The perfect photographic composition – part 2

In the first part of this article about creating the perfect photographic composition I described how you should keep your compositions simple in order to maximise impact. In this article I’ll describe further techniques that help support and enhance that fundamental aim. These techniques will help to achieve such goals as:

  • direct the viewer’s attention towards the main subject;
  • help to establish mood/atmosphere;
  • give the illusion of three-dimensional depth;
  • add a feeling of drama, dynamism and energy to your images;
  • give a feeling of movement.
Icelandic iceberg in stormy light
The use of diagonal lines in the clouds and the sea to direct the viewer’s attention to the iceberg.

Directing the viewer’s attention to the main subject

In many good photographs the main subject dominates the frame and grabs the viewer’s attention without any help from the rest of the image – the ‘negative space’ as it is sometimes called.

In others, however, and particularly in slightly more complex compositions, that negative space can provide some pointers, literally leading the eye to that subject. Those pointers can take any number of forms, such as diagonal lines in cloud or water patterns (as in the image above), or perhaps the line of a rural wall or hedge, a meandering stream, or even the line of a sweeping and zig-zagging road. All these can reinforce the importance of the main subject, helping it to stand out even further than it already does from the background.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. You really don’t want too many such pointers, each one increasing the risk of criss-crossing conflicts that just add to the image’s complexity and confusion. So keep them under control!

Trees silhouetted at sunset, in Turkey
A limited colour palette and simple silhouettes to generate mood.

Establishing mood

Establishing mood is one of the most important steps towards creating a great photo that anyone viewing it can empathise with. The first requirement is usually a simple composition (as outlined in the first article), but this then needs to be accompanied by an appropriate type of light and colour palette.

Strong, angular, low sunlight is of course good for generating some kind of a stormy atmosphere, particularly if accompanied by scudding clouds, but rather useless if a calming, peaceful mood is required. For that you need a scene that at least appears in the photo to be motionless, usually bathed in a soft light that generates a very simple and limited colour range. A simple silhouette in a calm sunset or dusk is a typical example, as in the photo above.

Some of the most effective moody images are created with a very limited, simple colour palette, making them almost monochromatic, not necessarily in the black-and-white sense, but rather in consisting of just one or two colours. An image that consists of multiple, wide-ranging colours is almost inevitably a lot more complex in appearance, and may be enough to defeat any kind of simple composition, ruining any possible mood that you might otherwise want to establish.

Tracks in snow in a country lane on Exmoor
Using a strong diagonal to give the illusion of three-dimensional depth.

The illusion of three dimensions

One of the biggest drawbacks of photography is that the resulting images are simply two-dimensional representations. If only we could create genuinely three dimensional images!

We can of course partially overcome this limitation by creating the illusion of three-dimensional depth in our photographs. This can usually be achieved using diagonal lines that literally lead the viewer’s eye from the ‘front’ of the image into the scene, giving a sense of depth and structure.

In the image above the three-dimensional illusion has been created simply by using tyre tracks in snow. By crouching down low and using a wide-angle lens I’ve been able to create some very strong diagonal lines that head straight into the depths of the scene, giving a strong sense of three dimensions.

Georgian houses in the Royal Crescent, Bath.
Use of a strong angle to create a sense of drama or dynamism.

Drama, dynamism and energy

A simple straight-on record shot of a stationary scene will generally result in a very dull, static image with limited appeal. Such a scene needs some livening up; the introduction of a bit of dynamism, or energy.

There are a number of ways to do this, but among the most effective are the use of a low-angle view (for a high-up subject at least), coupled with a wide-angle lens, and perhaps a dash of tilting camera. Suddenly a potentially dull image can become quite lively.

The reason for this? All these little techniques help to generate, or exaggerate, diagonal lines in the scene, lines that naturally tend to generate a sense of energy. This is provided they are coordinated diagonals, of course: a mass of criss-crossing lines just results in chaos and a very jumbled photo!

A waterfall near Hartland Quay
Providing a feeling of movement by blurring moving water.

The feeling of movement

Coupled with the addition of a sense of dynamism and energy is the feeling of movement. Photography of even dynamic scenes filled with movement and excitement can result in dull, static images if shot in the wrong way. It is important to be able to really capture and put across the sense of movement in those shots for them to live up to their dynamic potential.

One of the most common solutions is to introduce some deliberate motion blur, in which either the moving subject or the background is partially or even totally blurred. This is achieved not through differential focussing of course, but by the use of a slow shutter speed, something that does not completely freeze the movement.

