Beautiful Somerset published!

My latest book, Beautiful Somerset, has just been published, but with what terrible timing! With almost all book shops and many of the wholesalers closed due to the Covid-19 crisis, options for getting the book out to the book-buying public are rather limited. Thank goodness for the internet, so the book can at least be bought from online stores.

The front cover of the book Beautiful Somerset, by Nigel Hicks

Looks and content

The book does look fantastic, though I appreciate that I am prejudiced. As with the previous books in the Portrait of a County series (Beautiful Cornwall and Beautiful Devon), this is a heavily photo-led book. Divided into six chapters, the first chapter is a mixed text-and-photo piece that gives an overview.

The remaining five chapters consist of a series of photo essays that showcase the most beautiful places in particular regions, such as the Mendips, the Levels and Exmoor National Park. The final chapter is about the cities of Bath and Bristol, the latter not in Somerset but closely adjoining. These two cities taken together are very much the urban heart of this otherwise largely rural region.

All text and photography is by myself, in common with Beautiful Cornwall and Beautiful Devon.

A page spread from the book Beautiful Somerset by Nigel Hicks, showing images from the coast of Exmoor.

Buying Beautiful Somerset

Although Beautiful Somerset will eventually be available through many high street book shops and visitor attractions, for the time being it can be bought online through Amazon and Waterstones online store.

You can also by online from my own shop, Aquaterra Publishing (www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk), where you can also see sample pages. Click on the link below. A few sample pages are included here as a taster, but many more can be seen by clicking on the link below.

Beautiful Somerset‘s retail price is £9.99, and if bought from the Aquaterra Publishing site is available free of postage for destinations within the UK.

A page spread showing willow cultivation and weaving in the Somerset Levels, from the book Beautiful Somerset, by Nigel Hicks.

Planning for the reopened world

Naturally, I really hope you’ll like this book and will decide to buy a copy. You may not be able to visit the places in this book (unless you already live there), but you can start dreaming and planning for when the world reopens!

A spread of photos of Bath, from the book Beautiful Somerset, by Nigel Hicks.

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Confessions of a professional traveller

I have a confession to make: I love to travel. I’ve travelled professionally for most of my adult life, and I’ve loved every minute of it – well, almost every minute.

That may not seem like much of a confession. But with global warming and in particular the effects of air travel on the atmosphere such a hot topic these days, I can’t help but increasingly engage in a certain amount of guilty navel gazing, fretting about my own personal contribution to the growing environmental tragedy. I’m sure I’m not alone.

A globe-trotting life

But why should I feel more guilt than anyone else? Well, as a professional travel photographer over the years I have racked up quite a number of air miles, touring around the globe, photographing a host of the world’s great locations, from Mt Everest to Tower Bridge, from the casinos of Las Vegas to the volcanoes of Iceland and the Philippines.

Confessions of a professional traveller
That’s me many years ago, looking exhausted and sweaty, with my local guide, in rainforest on Mt Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines; 1997.

Over the past 30 years my work has fuelled quite a number of very well known guide books and magazines, enticing readers to go see for themselves. It has all been hugely enjoyable and fulfilling, but now I’m left questioning my own contribution to a developing catastrophe. It’s not just my own mileage that’s of concern, but my own small part in enticing all those readers to start travelling.

Perhaps I’m just paranoid, suffering from an delusional opinion of my own possible impact. After all, I’m just one of many such photographers (really very, very many these days), and I have never forced anyone onto an airplane. At least, that’s how I console myself. Paranoid or not, in recent years I have taken a few steps to redress my own perceived imbalance, producing a number of books that showcase the beauty and interest that is right on our own doorstep here in southwest England (Wild Southwest, Beautiful Devon and Beautiful Cornwall), requiring no great travel effort to reach (at least not by us that live here anyway!), and I shall continue to make this my contribution to promoting the ‘staycation’.

