Diary

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19 Feb 2015

Cracking Nutcrackers!

The diaries from my recent workshops in Bulgaria and Greece will be split into three reports, beginning with the time we spent with the fabulous Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes). These brilliant birds are a member of the crow family (corvids) are found in Bulgaria's high altitude coniferous forests. During the winter months they form small groups and when the weather is cold and hostile (as it was during our visit) they readily come to a handout of nuts. In their haste to gather as much food as possible they squabble like mad and a strong pecking order quickly becomes apparent!

We only spent a short time with these birds (two one-hour sessions), but that was sufficient to capture a number of great behavioural images of them hopping, bouncing and sliding around in the fresh snow. The temperatures were well below freezing, as we were at an altitude of over 2000m and it was snowing for most of the time we were photographing.

As I had six other photographers with me I used only my 600mm lens, which allowed me to work from behind them without getting in the way. At such...

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03 Feb 2015

Slovenia in Winter….ish!

I have recently returned from running my annual Winter in Slovenia workshop. This is the twelfth year in a row that Marko and I have run a winter workshop in this spectacular country. Normally snow and cold temperatures are fairly guaranteed at this time of the year, but on this occasion we managed to coincide with a mild spell! With everybody expecting snow scenes it was quite a challenge for us, but with so many years of workshops we thankfully have a long list of locations to make use of, even in less than ideal conditions. By the end of the workshop we had captured a wide variety of interesting shots. The set of images does look more like the result of an autumn workshop, but nevertheless they still show the beauty of this fascinating country!

Even though we didn't get all of the snowy shots we'd hoped for this was still an enjoyable trip. Our half-day climb up to the summit of...

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24 Jan 2015

Extreme Scotland

I spend last week running my Scottish Highlands in Winter workshop during one of the most extreme periods of weather so far this winter! We started with severe gales, which cut off the power across the whole of the Isle of Skye. The first couple of days were very wet, making it almost impossible to take photographs, so we spent a bit of time exploring Glencoe and then exploring Photoshop techniques in the dry! The high winds had brought down many trees and also ruined a lovely little shed in Glen Etive that was the feature of many photographs. The snow didn't begin until we reached Skye, and even then it was more sleet than snow. Photographing a landscape covered in patchy snow is a frustrating experience - I would much rather have either complete snow cover or no snow at all! However, at higher altitudes there was plenty of snow and we made the most of it where we could.

Although for much of the trip we had quite changable weather with sunshine and heavy showers, the sun rarely shone where we wanted it to. On the more overcast days we...

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08 Jan 2015

Iceland in Winter

The day after Boxing Day Cat and I packed our bags literally to bursting point with insulated boots, coats and gloves and headed off to Iceland. This was to be a repeat of our trip there the previous winter, in search of the Northern Lights. Last year we found some good locations from which to shoot the aurora, but it never occurred in the right place for us to be able to shoot really good images. The biggest difference this time was that it would be full moon during out visit. Last year we purposefully timed it for when the moon would be hidden, which we felt was a mistake. When we arrived the temperatures were higher than back in the UK! This caused a problem, as the snow was melting and becoming patchy - one of my pet hates when it comes to landscape photography is patchy snow!

On our first night we had a really good display, even though it was only forecast to be a level three (out of 9). We headed to our chosen viewpoint only to find that most of the snow had melted, leaving an ugly and eye-catching patch right...

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20 Dec 2014

Dorset in December

This month I have spent most of my time working in Dorset and along the Jurassic Coast, with two workshops running back to back. We had a good mix of weather conditions during both workshops and also found a couple of nice new vantage points along the coast. The priority on these workshops is coastal photography, as the sun rises and sets out to sea at this time of the year, casting warm sunlight along the coast for much of the day.

Although this was a landscape workshop I like to make use of any good photographic opportunities that present themselves. In North Dorset several short-eared owls have been hunting over their regular wintering grounds. As all my clients were interested in this we spend a couple of afternoons trying to capture some good shots of them as they hunted over the long grass.

We had several overcast days during each workshop and this is when I tend to start thinking in monochrome. I much prefer to convert my images to black and white in Silver Efex Pro than...

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30 Nov 2014

Northumberland Rocks

I spent last week running a landscape photography workshop in Northumberland, one of my favourite counties in the UK. We worked extensively along the coast from our base in Bamburgh, and also travelled a little inland to Hadrian's Wall. As usual I included the highly photogenic riverside in Gateshead and Newcastle in this workshop.

If you wish to make use of some specific coastal features, like the rock ledge shown above, you have to make sure you're there when the tide is in just the right position! Knowledge of the location is critical when working along the coast.

For details such as these rock patterns overcast light tends to be best. The last thing you want for this type of subject is harsh contrasty light. For the three images above I used a Canon EF24-70mm f2,8L II lens. Each shot was stopped down to f22 for maximum depth of field due to the uneven nature of the rock.

One of the best things about Northumberland is the variety of...

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