A new book published!

Journey through the Philippines

I’ve just had yet another new book published, this one entitled Journey through the Philippines, produced by Oxford-based publisher John Beaufoy Publishing.

The cover of Journey through the Philippines

As the name suggests, this book takes the reader on a tour through the Philippines, travelling roughly from north to south, visiting 30 of the country’s most beautiful and most important visitor areas.

The book’s 176 pages are filled with my text and illustrated by over 300 of my photos, that together give a good and highly entertaining overview of much of the best that the Philippines has to offer.

In the Philippines, Journey through the Philippines is stocked by most bookshops, and around the world is available both in store and online. For the latter option, it can be bought from Amazon, and soon also through my own publishing website at www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk. The web pages for this are just being created, so more details on this shortly.

Meanwhile, full details, plus a gallery of sample images and a range of sample pages can be seen by clicking here…>

Naturally, I really hope you like this book and decide to get either yourself or a loved one a copy.

Springtime photography

Getting to grips with the blooming new life

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.

The River Dart flowing through the Dart Valley Woods, near Dartmeet, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

Landscapes

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.

Bedruthan Steps, near Newquay, Cornwall, Great Britain.

Woodlands

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.

Bluebells in flower at the base of a young beech tree in woodland, near Teignmouth, Devon, Great Britain.

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!

Long-tailed tit, Bishopsteignton, Teignmouth, Devon, Great Britain.

Wild Southwest

The images in this blog are part of Nigel Hicks’s Wild Southwest project, a book about the landscapes and wildlife of southwest England.

You can find out more about Wild Southwest  by clicking here…>

Published by Aquaterra Publishing, Wild Southwest is priced £14.99, and is available from all bookshops in the southwest. Online it can be bought from Amazon and at www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk.

New cover photo!

Finally, a bit of sunshine! A few days ago I was out grabbing a few shots for the next book, so here’s one that’s already nabbed the heady status of front cover shot. It shows sunset over the Teign estuary, seen from Shaldon bridge, in south Devon and just a few minutes’ drive from my home.

And the book? Oh yes, we’ll tell you more about that soon…. But it will be great. Just waiting for a completely green light to go ahead.

A dusk veiw of the estuary of the River Teign at low tide, Shaldon, Devon, Great Britain.

Winning at the International Color Awards!!

At the highly prestigious annual International Color Awards (now in its 10th year), held in Beverly Hills, LA, last week, I was once again a winner, the third successive year that I’ve been honoured at the ICA.

With entries from both professional and amateur photographers from 75 countries, competition was tough, but I achieved ‘Honorable Mention’ awards for two images; Harbour Reflection, in the Abstract category, and Museum Wall in the Architecture category.

Harbour Reflection.

I also received nominations for two further images, in the Abstract and Nature categories, but these two did not go on to win.

Museum Wall.

The overall winners of the Awards were Romina Ressia of Argentina, who was crowned International Color Photographer of the Year among the professionals, and Dalibor Talajic of Croatia among the amateurs.

My winning images are shown here. You can see more about the International Color Awards by going to www.colorawards.com. The winners’ gallery will be viewable on their website from 20th March.

 

New Turks and Caicos shoot

I’ve just returned home from what was essentially a holiday in Turks and Caicos, a cluster of islands in the Caribbean. Actually, of course, you can’t separate a photographer from his camera for too long – sometimes I think I walk with a limp when I don’t have my camera!

Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

So, I’ve come back with a collection of images that should make some of the photo libraries I supply quite happy. They consist of some classic tropical travel images – azure seas, blindingly white sand etc.

A Black Sea Rod coral, Plexaura homomalla, on Smith’s Reef, Turtle Cove, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

The images shown here give you a sampler of what I was shooting, and you can see a larger set in the Latest Images section of the website. To see these, click here…>

Wild Southwest: What the Press are Saying

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.

A double page spread from Devon Life magazine

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.

A double page spread from the Western Morning News

The included images are sample spreads from Devon Life magazine and the Western Morning News.

The prize winner gets his prize!

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.

