OutdoorPhotographyIssue285September2022 2

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landscape | wildlife | nature | adventure

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Look and learn

After a scorching summer, it’s good to look forward to the cooler days and better light

of September. For children and students, it’s also the beginning of the autumn term.

Although it’s some time ago since I was a student (all right, a very long time ago) I still

have a sense of excitement about the autumn term. I’m not planning to do any formal

courses right now, but I do like to draw up a list of photography-related things I’d like

to do, learn, read and see. It’s a bit like a list of New Year’s resolutions without the

certainty of failure.

The objective of my autumn term list is to stretch myself a little, so it must include

photographing in at least one new location, applying myself to a couple of demanding

photography books and learning a new photography skill. Now the advantage of

being an adult learner is we don’t have a teacher threatening us with detention if we

don’t deliver. Instead we must rely on our motivation and determination – and we

must become our own teacher.

A good teacher should be knowledgeable, supportive, able to identify gaps in learning

and provide honest and constructive feedback. They should also set high standards

and deadlines (a word I particularly love). Fortunately there are excellent photography

teachers, magazines, books and online videos to help us plug the knowledge gap.

The high standards and supportive words will have to come from us.


at a glance

In conversation with

Martin Birks – page 12

The pleasure of self-directed learning is that we are free to follow our own curiosity

and learn what we need to create the pictures we want to take. Don’t miss Mark

Littlejohn’s excellent article on Learning on the Job (see page 32) for a fascinating

insight into how he developed his own learning and photographic style.

Enjoy the issue.

Mark Bentley

Haunting nocturnal pictures

by Jasper Goodall – page 22

Improve your fungi photography

with Ross Hoddinott – page 38


Picture by Mark Littlejohn.

See page 32.


Email markbe@thegmcgroup.com

Write to us Outdoor Photography, 86 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1XN

Keep right up to date with news by ‘liking’ OP at facebook.com/outdoorphotographymag

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/opoty

Fabulous landscapes

by Alan Thompson – page 46

Find us on Instagram at instagram.com/outdoorphotographymag



10 Supporting wildlife

Amazing prints available

12 In conversation with…

Martin Birks is inspired by

the untapped beauty of the

Lincolnshire Wolds

20 One month, one picture

Pete Bridgwood visits Burano

to explore the happy side

of serious photography

22 Twilight’s path

Jaspar Goodall’s images

of nocturnal forests and

landscapes narrate dark tales

30 Lie of the land

Erik Malm was shooting stylish

ICM images long before

it all became a thing

44 In the spotlight

Landscaper Sarah Howard

ranks picture excellence

above innovation

46 A place to relax

Alan Thompson focuses on the

diversity and atmosphere of

a beautiful nature reserve

59 Inside track

Is ‘good enough’ ever really

good enough, asks Nick Smith

60 Up, up and away

John Brackenbury’s fascinating

view of the insect world



32 Learning on the job

Mark Littlejohn considers the

circumstances in which he

learned to shoot landscapes

38 Improve your fungi


Ross Hoddinott takes a closer

look at the picture potential of

mushrooms and toadstools







50 On location

Jeremy Flint explores the

spectacular cliffs and

sandy bays of the remote

Orkney Islands

53 Viewpoints

The Peak District, County

Kerry and Cornwall provide this

month’s landscape locations

2 Outdoor Photography






72 Life in the wild

Laurie Campbell celebrates

the return of birds of prey such

as buzzards and peregrines

74 Nature guide

This month’s seasonal

highlights include ancient trees,

pink-footed geese and conkers

76 A moment with nature

Narrative and opportunism

combine in Harry Skeggs’

brooding image of penguins

78 On the wing

Steve Young catches a

glimpse of a squacco heron


80 The OP guide to…

A sleeping bag is nothing

without the perfect sleeping

mat beneath

82 Drone test

Take to the skies with the DJI

Mini 3 Pro and shoot otherwise

impossible scenes


86 Gearing up

The latest lenses, backpacks

and outdoor accessories


6 Newsroom

Your update on what’s going

on in the wonderful world

of outdoor photography

8 Out There

Your guide to the best new

photography exhibitions

and events



Have Outdoor Photography

delivered direct to your

door and save up to 30%.

See page 65.


66 Reader gallery

Ross McLaren dives underwater

to highlight Scotland’s untamed

and magical marine life

70 Your chance

We want to see your best work.

Send your images to OP for a

chance to see your pictures

in print

88 If you only do one

thing this month…

Superb bird pictures by the

OP community, plus your next

photo challenge

96 Next month

What’s coming up in the next

issue of OP – on sale 6 October

Outdoor Photography 3


Circles and Curves by Sean Goebel

Pictures capturing the extraordinary

beauty of space go on show at

the National Maritime Museum

in London from 17 September.

The images are drawn from the

Royal Observatory Greenwich’s

Astronomy Photographer of

the Year 14 contest. Among the

shortlisted images is this one

taken in California by Sean Goebel.

The picture comprises a stack

of 33 four-minute exposures.