This is most commonly seen in landscape photography with the blurring of moving water, such as with photography of waterfalls (as above), rivers or shoreline waves. However, it is also frequently used in sport and wildlife photography; indeed just about any kind of photography that involves action.

Beach picnic at sunset
Use of diagonal lines, exaggerated by a wide-angle lens, to lead the eye to the main subject, to give the illusion of three dimensions and to add dynamism to an otherwise static scene.

Wide-angle versus telephoto lenses

In this article I’ve mentioned the use of diagonal lines quite a number of times: in generating an illusion of three-dimensional depth, creating lines that lead the viewer’s eye to the main subject; and to introduce a sense of energy and dynamism in an otherwise static scene.

So clearly, diagonals are pretty useful in greating great photos, and one of the best ways to create diagonals – or at least exaggerate those already present in a scene – is to use a wide-angle lens. And sometimes the wider the better, if you really want to create a lot of drama.

Of course the downside of a wide-angle lens is that it opens up the possibility of allowing move distracting clutter into the image frame, as well as making the subject much smaller. The solution is to step closer to the main subject, something that a lot of photographers fail to do. And sometimes you need to step a lot closer than you might imagine. There are many times, of course, when you simply cannot get as close as would be desirable, in which case you may need to consider shooting in a rather different way, or even change the subject altogether.

For certain kinds of images where you want to introduce drama, telephoto lenses work quite well. Their ability to fore-shorten distances, crowding elements closer together than they actually are can have a powerful effect, enhancing a sense of strength and power, say in vertical walls or cliffs.

The telephoto lens can also be very effective in photography of water, capturing droplets of water in mid-air, and enhancing the apparent size and power of waves. However, for this to work the lens in question has to be quite powerful to allow you to home in on details, and it needs to be used with a very fast shutter speed.

Waves and spray on rocks
Use of a telephoto lens to capture a sense of drama, power, energy and movement.

A final word

I hope this article, along with the previously published first part, helps to give some pointers towards how to create impactful images. Needless to say, in this short space it is impossible to cover everything; the ideas given here are generalisations, but they should give you some thoughts on the way forward to improve your photography.

Get out there shooting and enjoy your photography!

Courses, tours and books

If you’d like to come along on any of my photography courses (which teach the principle points outlined in these articles) find out more by clicking on the link below:

Courses/workshops

To get more deeply into the photography with me, and to visit some fantastic locations in the UK and overseas, find out about my tours by clicking below:

Photography tours

To find out more about my books click on the link below:

Nigel’s books

The perfect photographic composition

For any photographer, finding the perfect photographic composition can be just about the hardest part of any form of photography. Admittedly, a few people have a natural gift for creating great compositions, and hence images, but for most it is a question of practise and hard work.

It is a crucial skill to acquire, of course, because being able to find perfect photographic compositions lies at the very heart of great photography, far more so than any technical knowledge surrounding whatever camera you may be using. For sure, most people who regularly use a camera will stumble upon a great composition by accident from time to time, but what is needed is an ability to keep extracting those great compositions time and again, deliberately and to order. As I’ve already said, it is a skill that lies at the very heart of great photography.

So why is it so darned difficult? This two-part article aims to provide some answers and pointers towards the skill that is so important in finding the perfect photographic composition.

An image with a single subject as its photographic composition

So what’s the problem?

The essential, basic problem is that the photographic image simply doesn’t represent the real world in the way that we see and experience it. When we visit a place we have the real world all around us in 360 degrees and three dimensions, and what we see with our eyes is only a part of the ‘picture’ – our minds are also fed an enormous amount of non-visual stimuli, such as noises, sounds, smells and temperature, that combine with sight to complete our experience of any given scene.

Point a camera at that scene, press the shutter and Hey Presto! We’ve captured a representation that is two-dimensional, covers only a small part of what we could see (and even then restricted within a tight frame), and has thrown away all those non-visual stimuli that were so important in our interpretation of the place. Small wonder, then, that such a photograph frequently fails to convey anything close to what we thought we saw. In fact, it is amazing that anyone ever comes even close to success here!

A single strong subject dominating the frame, with no distractions.

