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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Judging the 2017 Southwest Coast Path photography competiton!
I’m very pleased to be able to announce that I’ve been asked to be the principal judge on this year’s annual Southwest Coast Path photography competition! The competition, run to promote the loveliness and importance of the landscapes along the southwest peninsula’s southwest coast path, will be on during the autumn, starting from now and ending at the beginning of December. I’ll be selecting the winner out of a shortlist of – hopefully – fantastic images. So start submitting really soon – not to me but to the Southwest Coast Path organisation. For more details click on this link:
My two May photography courses both went off well, Exmoor in Spring and Dartmoor in Spring, as the names suggest concentrating on the landscapes of southwest England’s two national parks.
Both courses were fully booked, so I was kept busy throughout giving instruction, help and tips to everyone as they worked at shooting the views that we visited. The weather, it has to be said, was not always completely cooperative. Exmoor in Spring was treated to hazy grey skies, which were not really conducive to the ‘open-sky’ views, but was just perfect for the period we spent shooting inside the woodlands at Watersmeet.
For Dartmoor in Spring, we started the day with a few heavy showers, which caused us to start with an indoor theory session at a nearby café, before we were able to venture out into the landscape. Even then we still got wet with a few showers, but not enough to dampen anyone’s spirits. For the final session, out on the open moors around Bench Tor we did get treated to some bursts of evening sunlight, which were a good finale to the day.
A couple of my photos are shown here, but you can see more on the website by clicking below.
At last the cold, dark winter days are past, and things are definitely improving quite rapidly. I can actually get up in the mornings now, which is always a sure sign that spring has arrived, aided by the wonderful songs of the robins competing for space in my back garden.
With all the new activity and lengthening daylight hours there are fewer and fewer excuses for not getting the camera out, dusted off and charged up. There is just so much stuff waiting to be photographed, I hardly know where to start.
There are plenty of views that work all year round, views such as the dawn or dusk on the coasts and across the moors, surf rolling across rocks, moorland and woodland streams splashing downhill over and around boulders. All good stuff at any time of year. My tip when photographing moving water is to put the camera on a tripod and slow the shutter speed right down. The resultant blur in the water really puts over the sense of movement.
As we come further into spring, the difference now is that – having just past the spring equinox – the sun is rising and setting further and further to the north, changing the lighting angles at different times of day, and allowing sunlight onto those awkward north-facing subjects, at least early and late in the day.
At the end of March and into early April these are still looking a little wintery, but that won’t last a whole lot longer. By late May the trees will have leafed out – even on Dartmoor – putting a magnificent cloak of irridescent green across our landscapes. This is a time for some great woodland photography, both landscape views and leafy details (the latter particularly when the sun is backlighting the leaves) greatly showing off this new life.
Until then, concentrate on the woodland floor, and plethora of flowers that will be taking advantage of the early spring light, before the woodland canopy closes over. Slowly drawing to a close now are the wild daffodils and wood anemones. When photographing either of these these (or indeed any ground-level flower), don’t just stand over them and photograph from the upon-high human perspective: get down low and intimate with the flowers, to really home in on their beauty and detail. You might get wet knees or a soggy bum, but you’ll have images that really capture the flowers’ loveliness.
In a few weeks’ time bluebells will carpet many of our woodland floors, a hazy layer of blue-cum-violet mixed in with the vibrant greens. Again, get down low to get a flower’s ‘eye-view’ of their world and shoot across the tops of the flowers. You may want to use a telephoto view in order to crowd the flowers together in the final image. Although this results in a narrower view of the woodland, it enhances the sense of a dense carpet of flowers. Use a wide view and you’ll see a lot more of the woodland in the image, but the bluebells will appear to be much more spread out and fewer in number, losing the sense of a dense blue carpet.
The back garden
Finally, never forget your own back garden. Not only are those robins singing like crazy, but they and a host of other birds are getting quite frantic with feeding, territory, courtship and nest-building. The activity in the garden can be quite amazing, particularly if you have bird-feeders set up, and many of the birds will be so busy they’ll hardly notice your presence, provided you sit still and quiet. Having the camera at the ready on these occasions can result in some great, surprisingly intimate shots of all this spring activity.
These are just some ideas for all the nature photography you could be doing in the coming weeks. So, get that camera going, get your walking shoes on, and get out to enjoy the spring weather and nature’s new life!
The images in this blog are part of Nigel Hicks’s Wild Southwest project, a book about the landscapes and wildlife of southwest England.
My latest book Wild Southwest: the landscapes and wildlife of southwest England, has been doing quite well since its publication in October. We’re certainly getting some very good reviews in the press, particularly in southwest England, not surprisingly.
I’ve put together a collection of some of the reviews on our website, so to see these click here…>
Naturally, I hope you’ll like what you see. Wild Southwest is widely available through all good bookshops. In southwest England it is stocked by all branches of WH Smith and Waterstones. Online you can buy it on Amazon or click here…>
Aquaterra Publishing is my own publishing company, which published Wild Southwest.
The included images are sample spreads from Devon Life magazine and the Western Morning News.
Fortunately, it turns out that the winner of my Facebook and Twitter followers prize draw lives not too far away from me, so I was able to present Paul Steven with his signed copy of Wild Southwest myself.
That happened two days ago at a photography event in Taunton, Somerset, so Paul is now the happy owner of a copy of my latest book. Below is a photo of the occasion – that’s me on the left. Photo taken by Alain Lockyer.
You may, or may not, remember that last autumn I promised to run a prize draw for everyone following me on Twitter or Facebook at the end of 2016, the prize of course being a signed copy of my latest book, Wild Southwest. Well, pulling all the names together proved to be a gargantuan task, but I got there in the end. So the prize draw has finally happened.
And the winner is…. Paul Steven, an amateur photographer in Somerset. I will be personally giving him his signed book tomorrow – as luck has it we’ll both be in Taunton at the same time. I hope he enjoys the book.