© Sean Goebel

4 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 5




Earth calling

© Mohammad Rakibul Hasan

A picture documenting the devastating effects of climate change has won this year’s Earth

Photo. The contest is an international competition rewarding environmental photography

and was created by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society. Categories

include People, Place, Nature, Changing Forests and Climate of Change.

Mohammad Rakibul Hasan from Bangladesh won the People category and was crowned

overall winner. UK-based landscape photographer David Rippin won the Changing Forests

category with his photograph showing the aftermath of Storm Arwen near his home in

Cumbria (see OP 283). Another winner was Norway’s Pål Hermansen, who won the Nature

category with an image showing the incredible diversity of insects he found in a single lamp.

The winning and shortlisted images can be seen in the Earth Photo exhibition’s national

tour to Forestry England sites this autumn and winter. Head to earthphoto.world for details.

The starry sky over the world’s highest

national highway or S-202240-16

by Chidiya Tapu


© Chidiya Tapu

Scenes of the Milky Way rising, galaxies colliding,

stellar nurseries, the aurora borealis and Saturn

balanced by its moons all feature in this year’s

Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

The competition received more than 3,000 entries

from 67 countries, with highlights including the harvest

moon rising behind Glastonbury Tor, one of the most

detailed amateur-produced maps of the lunar south

pole, a partial solar eclipse over Italy, and the Southern

Pinwheel Galaxy captured in Australia exactly 270

years after its discovery.

The winners of the competition’s nine categories,

two special prizes and the overall winner will be

announced at a special online award ceremony on

15 September. The winning images will be displayed

at the National Maritime Museum, London, from 17

September, alongside a selection of shortlisted entries.

Well done

Congratulations to the winner of our

Where in the World competition for OP 282,

Alan Garnsworthy from Berkshire. The

correct answer was: a) Valley of Igűer, Spain.

© Pål Hermansen

6 Outdoor Photography


© Shutterstock

Lonely old deers

New social analysis of wild

red deer on the Isle of Rum

in Scotland shows that older

individuals tend to adopt a life

of solitude. The study, by Oxford

University’s Department of

Biology, found that older deer

tended to live in more isolated

locations and engaged with fewer

others. The data was drawn from

a 46-year census based on 200,000

observations of more than 3,500

female deer over their lifetimes.

Top parks

The South Downs, England’s newest national park, has launched its photography competition

for 2022. With a theme of ‘Near and Far’, the contest is open to subjects covering landscapes, wildlife

and cultural heritage. Shots must be taken in the national park, but with so many highlights stretching

across Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex, including the likes of Seven Sisters, Beachy Head,

Devil’s Dyke and some stunning woodland, there’s plenty to choose from.

First prize is £250, with a runner-up prize of £150 and third prize of £75. There are also youth

categories of 10 years and under, and 11 to 17. Entries close on 31 October, so head to southdowns.gov.uk/

photocompetition2022 now.

Bee concerned

© Shutterstock

In what appears to be a clear sign of species

migrating due to climate change, bee-eater chicks

have been confirmed at a site in north Norfolk,

where wardens observed an increase in food

being brought to a mating pair’s nest holes. Most

commonly found in the southern Mediterranean

and northern Africa, the species’ appearance

and now breeding is a sure sign of warming


Follow the North East Norfolk Bird Club

on Twitter @NENBC_Info for updates.

Take Flight by Lloyd Lane © Lloyd Lane

A welcome tail

In some very welcome good news, RSPB Scotland

has announced that a pair of white-tailed eagles on

Mull have recently celebrated their 25th anniversary

by fledging their 25th chick.

At 28 and 30 years old, Skye and Frisa are the

UK’s oldest-known white-tailed eagle pair and came

together in 1997. There are now estimated to be at least

150 pairs across Scotland, with much of this recovery

being driven by Skye and Frisa. The species is the

UK’s largest bird of prey with a wingspan of 2.5m.

You can follow them at @MullEagleWatch

and @skyeandfrisa on Twitter.

White-tailed eagle Frisa by Iain Erskine

© Iain Erskine

Big Picture

Scotland’s rewilding event, the

Big Picture Conference, returns on

24 September and is for everyone

committed to nature recovery.

The venue is Perth Concert Hall

and this year’s speakers include

naturalist and rewilding pioneer

Roy Dennis, author Vicki Hird, Tom

Bowser of Argaty Red Kites, and

wildlife consultant Kate MacRae.

Visit scotlandbigpicture.com

for details.

© Marko Jovanovic / Animal Friends Comedy Pets

Pet clowns

It’s not strictly wildlife, but if you

want to raise a smile, check out the

finalists of the Comedy Pet Photo

Awards 2022. Relying on a hefty

dollop of anthropomorphism,

the competition donates to

animal charities, with £35,000

going to good causes this year via

its sponsor Animal Friends Pet

Insurance, £5,000 of which will

go to an organisation of the

winner’s choice.

Check out the winners and

details of next year’s contest

at comedypetphoto.com.