Travel and broadening the mind

But even if we agree that international travel – at least by air – needs to be curtailed, there is another side to all this that mitigates hugely in favour of travel. It has long been said that travel broadens the mind, and in general it is absolutely true. Admittedly, the type of travel that limits movements to those between restaurant and poolside sunbed are likely to rather restrict the level of cultural experience. However, for anyone willing to throw themselves out into the local streets, cafes, transport and – dare I say it – language, the mind-broadening effects can be massive, meteoric and sometimes both slightly unsettling and spectacularly exciting. I speak from my own experience.

Confessions of a professional traveller
Hanging out with the Maasai, in the Maasai Mara, Kenya; 2007.

So, before we all give up travelling, just imagine the possible effects of us all retreating back into our borders. After all, it’s not that long ago that our ancestors rather believed that the people of certain countries had two heads and a forked tail. Travel and communication have gone a long way to integrating us all, showing us everyone’s humanity and equality no matter what corner of the globe we live in. A return to isolationism – by whatever cause – would be no friend to continuing that process, and could end up having some very negative consequences for mutual understanding, respect and peace.

Perhaps, then, we should continue travelling, though with more selectiveness and care, travelling in a way that makes the journey longer and itself every bit as much a part of the experience, rather than something to be endured and finished as quickly as possible. Easier said than done, I appreciate. We can’t all get on a yacht every time we want to travel abroad, not matter how much more environmentally friendly it might be.

Confessions of a professional traveller
Lying down on the job, in the Scillies, Cornwall; 2016.

Travelling into the future

As for myself and my photography, well with travel having been so central to much of my adult life, I suspect that only old age will eventually stop me. I shall continue to develop my local projects to help promote the joys of exploring one’s home area, but by the same token I won’t be giving up entirely on some of those long distance projects. My most recent was to produce a book that showcases the incredible biodiversity of the Philippines and the work that’s going on to protect it (Wild Philippines), a hugely under-reported and yet vital area of conservation.

Hopefully, I’ll get to do a few more of those. Meanwhile, I’m guiltily looking forward to an imminent holiday in …… the Maldives. Ah, yes, one of the countries at most immediate risk from global warming and rising sea levels. I can’t think of any excuses for this one, so I’ll just blame the wife. I’ll console myself with the photography I’ll get to do of the islands’ magnificent marine life, capturing it on my camera’s sensor before it all gets killed off. Someone has to do it. Greta Thunberg is going to have a fit.

Confessions of a professional traveller
In the bar reviewing a day’s shoot. Turks and Caicos; 2018.

To find out more about Nigel’s books click on the link below:

Nigel’s books

To take a look at Nigel’s international photo portfolios click on the link below:

See photo portfolios

To find out about Nigel’s photography workshops click on the link below:

Photography workshops

To find out about Nigel’s photography tours click on the link below:

Photography tours

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Beautiful Cornwall is published!

Yes, my latest book, Beautiful Cornwall, is finally published and available through all good book shops, both high street and online. Coming out on 28th March, it was published bang on time, and since then it has been slowly working its way into bookshops across the southwest of England, as well as to the usual online sites, including Amazon.

Beautiful Cornwall front cover

What you can find in Beautiful Cornwall

At just 80 pages, this is quite a short book, but it is packed with my photography, showcasing many of Cornwall’s most beautiful locations and some of its most popular annual festivals. It is, in short, a very colourful book, and one that shows off Cornwall to be the truly spectacular region that it is.

Beautiful Cornwall contains five chapters, the first a mix of text and photos that sets the scene, introducing its landscape and wildlife, people and culture, and some aspects of its economy.

The remaining four chapters take a tour around Cornwall, looking at East Cornwall, the North and Bodmin Moor, the South Coast, and the Far West. The last chapter also includes a section on the Scillies.

Beautiful Cornwall makes a stunning memento of the county, both for visitors and residents alike.

Finding out more and buying Beautiful Cornwall

I hope you like the few sample pages shown here, but you can see full details of Beautiful Cornwall online, including sample pages and photos, by clicking on the link below:

See sample pages from Beautiful Cornwall

Beautiful Cornwall is available from many book shops (price £9.99) both high street and online. You can also buy it online by clicking the link below:

Buy Beautiful Cornwall here

Beautiful Cornwall is published by my own publishing company, Aquaterra Publishing.

