of the wilderness, taking photographs and appreciating those of others, but these three articles have been thought provoking. There are serious political developments taking place, and landscape photography does not live on a desert island separate from such politics. Geraint Evans, via the OP website

(OP209). As usual, I turned to the ‘If you only do one thing this month...’ page and saw that you were asking for submissions for the next competition: Beauty of autumn. I actually thought I’d give it a go. Imagine my surprise when I saw the closing date was the 25th of September! There has been much beauty this autumn (and, indeed, there still is as I write this in November), and I fi nd it very disappointing that we were not given the opportunity to submit our most recent autumn images. Jean Walker, Middleton ED’S RESPONSE Thank you for writing in, Jean, and we’re sorry the September deadline for our ‘Beauty of autumn’ competiton meant you weren’t able to enter your images from autumn 2016. Unfortunately the magazine schedule dictates the deadlines for our competitions to some extent; as the results of the ‘Beauty of autumn’ competition were published in the January 2017 issue of OP, we had to select the winner and the runners-up by early October. Of course, not all of our competitions are quite as seasonal, so this is not always as much of an issue. We hope you got out and captured some stunning shots of autumn nonetheless!

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Keiss Castle and the Super Stopper

Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8, Nine minutes at f11

Keiss Castle is a stunning location clinging perilously on to the cliff edge a few hundred metres from the village of Keiss, in Caithness. Although it is not the biggest or most dramatic of castles, its location more than makes up for it. Being situated on the east coast of Scotland my initial thought was to shoot the castle at sunrise. There was no sunrise, this after all was Scotland in the winter. Being quite a remote castle and one that I would not be returning to for quite some time I wanted to make the most of the location and the conditions.

LEE Super Stopper & LEE 0.9 ND hard grad ďŹ lter

As with most landscapes I shoot I used a neutral density hard grad, in this case a 0.9 ND (three stops) to control the balance of the exposure from the sky to the foreground. In this case I have slightly under exposed the sky by about half a stop to help with the mood and feel of the image. I have then applied the LEE Super Stopper (15 Stops) to the image to introduce the blur and motion in the clouds and water, which were moving very slowly. Using the Super Stopper has allowed me to capture the movement where perhaps 10 stops would just not have been enough in these conditions.

NEW Super Stopper (15 stops)

Jeremy Walker


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In conversation with Isabel Díez Based in the Basque Country, Isabel Díez is a landscape photographer with deep roots in marine science research, and there’s more than a hint of the fine arts about her world. Here, she explains what makes her tick… Interview by Nick Smith

First colonisers on a lava field, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, USA. February 2017 Outdoor Photography 17

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‘When I am in nature I can clearly feel my life energy. My soul, mind and body become joined into one.’ Isabel Díez is describing her deepseated attraction to the natural world, which has taken her around the globe, from her beloved Basque coast on the Iberian Peninsula to the distant icescapes of Alaska and the forests of Costa Rica. When exploring these remote corners of the planet with her camera she says she is ‘filled with a profound feeling of peace and freedom.’ Isabel goes on to explain that while there are plenty of alternative subjects for the photographer, ‘I don’t tend to experience this sense of being alive’ by experimenting in other genres. For Isabel it’s all about the great outdoors. What really attracts her is a pristine environment in which she can flex her creative muscles. Her images are full of unapologetic beauty, charged with sumptuous line and colour, fantastically executed and brimming with narrative and dialogue. For the 50-yearold marine science researcher, these are the

moments where she can lay aside the rigorous analysis of the day job and ponder the wonders of the world that she finds so exquisitely beautiful. ‘I like wild places where the essence of things is almost breathable. Anywhere on the planet where nature is well preserved is for me a special, sacred and inspiring place. I identify myself with the landscapes in which the human footprint does not exist or is difficult to perceive.’ She describes how she is attracted to ‘sober and austere landscapes, which in turn have strength and character’. She explains that if she were pushed to choose a type of environment that sets her creativity ablaze, she would opt for the coast every time, ‘because the edge of the sea is like my home.’ Widening out a little, she finds inspiration where there is ‘exceptional light. Sometimes the light becomes indescribable, mysterious, unknown. These are moments of admiration, in which light invades my heart and feeds my soul.’ Not the sort of words you’d expect from a photographer whose day job as a university

academic focuses on determining the effects of human stressors on marine macroalgal communities, ‘as well as the recovery processes that potentially follow stressor mitigation measures.’ But what quickly becomes apparent is that the hard-nosed science and the Romantic imagination feed off each other to produce a body of work that is more than the sum of its constituent parts. Currently, the balance between the two isn’t in perfect harmonious balance. ‘I am an ocean lover and I feel passionate about discovering how life works in coastal ecosystems. However, I spend too much time involved with looking for fi nancial support for scientific investigation and not enough time enjoying the thing I love most, which is expressing myself with the camera in the wild.’ Understandably, for Isabel ‘this situation becomes unsatisfactory at times.’ Above Abstract shapes on sandstone, Jaizkibel, Basque Country, Spain. Opposite Indirect light on granite boulders, La Digue, Seychelles.

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Born in the Basque Country city of Bilbao in northern Spain, Isabel’s affinity with the ocean comes from long childhood summer holidays with her family close to the Cantabrian sea. Having witnessed from a young age what she calls the ‘beauty, strength and mystery’ of the natural world, it comes as no surprise that in her teens she became hooked on the exploits of the great sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, whose Undersea World television documentaries would inform her emotional link with the sea, then as now. She went on to read for her degree in marine sciences at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria before completing her PhD at the University of the Basque Country, where she has remained as a researcher ever since. This career trajectory meant that she was destined to maintain close and constant contact with the sea, allowing both the artistic and analytical sides of her personality to flourish symbiotically. Perhaps it was due to the demands of her scientific career, but Isabel never went down the route of formal photographic training.

‘It was in the context of my work at the university that I discovered photography. Back in 2002 I wanted to prepare a guide to the seaweeds of the Basque coast. But I knew nothing about photography. So I bought my fi rst camera, many rolls of slide fi lm and four “how to” books by John Shaw to help me to learn how to take photographs in the field.’ Isabel admits that when she embarked on her first forays into field photography, she had no idea that ‘a door into a new way of life was being opened.’ And yet perhaps what was not so obvious to her might have occurred to others around her. After all, she has a passion for art, especially the paintings of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. Knowing this, it’s easy to see where her confidence with strong colour and bold shapes comes from. The great European painters may have been her fi rst sources of inspiration, but she also accepts that there were photographic artists whose work assisted her in getting where she is today. She is especially impressed by ‘photographers who are able

to reveal amazing, mysterious and beautiful images from subjects or places that seem ordinary at fi rst glance. In particular I like the strength of the wild landscapes of Hans Strand, the elegance of Charles Cramer and the creative images of Sandra Bartocha.’ When it comes to her chosen subject, despite having a great love for grand vistas, Isabel chooses to concentrate her creativity more on the type of scenic material she describes as ‘intimate landscapes’. For the part-timer this is simply a matter of optimising the use of her time while maximising her creative opportunities. ‘Intimate landscapes are less demanding from the point of view of the quality of light required,’ which means she’s more likely to capture the shot she has in mind. But there’s more to it Below Intertidal rocks beyond the painter’s palette, Asturias, Spain. Opposite, top Seashore at sunset in winter, Basque coast, Spain. Opposite, below Water in motion.

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than simple practicality: ‘the decreasing scale of the landscapes, colours, rhythm, textures, patterns and shapes become the key figures of the images.’ By making the world smaller, Isabel has reached the point where she is able to determine ‘a number of scenes within a single grand landscape,’ allowing her work to bristle with vibrancy and energy. These traits within her work seem to stem from her unflinching belief that photography is more than a process and ‘one of the arts. It is the art of seeing and interpreting reality by intentionally using the inherent distance between what is captured by the camera and the cognitive experience of reality that the photographer has in the field.’ Put more simply, ‘creativity in photography is the discovery of images that no-one else can see.’ This is, for Isabel at least, due to the fact that every image is inherently linked with the experience of the person executing it and part of their ‘inner world. By using composition, light, colour and

Previous spread (left) Grand Ansé beach, La Digue, Seychelles. Previous spread (right) Granite boulders, La Digue, Seychelles. Above Mesquite Flat sand dunes, Death Valley, California, USA.

technique we can reveal the qualities of the subject and interpret it in a unique way.’ This is the first time in our conversation that she has even approached the subject of technology or technique. Despite being a professional scientist she is quick to distance herself from the world of shutter speeds and f-stops. ‘I’m not very keen on these things. For me they are just the necessary tools required to express my vision of nature.’ This is a vision that takes the viewer into a sublime depiction of an outdoor world defi ned by visual idealism and Romantic stylisation. And while Isabel’s images all conform to a wellregulated portfolio she’s not entirely convinced that she has reached a clear understanding of why or how this happens. ‘It is very difficult

to define one’s own work. I don’t know if my photographs are different from other people’s, or in any way special. But when I analyse my own work I do fi nd that the images have some features in common.’ She goes on to say that she detects themes of simplicity and clarity of structure along with ‘a sense of plasticity and a touch of mystery.’ ‘A good photograph usually has two attributes: strength to engage the viewer’s eye, coupled with structural clarity to enable the exploration of what is going on in the scene. When a photograph reaches the level where it is inimitable, that means it is coming directly from the inner world of the photographer, transmitting imagery in a way that goes beyond their mere physical appearance.’ Getting to the point where she can put her hand on her heart and say that she has achieved these things ‘is my main goal as a photographer.’ To see more of Isabel’s work, visit

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© Robin Sinton ARPS | Stokksnes, Iceland


ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP IS THE CHOICE FOR YOU IN 2017 Improve your skills by attending photography workshops and events Work towards achieving an internationally recognised RPS distinction Be part of an active community of like-minded creative individuals Enter our members’ competitions and exhibitions Enjoy our monthly photography magazine

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Getting it right in-camera remains the best way to achieve a successful photograph, but in digital post-processing we have the opportunity to alter and enhance the colours in a way that can elevate our images to a whole new level. Pete Bridgwood explains... In the pre-digital days, colour rendition was mainly determined by choice of film stock. Mastery of exposure and processing techniques known as ‘colour timing’, similar to the zone system used by black & white film photographers, also played a part in achieving a final desired look. The image feel of pastel expressions could also be emphasised further, by shooting through something appropriately translucent or a special filter to fog the image, creating the same desaturating result as shooting in real fog or mist. Colour grading is the new colour timing, and is an essential skill for any digital photographer; it is possibly the single most productive aspect of workflow to occupy the attention of any landscape photographer seeking self-improvement. The great news is that current software allows us to achieve perfect grading effects from standard Raw files regardless of the camera used. The importance of achieving perfect colouration cannot be

over-emphasised, it has such a profound effect on the emotional translation of the scene through to the creation of the final photograph. Grading of still photographs can be achieved in a multitude of ways, including, but not limited to, changes in: white balance, exposure settings, global or colour specific saturation, vibrance, split-toning and selection of camera profile. All these changes are iterative, meaning that they all affect each other by varying degrees, and moving back and forth between them in Lightroom is the favoured way of achieving the best results. My delicate pastel of Luskentyre is pretty close to reality. I kept the colour saturation minimal but increased the brightness of the blacks to 100 to create this high-key painterly result. Colour grading is the photography analogy to the seasoning of a dish in cooking; it can elevate images to potentiate emotional resonance for the viewer with the simple nudge of a slider. Like the gourmet in a restaurant, the viewer of our

final print will instinctively know if we have ‘over-seasoned’ an image by applying too much saturation, for example. Curiously, though, reducing saturation by moving the slider in the opposite direction rarely has such a negative effect. The shortlisted entries of international photographic competitions such as Outdoor Photographer of the Year are also testament to the fascinating differences in colour taste that exist across the planet. American photographers and those from various European and Antipodean climes have some very characteristic preferences when it comes to colour grading: this is all part of our wonderful, rich photography tapestry, and artistic diversity is always something to be celebrated.

Luskentyre, South Harris, Outer Hebrides. Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 R LM OIS lens at 50mm, ISO 200, 10sec at f/11, LEE Seven5 Little Stopper, Lee 2-stop ND grad, Manfrotto tripod and head

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LEARNING ZONE IMPROVE 30 How to capture the beauty of winter

38 Scotland: The Big Picture

EMBRACE THE ELEMENTS Theo Bosboom on how to make the most of winter photo opportunities

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How to capture the beauty of winter With winter in full swing, Theo Bosboom has advice on how to shoot stunning images that capture the spirit of the season in all its guises – from minimalistic snowy scenes and dramatic storms to landscape details Winter is my favourite season for photography. It is the time when ordinary subjects can be turned into great subjects, just by the harsh weather conditions or the golden light of the low winter sun. I love the bare trees and the uncluttered white landscapes, which are not only very photogenic, but also give me more control over the compositions. And it is a great time for being outdoors as well. Winter feels so much wilder than any of the other seasons, and the cold wind makes me feel alive. Last but not least, I think it is by far the most graphic of all seasons, opening up many possibilities to capture creative pictures.

LET IT SNOW… Many photographers go out when the snow is already on the ground. If you do this, you may be missing out on some enjoyable opportunities, as falling snow can add drama or a touch of impressionism to your pictures. So, use the detailed weather forecasts that are available and head to a nice natural landscape when snow is predicted. There are several types of snowfall, each with a different appearance in pictures. The density of the snow, the size of the snowflakes and the amount of wind that’s blowing them about can vary greatly. Usually, heavy snowfall with big snowflakes offers the best possibilities for photography, simply because it is so dramatic. Try different exposure times to see which suits the situation best . You will need a prett y fast shutter speed to freeze the snowflakes; I would say that 1/250th of a second or less normally does the trick. This could mean you have to use ISO 1000 or even higher, depending on your camera and lens. If you use longer shutter speeds, the snow will be visible as stripes. This can also be visually attractive and it shows the direction of the wind better. A flashgun or torch is worth experimenting with in falling snow, as it will selectively highlight the falling snowflakes, which can have a nice painterly effect. It works best if you combine it with ambient light to reveal enough of the landscape around it. Underexpose for the landscape a little bit so that the white snowflakes stand out.