Outdoor Photography 7


© Harry Skeggs

© Paul Sanders


Harry Skeggs: Beyond

Clarendon Gallery, London

7 to 21 September

Mayfair’s Clarendon Gallery is displaying a

selection of landscape and wildlife images

by award-winning British photographer Harry

Skeggs. Documenting a trip he made to the

Antarctic peninsula, South Georgia and the

Falkland Islands in early spring 2022, Beyond

comprises around 30 works that capture

the drama of this polar wilderness and the

animals that inhabit it. The exhibition will be

accompanied by a short documentary that

follows the photographer on his journey.

Harry shares one of his most memorable

Antarctic encounters on page 76.


RHS Photographic Competition

All RHS gardens

2 September to 9 October

As the leaves turn, the final wave of late summer

colour bursts into the RHS gardens in autumn.

Against this changing backdrop, you can enjoy

some stunning garden and plant photography,

with a selection of the winning images from

the RHS Photographic Competition. Chosen

from nearly 10,000 submissions from around

the globe, the top entries explore a variety of

themes, such as the way plants and natural

environments can intertwine with urban life.


A Sense of Place

Joe Cornish Gallery, North Yorkshire

3 September to 26 November

Following a year-long mentorship with fine art

landscaper Paul Sanders, photographers Kate

Somervell, Patrick Kaye and Susi Petherick

present their images at the Joe Cornish Gallery

in Northallerton. Working in black & white, the

group have drawn inspiration from a range

of locations, including local landscapes,

a suburban allotment and a croft in rural

Scotland. Sanders’ own creativity was sparked

during the mentorship; his series of work, which

represents awareness of place in the world

through flowers, will also be on display.


Nesta Wigan

Osborne Studio Gallery, London

20 September to 1 October

Nesta Wigan will host her first solo exhibition

this autumn, at Osborne Studio Gallery in

London’s Belgravia district. Nesta specialises

in the wildlife of Kenya, where she spent a

large part of her childhood, and is particularly

inspired by the by the Maasai Mara National

Reserve. The show will comprise 35 of her

images, a mixture of colour and black & white

works, including portraits of lions, rhinos,

elephants and cheetahs.


© Sanjay Jani / RHS Photographic Competition © Nesta Wigan

8 Outdoor Photography



As summer gives way to autumn, there’s no better time to head out on foot and discover new landscapes

and nature’s hidden gems. Here is a selection of guided walks to inspire you…

Looking after the Woodland Garden

Antony Woodland, Cornwall

14 September, from 11.30am

Take in the joys of late summer at Antony

Woodland’s magnificent garden walks,

nestled along the banks of the Lynher river.

The tour will be led by head gardener Richard

Squires. On 23 October, there will be a guided

tour to enjoy the autumn colours. Tickets £12.



Autumn Walking Festival

Guernsey, Herm and Sark

17 September to 2 October

One of the best ways to enjoy the scenic

delights of Guernsey and its neighbouring

islands is on foot. This 16-day festival has

over 40 walks, all led by professional guides,

from peaceful strolls to challenging hikes.

Tickets £10 per walk.




The Photography Show

Birmingham NEC

17 to 20 September

The Photography Show returns to

Birmingham’s NEC this September, bringing

together over 250 of the biggest international

brands, including Canon, Nikon, Sony,

Fujifilm and OM-System. As ever, there is

a packed programme of talks examining the

full spectrum of photography, from creative

approaches and techniques to editing and

Reedbed Ramble

Minsmere, Suffolk

26 September, 8-10am

Autumn mornings offer the greatest chance

of seeing bearded tits clinging to the reed

stems at Minsmere, and you may even spot

an otter or a bittern. Tickets £19.25 (RSPB

members £15.50).


Magic of Migration

Sumburgh Head, Shetland

2 October, 9am to 12pm

© Shutterstock

post-production. Renowned landscaper Colin

Prior and conservationist and underwater

photographer Cristina Mittermeier are among

the speakers who will take to the Super Stage.


Ocean Film Festival

Various UK venues

19 September to 16 November

A brand-new collection of the world’s best

ocean-themed films will tour the UK this

autumn, courtesy of the Ocean Film Festival.

Learn more about how to find birds on

migration on this guided walk with an RSPB

expert. Tickets £16 (RSPB members £12).


Fascinated by Fungi

Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex

15 October, 10.30am to 1pm

Discover the amazing world of fungi and learn

how to distinguish yellow brain from yellow

stag’s horn and the parasol from the puffall!

Tickets £20.50 (RSPB members £16.50).


© Shutterstock

Highlights include Circumnavigate, an

account of Devon-based Brendon Prince’s

gruelling stand-up paddleboarding journey

around Britain’s coastline; and Tiger Shark

King, which follows conservationist and

diver Jim Abernethy’s heroic efforts to

safeguard and de-stigmatise sharks. As well

as captivating films, each evening screening

will include a prize giveaway. Visit the festival

website for more information, plus dates

and venues.