Working towards the perfect photographic composition

Given that when we press the camera’s shutter button the resulting image contains visual information that is just a fraction of what we experienced, we need to make the best use of what remains in the picture to compensate for everything that has been thrown away. In other words, we need to use a host of photographic techniques that take the surviving visual information and change it from being simply a mundane representation into a fantastic composition with impact, style and some kind of message that elicits a reaction in anyone who looks at your photos.

In the remainder of this first article on photographic composition, I’m going to talk about what I consider to be the most important of these photographic techniques: keeping the compositions simple.

A photographic composition containing one single strong subject and a simple backdrop.

Keep it simple!

One of the biggest mistakes people make when using a camera is to try to fit too much in the frame. Everything looks great to the eye, so they want to try to record it all at once, cramming everything into a single frame. The result, more often than not, is an image with no visual impact, filled with clutter and everything quite small. The eye skips around the image, unsettled, dissatisfied and unable to find anything to home in on.

The solution is always to keep the compositions simple: just have one single subject dominating the frame (though not necessarily filling it). This gives the viewer’s eye something to really latch onto, so instead of skipping aimlessly around the frame it comes to rest on that subject, generally ignoring anything else in the frame. The result then is an image that communicates a message to and has an impact on the viewer. An image that stimulates an emotional reaction in a viewer is a successful image.

Everything else in the frame (the ‘negative space’) should either disappear from conscious view, through being either out of focus or a very simple backdrop, or should in some way support the main subject, helping to guide the viewer’s eye towards it. More on this supporting role in the second article.

What you absolutely don’t want in the negative space is anything that distracts the eye – random clutter or any elements that draw the viewer away from the main subject. As soon as this happens, the image’s impact is weakened.

To get some ideas of what I mean in my photography feel free to take a tour of the image galleries on my website. Click on the link below:

See photo galleries:

A strong subject in this photographic composition dominates the image frame.

Seeking out those simple compositions

Of course it’s one thing to say that you should aim to produce such simple compositions, but quite another to spot them within the chaos of our world, and yet another to successfully extract them from that chaos and distil them into great photographs.

The search for those simple compositions within our environment has several major implications, which are:

  • Generally speaking, really wide views of a scene risk both introducing too much clutter into the image frame and making the intended subject too small, and if not handled very carefully will result in weak, chaotic images;
  • As a result, most of the time the search for the perfect photographic compositions involves picking out little cameos, vignettes from within the wider scene, those elements that we recognize can be arranged through careful choice of lens and perspective into a great, simple compositon;
  • The previous point leads us to recognize that even when we’re in a scene that all looks beautiful to the eye, most of it just will not work photographically. We need to find those few cameos that happen to do so. Just because something looks fantastic doesn’t mean that it will translate directly into a great photo;
  • Famous views and sites may or may not translate into great photos. Just because a place is famous doesn’t automatically mean that it is highly photogenic. However, it is also true that a place may become famous simply because it is widely photographed, generating some great images because it does happen to be photogenic;
  • Many of the greatest photographs can be generated from very mundane scenes, places that most people – including a lot with cameras – would normally just walk past without a second glance;
  • We all see the world rather differently. As a result, two photographers shooting the same place at the same time will spot and extract great compositions that are surprisingly different. In the courses I run I am constantly surprised by the great compositions that my students come up with, compositions that I myself had not spotted;
  • The very first point in this list might imply that we don’t, or shouldn’t use wide-angle lenses much for good quality photography. Nothing could be further from the truth – I use wide-angle lenses most of the time – but they have to be used with care and in a certain way. This will be covered in more detail in the second article.
A tropical coral forms a superb single subject in this photographic composition.

Final thoughts

As this article has described, one of the first and biggest steps towards creating great photos is to keep the compositions simple, with a single strong subject, and nothing in the frame to distract the viewer’s eye away from it. It is something easier said than done, of course, but hopefully the few points given in the list will help start you along the road.

The next article

In the next article, to be published in two weeks’ time, I’ll go into rather more detail, explaining – among other things – situations where you might have more than one subject in a frame, how the negative space can be used to support the main subject, the importance of diagonals, and the use of wide-angle lenses.

Please enjoy.

To see more go to www.nigelhicks.com.

Or to see Nigel’s books click here….>

Using ND grad filters: what you need to know

Neutral density graduated filters (usually shortened to ND grads) are one of the most important little add-ons for landscape photography. Anyone shooting in this genre will need to have a couple in their kit bag. This article describes what they are, what they do and how you can use them.

So what are ND grad filters?