PRO TIP I often use a long lens, such as a 70-200mm, when photographing in falling snow, as the compressing effect makes it easier to achieve the graphic look I am after. It has the advantage that the front element is less likely to get snow on it, because of the large hood protecting it. Nevertheless, it is wise not to shoot into the direction of the wind.

Above (top) Ptarmigan in a blizzard, north Iceland. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens and 1.4x converter at 280mm, ISO 1600, 1/320sec at f/5, tripod

Above Snowfall in moorland, Belgium. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 115mm, ISO 1600, 1/60sec at f/9, tripod

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ICE DETAILS Ice is a great source of inspiration and offers many opportunities for interesting photographs. The variety of patterns and structures that can be found in pieces of ice is simply amazing, and often all you need is a small fen or puddle that is frozen. Cracks, air bubbles, plants and other things captured in ice are good potential subjects. Usually it is best to use a macro lens, because with other lenses you might not be able to get close enough to bring the details alive. Try to make sure you point your lens straight at the ice, so that the ice is placed parallel to your camera sensor. If you don’t, you might find it hard to get the whole scene sharp, which is usually preferable with this kind of picture. Stop down to f/16 or even f/22, and if this is not enough, or you want to avoid softness due to diffraction problems, use focus stacking to get everything sharp from corner to corner. Use a remote control or self-timer to prevent blur. When composing attractive ice images, look for interesting lines or patterns that fill the frame, and try to avoid any distracting elements. I am always looking for the right balance between creating visual interest while retaining a sense of calmness. This often involves looking very carefully for suitable subjects and then trying out several compositions, often making only minor changes. The pictures can be studied closely later on a big screen to find the one that works best.

1 Algae captured in ice. Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 100mm macro lens, ISO 250, 0.4sec at f/22, tripod

2 Composition with reed and snow spots, Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 135mm, ISO 200, 1/5sec at f/22, tripod





When it is really cold, or when there is hoar frost, it can be rewarding to look for frozen subjects away from water. Moss, plants and fallen leaves with icicles can make great subjects and are prett y easy to find and photograph. For moss in snow or ice, it is good to shoot at ground level so the moss is separated from the background. A beanbag often works better than a tripod for these images. Above Bristly haircap with snow and ice. Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 50D with Canon MPE 65mm macro lens, ISO 400, 1/250sec at f/3.2, beanbag

3 Ice lines, Millingerwaard, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 320, 2sec at f/22, tripod, converted to black & white

4 ‘The universe’, Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkII with Canon 100mm macro lens, ISO 200, 0.6sec at f/22, tripod

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MAGICAL WINTER LIGHT The short days of winter can sometimes be challenging for your mood, but when the sun is out the light is often wonderful. The low winter sun provides much warmer, softer light than at other times of the year, and this enables you to shoot throughout the day. Shooting against the sun creates the most powerful images, especially around sunrise and sunset. The effect is even better if you can include something in the picture that reveals how cold it is, such as freezing mist, the breath of an animal or blowing snow. Nothing makes the viewer shiver more than a backlit blizzard in a rugged and foreboding landscape. Look for clear shapes in the landscape to anchor your composition, such as trees or rocks. Check your histogram regularly to prevent underexposed images or clipped highlights, especially when the light is constantly changing. The golden rule of snow photography – overexpose your images by one or two stops to prevent the snow from looking dull and grey – is not applicable when you shoot against the sun, because there is much more contrast in backlit images. Sometimes it is advisable to take several images with different exposure times. This will enable you to pick the best one, and also gives you the option of working with HDR techniques in post-processing, if necessary. When the light comes from other directions, life is easier when it comes to exposures and you can usually use the exposure compensation ‘rule’ for snow in these situations. There will be less drama in the pictures, but the colours will be softer and subtler; this effect can work very well for many winter images. above (top) Reed and willows with hoar frost, De Wieden, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D with Canon 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 200, 1/25sec at f/16, tripod

PRO TIP The contrast between areas that are hit by sunlight and areas that are in shadow can be very rewarding to use in your images. Especially in the hours at the beginning and end of the day, there is a big difference in colour temperature between the illuminated and shaded areas; it’s often like a combination of silver and gold or yellow and blue. The morning is usually the best time for these shots, because fields in shadow are often still frosted, which makes them even more interesting. above Floating ice cubes, IJsselmeer lake, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 144mm, ISO 50, 0.3sec at f/16, tripod

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WINTER GRAPHICS The great thing about snow is that it can provide a perfect white canvas for any subject you find in nature. Moreover, it covers a lot of uninteresting or distracting elements in the landscape, especially in densely populated areas. On top of that, most trees in winter are bare, showing their age and character much more than in any other season. I find that these ingredients make the life of a landscape photographer much easier. I don’t have to worry about anything that is not in the picture. As the signs of human activity are hidden from view, a new landscape emerges, a new world that is simple, peaceful and graphic. I look for interesting lines or characterful trees in the landscape. Usually, intimate landscapes work best for graphic pictures because it is easier to keep everything white and even. The principle of ‘less is more’ certainly applies to these sorts of pictures, so keep it as simple as possible. Make sure to have enough snow around your subjects; this enhances the feeling of calmness and balance in a picture. I only include the sky when it is cloudy or foggy, which can appear as white if you overexpose the image. If there is not much contrast in the landscape, I overexpose by two or even three stops to keep the snow looking white and fresh. Of course it is always advisable to check the histogram to make sure you’re not blowing out the highlights. It can also be necessary to correct the white balance a little bit, to avoid a blue colour cast.

1 Half burnt forest, Noir Flohay, Belgium. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 24-70mm lens at 47mm, ISO 320, 1/100sec at f/16, tripod





2 The frozen forest, Noir Flohay, Belgium. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens and 1.4x converter at 25mm, ISO 320, 1/250sec at f/8, tripod

Graphic winter pictures often work well in black & white. If you use Silver Efex Pro for your conversions, try using the presets that do not enhance the clarity and structure in a picture, because they often reveal too many details and can affect the calmness of the picture. I often find the ‘fine art’ preset a good starting point for further processing. Sometimes the difference between the colour and black & white version of a picture of a snow scene is very subtle, but a monochrome conversion can make it a touch more graphic. Above ‘Mikado’, tall grass in the snow, Belgium. Canon EOS 5D MkII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 173mm, ISO 800, 1/20sec at f/20, tripod, converted to black & white

3 Triangles in the snow, High Fens, Belgium. Canon EOS 5D MkII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 161mm, ISO 640, 1/60sec at f/22, tripod

4 Reeds in the snow, Millingerwaard, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 70-200mm lens at 116mm, ISO 800, 1/400sec at f/13, tripod

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WINTER STORMS In my country, the Netherlands – and I am sure the same goes for much of the UK – winters are not always as cold and white as I would like them to be. This doesn’t mean you have to stay inside, though. Grey days also offer the potential for interesting images. Especially in rain, or in light drizzle, the colours can be very saturated and can bring the landscape to life. It is even more exciting when a proper winter storm is forecast. I try to go to the coast, which is the best place to experience and photograph a storm. It is important to take notice of the direction of the wind when you choose a beach to photograph, because often your lens will get wet if you shoot into the wind. It’s good to be in position before the storm arrives. As well as being easier to take photographs before the rain starts, the dark clouds that roll in can add a lot of drama to your landscape pictures. It is also a great opportunity for shooting time-lapses. When the storm hits the shore, make sure you are in a safe place and that your gear is protected with a rain sleeve. I always take plenty of towels and cleaning cloths so that I can dry my lens and camera regularly. Telezoom and telephoto lenses can be useful because they have the advantage of a big hood, which guards against sunlight and helps to prevent rain and spray from soaking the front lens element. The use of filters can be unhelpful when there is a mixture of precipitation and hard wind, so usually I try to avoid these when shooting storms. Instead, I use bracketing for my exposures, to ensure that I retain detail in a darker foreground while also capturing the drama in the sky. If you’re planning to merge images later in post-processing, make sure to take the pictures in close succession, as the sky and the water change very quickly in stormy weather.

Right Atlantic winter storm, Dyrhólaey, Iceland. Canon EOS 1DX with Canon 300mm lens and 1.4x converter, ISO 1000, 1/8000sec at f/5, tripod, converted to black & white

PRO TIP One of my favourite subjects during winter storms is crashing waves, which I usually try to capture with a 70-200mm lens, and sometimes a 1.4x converter. I use fast shutter speeds, such as 1/1000th of a second or less, to capture all the details of the waves. To get your exposures right, this often means you have to work with the lens wide open and with a high ISO. Above Wave hits basalt rocks, Dyrhólaey, Iceland. Canon EOS 1DX with Canon 24-70mm lens at 53mm, ISO 1250, 1/320sec at f/10, tripod

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Winter can provide interesting subjects for photography from the first time it knocks on the door until the last seasonal signs before spring takes over completely. I always find the transition periods very interesting. When winter strikes early, you might be lucky enough to catch autumn colours and fresh snow or hoar frost – this combination provides many possibilities for interesting and creative pictures. So, when snow is expected in autumn, go to a beech forest or another place where you might find beautiful colours. The short days of December and January can be great for low sunlight, and this is also a good time for winter storms. February often has more snow and ice than in other months – the landscape can look totally different in these conditions. In March and the first part of April, winter comes slowly to an end. This can be a time great time to photograph patterns in melting ice, the first plants and flowers that appear or the first amphibians and reptiles that emerge from hibernation.

Dress warmly. Wear thermal underwear, a good weatherproof outer layer, and sturdy winter boots. Take care when approaching areas with fresh snow to avoid unintentionally leaving footprints in the scene you intend to photograph. Use flash when photographing falling snow; it makes the snowflakes ‘pop’ and can create very artistic effects. When there has been a combination of strong wind and snowfall, try to find and photograph the white side of trees and rocks because they will be the most interesting. Photograph birds in cities and villages – they will often gather at ponds in wintry conditions and are easier to capture on camera. Shoot snowy scenes with two stops of exposure compensation dialled in, or even three stops if the sun is not out. This will prevent the snow from appearing dull and grey in your images. In cold weather, try to find small waterfalls in rivers and mountain streams, because they often have beautiful icicles and ice structures around them Look for ice patterns on your car window after cold nights; they can form remarkable works of art and are easy to photograph.

Above (top) Willow in the snow, Iceland. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon 24-70mm lens at 67mm, ISO 800, 1/160sec at f/13, tripod

Above (left) Crack in the ice, Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon TS-E 24mm lens, ISO 50, 4sec at f/22, tripod, converted to black & white

Above (right) Newt on melting ice, Veluwe, Netherlands. Canon EOS 1D MkIV with Canon 100mm macro lens, ISO 1600, 1/40sec at f/7.1, beanbag

Go out when it is cold and mist y, because hoar frost can add a lot of magic to trees and landscapes.

TAKE PART Enter our ‘beauty of winter’ competition – turn to page 111 for details

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SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE In the second part of our new series about the efforts that are being made to make Scotland a wilder place, Peter Cairns looks at an iconic species that has made a remarkable comeback in recent years: the osprey

Osprey in flight, Cairngorms National Park.

Ospreys: a rewilding icon Twenty-seven white-tailed eagles, 15 golden eagles, 98 peregrine falcons, 462 kestrels, 78 merlins, 11 hobbys, 275 red kites, fi ve marsh harriers, 83 hen harriers, 63 goshawks, 285 common buzzards, 371 rough-legged buzzards, three honey buzzards and 18 ospreys. This was the reported toll on raptors taken on Glengarry Estate in the west Highlands in just three years from 1837 to 1840. This oft-cited ‘gibbet’ or vermin list is widely contested and is likely to contain inaccuracies, both in terms of species identification and the number of birds actually killed on the estate at the time. Even so, the numbers reported underline two things: fi rstly, how systematic the persecution of raptors was across the sporting estates of the Scottish Highlands in Victorian times, and secondly, and perhaps more significantly, how diminished raptor numbers still are today, despite notable recoveries in recent decades. This lamentable record of Scotland’s historical relationship with birds of prey makes the story of the osprey both remarkable and symbolic. Remarkable because against this backdrop of intolerance, ospreys have

not only managed to regain a foothold in the Highlands; they have also gone on to prosper, now numbering more than 300 pairs. They are symbolic in that their journey to recovery shines like a beacon in a sea of environmental decline. Ospreys, perhaps more than any species, are synonymous with a wildlife comeback in Scotland fuelled by a shift in societal attitudes: ospreys have recolonised because the people of Scotland wanted them back. The success of the osprey in the last 60 years or so is mirrored by other recovering raptors. Red kites and white-tailed eagles are now prospering but, unlike the osprey, their return was aided by official reintroduction programmes. In terms of illustrating what can be achieved given the will, few species compete with the osprey and few species have generated such widespread public engagement and support. I am convinced that the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who follow the fortunes of Scottish ospreys are captivated not only by the bird’s undoubted charisma, but also by its story of hope.

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Osprey perched with fish – wideangle image to show habitat, Glenfeshie.

In the field with ospreys

Peter’s elevated osprey hide in Glenfeshie.

Location Rothiemurchus and Glenfeshie, Scotland Time of year June-August Duration of shoot Spread over five years It wasn’t very long ago that any image of an osprey was to be treasured. Such was the rarity of the bird, and the limitations of equipment, that those that did exist were almost invariably captured at the nest. The advent of fast autofocus lenses and the provision of dedicated photography hides means that today the osprey is one of the most photographed birds in Britain and, as such, a slightly different approach was needed to tell their story effectively. Around a decade ago I erected an artificial osprey nest close to my home and it’s been used pretty much every year since. Apart from being a source of personal satisfaction, I’ve spent countless hours photographing the resident pair, under licence, usually on a feeding perch a short distance from the nest. Ospreys often ‘prepare’ fish they’ve caught before taking the food to their young and, over the years I watched this routine to an extent that I could predict where and when the birds would land with their catch. Using that information I introduced a hide on the riverbed close to their nest and, over time, the old male in particular has become tolerant of its presence and the weird clicking sounds emanating from it. A second hide, elevated a few metres off the ground with wooden stilts, has allowed fl ight shots that simply wouldn’t be possible without such an investment of time. Having ospreys close at hand has undoubtedly helped me create many of these images. A feeding or a flying osprey is one thing; it is their spectacular fishing technique that really sets the pulse racing. Years ago I travelled to Finland to use a hide setup over a well-used osprey fishing pond. What the images never showed, however, was the fact that the ospreys were actually coming into a stocked fi sh farm! Returning home,

I approached the Rothiemurchus Estate in the Cairngorms, which also operates a fishery, and suggested they might think about replicating the Finnish model here. Today, photographers from all over Europe put money into the local economy by renting Rothiemurchus’ dedicated hides, which are perfectly sited at near-water level. With ospreys plunging into the bottle-green water just a few metres away, the location provides one of the most enthralling wildlife photography experiences on offer anywhere. My osprey images took just a fraction of a second to secure in-camera but, really, the pressing of the shutter has been the easy part, a formality compared with the years of preparation. Watching ospreys, learning about them and, like many thousands of others, being seduced by their story has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. The images are a bonus and have only been possible because of that learning and preparation, together with a passion for telling their story.