© Colin Prior

© John Kowitz

Outdoor Photography 9

© Andy Parkinson


The globally successful Prints for

Wildlife print sale fundraiser is

returning. Created by Austrian

photographer Marion Payr and

Dutch photographer Pie Aerts in 2020

as a response to the global pandemic,

which had a devastating effect on wildlife

conservation projects, tourism and

communities across Africa, the first two

editions of the print sale raised more

than $1.75 million for the non-profit

conservation organisation African Parks.

The fundraiser involves wildlife

photographers donating one of their pictures

to be sold for a limited time at $100. So far,

more than 15,000 prints have been sold to

wildlife lovers around the world, including

pictures by Greg du Toit, Suzi Eszterhas,

Brent Stirton and Steve Woods, alongside

emerging talent from developing nations.

Prints for Wildlife’s third outing runs

until 25 September, with prints available for

$100 from more than 100 photographers,

including Beverley Joubert, Drew Doggett,

Karim Illya, Ami Vitale, Joachim Schmeisser,

Will Burrard-Lucas, Marsel van Oosten

and Gaël Ruboneka Vande Weghe. Again,

100 per cent of profits go to African Parks,

which manages 20 parks in 11 countries,

including Kafue (Zambia), Akagera (Rwanda)

and Liwonde (Malawi) National Parks,

on behalf of African governments for the

benefit of local communities and wildlife.

Money raised will help African Parks with

their mission to safeguard 30 million hectares

of Africa’s protected areas, contributing to

the global target of protecting 30 per cent

of nature on Earth by 2030. The charity

aims to look after 30 parks by 2030, with

future plans to sign a number of new parks,

including Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga

National Parks in Angola and Boma and

Badingilo National Parks in South Sudan.

© Marcus Westberg

To learn more about Prints for Wildlife,

see @printsforwildlife or printsforwildlife.org.

For more on African Parks, visit africanparks.org.

10 Outdoor Photography


© Rob Ross

© Clement Kiragu

Outdoor Photography 11

In conversation with

Martin Birks

British amateur photographer Martin Birks specialises in moody, dramatic interpretations

of his local Lincolnshire landscapes, but also ventures further afield

Interview by Nick Smith

Above Lincolnshire Wolds, September | Opposite (top) Lincolnshire Wolds, January | Opposite (below) Peak District, February

Of all the places in the United

Kingdom to yield fine photography,

Lincolnshire is among the least

known. Compared with classic

locations such as the Lake District, the

North York Moors or the Jurassic Coast, the

Lincolnshire Wolds aren’t often high on the

list for British landscapers. Which is just the

way Martin Birks likes it. A local amateur

photographer who knows the area like the

back of his hand, Martin says he’s often got

the place to himself, giving him the freedom

to create ‘what I want really. I don’t have to

look at what other photographers have done. I

can find my own locations and, because I’m an

amateur, I don’t have pressure on me to shoot

the type of pictures that are going to sell.’

In the preliminary chit-chat before we

formally start the interview, I ask Martin if

he has any images in mind that could be used

for the opening shot. ‘I don’t know,’ he says.

‘Maybe one of the moody ones.’ I suggest that

this hardly narrows down the choice because

they’re all moody. ‘Yes, I do like to bring in

that cloud and some warm golden light,’

he says, before adding, ‘I can’t even tell you

why. It just works for me. It’s not as if I could

tell you that I’m an especially dark person

and this is why I take pictures this way.’

Add these characteristics to compositions of

landscapes that are rarely photographed, and

you’re left with a stunningly original portfolio

of British landscape photography at its best.

Although he’s quite prepared to venture

more and more outside Lincolnshire these

days, his shots of hay bales, cow parsley

meadows and sunset poppies are the jewels

in the crown. ‘I’m lucky because I live only

about a half-hour drive from the Lincolnshire

Wolds,’ says Martin, reflecting that the

proximity to his favourite locations is what

adds depth to his portfolio. ‘I’ve explored

most of the area, and while there are always

going to be new places to find, it’s quite a

challenging place to photograph, which

means that I’m branching out a bit to the

Lake District and the Peak District, where

in the autumn you can take advantage of

12 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 13

14 Outdoor Photography

Top Lincolnshire Wolds, May | Above Lincolnshire Wolds, July

Top Norfolk Broads, July | Above Lincolnshire Wolds, August | Overleaf Lincolnshire, September

Outdoor Photography 15

16 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 17

the mist. I think I’m going to be spending

a lot of time there in the heather season.’

When I mention that some of the most

atmospherically charged images in the

collection are his snow shots at Linwood,

he reflects ruefully that ‘unfortunately,

it doesn’t snow much’, adding that you’ve

got to be able to react quickly to changing

conditions to get the shots you want. While

he accepts that being right on the doorstep

of such natural beauty works in his favour

as a landscape photographer, ‘you’ve still got

to be creative in what you do, and you have

to be sympathetic to the conditions, and

you need to be aware that you’ll be working

with different colour palettes. When it’s

snowing, you won’t get such a moody sky.’

When asked why his work concentrates on

the countryside, he explains simply that he’s

‘not really drawn’ to other types of photography

such as urban environments. ‘And I don’t really

want cars in my shots, although I love cars,’

he says, in what feels like an unconnected

statement. And yet cars are important to

Martin’s photography, but more on that later.