ND grad filters are a rectangular sheet of optical quality plastic, with one half darkened and the other half completely clear. There are essentially two types: hard and soft, terms that describe the type of transition from clear to dark in the filter’s central area. Not surprisingly, hard filters have a sharp transition between the two zones, whereas soft filters have a gradual transition. Recently, leading filter manufacturer, Lee Filters, have introduced medium and extra hard filter types.

In addition, the filters come in a range of darkening grades, usually termed 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2. These equate, for the 0.3 filter, to a one-stop reduction (ie a halving) of the amount of light passing through the dark part of the filter. For the 0.6 it is a two-stop (four-fold) reduction; for the 0.9 it is a three-stop (eight-fold) reduction; and for the 1.2 it is a four-stop (16-fold) reduction.

Soft (left) and hard (right) Lee ND grad filters.

What are ND grad filters used for?

Everyone who has taken a landscape photograph has had the experience where in the final photos either the land is well exposed but the sky is burned-out, with all cloud details lost, or the sky looks great but the land is lost in a dark, almost featureless zone. This can happen even though the view looks just fine to the eye.

The explanation is that, although the eye can handle a huge contrast range between, say, a bright sky and a darker landscape just fine, the digital sensor is just not up to that. As a result, it can correctly expose either the land or the sky, but not both.

What ND grad filters do is, by putting the dark part of the filter over the bright part of the view, they greatly reduce that contrast range. This brings it down to something the digital sensor can cope with, enabling it to capture all the detail in both the bright sky and the darker landscape. The result will be a photo more closely resembling what you saw with your eyes. Essentially, ND grad filters are an important technical fix for a major failing in the digital sensor.

They can also be used to exaggerate the real situation, for example increasing the apparent storminess of a cloudy sky, helping to increase the sense of drama and/or mood in the photos.

How do you use them?

You fit these rectangular filters to the front of your lens, using a special holder, which itself needs to be fixed to the lens using a threaded adaptor ring. When first kitting up, these will need to be bought in addition to the filter(s). Make sure to buy adaptor ring(s) of the right thread size(s) for your lenses.

A basic ND grad filter kit, consisting of two Lee filters (hard and soft 0.6 ND grads), a filter holder and adaptor ring.

When mounting the ring and holder onto the lens, you should first remove any circular filters you may already have on your lens (eg a UV filter). If such filters are left in place, there is the danger of vignetting – ie having dark corners – in your photos, especially if shooting with a wide-angle lens.

After sliding the ND grad filter into the holder, look through the camera’s eyepiece or at the live screen view, and slide the filter up and down until its light/dark transition zone matches up with the landscape’s horizon. Of course, this is much easier if the camera is rock steady on a tripod with the image view already composed, but you can also do it with the camera hand-held if done carefully.

A camera mounted with a Lee 0.6 soft ND grad filter.

Once everything is lined up, you can shoot normally. The in-camera exposure meter works perfectly well with the ND grad filter in front of the lens.

The choice of ND grad filter to use becomes easier with experience. Generally, a hard grad is the one to use when you have a distinct horizon (such as the sea against sky), whereas you would use a soft ND grad when it is not clear where the horizon is, such as in woodland or in misty/foggy weather. In terms of what grade to use, of course this depends on how big the view’s contrast range is. However, generally, the 0.6 grade is the most useful.

The types of cameras ND grads can be used with

ND grads have, in general, been developed with DSLRs in mind. For use with these, although filters can come in a number of different sizes, it is best to use filters that are 100mm wide and 150mm long. This size covers use with just about any lens available on the market, including those with very wide-angle views. Smaller filters (often called A and P sizes) can be useable with smaller lenses, but can be problematic with a very wide-angle lens, oftern causing vignetting (darkened corners) in the photos. Larger filters are also available for those using medium format cameras, such as Mamiya, Hasselblad or Phase One cameras.

Recently, Lee Filters has also started to produce smaller filters specifically tailored for use with the more compact mirrorless cameras, though these cameras can also take the standard 100mm filters just fine, provided the right thread size adaptor ring is used.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to use ND grads with compact cameras. For one thing there is no lens-front thread that can take an adaptor ring and holder, and secondly the lens can quite radically change length when zooming and/or focussing, making it almost impossible even to hold the filter in front of the lens.