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Osprey fishing at dawn, Cairngorms National Park.

Technical shooting guide Many readers of OP will know of the photography hides at Rothiemurchus in the Cairngorms National Park, but for those who don’t, it is quite simply the best location in the UK for photographing fi shing ospreys. If you’re concerned about travelling alone, several professional photographers run workshops that include sessions at the hides. A fast lens of around 300mm to 500mm is needed to get the best results. For Scotland: The Big Picture I needed something different to augment what I’d shot before. I needed to make the link between the osprey itself and the wider case for river and wetland restoration that will support ospreys along with a wide range of other species, all dependent on a vibrant, resilient freshwater ecosystem. I’d never tried anything other than a straight portrait of the male close to my home. I was shooting with a 500mm lens from a hide around 20m from the perch, so he was completely comfortable, but portraits would always be the limit from a fi xed position. Initially I tried a GoPro camera strapped to the perch, and although this insignificant incursion into his space was hardly likely to have a major impact, it turned out that he barely noticed it; this gave me encouragement to advance my plans. I set up a ‘dummy’ tripod close to the perch and, again, it was ignored. Over several days I moved the tripod closer and eventually fitted a DSLR camera. Initially he was wary, but within a day or so, normal service was resumed, allowing me to use a remote transmitter and receiver to get wideangle images showing the bird against the river Feshie, with the Grampian mountains beyond (see previous page). I’ve very rarely photographed any bird at the nest, and this nest was far from being the most photogenic, but I felt that it was a shot I should have in order to complete the story. Unfortunately this involved the use of a cherry-picker (hydraulic access platform) that was less than reliable and, not being at all keen on heights, I didn’t enjoy being stuck 20m up in a wobbly cage for two hours before being rescued by a passer-by...

Plan your own field trip Ospreys are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act and as such cannot be photographed at or near the nest without a licence. In Scotland, you can apply for a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage: species-licensing Check out photography of fishing ospreys at Rothiemurchus Estate: Ospreys can be viewed (but not satisfactorily photographed) at Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld or Loch Garten near Aviemore. Both sites have nest cameras in operation and interpretation staff on hand.

Osprey about to seize prey, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.

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Raptor ecologist Roy Dennis weighs and rings a young osprey chick under licence in the Cairngorms National Park.

Conservation storytelling There are many photographers out there who can take top-class images. In fact, one might argue that there are too many – all chasing that elusive killer shot. There was a time when ‘trophy hunting’ by photographers of ospreys, kingfishers, lions or polar bears might get you noticed and might get you paid, but in a world where supply exceeds demand many times over, the likelihood is that today it will get you neither. Whether you shoot professionally or recreationally, the digital revolution has changed everything, and we’re all image drunk; inebriated by the constant deluge of top-fl ight material that fl icks across our screens. So how do you get your images to stand out and, more importantly, how do you get your images to contribute towards positive change? These are questions I’ve been wrestling with for longer than I can remember, and while I’m far from reaching any definitive conclusions, I now approach my photography very differently than I did in the past. In 2005 I attended a talk by a well-known nature photographer who used his platform to not only show off his images but also to tell his story. If truth be told, like most of us, his images were a mix of great, good and mediocre, but it wasn’t the pictures that had an impact on me, it was the narrative. He told his story with knowledge and with passion and I understood that evening that, despite the huge advances in camera technology, despite the flood of top-class imagery we’re bombarded with

every day, as a species we are hard-wired for stories. Several people in the audience left in tears that night, such was the emotional impact of the photographer’s storytelling. Shortly after that talk I sat down to reflect on my own future and realised that the approach I’d followed in the past was no longer fit for purpose. I understood that to have any chance of satisfying a personal aspiration to effect change, to ignite new conversations, I needed to tell compelling stories. To do that, I needed to know my subjects and locations intimately. Against this backdrop there was really only one place I could work effectively: close to home. And so it was that I turned my back – albeit reluctantly – on overseas travel and photographic cherry picking. I started to focus on species and issues that I knew about and cared about; subjects whose story I felt needed telling. Today, around 10 years on, my passion to use my image stories to inform and inspire is as strong as ever. And what’s more, far from confining my creative aspirations, working locally has opened a wealth of new possibilities. Next time… In the April issue of OP, Peter Cairns shines the spotlight on another star of Scotland’s rewilding story: the pine marten. Behind the scenes video: To watch a video about Peter Cairns’ endeavours to photograph ospreys, head to our website at

Scotland: The Big Picture is a small team of media professionals – photographers, filmmakers, writers and designers – producing high-impact visual communications, which fuse ecological science with inspiring storytelling. We want to tell a passionate, contagious story that informs fresh thinking and compels people to champion the case for a wilder Scotland full of life. Follow the journey at

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Please get into my photo! We’ve all suffered from having the perfect outdoor image composed in our camera only to have someone walk into the scene. Mark Helliwell reveals why he has had to rethink his reaction to these intrusions As a landscape photographer I am often attracted to iconic locations, but with such status comes popularity, particularly if the location is easily accessible. My approach is usually to exclude people from my photographs, and I become frustrated if I can’t achieve this on location, given my cloning skills are not what they should be. But on this particular evening in front of the derelict West Pier in Brighton, I forced myself to change my approach and work with what came into view. It was the day of the closest supermoon since 1948 and, as a result, there was an exceptionally low tide, exposing quite a large of area of sand between the pier and pebbles. My intention was to capture the reflections of the pier in the sand – it was too cloudy

to see the moon – and, after tweaking the composition, I decided to use a long exposure to smooth out the gentle waves of the sea. Around five seconds into a 30-second exposure, a man entered ‘my scene’, placed down a bucket and proceeded to dig in several spots – for cockles, I presume. This went on for about five minutes, while I paced around with arms folded, shaking my head and muttering under my breath. But as the man worked his way out of my frame, I started to wonder if I’d missed an opportunity to capture this location in a unique and more interesting way. I resumed my long exposure and achieved the original shot I was after, before deciding to change viewpoint. Just after attaching my neutral density fi lter, a woman on a bike entered

the scene, intent on taking pictures of the small flock of starlings that had just started to gather. Instead of becoming immediately frustrated as before, I became quite excited at the chance of including her and her bike in the shot. I quickly removed the fi lter and adjusted composition, focus and exposure, and took several images of her as she progressed from one side of the pier to the other taking pictures on her smartphone. Although I took quite a few images that evening, the image shown here is the one I processed fi rst and the one I liked the most. The long-exposure image came out as expected, but it just didn’t have the same level of interest and intrigue. So in future, I will try to calm down and react more quickly and creatively to any unexpected intrusions in the frame.

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Lofoten unseen Brought together by a love of nature and a taste for adventure, young Dutch photographers Mart Smit, David Peskens and Tjeerd Visser ventured off the beaten track in Lofoten last year to explore some of the islands’ most pristine and beautiful locations. Here, they share their story and some of the stunning images they came back with…

With a shared passion for nature photography, and being about the same age and living in the same country, there was a good chance we would meet each other sooner or later. All three of us had been successful in a Dutch scholarship for young nature photographers that was set up in 2014 in memory of the talented nature photographer Marius van der Sandt, who tragically died at a young age. The scholarship gave us the opportunity to work on a photography project for a whole year, under the leadership of five professional Dutch nature photographers (including Theo Bosboom who has done the technique feature on page 30). It was a valuable experience to work with such talented people and to meet new friends who shared a love of photography. David, Tjeerd and I live in the far south, north and west of the Netherlands, but we speak to each other regularly via the internet – mainly about making plans to go on adventurous trips together. When I annoounced that I was planning a trip to the Lofoten Islands, Norway, in late February 2016, David and Tjeerd

decided to join me. We thought we’d turn it into a bit more of an adventure, so we hatched a plan to camp in the snow on the remotest parts of the islands. This would also give us opportunities to take unique pictures, which is becoming more challenging as the Lofoten Islands become more and more popular with photographers. So we hiked with our snowshoes over snow-covered mountains to reach the most beautiful beaches. We ventured far from the regular, crowded spots; a long way from the vans stopping with groups of photographers to quickly take pictures of the bestknown highlights. It was just the three of us, with only the sound of the wind and the waves. We slept in our tents, with incredible views of the steep mountains and amazing coastline. We never got into a deep sleep just in case the aurora made an appearance. During the day, the landscape scene constantly changed because of the fast-moving clouds, fresh snow, melting snow, frost and rain. It was always a surprise to open the tent in the morning to see what awaited us.

Above Sea urchin in front of the fishing village Reine. Opposite Stranded porpoise on the beach of Horsheid.

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Close-up of a lichen.

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Small stream running over the beach.

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Dune valley in exceptional light after heavy rainfall.

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Limpet on a wind-formed sand ridge.

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Illuminating images The use of artificial lighting in wildlife photography is a contentious subject but, as long as it is used with care and consideration, Andrew Parkinson believes it is an important tool in the creation of images that have the potential to inspire, educate and inform One of the ‘hot button’ issues in contemporary wildlife photography is whether or not the use of artificial lighting has a negative effect upon, or causes any lasting harm to, the subject being photographed. I myself have only ever used fl ash on three different bird species, so while I’m anything but an expert, my opinion is at least an informed one. In simplistic terms, the use of fl ash can be split into two categories. The fi rst is fi ll-fl ash where the artificial light is balanced with ambient daylight and is used primarily to either freeze fast-moving action, fi ll shadows or to reveal detail that might have otherwise fallen into silhouette. In contrast, the other technique, which often involves multiple fl ashes synced together, is used primarily at night when the artificial light becomes the primary light source. As I’ve never possessed any of the necessary equipment, the technical know-how or, I must admit, the required level of interest to engage in the latter, my limited experience extends only to the use of fi ll-flash. However, as someone who prides themselves on working exhaustively and intensively with one subject, thereby acquiring an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subtle nuances in its behaviour, I do feel qualified to be able to gauge whether my limited use of fi ll-fl ash appeared to have any kind of negative effect on my subject. It is my absolute and unequivocal belief that it did not, and I simply would not have continued had I thought for one moment that it had. Furthermore, I would add that, to all intents and purposes, the fl ash was not even perceived by any of the subjects I photographed. While I can honestly and publicly stand by this opinion, limited as it undoubtedly is, it would be impossible to say that flash is safe to use on all species and in all conditions, and to claim so would be absurd. For example, one area of potential concern for me would be

the use of flash with nocturnal species, especially those with acute and highly adapted night vision, such as certain owl species. The scientific consensus, with owls at least, seems to suggest that the use of flash under these circumstances can cause a temporary impairment in their vision, something that could potentially have serious consequences for the short-term welfare of the owl. With the risks considered, it’s essential that the handful of experienced photographers who specialise in this highly skilled art do so extremely judiciously, scrutinising their subjects’ behaviour for any sign of distress and always exercising extreme caution when using fl ash. While some might expect me to sit in condemnatory judgement of this entire genre of photography, pillorying those who engage in it, I am of the belief that there remains tremendous insight and value to be gained from this kind of extremely specialised work. Furthermore, I have no reason to doubt the ethics, the expertise or the acquired knowledge of those who undertake this work and, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I trust them to always put the ongoing welfare of their subject fi rst. It’s also important to remember that an element of disturbance, however much we might like to claim otherwise, is an unavoidable consequence of our desire to get close to, and photograph certain species. How many of us can say that we have never caused a bird to take fl ight, an unseen mountain hare to run or an otter to dive? Whether we like it or not, this is all disturbance and, however small or apparently inconsequential it might seem to us, this does have a negative effect, especially when you bear in mind that most creatures, in the main, exist on the very margins of survival for most of their lives. This is not to condone, to excuse or to justify, but we must at least be honest and transparent. We do what we do because we want

Above I captured this image during the most extraordinary sunset I’ve ever experienced on the Shetland islands. In order to retain all the spectacular colours I exposed specifically for the sunset, meaning that the gannets would fall into underexposure, appearing only as one-dimensional silhouettes. To counter this, I attached a Fresnel lens to my flash, which concentrates the beam of light and makes it much more directional. This way I was able to illuminate the bird in flight.

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our images to educate, to inspire and to affect positive change, but in pursuit of these images there is often a consequence. We are of course duty bound to mitigate this wherever possible, but to deny its existence is laughable hypocrisy in the extreme. Lastly, we must also factor in the significant contribution that the use of fl ash-aided photography has

made, not only in terms of vital conservation knowledge but also spectacular insights into previously unseen worlds. Among the best-known work is that of legendary National Geographic photographer Steve Winter with his countless endangered big cat species, Paul Nicklen’s breathtaking glimpses into the darkest recesses of the underwater world and the

groundbreaking high-speed flash of photographers such as Stephen Dalton. All of this and countless other insightful, educational and environmentally valuable works could never have been captured without the use of artificial lighting. To argue for the prohibition of flash in all circumstances and with all species is, I believe, as misguided as it is ill considered.

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R e v e a l t h e n e x t s t e p i n yo ur p ho t o g rap h y j o u r n e y



Su p p o r t e d bY Q uo te O P MTP S 1 7 a n d g e t a s pe c i a l di s c o u n t Discount applies to standard adult entry tickets only. Members of trade and pro photographers may apply for free trade passes subject to validation criteria.

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ACCESS RATING These are based around an ‘averagely fit’ person. Below are loose guidelines to what the ratings mean (N.B. they are assigned by the author and not verified by OP. P Walk distances are one-way only):

1/5 Easy access – you can prett y much get straight ou o out of you y your ca car a and d qu quickly q c y be at the viewpoint via good quality paths.