‘For the moment, there are no guidebooks

on photographing Lincolnshire telling you

what compositions to look for,’ says Martin,

‘so you’ve got to go out there with an open

mind.’ Quite apart from being able to get into

the field when there’s snow in the mix, ‘it’s

a very seasonal landscape and you’ve got to

know what time of year things work.’ With

the air of a man who watches the seasons like

a hawk, Martin explains that there are some

scenes that are at their best in spring when the

hawthorn and cow parsley is in bloom. ‘These

are great for leading you into a composition,

but if you go too late, everything’s just green

and you don’t have a standout shot at that

point.’ When the hay is being brought in and

baled, ‘if you can find a good place in a scenic

area, you’ll then have a foreground that you

wouldn’t have at another time of the year.’

Martin recalls how, only a few evenings

ago, seeing that the weather forecast was

set to ‘changeable’, he set out and found

a lone bale placed on a slope ‘under a

moody sky with side lighting. It was just

what I wanted, but I went back a few days

later and the bale had gone. You’ve really

got to move fast at this time of year.’

Martin’s entry into photography is

unconventional to say the least. While some

exponents inherit their parents’ artistic

temperaments (or their cameras), others

will go down the conventional art school

route. In fact, Martin cheerfully admits that

he ‘never had any intention’ of becoming a

photographer, before stating that as a young

boy, he liked automobiles and would spend

hours drawing Formula One cars on the back

covers of his schoolbooks. When he got his

first car at the age of 19, all he wanted to do

was explore where he lived on four wheels:

‘I just liked cars and driving. But then at some

point I thought I really wanted to capture

what I saw on my excursions in photographs.’

A compact was quickly followed by a DSLR

and the nascent photographer, with hardly any

idea of what he wanted to do with the machine,

shot everything and anything. ‘I think new

Lake District, November

18 Outdoor Photography

Lake District, November

photographers do that. I did. From macro

to street signage, anything is a photography

subject. I just sort of experimented.’ But then

a decade ago, the penny dropped as Martin

realised that it was Lincolnshire’s countryside

that was the reason he bought a camera. ‘I

spent the next couple of years trying to get

good at landscape photography, and that

experience of shooting anything proved

really valuable in terms of composition.’

For a photographer with no formal training

in the visual arts, who only took up the craft

on a whim, Martin has taken his place in

the new and emerging generation of British

landscape photographers. It’s an intriguing

story and there’s no subtle way of asking how

he got so adept at the trade so quickly. ‘It’s one

of those things, isn’t it?’ he says, recalling how

when he started out, ‘you think you’re really

good, don’t you? Or you think you might have

the potential to be. But when I look back at

the shots at the time, I now think they’re

terrible, but there was something about being

creative that gave some sort of meaning to

being outdoors. I’d always been an outdoor

person and I prefer the country to the city;

quiet places rather than loud. I just stuck

to it. The photography gave me a reason to

go out at what other people might find silly

times in the morning.’ The camera, Martin

theorises, adds legitimacy to being outdoors

at sunrise. ‘If you’re taking photos, you’re not

just this crazy person. It gives you a reason to

be outdoors. It gives a purpose to your life.’

Asked if there is a motivation that drives

him to become a better photographer, Martin

says that he’s a competitive person that can’t

resist the challenge. ‘If there’s a carrot dangled

in front of me, especially in the form of a

photographic competition, I’ll always give my

best.’ Inspired by some of the winning entries

he’d seen in the Landscape Photographer of

the Year competitions, he came to realise that

there was no longer the requirement to shoot

chocolate box images to become recognised

or successful. ‘When I saw this, I wanted to be

in the books that they publish’, and he’s been

a fixture – either commended or as a category

winner – for almost a decade. ‘I know it

sounds ridiculous, but I really want to win

that competition. I’ve got reasonably close in

the past.’ He then tells the story of how he is a

regular entrant in a well-known online forum

competition: ‘They send you a topic and

away you go. I’ve always had a distinct lack

of success in that competition and that gets

me really annoyed. But it’s that annoyance

that drives me on to take better shots.’

Martin says that he likes to get at least

one good shot a month, but recently things

haven’t exactly been going his way. ‘It became

a bit of a problem, and you start to wonder

if you’ve become your own worst enemy,’ he

says, referring to a trip to Cornwall from

which he returned empty-handed. ‘You

wonder if you’ve lost the ability to take

proper photographs, or if you’re setting

your standards too high.’ But the good news

is that after experiencing a dip in creative

fortunes (that he describes as ‘a bit of a

bombshell’), he’s back in business reflecting

that he’d, to use the sporting comparison,

‘been out of form. I mean, everyone goes

through patches, don’t they? But I’m glad

to say I’ve got my confidence back.’

To see more of Martin’s photography, visit martinbirksphotography.co.uk.