Equipping yourself with ND grad filters

Several manufacturers produce ND grad filters, principally Lee Filters, Cokin and Hi-tech. The first of these produce what are generally considered to be the top-of-the-line, industry standard filters, whereas those by Cokin and Hi-tech are rather more budget products. That said, all ND grad filters can be quite expensive, so if your budget is limited there is no need to splash out on a full set right away. Just invest in the holder, adaptor rings and one, or maybe two filters initially – the 0.6 hard and 0.6 soft are probably the most useful filters in the range.

Caring for your ND grad filters

These filters are quite fragile and can be easily scratched. Handle them carefully, by the edges, and always keep them in the pouches provided. They also readily attract dirt, particularly if you’re shooting by the sea. Finger prints and salt spray can be remarkably difficult to remove. A good quality fibre-free lens cloth can help remove the former, but generally just smears the latter. To remove salt spray rinse the filter in warm soapy water and then dry with a very soft towel. Don’t use hot water as this can warp the filter. If this happens then put the filter under some heavy books for a couple of days. Don’t try to bend the filter back into shape by hand.

Learning more about ND grads with Nigel

To find out more about ND grads with me, you could sign up for any of my 2019 one-day photography workshops.

To find out about the workshops, click here…>

Hopefully, these notes will help get you up and working with ND grad filters. Don’t be shy to get in touch if you have any queries.

A future article will cover the related subject of neutral density filters (ie all-over ND, not graduated).

New photography courses listed

Well into October already, and my programme of autumn one-day photography courses is steaming along. In fact, there are just two left to go: 20th and 27th October, covering Exmoor and Dartmoor in Autumn, respectively. We still have spaces on both, so if you’d like to come along get in touch.

Sunset over coastal cliffs seen from the Valley of Rocks, Lynton, Exmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Photography courses for 2019

When it comes to next year, I’ve managed to pull together my programme of 2019 one-day photography courses, and it’s all now up on the website, along with details of this year’s two remaining courses.

Building on what I learned in the survey I ran during the summer, I’ve introduced a couple of new courses, one of which will be a low-light photography workshop. This will in fact be the first workshop of the spring, kicking off on 30th March with some late afternoon, dusk and night photography. Another new course will be on South Devon coastal landscapes, to be held on 4th May.

For the second time, I’ll be running the architectural course in Bath, and there will also be the usual Dartmoor, Exmoor and Jurassic Coast workshops. The year will round off in November with a wildlife photography workshop, somewhere in Devon, though I’ve yet to decide exactly where – details will follow in due course.

A rainbow above Scorhill Rocks, standing stones on Scorhill Down, nr Chagford, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Finding out more

Details of most of next year’s courses are on the website.

To find out more about all the courses, both those remaining this year and all those so far listed for next year, click on the link below:

Find out about one-day courses

I hope you like the attached photos, to whet your appetite! Needless to say, please get in touch if you want to join any of the courses.

Meanwhile, a programme of tours for 2019 and 2020 is slowly coming together. I’ll be publishing this soon.

A dusk view of Sutton Harbour, in the Barbican, Plymouth, Devon, Great Britain.

2018 photography courses programme published!

All our photography courses for 2017 have now finished, so time to move on to 2018. The programme has just been finalised and is now on the website.

In summary, we have 10 one-day workshops next year, five in the spring and five in autumn. There are our usual favourites, namely Dartmoor and Exmoor in both spring and autumn (amounting to four workshops), plus architecture and travel photography in Exeter (Devon), and two coastal landscapes photography courses on Devon’s north coast.

Bluebells in flower at the base of a young beech tree in woodland, Happy Valley, nr Bishopsteignton, Teignmouth, Devon, Great Britain.

Introduced for the first time is a travel and architectural photography workshop among the beautiful old buildings in the city of Bath. A perfect place for this kind of photography.

So, all in all a great set of photography courses. And for anyone looking for a gift for a photography lover, as always there are our ever-popular photography course gift vouchers.

A dusk view of the harbour at Ilfracombe, Devon, Great Britain.

Finally, as an adjunct to this, a reminder that for 2018 we have three photography tours, going to the Isles of Scilly (in April), Ladakh (the Tibetan part of northern India, in June) and Iceland (in September).

To find out more about all this follow these links:

Find out more about the one-day photography workshops

Found out more about our gift vouchers

Find out more about our photography tours

I hope you’ll love what we have lined up for next year, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2018!

Hraunfossar Falls, near Reykholt, west Iceland.