2/5 Some gentle walking – generally less than a half mile – is involved, which may be on mixed quality paths.

Ben Lomond, Highland by Paul Holloway


3/5 A walk of up to about two miles, over quite easy terrain.


54 Viewpoints of the month 8

1 Kelsey Head Cornwall 2 Coire a’ Chaorachain Highland

4/5 Medium length hike – up to about four miles over mixed terrain, possibly with some quite steep gradients.


58 Viewpoints 3 Hebers Ghyll West Yorkshire


4 Turnberry lighthouse South Ayrshire


5 Fox Stone Cairn Greater Manchester


6 Sidmouth beach Devon

5/5 The most difficult access. Long hike over challenging terrain (e.g. mountains/summits/steep coastal terrain); or involves travelling over particularly extreme ground (e.g. scrambling on rocks/ exposed coastal paths or mountain ridges) over any distance.

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7 Tarn Hows Cumbria 8 Ben Lomond Highland


9 Loch Glascarnoch Highland 10 Craig Goch Reservoir Powys



Map plottings are approximate

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Kelsey Head | Cornwall With a powerful winter storm predicted, Chris Simmons dons his waterproofs and heads to a favourite location on Cornwall’s dramatic and exposed Atlantic coast to photograph nature at its most formidable

Kelsey Head juts into the Atlantic between the summer tourist hotspots of Newquay and Perranporth on Cornwall’s stunning north coast. Yet in lying at the end of a bumpy track and spirited walk, it remains a remote gem of a location. With Porth Joke and Chick Rock featuring on the way to the cliffs overlooking Holywell Bay, catch the tide right and you can spend the afternoon exploring as you work around to sundown. Almost in my back garden, this is one of my regular haunts because, in sun or storm, it offers completely different perspectives every time you shoot it. And stormy it was on this particular February afternoon. As severe weather warnings ‘pinged’ from my Met Office App, and Magic Seaweed predicted 30-40ft waves on a rising tide, I packed my weatherproof backpack, donned my waterproofs and headed out. I knew exactly where to go. Cresting the darkened headland, a hammering wind was flattening the tousled grass. Thunderous booms of crashing waves fi lled the air and sea spray stung my cheeks. Leaning into rain squalls, I tightened my hood cords and battled on with a mile still to go. Zigzagging down narrow cliff tracks, I finally reached my chosen vantage point looking out to Gull Rocks. Scudding storm cloud teased at pointed peaks while waves tore mercilessly into their exposed fl anks. Under the invisible sun’s grudging light, monstrous Atlantic breakers assaulted the bay in churning ranks. The cliffs trembled under the vast impacts, while screaming gusts whipped swirling sheets of white spray spiralling high into the tortured air. Such incredibly physical conditions conjure the very essence of my seascape photography. Adrenaline courses at the prospect of capturing that fleeting moment when nature’s raw, elemental emotions are revealed in the viewfinder. Sitting down and wedging myself into a sheltered crag, I set my tripod firm and

low. For I wanted the foreground textures of dark slate shot through with quartz, as these crystalline strands positively glow under a burst of fill-in flash. Unless expensive sensor cleans excite you, it’s never good to do a full setup at the coast. So my trusty 16-35mm lens and fi lter holder were already on the camera. Locking it tight on the ball head, I slid my flash on to the hotshoe, set it to manual, selected second curtain sync and angled it at 45 degrees with diff user down. Using manual camera settings, hyper-distance focusing, low ISO and a small aperture, I fired off a few test shots to ensure all was well composed, sharp and level. Exposure would be dialled in ‘on the hoof’, as the light was changing constantly, but I prepared a few fi lter combinations in anticipation. Once I was happy, I covered up and hunkered down with my coffee flask. After an hour, all nagging thoughts of the sun doing a ‘no show’ dispersed when, squinting into the storm, I could make out shards of light illuminating the horizon. Uncovering the camera I started with my micro-fibre cloths (the only things that cope with salt spray), doggedly trying to keep fi lters clear. The patch of light grew until, for just a few glorious moments, the clouds tore asunder and rich golden sunlight flooded the bay. With cloth in one hand and cable release in the other, I began my ritual: Wait… Uncover, Click, Cover, Check, Refine, Clean, Wait… With the fiery belly of the clouds glowing and slick rocks shining, I pushed the flash to +1.7 and increased ISO to catch it more. Trembling with excitement now, I held my breath as a perfect wave rolled into the cleft below me. Just as I fingered the trigger, a billowing swash of spray flew into the mid-ground. Releasing the shutter, I knew instantly that I’d got the shot. Tears of joy welled as I laid back and yelled an exultant ‘thank you!’ into the raging tempest.

Canon EOS 5D MkII with Canon EF 16-35mm L II lens at 16mm, ISO 320, 1/8sec at f/20, Lee ND09 hard grad, Lee Straw 2 filter, cable release, flash, tripod

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5 miles from Newquay • 14 miles from Truro Access Rating How to get there From the A3705, follow signs to Crantock. Go through the village towards West Pentire. Take the turning on the left, signposted to Treago Farm, and follow the road down through a set of gates. Drive down the track to the National Trust’s Cubert Common car park. From there, walk the path leading through the wooded valley to the cliff path around Porth Joke to Kelsey Head. What to shoot Dramatic cliffs vistas, Holywell Bay, Gull Rocks and textures in the rocks.

Best time of day Late afternoon and evening. Nearest food/drink C-Bay Café Bistro, West Pentire Road, West Pentire, TR8 5SE, 01637 830229, Nearest accommodation Fairbank Hotel, West Pentire Road, Crantock, TR8 5SA, 01653 763527, Ordnance Survey map Explorer 104 Nearby locations Porth Joke (1 mile); Crantock Bay (2 miles).

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Coire a’ Chaorachain | Highland With difficult weather conditions preventing an uphill hike, Stewart Smith drives high into the mountains of the Applecross peninsula before setting out on foot to explore the dramatic scenery While the name Torridon has become synonymous with an area much wider than the titular glen, it would be a stretch to include Coire a’ Chaorachain on the Applecross peninsula within its accepted reaches. The landscape of the surrounding hills is most definitely Torridonian in flavour, however. The vast gouge of the coire is encircled by near-vertical cliffs of layered sandstone typical of the more famous monolithic munros to the north-east. Committing to one of these higher peaks usually requires the best part of a full day in winter. So on a morning beset by weather best described as

‘confrontational’ I decided to play it safe, leaving my base in the glen to explore the Applecross coastline instead. A return drive over the top of the Bealach na Bà would allow an elevated starting point for a short walk at the end of the day should a weather window present itself. As the day wore on, the heavy rain started to become a little more intermittent and the cloud began to lift from the tops of the hills. After the steep single-track drive between piles of ploughed snow from Applecross village, I arrived at the car park in a mixture of sleety showers, drifting cloud and streams of sunlight.

After carefully picking the cleanest route along the snowy ridge, I swung eastwards along the natural line, and my shot suddenly presented itself, as the Na Ciochan ridge revealed its true nature in profi le. With the conditions changing by the second, I took several frames, attempting to optimise the balance of sunlight and cloud on the peak of Beinn Bhan in the background. Luckily the snow atop Na Ciochan already provided some separation between the layers of rock, and the eyelet of the lochan nicely punctured the dark expanse of the valley floor.

Nikon D810 with 24-70mm lens at 32mm, ISO 160, 1/8sec at f/14, 0.6 ND grad, cable release, tripod, two shots stitched

12 miles from Lochcarron • 74 miles from Inverness Access Rating How to get there From Lochcarron, head west on the A896 over the pass and through Kishorn, then take the first left at Tomapress Bridge. The road up Bealach na Bà climbs ever more steeply. There are tight hairpin bends near the top, but there are ample passing places. Access can be tricky in winter, but the road is often gritted. There is a decent sized parking area at the summit viewpoint, but it is a popular place to stop. What to shoot Mountain and island views, airy ridges, dizzying drops.

Best time of day Dawn for early sunlight catching the ridge, dusk for Skye sunsets. Nearest food/drink Applecross Inn, Applecross, Wester Ross, IV54 8LR, 01520 744262, Nearest accommodation Applecross Inn – as above. Other times of year All year round. Ordnance Survey map Explorer 428 Nearby locations Russel Burn (2 miles); Applecross bay (5 miles).

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LOCATIONS GUIDE 8 great places to photograph this month Hebers Ghyll, West Yorkshire his is a delightful short climb alongside a succession of miniature waterfalls and crisscrossing bridges, which are  best enjoyed in autumn and winter. An obvious path leads through pleasant woodland to the famous Ilkley Moor. 


How to get there From the A65 Leeds to Skipton road, pass through Ilkley and turn left into Victoria Avenue. Turn right on to Hebers Ghyll Drive and, after a mile, park at the roadside near the turning circle. The path leads uphill to the left, past a disused building and along a stream to the ghyll. What to shoot Woodland scenes, small waterfall details and wider views where the path crisscrosses over wooden bridges. Best time of day Mid-morning onwards to allow some light to reach the ghyll. Nearest food/drink Filmore and

Union, 39 The Grove, Ilkley, LS29 9NJ, 01943 607086, Nearest accommodation The Crescent Hotel, Brook Street, Ilkley, LS29 8DG, 01937 11250, Other times of year Spring for the bluebells, and winter for ice and snow. Ordnance Survey map Explorer 297 Nearby locations Cow and Calf Rocks (2 miles); Bolton Abbey (6 miles).

© David Handson


1 mile from Ilkley • 18 miles from Leeds ACCESS RATING 6 miles from Girvan • 53 miles from Glasgow ACCESS RATING

Turnberry lighthouse, South Ayrshire urnberry lighthouse is an incredible location to visit, found on the stunning Ayrshire coastline and not too far from the town of Girvan. This lighthouse has been well looked after over the years and, with the rugged coastline found on both sides, it can offer great views in all directions. Even when looking out to sea you get the stunning Isle of Arran fi lling up the background of your shots.

© Kirk Norbury


How to get there If travelling from the Glasgow area, drive down the M77 then follow the A77 south. After passing though Maybole (about eight miles south of Ayr), you will eventually see a right turn (signposted ‘Turnberry/Maidens/A719’). Follow this road, and after a few seconds you’ll pass the Turnberry Resort and Golf

Club. After about a minute you will see an entry point for the golf course on your left – this is where you will need to pull over. Park on the grass near the gate, but take care not to block the entrance. From here, it’s a 10-minute walk through the golf course. What to shoot The location offers a stunning coastline with rugged rocks and strong tidal water, with the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig in the distance. There’s also a wide range of wetland birds here, including swans, cormorants, wading birds and gulls. Best time of day Late afternoon and evening for sunset. Nearest food/drink Dowhill Country Fayre, Girvan, KA26 9JP, 01655 331957, Nearest accommodation The Southfield Hotel, 18 The Avenue, Girvan, KA26 9DS, 01465 714222, Other times of year All year round. Ordnance Survey map LR 76 Nearby locations Culzean Castle (5 miles); Dunure Castle (10 miles).

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© James Grant

Fox Stone, Greater Manchester ox Stone cairn sits high above Dove Stone reservoir on Saddleworth Moor and, along with the nearby Dean Rocks, offers stunning vistas across some of the Peak District’s most dramatic landscapes. It is also a memorial to two local climbers who died in the Dolomites.


How to get there Walking from Binn Green car park, take the path down through the woods. Head through the stiles and swing left for 190m – this will bring you out between Dove Stone and Yeoman Hey reservoir. Follow the path and head over the cattle grid. On your left you’ll see a grassy slope and a welltrodden path; follow this up, crossing over a stile, and carry on. You will come

to a fork – bear right, ensuring the brook is well below you and to the right. Keep on the well-maintained path, slowly gaining ascent, until you reach the mouth of the brook after 650m. Cross over the brook and head back west for 420m, following the rim of Dean Rocks. There isn’t a marked footpath, but sticking close to the edge is easy enough. Keep following the path until you see the notable Fox Stone cairn. What to shoot Dramatic cliff views and reservoirs. There are waterfalls on the way up and grand vistas from the top.

Best time of day Mid-afternoon through to sunset. Nearest food/drink The Clarence, 180 Chew Valley Road, Greenfield, Oldham, OL3 7DD, Nearest accommodation King William IV Hotel, Chew Valley Road, Greenfield, Oldham, OL3 7DD, 01457 873933. Other times of year Between late winter and autumn, the sun is in a good position. Winter can also be excellent. Ordnance Survey map OL 1 Nearby locations Alderman’s Hill (2 miles); the Trinnacle (2 miles).

10 miles from Holmfirth • 13 miles from Manchester ACCESS RATING 0.5 miles from Sidmouth • 17 miles from Exeter ACCESS RATING

Sidmouth beach, Devon he beaches immediately to the east and west of Sidmouth seafront are backed by impressive cliffs. This isn’t such an unusual feature along the British coastline, but these particular cliffs are made of red Triassic sandstone. Low tide reveals ledges of the same bright red rock.

© James Osmond


How to get there Leave the M5 at junction 30 and take the A376 and the A3052 towards Sidmouth. At Sidford, take the A375 into Sidmouth town centre and follow the signs to the seafront, where there are several parking options. Walk west along the seafront towards Jacob’s Ladder. What to shoot Views of the beach with the cliffs of High Peak in the background,

and close-up details of the colourful pebbles that make up the beach above the high tide mark. Best time of day This particular beach is best in the afternoon and at sunset, when the red light of the setting sun enriches the colour of the cliffs. Nearest food/drink The Clock Tower Café, Connaught Gardens, Peak Hill Road, Sidmouth, EX10 8RZ, 01395 515319, Nearest accommodation Farmhouse Cottage B&B, Warren’s Farm, Church Street, Sidford, EX10 9RE, 01395 577682, Other times of year Autumn and spring can be good too. In summer the beaches can get crowded. Ordnance Survey map LR 192 Nearby locations Ladram Bay (4 miles); Haytor, Dartmoor (32 miles).