Photos of Philippine hotels

I’ve just posted to the website a gallery of photos of Philippine hotels. These hotels all gave me a huge amount of help during my recent Wild Philippines photo shoots, providing not only great accommodation, but also transportation and scuba diving.

Roofdeck swimming pool, Hotel Tryp, Manila, Philippines.

They really pulled out the stops to help make my work so much easier, hugely contributing to the great success that the photo shoots were. So a big ‘Thankyou’ to all of them!

It also has to be said that many of them were so comfortable that there were times when I was rather reluctant to leave my cosy room for the sweaty heat of the rainforests! So, all in all, if any of you is thinking of making a visit to the Philippines, I can thoroughly recommend all these hotels.

Lagen Island Resort, Bacuit Bay, El Nido, Palawan, the Philippines.

I’ve posted just a few images here, but you can see many more on the website by going to:

See Philippines hotel photos

I hope you like them. Please share what you see!

Loboc River Resort, near Loboc, Bohol, the Philippines.

 

 

Rainforests of Bohol

Finally, the last video diary for the first Wild Philippines photo shoot. This one covers a great day I had in the rainforest of Raja Sikatuna Protected Landscape, one of the last areas of natural rainforest remaining on the island of Bohol, in the south of the Philippines.

High humidity, very dense vegetation, tangled rattans, lots of wildlife…. It was a really good day on which to round off this trip, if a rather sticky, sweaty one!

The video diaries will resume in April, when the second (and final) photo shoot for Wild Philippines takes place. I hope you enjoy this last video.

You can also see this, and all the other video diaries, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nigelhicksphotography, where you can share with your friends and followers.

The coral reefs of Bohol

The final underwater photography for this first trip for the Wild Philippines project took place on the coral reefs off the southwest coast of Bohol, in the south of the Philippines.

Specifically, we did a few dives around Panglao Island and the nearby Balicasag Island. The former is quite a large island, one of the Philippines most popular tourism attractions, while Balicasag is a tiny island, a marine reserve, a few kilometres off the southwest tip of Panglao.

The reefs here are superb, with a huge range of hard and soft corals, as well as quite a mix of both reef and pelagic fish. A really exciting place to dive.

The video below shows some of the diving done over two days around these two islands. I hope you like it! You can also see this video at www.facebook.com/nigelhicksphotography, where you’ll be able to share the video with your friends and followers.

Underwater photography at El Nido

In this the latest video diary around my Wild Philippines photography work, I look at the few days I spent in beautiful El Nido, a magnificent place of rocky islands close to the northern tip of Palawan, in the far west of the Philippines.

Diving here brought up photography of a shoal of snappers, several turtles, and some stunning corals.

I hope you love it! You can also see this video on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nigelhicksphoto, where you can share it to your friends and followers.

Cebu: Coastal and Underwater Photography

Another video diary from the Wild Philippines project!

This time we’re on the island of Cebu, visiting Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary and then photographing the wonderful submarine coral reefs at Moalboal, on Cebu’s southwest coast. I hope you enjoy!

You can also see this video, as well as all the others, on the Nigel Hicks Photography Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/nigelhicksphotography.

 

 

The forests of Mt Pulag

I’ve been falling behind on posting my video diaries from the Wild Philippines project, sad to say. Actually, part of the reason is good, because the reason I’ve been falling behind is that things have been pretty full-on, with a lot of photography, thanks to a lot of help from quite a range of people. More on all that in later video posts.

For now, here are two video diaries about the couple of days I spent up on Mt Pulag, third highest mountain in the Philippines, at just a little less than 3000 metres high. It’s a story of dense, tangled, wet forest, lots of mud, followed by a day in sunshine on the mountain’s summit grasslands above the forest.

Needless to say, I hope you enjoy the videos. If you do, feel free to share the link and/or leave a comment.

Here’s the first video:

 

And here’s the second:

Enjoy watching and please share!