Outdoor Photography 19


The colourful island of Burano in the Venetian Lagoon proved the perfect location

for Pete Bridgwood to explore the happy side of serious photography

Venice is a beautiful city with its canals,

gondolas, charismatic gondoliers and

the complete absence of road traffc. But

nothing is perfect, and there’s an insidious

progressive decrepitude affecting many of

the buildings. They’re being increasingly

marred by vandalism, graffti and crumbling

rendering. The sad fact is that because

of global warming and consequent rising

sea-levels, 100 years from now – maybe

much sooner – Venice will no longer exist.

I think some landscape photographers,

myself included, often favour a dramatic

or more serious style; I wonder if there’s a

subconscious suggestion that if we want

to be taken seriously as artists, then we

need to make ‘serious’ photographs? Venice

satisfied this lust perfectly; I couldn’t help

thinking that with all the imperfection

and approaching disappearance, the

crumbling façades were a metaphor for

the human condition. I made a series of

images showcasing the decay, but while

I was photographing and subsequently

editing the images, there was a palpable

sense of sadness. Our whole raison d’être as

photographers is to make a visual translation

of life with all its attached emotions for the

delectation of our viewers, so it shouldn’t

be surprising that photographing sad

subjects leads to a dampening of the spirit.

Thankfully, the reverse is also true. A

study in the Journal of Personality and Social

Psychology from 2016 demonstrated that

the act of taking photographs increases

engagement with the experience of the

event being photographed and amplifies the

differences in enjoyment between positive

and negative experiences, depending on

what we are photographing. Photographing

sad things makes us sad and photographing

happy things makes us happy.

Not wishing to be overly morose with

all the Venetian decay, I felt I had a duty

to redress the balance, every Yin needs

a Yang; so I took a day trip to Burano,

a wonderful neighbouring island, where

every building in the town expresses a

different colour of the rainbow. In stark

contrast to the crumbling frontages

of Venice, this place has a wonderfully

happy vibe; providing the opportunity

to wander around the streets creating

brilliantly colourful uplifting imagery of

these breathtakingly beautiful buildings.

I set my little Fujifilm X-E4 to fully

automatic mode and bumbled along smiling

to myself as I photographed these beautiful

frontages handheld. Researchers have shown

that smiling – even if forced – causes the

release of dopamine and serotonin in our

brain, leading to reduced stress, lower blood

pressure and a longer life; so maybe we should

all be photographing more places like Burano.

Burano, Italy

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20 Outdoor Photography



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22 Outdoor Photography

Twilight’s path

Less a landscape photographer, more a narrator of dark tales,

Jasper Goodall’s nocturnal images represent freedom and redemption.

He talks to Graeme Green about personal loss, danger

and why the fashion world is no longer for him

The places where I hang out to take

photos are the kind of places where

people bury bodies,’ says Jasper

Goodall. Walking in the woods at

night comes with risks, either of being

attacked or of being talked to by suspicious

police. But dark woods hold a fascination for

the Brighton-based photographer, an interest

that goes back to childhood books and

folklore, and one that’s also become a way to

explore existential questions and grief.

Goodall’s images of forests and other

nocturnal landscapes in his Twilight’s Path

series, or empty roads, bus shelters or coastal

promenades at night for Coast Road, are a

world away from Goodall’s previous life as an

artist who worked with rock band Muse and

made his name as an illustrator for fashion

magazine The Face in the early 2000s.

In 2014, he left illustration behind to

train as a counsellor at the Psychosynthesis

Trust in London, an experience that led

him to his current photographic exploration

of dark places. He also works as a senior

lecturer in visual communication at the

University of Brighton.

Graeme Green: Why does darkness

fascinate you?

Jasper Goodall: My parents were artists

and they bought me interesting illustrated

books. There were two, The Bunyip of

Berkeley’s Creek by Jenny Wagner and

Ratsmagic by Christopher Logue, that were

both set in dark woods, with weird lighting

and creepy vibes. I used to make my mother

read The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek over and

over. Children don’t necessarily like pink

fluffy unicorns and fairies. It’s thrilling

to engage with something that feels

threatening and frightening.

My photography draws on those ideas

of dark woods in fairytales: places where

children get lost and discover riches in

themselves or battle their fears.

GG: Is there also a personal reason

for exploring darkness?

JG: All my immediate family have died: my

mother died when I was in my mid-20s, my

father died in my mid-30s, my sister died six

years ago. I’m sure this feeds into where I’m

at artistically. I’m married and I have friends,

but there’s a real existential loneliness.

I’m the only one that knows little events and

stuff that happened in our family. There’s

no one to say: ‘Do you remember that?’

A lot of my photos involve some sort of

border, beyond which you can’t see. I’m often

drawn to banks of trees that are lit and inside

it’s dark. There’s this idea that you’re on one

side and something unknown is on the other

side. My sister was younger than me, and

since she died, I’ve been very involved with

thoughts of ‘When is it my turn? What will

it be like? Is there any kind of an afterlife, or

will it just be black oblivion?’

GG: Wandering around the woods at night,

are you afraid of meeting dangerous

people or being arrested?

JG: I read in the newspaper about a murder

that happened in Devon very recently.