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arn Hows is a manmade Lakeland paradise, created by the merging of three smaller lakes in 1865. A level, well-maintained footpath circumnavigates the tarn, allowing access to many lakeside viewpoints, while a higher path to the Scott Memorial offers a wonderful view across the tarn towards the Old Man of Coniston.


How to get there From Coniston, take the B5285 towards Hawkshead Hill. After approximately two and a half miles, you reach the crossroads at High Cross Wood (Forestry Commission); take the left turn, signposted Tarn Hows. After 300m, take another left and follow the lane for one mile until you reach the

© Dave Fieldhouse

Tarn Hows, Cumbria

National Trust car park (pay and display). What to shoot If the weather is bright and calm this is a great spot for reflections in the tarn. If the weather is more dramatic, head to the higher viewpoint for one of the best views the Lake District can offer for relatively little effort. Best time of day Early mornings and late afternoons are best. Avoid the middle of the day, especially during holiday periods, as this spot can get extremely busy.

Nearest food/drink The Green Housekeeper, 16 Yewdale Road, Coniston, LA21 8DU, 01539 441925, Nearest accommodation Waterhead Hotel, Hawkhead Old Road, Coniston, LA21 8AJ, 01539 441244, Other times of year This location offers something in all seasons. Ordnance Survey map OL 7 Nearby locations Coniston Jetties (2 miles); Hodge Close quarry (6 miles).

10 miles from Windermere • 35 miles from Penrith ACCESS RATING 11 miles from Drymen • 29 miles from Glasgow ACCESS RATING

Ben Lomond, Highland ying in the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Ben Lomond is Scotland’s most southerly munro, and also one of the most popular. Rising to 974m from the east shore of Loch Lomond, it offers fantastic views across the length of the loch and across to the hills in the north.

© Paul Holloway


marked path, which leads through the woods before emerging on to the open hillside of Ben Lomond. What to shoot There’s brilliant scenery all around, but perhaps my favourite view is looking south down the loch where it broadens out into a miniature archipelago of wooded islands. Best time of day With such stunning views, any time of day can be good here. Nearest food/drink Rowardennan Hotel, Rowardennan, G63 0AR, 01360 870273, Nearest accommodation Rowardennan Hotel – as above. Other times of year All year round. Ordnance Survey map LR 56 Nearby locations Conic Hill (7 miles); Isle of Inchcailloch (7 miles).

How to get there From Drymen, take the B837 to the village of Balmaha on the shores of Loch Lomond. From Balmaha, take the minor road to Rowardennan, where you can park at the car park by the information centre. Behind the information centre, follow a clearly

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© Aidan Maccormick

Loch Glascarnoch, Highland och Glascarnoch is a large reservoir that is easily accessed from the main road between Ullapool and Inverness. The loch is protected from prevailing winds, meaning perfect reflections of the mountains in the surface of the water. The munro Beinn Dearg is particularly well reflected at the head of the loch. Flooded trees along the edge of the loch provide good abstract subjects.


How to get there From Inverness, take the A9 north then head north-west on

the A935 for 27 miles until you reach the dam at Loch Glascarnoch. From here, the A935 continues west along the loch. There are various lay-bys providing viewpoints over the water. The best views towards Beinn Dearg are from the last two lay-bys on the north side of the road at the head of the loch. From here, the loch shore is only 100m away. What to shoot Mountain reflections and flooded trees.

Best time of day Any time of day. Nearest food/drink Inchbae Lodge Inn, Garve, IV23 2PH, 01997 455070, Nearest accommodation Inchbae Lodge Inn – as above. Other times of year July for fields of cotton grass. Ordnance Survey map LR 20 Nearby locations Corrieshalloch gorge (6 miles); Rogie falls (18 miles).

17 miles from Ullapool • 39 miles from Inverness ACCESS RATING

Craig Goch reservoir, Powys he Elan Valley is part of the Cambrian Mountains, an area that covers over 70 square miles of upland Wales and includes six dammed reservoirs. Craig Goch is the highest dam and is regarded by many as the most attractive of the six, with an elegantly curved retaining wall and a series of arches supporting a narrow roadway across the top. Halfway across, there is a picturesque, dome-roofed valve tower.

© Drew Buckley


How to get there From Aberyst wyth, take the A44 east and follow this for 24 miles. At the roundabout, take the second exit on to the A470. Head down this road for another nine miles into Rhayader, turn right on to the B4518 then take the next right (signed Elan Valley). Ascend the valley and after three miles turn left and park about half a mile down the road by the dam. Walk

up the footpath opposite the dam to access the viewpoint. What to shoot Six dams, large lakes for reflections, ancient woodland valleys and upland moorland. Red kites are present in great numbers, and it’s an excellent dark sky site. Best time of day Late morning for the best sun angle, and the hours either side for the dam to be illuminated. Nearest food/drink Lamb and Flag, North Street, Rhayader, LD6 5BT, 01597 810819, Nearest accommodation Ty Morgans, Beaufort, East Street, Rhayader, LD6 5BH, 01597 811666, Other times of year Winter is good, as snow falls here due to the high altitude of the reservoir. Autumn colour can be spectacular in the woodlands. Ordnance Survey map Explorer 200 Nearby locations Gigrin Farm (9 miles); Claerwen Dam (10 miles).

ALL MAPS © Crown copyright 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 061/16

7 miles from Rhayader • 30 miles from Aberystwyth ACCESS RATING

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YOUR CHANCE TO TAKE PART See your work in print + win great prizes! POSTAL ENTRY FORM VIEWPOINTS My images were all taken in the month of

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Send us your very best outdoor images, and if you’re chosen as our winner you’ll receive a superb prize. This month’s winner received a Case Logic Kontrast Pro-DSLR Backpack worth £129.99. Offering stability and protection from the ground up thanks to its water-resistant DuraBase, this ergonomic backpack stores and protects your pro DSLR and accessories wherever you go.



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WRITE FOR US! We are always on the lookout for inspiring new features. If you have a great idea for an article then please send a short outline (no more than 60 words), plus five accompanying high-res JPEG images for our consideration.

IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING THIS MONTH... Take on our ‘beauty of winter’ photo challenge (see page 111), and as well as the chance of being featured in the June 2017 issue of OP, you could also win a Sprayway Mylas jacket worth £140. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, this light and compressible down jacket will keep you warm and comfortable.

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READER GALLERY Each month we publish the best images from all those submitted for our Reader Gallery. To find out how to enter your work using our online submission system, turn to page 62. Here is this month’s winner and runner-up…

Winner Dave Steventon I have been into landscape photography for about four years. From an early age I had a love for the outdoors and nature and this has followed through into adulthood; I’d often buy walking magazines and took an interest in how the images had been taken. Four years ago my partner Sarah bought me a Canon EOS 500D to use on my walks, and my first venture into taking landscape photographs rather than snaps came

on a dawn hike to Mam Tor in the Peak District. The conditions didn’t look promising but as the sun came up, the clouds parted and the light was something else. From that moment I was hooked. I’m trying to move away from the usual landscape compositions of foreground rock with sunset or sunrise in the distance. Increasingly I find myself slowing down on location, and thinking more about composition and how the image will come across to the viewer. At the moment, photography is purely a hobby for me. I love being out in the elements waiting

for that glimmer of light or the mist to form below the hill I’m sitting on. It takes me away from the routine of work, and I focus solely on the view and the image I’m attempting to create. If I can see some year-on-year improvement with my images, I will be more than happy with that.

Hometown Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire Occupation Procurement for the NHS Photography experience Four years

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Previous This was taken from Chrome Hill looking over to Parkhouse Hill, possibly my favourite area in the Peak District. I have been fortunate to witness some wonderful conditions around these hills but the day this image was taken turned out to be one of the most memorable to date. The predawn mist had been swirling around Parkhouse Hill and I had to pinch myself a few times when I saw the images on the back of the camera. I tried to accentuate the height and exposure of Chrome Hill by including just a small but steep area of the hill in the foreground, then had to wait for the mist to roll in front of Parkhouse Hill before I took the image. Canon EOS 6D with 70-200mm f/4 lens at 198mm, ISO 100, 1sec at f/11, Lee 0.9 ND grad, Manfrotto tripod

Above This little copse of trees sits high up on the moors in the Peak District , and is sheltered by a rocky outcrop called High Edge. On this particular day, when the fog became too thick lower down, I headed to higher ground in the hope of catching the edge of the mist . As the mist began to retreat, the tree line became visible and I was able to capture a few shots before the mist rolled back in again. Canon EOS 6D with 70-200mm f/4 lens at 70mm, ISO 100, 1/160sec at f/11, Lee 0.6 ND grad, Manfrotto tripod

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Send in your best images and win great prizes. This month’s winner will receive a superb Case Logic Kontrast Pro-DSLR Backpack, worth £129.99! Runner-up Manuel Tobarra I made my fi rst steps into photography, along with my older brother, when I was around 13. I especially enjoy landscape photography and I try my best to portray the moment. Though I spend a lot of time working on post-processing, I always aim to keep my picture looking as close to the original one as possible. Landscape photography serves me as a pretext to visit interesting and beautiful locations. The last place my camera took me to was Iceland, which I consider to be a paradise for outdoor photographers.

I would like to steadily improve my technique by means of practice and continuous learning, and I’ll always strive to get shots that better reflect my personal view of the landscape.

Hometown Albacete, Spain Occupation Computer engineer Photography experience About 40 years Above This image was taken in the Pyrenees, near Gavas, France. Nikon D700 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens (focal length unrecorded), ISO 200, 1sec at f/11, Manfrotto 055C tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead, Nikon MC30 remote release

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The tutors have been supportive in their feedback and I’ve been encouraged to explore creative paths and research that I would never have considered without studying for the degree. Photograph and words by student Michael Colvin

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Simon Bray Manchester-based Simon Bray is a landscape photographic artist with a long-term commitment to discovering more about the creative process through his images of the great British outdoors… Nick Smith puts him in the spotlight

Below Glen Coe. The descent from Buachaille Etive Mòr. The sun sets behind the mountain, light cutting its way though the vast gully between the peaks. Opposite Glen Coe. The early morning light greets the frozen valley and awakens it, burning off the mist and welcoming in the day.

Nick Smith Tell me how you describe yourself photographically? Simon Bray I think that it is fair to call me a landscape photographic artist. Before my collaboration on a project called The Edges of these Isles with Tom Musgrove, who is strictly an artist using paints, chalks and pencils, I would have just described myself as a photographer. But I’ve learned an awful lot about the artistic process from him. NS What do you think a photographer gains from working with an artist? SB Now, the sensibility in my work is more that of considering what of myself I’m putting into each photograph. I’m also taking into account the emotions that the landscapes are evoking, as well as the sounds and the smells. Hopefully I’m now getting to the place where I’m

fi nding ways to put some of this into my imagery. NS So there are layers of depth that go beyond simply kidnapping a visual representation of what’s in front of you? SB Absolutely. On my last trip to Glen Coe, for example, I got out of the car at 5.30am to photograph the rising sun and mist in the valley. But there were three other guys sat there with their tripods set up, seemingly taking exactly the same shot. I want to think about portraying that place in a way – you can’t call it unique – that captures something of the depth that will in turn evoke an emotional response in the viewer. NS What’s your relationship with technology and photography gear? SB I get a bit bogged down in it. I started

out using lots of filters and carrying a tripod round with me. All this seemed to hinder what I was trying to express with the camera. I work best when I just have a camera in my hands as I walk round exploring a place. For me, the camera is an object that I don’t want to get in the way of what I am seeing and experiencing. It does need to be adequate for the job. NS As a former professional musician, do you see any parallels between music and photography? SB As someone who plays the drums, I sometimes find sitting behind the kit is one of the best ways to express myself. Now, if I didn’t have the drums I’d just be flailing around. And so I need the instrument to fully express myself, which is the exact relationship I have with the camera.

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NS How do you know when everything is working well? SB That’s a tricky one, but I think there is a moment when there is a combination of factors, when everything comes together. Often that’s to do with the light being right, or seeing something that seems to fit well with what you’re trying to express. I’m not going to a place with preconceived ideas, especially if it’s a location that might be familiar. I’ll try to avoid looking at other photographers’ images of that place. I don’t want that to inform what I am trying to portray. NS What is it that draws you to landscape photography? SB As a kid I’d work on the farm a bit, go to Cornwall five or six times a year and would be out and about the whole time. We’d go on family holidays to the Lake District, and the pastime at the weekend was to go out into the country or the New Forest. So being outside in the landscape is just a natural inclination for me. NS Do you like the work you are producing at the moment? SB I don’t really place any expectation on anyone else to like what I’m producing. But I do like certain images that I produce. Not everything, of course. There are photographs that I thought were fantastic when I took them, but reflecting on them months or years later, maybe they don’t seem quite as good as I could make it now. In that sense I’m constantly trying to push myself to make progress with the images I am creating.

Simon’s top tips One thing I never go on a shoot without is… coffee. I work in a coffee house and I’m addicted to the stuff. My one piece of advice would be to… create a project for yourself. Find something that’s going to add structure to what you’re creating. Something I try to avoid is… taking the same photograph of a place that I have seen before. You’ve got to find your own voice. To see more of Simon’s work, visit, and to get hold of a copy of his latest book, The Edges of these Isles, visit

Simon’s critical moments 2003 Trip to Chamonix, France, to begin capturing what I was seeing with a camera.