To find out more about Wild Southwest, and to buy your own go to: www.nigelhicks.com/WildSouthwest.html

or

www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk/WildSouthwest.html

Nigel Hicks (left) presenting a copy of Wild Southwest to Paul Steven, winner of the Facebook/Twitter followers prize draw, at CICCIC, Taunton, Somerset, Great Britain.

Twitter and Facebook followers prize draw

Prize draw made at last!

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.
More on Wild Southwest coming up soon….
A Dipper, Cinclus cinclus, on the River Lyn at Watersmeet, near Lynmouth, Exmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

 

What to look for in a photography tour

There are lots of professional photographers out there – including me – offering some great photography tours to the keen enthusiast, promising to lead the way to some pretty exotic and sometimes remote destinations. So I thought I’d put together a few words on what I – as a tour provider – think the ingredients are for a successful photography tour. After all, they’re not cheap, and so anyone considering signing up for one wants to be sure that their money is going to be well spent.

Fjord and mountain scenery around Berserkjahraun lava field, near Stykkisholmur, Snaefellsnes peninsula, Iceland.

Looking for the right ingredients

Naturally, different types of tours will appeal to different types of photography enthusiasts, but here are a couple of things to bear in mind with any tour:

  • Select the right subject matter. Make sure that the tour(s) you’re looking at cover(s) the subject matter that’s of interest to you. It’s no good signing up for a tour that will concentrate on photography of people if it’s landscapes that you’re into.
  • Get the right destination. Ensure that the offered destination(s) are right for you, whether that means the climate, the food or the general environment. This is important not just for your interest as a photographer but also for any health issues you might have.
  • Get the travelling right. Is there the right balance between time spent travelling from place to place and time spent photographing? You really don’t want to spend hours travelling in a minibus, or indeed hiking over rough terrain, to get to a photo location and then be told that you’ve only got 10 minutes there. Travel times should be relatively short and not arduous, allowing plenty of time and energy for photography.
  • Check the time of year. Has the tour been arranged to happen at the right time of year? You don’t really want to visit a tropical country at the height of the rainy season, for example, or go photographing wildlife when the animals have all migrated away.
  • Is the accommodation all right? This is a pretty difficult one to be sure of until you’ve done the tour, even for those arranging the trips, but do your best in advance to check that the accommodation being offered is of the standard you’d like.
  • Is the photographer/group leader up to the task? I’ve saved this one for last, but for a photography tour it’s obviously of huge importance. If the photography tour includes photography tuition then is the leader sufficiently knowledgeable about photographic techniques to be able to teach? And more than this, is he/she able to give leadership, companionship and encouragement in unfamiliar environments in a foreign country? This issue goes well beyond their ability to take photographs and/or teach photography, but is about their people skills.
Northern Lights over Kirkjufell, near Grundarfjordur, Snaefellsnes peninsula, Iceland.

What I offer on my tours

My two 2017 photography tours to Ladakh (Tibetan India) and Iceland have both been put together with all the above points closely in mind. Here are a few pointers to my thought processes in designing both tours:

Ladakh; 1-11 July 2017

  • Subject matter. This tour is a very varied mix of both landscape and cultural/people photography, covering both the rugged Himalayan landscapes and the unique Buddhist culture of the region’s Tibetan peoples. There may also be some wildlife photography, but that is likely to be a secondary feature of the tour.
  • Time of year. Although most of India will be deluged with heavy rain during July, Ladakh is shut off from this by the Himalayas, ensuring clear, dry weather, and hence maximising photographic opportunities.
  • Local travelling. Although overnight stops will often be several hours’ drive apart, there will be plenty of photography stops along the way, each with more or less open-ended amounts of time to shoot. There will be little or no hiking between sites – a vehicle will be used at all times, at least in part due to the high altitude that will make walking quite tiring.
  • Accommodation. Hotels are quite thinly spread in Ladakh, but what there is are largely of a high standard. Everywhere we stay will be 3-4 stars on an international scale, so comfort will be assured.

To find out more about the Ladakh tour click here.