Apparently, a guy attacked a woman at a bus

stop, then drove her in his car or van to

a forest car park, where he murdered her.

I was, like: ‘Crikey, I was sleeping in that car

park not long ago.’ I’ll often go in my van and

sleep over.

Outdoor Photography 23

I’m interested in our primal fears of

mysterious entities and folkloric things,

but there are real-life bogeymen. The places

where I hang out to take photos are the

kind of places where people bury bodies.

The chance of me running into someone

malevolent are extremely narrow, but when

I started doing this, I had quite a lot of fear.

GG: Fear aside, what’s it like to be out

in nature alone at night?

JG: It’s magical. It feels like the human

world has gone to sleep or is watching TV

in bed, and everything else is left to go wild

again briefly, until the morning comes. You

also see animals that you’d never see in the

day. You run into foxes, stoats, owls, deer

and all sorts of things. You can’t see very far,

just as far as your torchlight, so it feels very

intimate. Your world is much smaller and

more immediately in front of your face.

GG: What effects do you try to create

with lighting?

JG: I started off trying to photograph woods

in daylight, but I couldn’t get the feeling I

wanted. It never felt moody, dark or enclosed

enough. So, I realised I had to go at night and

use artificial light. My earliest experience was

me and a headtorch, waving my head around.

Then I got interested in long exposures and

moving the light, which gives the illusion of

a softbox. If you use a flash, you’ll get sharp

shadows and that’s not what I want. I want

a kind of vibe you might have at the theatre

or the lighting on exhibits at museums. I like

the idea of turning the world into a sort of

museum exhibit or stage set.

I have long poles that I put lights on. For

bigger things, I fly a drone over. I light a scene

from different angles, then I come into postproduction.

You can dial up a light or make

it darker, playing around with exposures. I

never know what the finished result will be

until I get back to Photoshop.

24 Outdoor Photography

GG: What drew you to explore empty

locations for your Coast Road series?

JG: That was a result of lockdown. I realised

when I went out to take photos around

Brighton and the cliff paths towards

Newhaven that there is an ‘edge’ there too.

It was an interesting parallel with what I

was doing with the woods. It felt like I was

creating the same feelings, that sense of

a lonely bus stop, or standing on the edge

looking out to sea.

I don’t know if I’m a landscape photographer.

I love being out in the woods, but I’m more

interested in creating a sense of narrative than

in documenting the beauty of the landscape.

GG: In 2014, you left commercial illustration

behind and trained as a psychotherapist –

why did you make that shift?

JG: I was feeling like the person who made

that work internally didn’t exist anymore.

I’d changed so much. In those worlds, you can

get employed to do the same thing and you

get stuck in a rut. I thought: ‘This isn’t me

anymore. I don’t align with any of the images

I’m making,’ and I got very burned out.

I was sick to death of it. I absolutely

decided I’d never make an image or be

an artist ever again. I ditched it and

trained to be a psychotherapist, but I got

really depressed. Despite helping people

psychologically, I didn’t feel like I had much

of a purpose. I’d been making images my

whole life. I never realised that it was such

an integral part of my being.

I had always said in jest that I was a

frustrated photographer. A lot of my work

was fashion and music illustration. I guess

I wanted to be like Helmut Newton or Rankin.

I picked up my cameras and started an

Instagram that wasn’t in my name. I was

quite well-known in the illustration world

and I wanted the freedom to do whatever

I wanted. A lot of the photography I’ve made

had the seeds planted during that time of the

psychotherapy training.

Outdoor Photography 25

26 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 27

GG: Are you working on any new projects?

JG: I have just started a new project which is

a little different for me as it is predominantly

sculptural, although the end product is still

a photograph. It’s called Where Once We Stood

on Scragged Oak Hill and it’s a project using

the smashed limbs and twigs of recently

felled trees to build ‘forest figures’ which

I photograph then leave to slowly fall apart.

The title refers to a location – Scragged Oak

Hill in West Sussex – that was once home

to a grove of large hemlock trees which

were cleared for timber, I guess. I used their

branches to construct the figure, which

I think of as a kind of symbolic resurrection.

They draw broadly on traditions of animism

and shamanism of Northern Europe and

symbols of gods and goddesses of nature.

It is not meant as a protest against the

felling or thinning of trees in our forests (so

long as they are replanted), but there have

been a few instances over the last few years

when I have arrived at a location I hoped

to photograph, only to find it raised to the

ground. The resulting landscape has its own

peculiar fascination for me.

For more, see jaspergoodall.com. Jasper’s work can

also be found at MMX Gallery (mmxgallery.com)

and the Tree Art Gallery (thetreeartgallery.com).

Follow him on Instagram @jaspergoodall.

28 Outdoor Photography



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your own style

Swedish photographer Erik Malm

has been practising what we now

call Intentional Camera Movement

for 20 years. He discusses his

search for a visual style

In today’s photographic world, developing

your own visual style so your pictures have

an easily recognisable signature is extremely

diffcult. If we think of stylistic signatures

in art, we think of Pablo Picasso, Claude

Monet and Salvador Dalí. In music, we

think of Mozart, Michael Jackson and the

Beatles. You see (or listen) to their work and

you immediately know who they are.