2006 Moved to Manchester for university. Began exploring the city.

2007 Armed with a Pentax Super ME, began to understand technicalities and light.

2012 Completed music degree and started accepting commissions, creating awareness and selling work.

2014 First expedition for The Edges of these Isles book project.

2016 First exhibition, at the Whitworth, Manchester of The Edges of these Isles.

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NATURE ZONE DISCOVER 74 Laurie Campbell: Life in the wild

76 Nature photo guide

79 A moment with nature

80 Steve Young: On the wing

AERIAL SPECTACLES Wader flocks are among Laurie Campbell’s nature highlights this month

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Life in the Wild As well as being an essential part of many ecosystems, lichens come in a huge variety of weird and wonderful forms that deserve to be photographed. Laurie Campbell explains why it’s worth taking a closer look at these fascinating organisms…

In an age where we are seeing a preponderance of images of what my colleague Niall Benvie once called ‘blue chip’ species of wildlife – such as kingfishers, polar bears and tigers – it is very hard to sell the idea of photographing some of the less glamorous subjects in nature. Lichens must rank as close to the bottom of the heap, but if you are prepared to read on I’ll try to persuade you of their appeal. As for my own approach to the subject, I’ve always been aware of lichens (they are present in just about every habitat on earth, after all) but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that I started to pay more attention to these organisms and began photographing them. Paradoxically, this happened on the remote and beautiful Ardnamurchan peninsula in Argyll, a location better known for its larger Scottish species; on one long weekend visit I saw a golden eagle, an otter and a pine marten, and what at the very least was a hybrid Scottish wildcat, if not the real thing. Photographing the birds and animals of Ardnamurchan was always my first priority,

but over repeated visits to the peninsula I was also building up a collection of other subjects, such as wildflowers, invertebrates and landscapes. When the weather was wet, I’d seek cover in the sessile oak woods, also known as the Celtic rainforests, in the hope of finding evidence of pine martens. The character of these special habitats has of course been shaped by the high rainfall, and the steady supply of moisture to the trunks and limbs of the trees has resulted in them being covered with the epiphyte growth of mosses, ferns and lichens. The first particularly striking lichen species I noticed resembled something akin to the leaves of savoy cabbage, albeit much smaller. Poring over field guides together with my processed Kodachrome slides a couple of weeks later at home, I identified the lichen as tree lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria). I also noticed that the second part of the Latin name related to the shape and texture of the ‘leaves’ of the lichen; their raised network of ridges resembles lung tissue. Other observations followed, such as map

lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum), which looks a bit like pages from an old school atlas textbook, where each country is illustrated in a different colour and separated by black border lines. I’m not saying that I experienced an epiphany in those oak woods; more that photographing something else for the sake of it had therapeutic value. It did, however, help open my mind to the idea of always being prepared to photograph the smaller elements in nature from each habitat I visit. This in turn helps me gain a greater understanding of how habitats work as a whole, and the importance of the smaller component parts within each. It was decades before I did eventually photograph a pine marten successfully in those oak woods, but my interest in lichens has grown exponentially. It’s not necessary to know their precise scientific names; at the least, just enjoy the challenge of taking the best and most exciting photographs you can of these underrated life forms in order to inspire others to appreciate their value.

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Finding and photographing lichens Over 1,700 species of lichens (pronounced ‘lie-kins’) have been recorded in the UK, and at least 10 times that number are known to occur worldwide. The different species may be highly variable but the three most common growth forms are leafy (foliose), bush (fruticose) and crust y (crustose). The one thing that almost all have in common is that they are actually a fungus that grows in combination with a photosynthetic alga. The fungus forms the main structure and the alga provides the organism with food from sunshine, air and water. The frequency at which lichens occur across so many habitats is astonishing, to the point where it’s difficult to go anywhere without seeing them. It’s all a question of scale and ‘getting your eye in’ to appreciate their abundance. A basic setup is a tripod that can be used close to the ground and a remote release for your camera. It’s difficult to recommend a single lens; a macro lens would seem the obvious suggestion, but it isn’t always essential given that computer-aided design has resulted in less specialised lenses that can often focus extraordinarily close – even some kit lenses are up to the job. The type of lichens you want to photograph can have a bearing on the approach needed, with the simplest being the flat (crustose) species. With the lichen growing on a flat surface and the camera back positioned absolutely parallel to it, it’s not difficult achieve sufficient depth of field for corner-to-corner sharpness. Leafy (foliose) and bushy (fruticose) species can be more challenging, as accurate focus and camera positioning are ever more critical, and if you wish to photograph these at lifesize and closer then the best solution could be to use focus-stacking.

Opposite page Sometimes known as sea ivory, I found this lichen covering a boulder on a cliff top in Orkney, and used a handheld camera with a fisheye lens to avoid getting tripod legs in the shot. Nikon D300 with Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 AF lens, ISO 200, 1/80sec at f/14, handheld Above right The scarlet growths on this lichen are the fruiting bodies and only measure two or three millimetres across, so careful camera positioning was essential to maximise depth of field. Nikon D3X with Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 120mm f/2.5 macro lens, ISO 100, 0.8sec at f/16, mirrorlock, cable release, tripod Below right Photographed in rain, this tree lungwort lichen (Lobaria pulmonaria) looks exactly as it should in wet weather. During drier spells it takes on a yellowish, shrunken appearance and looks like a completely different species. Nikon F5 with Nikon 200mm f/4 AF macro lens, Fuji Velvia ISO 50, 1/8sec at f/22, mirror-lock, cable release, tripod

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Laurie’s February highlights ‚At this time of year, clear night skies and an absence of wind almost always results in everything being coated with a layer of frost by the morning. It may be tempting to try to shoot wider landscapes, but it can often be difficult to show the patterns formed by the ice crystals in much detail, unless they are on objects in the foreground. Use a macro lens with extension tubes and try instead to shoot small groups of crystals. Use backlighting, and photograph against a dark background for added contrast and impact. Nikon D7100 with Laowa 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, ISO 125, 1/4sec at f/16, mirror lock, cable release, beanbag

›Large flocks of waders in flight are an impressive sight, and there are times just before or after high tide when they will all rise into the air close to a roost site to make their way to or from feeding areas. Obtaining a tide timetable, either online or a yearly printed version, is essential in order to know when to be in position beneath the flight lines that the birds take. Handheld cameras with long lenses can be effective, particularly if shooting into the light at sunrise or sunset. Nikon F4S with Nikon 800mm f/5.6 manual focus lens, Fuji Provia ISO 100, 1/1000sec at f/8, monopod ‚The herring gull (Larus argentatus) is just one species of gull that preys on shore crabs (Carcinus maenas). The best time and place to try photographing this behaviour is around low tide when the water is rising or falling, and where the incline of the shore is gradual and there is a reasonable growth of seaweed. The first sign that the gulls are hunting is when they are paddling in shallow water and looking intently downwards. Once they spot a crab, they plunge-dive, secure the prey and then fly to the shore to dismantle it. Nikon D3 with Nikon 500mm f/4 VR lens and 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 1250, 1/640sec at f/7.1, handheld

›The number and variety of species of fungi to be found in winter can be quite low because few are tolerant to frost. One species, velvet shank fungi (Flammulina velutipes) – sometimes also known as the winter mushroom – is fairly common and can be found growing in dense clusters on dead timber, especially elm. The stems become darker with age and are enveloped by a fine velvety coating. Including this identifying feature in a photograph can be awkward because the plant needs to be shot from below, so reflectors are a must. Nikon F4S with Nikon 70-180mm f/4-5.6 AF macro lens, Fuji Velvia ISO 50, 2sec at f/22, mirror lock, cable release, tripod

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Flora Common polypody fern (Polypodium vulgare) – found growing on old walls and tree trunks across the UK. Dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis) – a widespread woodland plant that produces tiny yellow flowers. Spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) – rare woodland flower of similar stature to a snowdrop, but this one is also cultivated.


© Brian Lasenby/

Earwig (Forficula auricularia) – a familiar insect, but not necessarily a popular one. Look for them at night by torchlight. Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) – like many other species of corvids, they band together to roost in winter. Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) – look out for opportunities to photograph them carrying sticks to rebuild their nests.

10 of the best places to see red squirrels In late winter, our native red squirrels turn their attention to courting and can be less wary than usual. They also stand out well in snowy and frosty conditions, and are more visible against bare branches. Here are some of the top spots in the UK and Ireland to look for them… Mar Lodge Estate, Highland Scotland is home to around two-thirds of the UK’s red squirrels, and in winter at Mar Lodge, near Braemar, you can enjoy some wonderful views – especially if there’s snow. You may also see red deer and golden eagles.


Dalbeattie Forest, Dumfries and Galloway Lying on the Solway coast, this large and attractive family-friendly forest is known for its excellent walking and mountain bike trails, and it’s also home to lots of red squirrels. visit/dalbeattie


World wildlife spectacles Everglades National Park, USA Covering some 1.5 million acres, the Everglades National Park is the largest designated subtropical wilderness reserve in America. Submerged at the end of the last ice age, it contains a vast network of wetland habitats and coastal ecosystems that provide an important breeding and foraging ground for more than 400 species of birds, especially waders. It is also a refuge for rare sp ecies such as manatees, American crocodiles and Florida panthers. The best time for nature lovers to visit is during the winter dry season (December to April), when low levels of standing water cause wildlife to congregate at central locations.

Borthwood Copse, Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight is famous for its red squirrels, which thrive here due to the absence of greys. Try the National Trust’s 1.2-mile Borthwood Copse walk through secluded ancient oak woodland. borthwood-copse


Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail, North Yorkshire The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and local landowners have created a special viewing area at Snaizeholme to give visitors the opportunity to see red squirrels in the wild. snaizeholme-red-squirrel-trail

© James Michael Dorsey/


Pacific grey whales, Mexico Every winter, hundreds of Pacific grey whales migrate nearly 6,000 miles from Alaska’s Bering Sea to reach the coastal lagoons of the southern Baja peninsula. These gentle giants are extremely welcoming to whale-watching tourists; they can be seen to ‘show off ’ their calves and can swim right up to small boats. The main whale-watching season in Baja is from early February to the end of April.

© Giedriius/

More seasonal subjects...

Formby, Merseyside Formby is one of 17 red squirrel strongholds in northern England; the conifer woodlands surrounding the dune-backed beach provide an ideal habitat for them, as they feed on the pine cone seeds.


Whinlatter Forest Park, Cumbria Rising to 1,000ft above sea level, Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest. As well as offering superb views across Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater and Keswick, it is also a good place to see red squirrels.


Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland The park is home to around 50% of England’s red squirrel population. They regularly visit the feeders around Kielder Castle and can also be seen at the wildlife hide in the arboretum. Visit early in the morning or early in the evening for your best chance of spotting one.


Pentraeth Forest, Anglesey Anglesey off the north-west coast of Wales has been a grey squirrel-free zone since 2015, leading to a red resurgence. One of the strongholds is Pentraeth Forest, which fringes the eastern edge of the picturesque Red Wharf Bay.


Merlin Park Woods, Galway City Red squirrels are fairly widespread across Ireland, and this large urban woodland, on the eastern edge of Galway City, is a great place to look for them. Access is good thanks to a network of walking paths.


Mount Stewart, County Down

10 The wooded areas support an

array of plants and wildlife, including a healthy squirrel population. Look for them behind the house and to the north of the lake.

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Hoping to photograph roe deer among the wildflowers that carpet the cliff tops at Bempton Cliffs in summer, Nick Hanson makes several visits to the nature reserve before he is rewarded with the opportunity to capture the image he has in mind Two of my favourite species to photograph are northern gannet and roe deer, and RSPB Bempton Cliffs on the East Yorkshire coast has both. During the months of May and June the cliff tops are covered with a carpet of red campion, giving plenty of scope for different image options. I normally head to Bempton in the morning for the chance of photographing both species, returning in the evening mainly for the deer because the evening light doesn’t always work for the gannets. I knew that the deer frequented the fields just outside the reserve, along Buckton Cliffs, but was unsure whether they would make their way into the campion. In the hope of capturing them among the beautiful pink flowers I spent several

summer mornings and evenings there. On my first morning I spotted a buck with three doe at the edge of the campion and managed to get some shots showing them in their environment. During another visit I succeeded in capturing an image of a buck among the flowers, but it was still not quite what I was after. One evening in late May I returned to the cliffs; the weather forecast was for very little cloud, which would hopefully allow for some nice evening light. I arrived quite early, as I wanted to be sitting among the long grasses with my camera gear set up, in anticipation of the arrival of some deer. I had been waiting for over an hour when I noticed that the low, early summer sun was casting some nice light behind the campion, so

I used the opportunity to photograph individual flowers to pass some time until the sun started to set and I decided it was time to call it a day. Walking back through the field, I spotted a pair of ears among the campion. Stopping and getting down low, I edged forward and noticed that the doe had her back to me. Completely unaware of my presence, she was more interested in a pair of walkers on the main path in the distance. As the walkers got closer, the doe decided to make a move. My heart started pumping with excitement, as this was my chance to photograph a roe deer running through the red campion in beautiful evening light. I had initially envisaged capturing a portrait of a buck standing among the flowers, but this image stands out as one of my favourites so far.

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On the wing On learning that a few short-eared owls are overwintering at a local reserve, Steve Young delays his visit in the hope of missing the crowds, but even on a weekday morning the birds prove to be a popular attraction…

Short-eared owls are wonderful birds to photograph, and winter is the best time of year to see them in the UK, when numbers are boosted by migrating individuals from continental Europe. Because they hunt late in the afternoon, sometimes even earlier, they are the easiest of the owl species to photograph. Last winter I found they are also the most popular… I knew that a few ‘shorties’ had been overwintering at one of my local reserves, but I’d resisted going to see them as I’d heard that lots of photographers had been visiting. Not that I have anything against my fellow snappers, but sometimes when a bird is local you can

choose when to go – I quite like visiting on my own or with a couple of friends. So, it wasn’t until late January that I decided to visit on a nice cold winter’s day with some decent light. As the owls had been at the reserve for a couple of months already, and it was a Thursday morning, I hoped it would be quiet. The car park holds around 30 cars and I took the last space. This was not a good sign, but it is a public site so there are often dog-walkers and general birders there anyway. But my fears were confirmed when I walked round the area and noticed photographers stationed at different points. Arriving at my favoured spot, where I knew the birds had been

Above A classic shot of a short-eared owl banking while it hunts for food. Bottom left With photographers spread around the site, it was sometimes difficult to take a shot without a figure in the background! Bottom right Flying straight towards the camera, the owl looks as though it is coming for me…

feeding, I joined a crowd of 20 or so people with lenses and tripods. There only options were to turn round and go home, or join the crowd and wait; I decided to stay. After an hour, and with no sign of any owls, it was time for the ‘owl expert’ in the crowd to start talking loudly to anyone who was interested in listening. ‘I think the food supply has run out and the owls have moved on,’ was the first statement from the wise man. It was a bit much to imagine that every vole and mouse in the area had been eaten, but I bit my tongue and said nothing. Next came: ‘I’ll just check the perching post for pellets,’ and off he went into the field and through the long grass to a post that was regularly used by the owls. A loud voice came from the other side of the field: ‘Oi! What are you doing? Get out of that field!’. The man came back clutching a few owl pellets. ‘Don’t know what’s up with him, I was only getting some pellets. They look old to me – the owls must have moved on.’ It took great self-control, but I managed to stay quiet. Happily, the ‘owl expert’ was proved wrong, because five minutes later a lovely short-eared owl flew in and circled the field a couple of times. The views were great, but the owl didn’t come close enough for really good photos, and the light had deteriorated by this point; I was using ISO 1250 and shooting at around 1/2500th of a second at f/5.6, with my 500mm lens mounted on a tripod. No doubt I’ll try again for the birds next year if they reappear, but maybe I’ll leave it even later in the season in the hope that the crowds will be slightly smaller.