The last of the autumn photography workshps

The last two of this year’s autumn photography workshops were held at the end of October, on 22nd Oct the Exmoor in Autumn course, and on 28th Oct the Dartmoor in Autumn course.

Exmoor in Autumn photography course

Scheduled originally for 21st Oct, the weather forecast for that day had it set to be such a wild and windy day that I thought is wise to postpone the workshop by a day. It was probably the best thing to do, but in fact things were hardly any better on the Sunday – with howling winds and frequent showers making the photography quite a challenge. We did get to see quite a few rainbows, however, which was good.

Porlock Weir, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, Great Britain.

The morning started off with some beach and harbour shots at Porlock Weir, on the Somerset coast. The hill behind the village gave some protection from the worst of the wind, but nevertheless we were battered by frequent showers alternating with some sunny spells. Photography consisted mostly of trying to capture in various ways the waves crashing over the harbour mouth groynes.

Then we moved up onto the hills at County Gate, a place with wonderful views of deep valleys, moors and woodland. Here, we found out just how windy it really was, and with the showers getting ever more frequent, we soon gave up on this site.

Landscape at County Gate, Exmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Much of the afternoon was spent at Watersmeet, a deep and sheltered valley, filled with woodlands and a white water river. Quite apart from photographing the waterfall here, and the river flowing around rocks, we were also treated to canoeists shooting downriver and, near the end of the day, a heron posing nicely by the river bank for us.

So, despite the conditions, in fact it was quite an interesting and varied day.

East Lyn River, Watersmeet, near Lynmouth, Exmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Dartmoor in Autumn photography course

Held the following weekend, this was a much calmer day, the morning spent in the sheltered woodland valley of the Teign River, at Fingle Bridge in the northeast of Dartmoor. Lots of photography of trees in autumn colours hanging over the river, etc, though the very gentle breeze was just enough to ruffle the leaves, making it difficult when shooting with slow shutter speeds.

The River Teign in woodlands near Fingle Bridge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

The second part of the day was spent on the open moor, on the hills above the village of Chagford. Here, the elements turned against us again, with heavy, drizzly cloud moving in and a nasty little wind getting up. We managed some handy photography of the Scorhill stone circle, as well as shots of a lone hawthorn tree on some marshy moorland, all aimed at demonstrating how to get worthwhile shots on an otherwise desolate moor.  We didn’t manage to get too far with this, however, as with the weather deteriorating and both temperature and light levels dropping we all eventually decided to call it a day.

Marshland on Gidleigh Common, near Chagford, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

The joys of photography in England in late autumn!

Sets of photos taken by me during the day – along with those from several of the recent courses – can be seen on the website. Just click on the link below.

See Exmoor and Dartmoor in autumn photos

The River Teign in woodlands near Fingle Bridge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

 

 

Autumn photo workshops so far!

So, two thirds of the way through my autumn programme of photography workshops. Just two more to go – Exmoor in Autumn, and Dartmoor in Autumn. The first is supposed to be happening tomorrow (21st Oct), but with Storm Brian soon to sweep through the course has been postponed to Sunday. The Dartmoor workshop will follow next weekend, on 28th October. After that, apart from the occasional personalised one-to-ones it’ll be the winter ‘recess’, until the courses kick off again next spring.

A Red Fox at the Westcountry Wildlife Photography Center, near Okehampton, Devon, Great Britain.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos from two of the courses I’ve run in the past few weeks – Jurassic Coast landscapes on 7th Oct, and Wildlife Photography (which I ran for the Royal Photographic Society), on 14th Oct. I hope you like the photos.

The beach at Charmouth, near Lyme Regis, Dorset, Great Britain.

As usual, you can see more photos from these – and other – courses on the the website at http://www.nigelhicks.com/CourseImages.html

A Long-eared Owl at the Westcountry Wildlife Photography Center, near Okehampton, Devon, Great Britain.

The river at Charmouth, near Lyme Regis, Dorset. Great Britain.

 

 

 

Autumn photo workshops started!

My programme of autumn photography workshops has started, kicking off on 9th September with my Atlantic Coast Landscapes photography course, held at Hartland Quay, on Devon’s north coast.

Hartland Quay coast, north Devon, Great Britain.

We had some pretty mixed weather, with a rain shower before we started out from the car park, and another shortly after we returned at the end. Inbetween we had a mix of sunshine and cloud, which gave us quite a useful variation in the types of light. It was also pretty windy, so we had plenty of good surf to complement Hartland’s rugged Atlantic coastline.