Changla Pass, Ladakh, India.

Iceland; 21-26 Sept 2017

  • Subject matter. This will be largely about the rugged volcanic landscapes of the west coast of Iceland, including some dramatic lava fields, coastal cliffs and the Snaefellsjokull volcanic ice-cap, as well as numerous waterfalls and lakes. The Northern Lights will also be a significant feature, assuming that we have clear night skies and some activity. There will also be architectural photography around some of the stunning buildings in Reykjavik.
  • Time of year. I’ve opted to run the tour during the autumn, around the Equinox, largely to ensure a reasonable chance of seeing the Northern Lights while at the same time not risking really cold or extreme weather. The downside of this time of year is that we won’t see a great deal of wildlife, the huge flocks of breeding seabirds that nest on Iceland’s coast in the summer having already departed by this time.
  • Local travelling. Iceland’s main roads are very good, helping to keep travel times down. In this year’s tour I’ve opted to spend most of our time concentrating on photography in the Snaefellsnes peninsula, ensuring that distances between photo locations are really quite short.
  • Accommodation. Hotels in Iceland are generally rather expensive, making Icelandic tours quite costly. However, I always want to make sure that everyone is comfortable, so we don’t skimp on quality in order to save a few Pounds. Hotels are generally of at least 3-star quality even in the remotest areas.

To find out more about the Iceland tour click here.

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

About me as a tutor and leader

Obviously, the question about me as a tutor and leader applies to both tours, so I’ve left this part to last.

I have been working as a professional photographer for over 25 years, I am a Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), the highest qualification in one of the UK’s leading professional photography bodies, and I shoot for the USA’s prestigious National Geographic Creative. So, I’m hoping that these qualifications confirm me as a very skilful and knowledgeable photographer.

In terms of my ability to teach photography, I have been running my own photography workshops for over 10 years and overseas tours for about five years. So I believe I’ve learned what it is that most photography enthusiasts struggle with or want to improve in their photography, and have worked out a number of successful ways to put over a wide variety of techniques and skills. Although during my one-day workshops the tuition I deliver is by necessity quite intensive, during the tours I tend to take things more slowly and drip-feed information, giving everyone in my group time and space to simply enjoy their photography while at the same time learning.

As for my ability to lead a group in overseas locations, I’ve worked in a huge range of environments – some of them quite hostile – in a large number of countries, and have spent plenty of time interacting with a wide variety of people in those countries. As a result, I’m comfortable working in a great many places, and so am able to help those in my groups feel at ease and confident in unfamiliar environments.

A final word

A photography tour overseas is a fantastic way for a photography enthusiast to get to practise and enjoy their photography away from home, provided of course they choose the right tour for them.

Needless to say, I’d love to hear from anyone that feels my tours are just what they’re looking for. I believe I offer some great photography in fantastic locations, with plenty of expert guidance and tuition, all for a reasonable cost.

To see galleries of my photography go to www.nigelhicks.com

To see specifically our photography tours section click here.

 

Wild Southwest prize draw no 1

Some time ago I promised to run a prize draw, with the prize being a signed copy of my latest book, Wild Southwest, with entrants consisting of everyone who had either entered a photography course in 2016, or the Iceland tour, or who had signed up for a 2017 course before the end of 2016.

Well, half way through January and that prize draw is finally done. The lucky winner is Richard Lawrence, who came on the Dartmoor in Autumn course last October, our very last course of the year. So congratulations to Richard. A copy of Wild Southwest will be on its way to him shortly.

Wild Southwest on sale

Don’t forget that Wild Southwest is still on sale (just because Christmas is gone doesn’t mean we stop selling). It’s available (price £14.99) from all good book shops, and is in stock in all branches of Waterstones and WH Smith in southwest England. Online it can be bought from Amazon and from our own publishing site at www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk.

One more prize draw to go

There’s still one more Wild Southwest prize draw to come, and that’s for everyone that is following me on Twitter or Facebook. That’s not a small list, so it could take me a while to compile all the names. Bear with me! The draw will be made in the next week or so.