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Continuing the owl theme on from the main article, barn owl is always a good target species in the winter months. At known sites, visits just before dusk can result in great views with the possibility of good photographs if the light levels allow; even in low light the quality of high ISO settings these days means that some sort of image can always be taken. It’s important to remember that barn owl is a protected species during the breeding season and cannot be photographed at or near the nest without the appropriate licence; winter is a safe time to try your luck and, with a bit of patience, good results can be achieved. Using a car as a hide at known feeding areas is a good option, or you could try using a bag hide to conceal yourself as you sit alongside a hedge bordering a regular site. Barn owls like to hunt along ditches fringed by long grass, where they glide along on silent wings, watching and listening for voles or mice to move. Even if you don’t get any photos, they are wonderful to watch on a winter afternoon.


Belfast Lough, County Antrim


1 Using my car as a hide, I waited at a known site for this barn owl to start hunting, and was rewarded when it dropped down in front of me; something that has not happened again since! 2 Taken just before dark on a dull winter’s day, even shooting at ISO 3200 only gave a shutter sp eed of 1/320th of a second at f/4; not ideal, but it was atmospheric to watch.


1 Note the brown on the wings, pinkish bill with dark tip and leg colour on this first winter bird, which was born about six to nine months previously. 2 By second winter plumage (a year later), the brown has gone from the wings, and the legs and bill are blue/grey in colour. Note that the bill still has a dark band on it. 3 By adulthood, the legs are yellow, as is the bill, and the bird looks completely different from its first winter plumage.

For me, birds came before photography so I’ve always known (mostly) what I was photographing and its preferred habitats and habits. But for many these days, the reverse appears to be the norm; photography comes first and anything that lands on a branch or flies past is snapped. There is nothing wrong with that, as a passion to take photographs and get out and about is great. It is better to know your subject , however, and one of the best ways is to visit your local park and identify everything you see. Watch to learn the birds’ habits and how to identify them in all plumages; many sp ecies have a variety of plumages depending on age and/or sex. Gulls are a perfect example of the ageing process, with many taking four years to reach adult plumage and looking very different along the way. Practice your identification skills while you photograph, but if you can’t, make a real effort to do it back home on the computer; it can be fun to label each photo with the sp ecies’ name and age! 2

Despite being situated in one of Ireland’s most industrialised areas – between the busy docks of Belfast Harbour and the city’s airport – Belfast Lough is brimming with wildlife. The wetland was created just 30 years ago, when the area was enclosed from the sea and used as a dumping ground for silt dredged from the lough. It soon became an oasis for nature, and today it is considered Ireland’s richest bird reserve. Some 200 different bird species have been recorded here, and winter is the best time to see many of them. Sea ducks are particularly fond of the lough: visit at high tide on a February day and you can expect to see large numbers of scaups, along with eiders, scoters, goldeneyes, red-breasted mergansers and long-tailed ducks. The RSPB manages a reserve on one side of the lough, with a large lagoon as its main feature, and the star species in February is the black-tailed godwit. These leggy waders come all the way from Iceland to overwinter in the UK, and can be seen in good numbers here; they often come right up to the window of the RSPB visitor centre’s ‘Window on Wildlife’, which offers panoramic views of the lagoon. © Gordon Langsbury/


LOCATION OF THE MONTH © Chris Gomersall/



Getting there Belfast Lough RSPB reserve is located within Belfast Harbour Estate. Two entrances are signposted along the A2. Website

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© Shutterstock/tsyhun




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Cold comfort for a China crisis We may choose to believe that as photographers we live in a world where life is one long, leisurely stroll in the sunlit uplands of peace and goodwill to all men. But there are times when it comes crashing in, and not in a good way. By Nick Smith… I wish I could say something more profound, but the mundane truth is that when I started as a fledgling photographer the biggest difficulty I encountered was the sheer vastness of the fi nancial stimulus required to get things going. I’ve never been a man overwhelmed by the burden of wealth, and so to fi nd my career stifled at the outset by a vulgar insufficiency of cash didn’t come as much of a surprise. Rather, it was the scale of my fiscal deficiency that left me pole-axed. After all, as a writer all I’d ever needed was a pencil and an exercise book: items which are usually more than covered by the remuneration of a schoolboy’s paper round, or easily stolen, I mean scrounged, from the office stationery cabinet. To be confronted by the prospect of the tools of my adopted trade being so wildly out of reach, and to be so woefully out of my fi nancial depth, was to say the least a bit of an eye-opener. I know that established and annoyingly wealthy exponents of the art like to lean on the bar and tell you their highly polished tales of how it’s not about gear, but vision, determination and guts. But the fact is that without the unforeseen bequest of a hitherto unknown maiden aunt with a tumbled down country house in Kent, you’re unlikely to walk out of a swanky London camera boutique with anything other than a sense of humiliation. It took me years of sacrifice to get all the lenses I thought I needed, and now I only use two, I can safely say that I learned my lesson both the hard and expensive way. The thought of losing any of my gear while on the road is too much to bear. And although my career has been relatively free from disasters of this nature, I have had experience of being on the road with another photographer when, at the end of the day, there was more metaphorical blood on the stage than the fi fth act of a Jacobean revenge tragedy. Those of you who know me will know that I am of course referring to an ill-fated trip to northern China with my friend Bunsen, a formidable travel photographer, and yet, as we shall see, someone who does not enjoy a particularly close relationship with Lady Luck. It must have been towards the end of the analogue era because as my friend and I dispatched a few glasses of something yellow, cold and fi zzy on the plane to Beijing, we swapped stories about what we were going to do with our beloved medium format fi lm cameras

when the Digital Dawn fi nally kicked in. We both had experimental digital compacts, but neither of us thought a great deal of them and, to be honest, there was a consensus that while these things might be of some use to small children, the grown ups would be still shooting on fi lm until the end of time. We changed planes and headed north to Harbin, famous for its (brutally cold) annual ice festival and, being close to the Russian border, its caviar and onion-domed orthodox churches. We were, we agreed, going to have a lot of photographic fun, and we would return home to Blighty heroes, with bags full of fi lm that when developed would propel us a rung further up the ladder out of the abysm of photographic obscurity and towards international stardom. To those who have not been to the ice festival at Harbin I say this: you have brought upon yourself a photographic injustice that must be corrected immediately. Take all your cameras and head there as soon as you can. Only when you do, make sure it is only after you’ve had a brace of wing mirrors connected to your shoulders. Bunsen only put down his gadget bag for a moment and had only turned his attention to his tripod for a second. But it was too late and the bag had gone. As a writer, you’re supposed to be able to describe things clearly and evocatively, but as the full force and effect of what had happened to my friend began to sink in, I realised that for all the purloined pencils and exercise books, I was at a loss. All I can say is that an evening spent in a Chinese police station, while the mercury is at minus 30, trying to explain what had happened to a desk sergeant who made no attempt to disguise the fact that he was loving every minute of our frozen despair, is not one I would ever wish to repeat. Eventually, we gave up, sure and certain in the knowledge that not only had Bunsen’s world been stolen from him, but there was also not a single insurance company in the world that would believe a word of what we had to say, much less dispense so much as a kidney bean in compensation. As we sat in the bar of our hotel drinking Russian vodka and trying to warm up our souls, I opened my wallet and gave my friend every scrap of currency that was in there, with the words ‘this is to get you started again.’ As Bunsen looked at the pile of Yuan that was probably worth no more than a fl ash card, he turned away, because no one ever wants to see a grown man cry.

February 2017 Outdoor Photography 83

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Master the art of exposure – Doug Chinnery Interview with Polar photographer Joshua Holko Chernobyl: see inside this extraordinary wildlife sanctuary Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII – is it their best ever camera?

© Robert Birkby

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90 Camera test

PENTAX K-70 – A PERFECTLY PRICED ALL-ROUNDER? Daniel Bridge tries out Pentax’s new camera for outdoor photographers

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Anatom Q3 Braeriach

This latest DSLR is from Nikon’s SnapBridge-compatible range – a series that automatically syncs images to a smart device and allows remote control of the camera. With a 24.2MP DX-format image sensor and a native ISO sensitivity of 100-25600 (expandable up to 6400) the D5600 is great for experimenting with video thanks to the new Time-Lapse movie function – which before now was exclusive to Nikon’s high-end models.

Highly reputable outdoor footwear manufacturer Anatom’s lightest backpacking boot, the Q3 Braeriach, was designed with British terrain in mind. Highlights include a Tri.aria membrane for water resistance, a Vibram outsole for grip and a phylon midsole for shock absorption and traction. The wide and generous fit boot also has good balance between support and flex for long-distance trekking.

Guide price £799.99

Guide price £144.95

Nikon D5600

GEARING UP Alpkit Gloworms Easy to locate in the dark, Alpkit’s Gloworms are an inexpensive, lightweight upgrade to metal zippers. With a squidgy consistency for comfort, these phosphorescent zip pullers don’t just look cool but are useful for locating and unzipping necessary kit too. They’ll be your nocturnal buddies in no time. Guide price £4 (10 gloworms per pack)

Mindshift Gear SidePath Made for those wanting a smaller pack to carry lighter kit, the SidePath puts comfort at the top of its priority list with a contoured back panel (with lumbar support), harness and adjustable sternum strap. Constructed from P600D and 420D nylon, the pack has reinforced stress points for added durability and strength.

Black Diamond Iota Tiny but mighty, the Iota headlamp fits into the palm of your hand and emits 150 lumens, with a three-hour burn time average. With Powertap Technology for quick brightness adjustments and a lithium rechargeable battery, this head torch is an essential piece of kit for any photographers going out on low-light shoots. Guide price £35

Guide price £99 (UK distributor)

88 Outdoor Photography February 2017

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Seagate Backup Plus Portable 5TB external hard drive

This 45-litre, duffle-st yle rucksack is great for longer excursions when you need a second pack for stashing all non camera specific kit. Stylish in its design, the El Burro is made from robust 500D Cordura and has a roll-top entrance for easy access.

With files becoming higher in resolution and the popularity of 4K video growing, Seagate has responded to the need for more storage space by releasing the largest capacity mobile drive on the market, made possible by the inclusion of the cutting-edge Barracuda internal drive. Compatible with PC and Mac, Seagate hasn’t compromised on portability to achieve the storage capacity, with the device being only 20.5mm thick.

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Sprayway Mylas Being ultra light, highly compressible and filled with water-resistant duck down makes this jacket the ideal outer layer for winter excursions. Available for both men and women, the Mylas features a lycra-bound hood and cuffs to keep the cold out, and it comes in four eye-catching colours. Guide price £140

ViewSonic VP2468

Nikon’s new lens offers more compositional flexibility, as it replicates the movements of a large-format view camera thanks to its unique tilt, shift and double-layer rotation capabilities. Creating sharp images from the foreground to background (without needing to close the aperture) with minimal distortion, this lens is a perfect addition to the kit bag for landscape photographers.

Co-developed with X-rite, this 24in full-HD 1920x1080 monitor offers professional-level colour precision. Along with its 14-bit 3D look-up table, which generates a palette of 4.39 trillion colours, the VP2468 has a six-axis colour enhancement function and five gamma settings for precise reproduction and control. The SuperClear IPS panel goes edge-to-edge, giving an almost frameless viewing experience. Also, ergonomic design means the screen can tilt, swivel, have its height adjusted and be positioned vertically.

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Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED tilt-shift

February 2017 Outdoor Photography 89

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Pentax K-70 A wet weekend in Walton-on-the-Naze sees Daniel Bridge wishing his jacket was as weatherproof as the Pentax K-70, but is the camera hot stuff, or a damp squib? Guide price £559 (body only) Contact Seeing as I can’t even appear to get myself ready properly for a day’s shooting at the seaside, it’s a real advantage to have a camera with me that doesn’t need any special preparation to withstand whatever weather the UK can throw at it. For an enthusiast’s model, coming in at around £560, there’s an awful lot of camera here, with a specification not too far removed from the full-frame K-1, reviewed in OP212. In a relatively compact body that’s dust, weather and cold-proof, we have a 24MP APS-sized sensor with no antialiasing filter, a pentaprism viewfinder with 100% view, 6fps continuous shooting, sensor-based Anti-Shake with 4.5 stops of compensation, Wi-Fi, an ISO range from 100 to 102400, Pixel Shift Resolution, an articulated screen, two control wheels and three custom user modes. The camera is well suited to night photography: it has an autofocus system rated to -3EV, night-vision preserving optional red LCD display and, when used with the O-GPS1 unit (sold separately), the Astrotracer function can be used to shoot stars without trails. Although it’s a small body, the grip is deep and gives a firm purchase in hand,

even with gloves on, and the controls are generally well laid out. My only gripe is that the four-way controller on the rear of the camera is right over to the right of the body, and I found a few times that I had inadvertently selected the self-timer or moved the focus point with the ball of my thumb. Adjusting my grip would no doubt avoid that. The mode dial has the usual Program (P), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv) and Manual (M) exposure modes, along with the usual Pentax extras of Sensitivity Priority (basically program mode with easily selectable ISO), and TAv (essentially Manual exposure with auto ISO). Unusual for a DSLR at this price are the three user modes, which allow commonly used setups to be saved to memory and recalled in an instant. The autofocus system is a step down from the K-1’s, with just 11 focus points, albeit with nine of those being crosstype. It’s a basic system that works as well as you might expect it to, and no worse than similar systems from Canon and Nikon, although these have been upgraded on more recent models with

more focus points. The K-70 has a hybrid focus system to speed up live view focusing, and it certainly seemed swift and snappy. Continuous focus is available with a selection of lenses while videoing too. If you’re shooting Raw, you can choose either Pentax’s own PEF format or Adobe’s DNG, both 14-bit. These can be processed in-camera if required. If JPEGs are your preferred format, you have available a wealth of ways to customise the look of the images, with basic presets including Auto Select, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Flat, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome and Cross Processing. These are all subject to adjustment too, beyond the usual contrast, saturation and sharpness. You can adjust the clarity, skin tone, shadow and highlight contrast, and apply digital filters such as Toy Camera and colour abstraction. Just as with the K-1, the sensor-based image stabilisation system has several other uses, including composition

Left The bright background required positive exposure compensation to achieve a correct exposure. The auto white balance is too cool here, fooled by the warm-toned scene. Pentax K-70 with DA* 300mm f/4 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000sec at f/4, handheld

INTERVAL COMPOSITE MODE The Interval Composite drive mode is an interesting one for photographers wanting the ‘Big Stopper’ look – extra long exposures in daylight scenarios – without the expense of a filter system, as it offers a similar look without any extra equipment. By taking up to 2,000 shots at regular intervals and combining them as the shots are taken, stationary objects remain sharp, and any movement gets progressively more blurred.

