I recently made it onto the television news, appearing in the BBC’s Spotlight Southwest programme to discuss my trio of books about southwest England.
Spotlight Southwest is the BBC’s daily evening news programme for the southwest of England, attracting quite a significant regional audience. As a result, this provided me with major exposure for my books.
The three titles in question are Wild Southwest, Beautiful Devon and Beautiful Cornwall, each of them covering different aspects of the the southwest region. The spur to this publicity is the recent publication of the newest of these books, Beautiful Cornwall, which came out at the end of March.
All three books are widely on sale, and you can see more details of all three by clicking on the link 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.