Photography was a mix of sandy beach, rocks, a wonderful waterfall, and clifftop views, all of which worked quite well, with photography running throughout the afternoon right up until after sunset (though heavy cloud cover alas stopped us actually seeing a sunset!).

Hartland Quay coast, north Devon, Great Britain.

A couple of photos that I took during my demonstrations are shown here. To see more of my photos click on the link below:

See some of my 9 Sept 2017 course photos

The next course in my autumn programme that still has spaces on it will be Exmoor in Autumn, taking place on 21st October around Lynton and Lynmouth. To get more details and to sign up click on the link below:

Find out more about the Exmoor photography course

Hartland Quay coast, north Devon, Great Britain.

 

 

The first autumn photography workshop

Atlantic coastal landscapes photography; Hartland Quay, north Devon

9th Sept 2017

My autumn photography workshops kick off on 9th Sept with an afternoon and evening spent photographing the spectacular cliffs, rocky shores and coastal waterfalls of north Devon’s coast, around Hartland Quay.

Sunset over rocks near Hartland Quay, nr Bideford, Devon, Great Britain.

This is one of the most rugged stretches of Devon’s coasts, providing a fantastic opportunity for some wild coastal landscape photography.

We’ll be starting at 2pm, just as the sun is moving round towards the west and so shining onto the cliffs, and will continue until it sets over the sea at about 8pm. In that time we’ll photograph the rocks and cliffs south of Hartland Quay, as well as the patterned sands and rock-lined pools at Speke’s Mill Mouth (a mile or so south of Hartland Quay), plus the spectacular waterfall that crashes down the cliffs to the beach here.

We’ll be shooting on a rising tide, starting off with the tide well out and so giving us plenty of beach to work on, coming up to high tide shortly before sunset.

The coast at Hartland Quay, nr Bideford, north Devon, Great Britain.

Price for the workshop is £90 per person. More details and sign-up can be seen by clicking the link below:

Find out more about the Hartland workshop, 9th Sept

I’ll look forward to seeing you! If you have any queries just get in touch.

Photography courses for the autumn

My programme of spring and early summer photography courses has now finished, but my autumn events will be starting up in September.

Apart from the Iceland photo tour in late September, I also have four one-day courses, all taking place in southwest England, mostly Devon, and mostly concentrating on landscape photography.

One of the four courses – Jurassic Coast Landscapes, at Lyme Regis on 7th October – is already full, but I still have spaces on the other three, so here are some details:

Atlantic Coast Landscapes

9th Sept 2017; Hartland Quay, north Devon

We’ll be photographing along the rugged cliffs and beaches at and near Hartland Quay, on Devon’s rugged north coast, near Bideford. Subject matter will include the sand and rocks of the shoreline, plus at least one of the several waterfalls that cascade down the cliffs right onto the beaches.

Find out more about the Atlantic Coast course here

Sunset over rocks near Hartland Quay, nr Bideford, Devon, Great Britain.

Exmoor in Autumn

21st Oct 2017; Lynton and Lynmouth, north Devon

This course takes in the rugged coastal landscapes of the Valley of Rocks as well as the deep valley woodlands and streams of Watersmeet, two beautiful locations around the Exmoor towns of Lynton and Lynmouth.

Find out more about Exmoor in Autumn here

The River Lyn at Watersmeet, near Lynmouth, Exmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Dartmoor in Autumn

28th Oct 2017; Fingle Bridge and Gidleigh Common, Dartmoor, Devon

In this course we’ll be photographing the autumn colours in the woods that line the River Teign close to Fingle Bridge, in the northeast of the moor, followed by some open moorland photography around Scorhill stone circle and the marshes of the upper Teign.

Find out more about Dartmoor in Autumn here

Stones in the Scorhill Stone Circle, Gidleigh Common, near Chagford, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Iceland photography tour

21-26th Sept 2017, Reykjavik and the Snaefellsnes peninsula (Iceland west coast)

Photography of the rugged volcanic landscapes of this wild peninsula, including the iconic Mt Kirkjufell and its nearby waterfalls, as well as – hopefully – the Northern Lights. We still have a couple of spaces, so if you’re interested in coming click on the link below.

Find out more about the Iceland photography tour here

Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss Falls, seen in early morning, near Grundarfjordur, Snaefellsnes peninsula, Iceland.

We hope all this interests you, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in the autumn!