90 Outdoor Photography February 2017

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SPECIFICATIONS Effective pixels 24 million Sensor APS CMOS (23.5mm x 15.6mm) Viewfinder Pentaprism, approximately 100% view at 0.95x magnification LCD monitor Vari-angle, Air-gapless glass, 3in 921k dots File types Raw (PEF or DNG), JPEG, Raw+JPEG, MPEG4 (Movie), Motion JPEG (AVI) for Interval Movie Record Movie recording 1920x1080, 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p, 1280x720, 60p/50p Storage SD card slot supporting SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards (conforming to UHS-1 standards) AF system Phase Detection SAFOX X, 11-point (nine crosstype), EV-3 to 18, Hybrid AF (image plane phase-matching and contrast detection) in live view/movie recording Shutter speeds 30-1/6000sec, Bulb (timed exposure setting possible from 10 seconds to 20 minutes) Metering system TTL open aperture, 77 segmented metering, centre-weighted and sp ot metering, EV0 to 22 Exposure compensation +/-5 in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments ISO 100-102400 Power Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-LI109 Dimensions 125.5 x 93 x 74mm Weight 928g (without battery and memory card)

LIKES Excellent image quality High ISO performance and dynamic range Weather-sealed body Anti-shake system and associated features Customisation available Reasonable price

DISLIKES Autofocus could be better Battery life is a bit short

adjustment, automatic horizon correction and Pixel Shift Resolution. Similarly, the drive modes are the same as the K-1, with lots of choice for creative photography. One-touch bracketing, interval timers, interval composites and Star Stream videos are some of the options. I’m not a fan of auto white balance, but here it does a decent job, although it felt a little too cool for my liking in the natural environments I was shooting. Exposure was also consistently accurate, with compensation required when you’d expect, but rarely otherwise. The K-70 is primarily a photographic tool, and video is catered for but is not something the camera excels at. Full HD is offered and, thanks to the hybrid AF, it also delivers continuous focus when shooting (subject to the lens that’s being used). A stereo microphone is built in, and there’s also an external mic socket, with auto and manual level controls. In the field, the camera was a joy to use. Image quality is superb, and detail is better than anything else available at 24MP when the Pixel Shift Resolution is used, although it’s really best suited to stationary subjects. The default JPEG settings are on the soft side, but with plenty of customisation available, sharper results can easily be achieved. It’s the Raw

Above Exposure and white balance are both generally accurate. Pentax K-70 with DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 18mm, ISO 400, 1/350sec at f/11, handheld Below The Anti-Shake system performed well, giving reliably sharp shots at shutter speeds three to four stops slower than would be required without it. Pentax K-70 with DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 135mm, ISO 800, 1/30sec at f/8, handheld

fi les that really excel, offering a large dynamic range and great noise control. The camera is available with an 18135mm lens (kit price £799), which is also weather-proof, but it’s not Pentax’s best offering, being a little soft in the corners. A better option, in my opinion, would be the 16-85mm, although this would add an extra £150 or so to the kit price.

VERDICT If you’re after a DSLR that you can take anywhere and that is capable of excellent image quality, with lots of control and customisation, there’s really nothing to compete with the K-70 at this price. Add a good range of weather-sealed lenses and you have a relatively low-cost, high-quality system that would suit many outdoor photographers. With features such as Pixel Shift Resolution, 100% pentaprism viewfinder, three user modes, twin control wheels, and a wide choice of drive modes, Pentax is clearly targeting this camera at photographers who don’t want to have to spend a fortune to get the most useful features.

RATINGS Handling Performance Specification Value

92% 92% 95% 95%



February 2017 Outdoor Photography 91

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If you only do one thing this month…

Dramatic landscape light In our October 2016 issue we asked you to send us your most awe inspiring images taken in dramatic light conditions, and we were thrilled to receive hundreds of amazing entries. After a challenging judging process, here’s the winner of the Thule Chasm 70l duffel bag, and our 15 runners-up

Winner Claire Carter Above An evening looking towards the Tatra Mountains in Poland gave wonderful views, but it was only as the sun set and a storm arrived that the scene came together. I took photographs until the rain reached me and drove me reluctantly back to my car. Canon EOS 5D MkII with 24-105mm lens at 65mm, ISO 250, 1/80sec at f/4, Lee ND grad, tripod

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Alex Wrigley Left A dramatic morning up Lingmoor Fell in the Lake District was coming to an end when I saw this stunning spotlighting sweeping across the Langdale Pikes. I waited until it was illuminating Dungeon Ghyll and took the shot. It is purposefully underexposed. Nikon D7100 with Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 122mm, ISO 100, 1/160sec at f/4, handheld

Mark Devereux Below The aurora borealis makes an appearance behind the mountains surrounding lake Kleifarvatn in Iceland. This was our ďŹ rst night chasing the lights and we were fortunate to get two clear (and cold!) hours of shooting. Nikon D750 with Nikkor 20mm ED lens, ISO 3200, 9sec at f/1.8, Vanguard 204 Travel tripod

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Katrina Brayshaw Right (top) I was walking along the path from Seatoller to Grange, above the Borrowdale valley in the Lake District, to seek out a photo of Castle Crag. The sky ahead of me was clear. Behind me, however, storm clouds were glowering over the fells – a completely different world to the tranquil scene ahead! Fuji X-T1 camera with Fuji XF 55-200mm lens at 156mm, ISO 200, 1/350sec at f/13, Manfrotto tripod

Sean Crawford Right (middle) This image shows a quintessential Brecon Beacons view, with the mountains at their very best under light snow. Work commitments mean I rarely have enough time for a trek to the tops, but on this spring day, having worked at home in Brecon, I rewarded myself with a climb after I’d fi nished. I had great light and views – and even bumped into another OP contributor while I was there! Canon EOS 6D with Canon 24-105mm L lens at 73mm, ISO 200, 1/250sec at f/9, handheld

Christopher Andrews Right (below) Just after an intense summer storm passed down the Firth of Forth, battering the waters fl at, it was briefly illuminated a salmon-pink colour by the late evening sunshine. This image was taken from Lammerlaws in Burntisland, looking out to the Black Rock and Inchkeith. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon EF 24-105mm lens at 24mm, ISO 100, 1.6sec at f/11, 0.9 hard grad, cable release, tripod

Matthew Owen-Hughes Opposite (top) Glencoe, Scotland. I knew I wanted a shot of the Three Sisters of Glencoe, and while driving through the glen in the early evening I spotted the sun breaking through the clouds on the horizon. I pulled over, scrambled up a hill and set up just as this ray of light broke through. Canon EOS 400D with Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm lens, ISO 100, bracketed exposures (1/125sec and 1/40sec at f/5.6), Manfrotto 718B tripod, six images stitched

Dylan Nardini Opposite (below) The light was changing ever so quickly as I walked near Scafell Pike in the Lake District on a workshop with Greg Whitton. There had been a few stops on the way as conditions brightened after the drizzly rain began to clear. As the light danced up Great Gable, the breaking cloud seemed to mirror the shape of the mountain while the edges burst into life. Sony RX100 MkII, ISO 200, 1/50sec at f/9, polariser, handheld

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Matt Garbutt

Ken Wright

Above I was with a photography-oriented NGO in Sarajevo. A group of us got up very early to see sunrise on the Trebević massif, at an eastward vantage point we’d scoped across the peaks and valleys below. The sunrise didn’t do much to begin with, then the clouds started moving and breaking to give us a breathtaking light show. We were there for three hours. Nikon D750 with Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 at 29mm, ISO 100, 1/640sec at f/6.3, handheld

Left, below At Yew Tree Tarn in the Lake District, which is surrounded by fells, the sun often appears through the clouds and isolates different elements around the lake. Shooting from some distance with a long lens helped to separate the trees from the background. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon EF 100-400mm L IS lens at 210mm, 1/15sec at f/11, 0.45 ND grad, polariser, tripod

Stuart Scott Opposite, top As the sun rose at our high camp near Laghi dell’ Albergian in the Piemonte region of the Italian Alps, I opened the tent entrance to see the morning light catching a line of mist rising up the cliff face above the lakes. Processing the Raw fi le as a black & white image provided a real sense of drama to the scene. Canon Powershot G12 with 6.1-30.5mm lens at 8.9mm, ISO 100, 1/400sec at f/5.6

Kasia Nowak Opposite, below A misty morning in Bushy Park, south-west London. I was captivated by the way the sun shone through the tree branches. Nikon D800 with 70-300mm VR lens at 78mm, ISO 100, 1/800sec at f/5.6, 81C filter

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Tony Sale Left Artist Maggi Hambling’s sculpture, The Scallop, photographed on the beach at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Moments after the rainbow appeared, the setting sun hit the surface of the shell. I was actually shooting images on my Rolleiflex TLR and took this as a reference photo during the process. iPhone 5a camera with default settings

Michael Sowerby Below Llynnau Cregennen is situated on the northern flank of Cader Idris in Snowdonia and has a remote, isolated feel. I’d made a few attempts at getting a good image here, wanting to reflect the brooding atmosphere, but each time the mountain weather worked against me. This time I got the colours I was after, with the sky illuminating in a fiery glow just before sunrise. There was a bit of a breeze across the lake so I used a 3-stop ND filter to help smooth out the water. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with lens at 16mm, ISO 100, 13sec at f/16, 3-stop ND, 2-stop ND grad, polariser, tripod

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Steve McDonald Left Taken on the shores of Miami, USA, this is a very simple image where the main focal point is the source of the light. Canon EOS 5D with 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 400, 0.3sec at f/19, tripod

Robin Couchman Left (bottom) This is one of my favourite places, and I had been waiting for some time to get a misty morning with the chance of sunlight later. I was lucky because everything came together, with the family walking into the pool of light. As often happens with such scenes, the light lasted seconds. Canon EOS 5D MkIII with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens at 45mm, ISO 640, 1/400sec at f/10, handheld

YOUR NEXT CHALLENGE NEW ONLINE ENTRY SYSTEM! Beauty of winter Winter offers some fantastic opportunities for photography, so it’s worth wrapping up warm and heading outdoors with a camera. If there’s snow and ice, the possibilities are particularly thrilling; even scenes that usually appear mundane or cluttered can be transformed into something very sp ecial – esp ecially when illuminated by the beautiful light of a low winter sun. So, whether you choose to shoot a big vista, focus on smaller landscape details or capture the drama of a winter storm, we want to see your best images that encapsulate the spirit of the season. Check out Theo Bosboom’s inspiring guide to taking stunning winter images (page 30) and send us your photos for the chance to be featured in the June issue of OP. To enter, head to submissions. Closing date for entries is 1 March. See page 62 for full details.

Enter and you could ld win a Sprayway Mylas ylas jacket, worth £140!! The winner of our ‘beauty ty of winter’ competition will not only see their image published in the June issue of OP, but will also receive a superb Mylas jacket from Sprayway. Ultra light, highly compressible and filled with water resistant duck down, the Mylas is the ideal outer layer for excursions this season, or as a mid-layer on very cold days. Featuring a lycra bound hood and cuffs, plus a drawcord adjustable hem to keep the cold out, the jacket comes in four eyecatching colours. It’s available in men’s and women’s sizes, and a stuffsac is included.

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© yakthai/

Where in the world? If you can tell us the name of the river that has its source at the location in the image, you could win a set of six superb Lifeventure Ultralight Dry Bags, worth £99!

Where is it? The image shows the source of one of the world’s major rivers. But is it:

a) The Ganges, India b) Amazon River, Peru c) Indus River, Tibet The answer and the winner’s name will be revealed in OP217 (on sale 6 April 2017). You can enter the competition online at, using ‘River214’ as the code, or send your answer to, stating ‘River214’ as the subject. Alternatively, drop it in the post to: Where in the world – ‘River214’, OP, 86 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1XN. Deadline for entries is midnight on 1 March 2017.

THIS MONTH’S PRIZE A bundle of six Lifeventure Ultralight Dry Bags


Lifeventure’s brand new and improved range of Ultralight Dry Bags come in a variety of vibrant colours. Made from advanced 30-denier silicon rip-stop cordura fabric for durability, the bags are also 100% waterproof thanks to the PU-coated fabric and fully taped seams throughout – they can even be ded with a new elliptical shape submerged. Upgraded eight Kross buckle, the dry bags and a super-lightweight feature a roll-down closure for easy access. The winner will receive six of these superb bags in 2L, 5L, 10L, 25L, 55L and 75L capacities..

Find out more at

In the November issue, we asked you to tell us the name of the amazing rock formation shown in the image. The correct answer is: a) Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

© SylvainB/


Keith Brailsford from Markfield is the winner of the Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 camera backpack. Congratulations! We’ll be in touch soon.

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Flipside Trek Series Geared for off-road

The versatile Flipside Trek series protects your camera and adventure gear for a day in the outdoors. Easy access to your gear with Flipside’s patented design allows you to get your gear without putting the bag down. Effortless carrying with suspension system and straps, plus multiple attachment points allow you to scale up or down the gear you carry outside of your bag.

Find out more at ©2016 DayMen Canada Acquisition ULC

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