Personally, I felt I was stuck in a rut

with traditional documentary nature

photography. I took good pictures for

successful books, but they were not

more remarkable than pictures taken by

others. For me, to be unique is not only to

succeed in finding some new composition

of a well-known landscape by including a

stone, branch or flower that no one else has

had before. To my mind, unique means you

break with everyone else in terms of style.

These thoughts have characterised my

own photography for more than 20 years.

I began to experiment with long exposure

times while also deliberately moving

the camera. The term nowadays for this

technique is Intentional Camera Movement

(or ICM). Over the past 20 years I have

practised very hard to learn the technique

and bring out in one exposure (not a double

exposure, or multiple exposures, or with

many layers in Photoshop) moods that

cannot be seen with the eye.

My background as a professional

musician is also an important influence

on my photography. I ask myself how can I

create music with my images? This picture

was taken in Catalonia, Spain, in a wetland

called Aiguamolls de l’Empordà. Out on a

field partly covered with water, I saw these

two great egrets. I wanted to create some

kind of religious feeling or – if we talk of

the music that’s always in my head – the

music of Mozart. My image ideas are always

a combination of what I have in mind, the

music in my head and what I see when

I find the motif. This time I think the

combination worked quite well.

Canon EOS 5DS R with EF24-105mm f/4L

IS II USM lens, ISO 50, 8sec at f/18

30 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 31


Learning on the job

To what extent is our approach to photography shaped by the circumstances in which we learn? Mark Littlejohn

mastered his craft while working on boats, which influenced every technical and creative facet of his shooting style

I started working on the Ullswater ‘Steamers’

just two years after buying my first camera.

For me, a love of the landscape predicated a

love of photography. My camera was purely

a device with which I could record those

moments that meant something to me while

I was out and about. As such, there was no

real thinking about how I did what I did.

My camera came with its standard kit lens

and nothing else. The first things I bought

when I realised I needed more equipment

were a Sigma 10-20mm wideangle lens and

a 10-stop ND filter.

My average exposure was measured in

minutes, not fractions of a second, but working

on the boats meant that this wasn’t suitable –

unless I wanted to concentrate on the ‘wifty

wafty’ style of photography. Sailing down the

lake, you are by necessity quite a long way from

the shore and a Sigma 10-20mm is all about the

foreground. Likewise, the 10-stop ND filter is

for static use, when everything else around you

is moving. Unfortunately, that’s back to front

on the boat. You are the one that’s moving

and everything else is staying still. I didn’t

realise the effect on my photography until I

was interviewed about my photography and

one question was: ‘Why don’t you bother with

a foreground?’ That question prompted me

to look back over my work and when I looked

through my favourites, I realised with some

surprise that the question was a valid one.

Western Belle sailing up to Glenridding for the last time that day. Nethermost Pike in the background.

Above My favourite trees. A small copse on

a knoll overlooking Blowick Bay that always

catches the first light in autumn.




Do we learn from watching YouTube or

from actually getting out in the landscape

and photographing it, learning from our

own mistakes and experiences in our own

landscape? Since working on the boats,

I’ve photographed almost exclusively

the interaction between light and land.

But unless you know how the same land

reacts under the light as it changes from

day to day and season to season, how

do we really know the true scale of its

effect and what it can do to your shot?

Sailing up and down Ullswater three times

a day, every day, rain or shine, summer or

winter, teaches you how much a scene can

change. It can change an everyday scene

from the mundane to the magnificent.

It’s hard to appreciate that fact if you

think that you have to go to Glencoe to

get an impressive landscape opportunity

and only see it two or three times a year,

and only ever in autumn or winter.

I never tired of the view from the boat,

as it was forever changing. I loved it.

And after several years, I was still seeing

something new. And it’s a lot easier to

put emotion into an image if you feel a

connection, a love, for your subject.

32 Outdoor Photography




Experience of working on the boats has

shown that in order to capture those

wee snippets in time when both the light

and you are in the right place, you need

to think on your feet to be ready for any

eventuality. I always shoot in manual mode

and my preferred lens is a 70-200mm.

There are very few things that I need to go

wider than 70mm for – I might shoot some

ripples stretching away into the distance,

but very little else. Likewise, at the far

end, I find that 200mm is just about right

for getting that little bit of isolation or for

applying a bit of compression to a scene.

I picked a professional f/2.8 version of the

lens, as I need to have a decently high level

of quality at a larger aperture. I usually set

the aperture to f/5.6 because I don’t have

a foreground, other than water, so depth of

field isn’t that important, but I want a high

shutter speed and across the board, f/5.6 is

a very consistent aperture for high quality,

no matter what focal length I’m shooting at.

The fact that I’m always shooting at f/5.6

and ISO 200 means I can usually guess

very accurately what shutter speed I need

to dial in. On stormy days, with bits of light

coming through, I set it to 1/3200sec.

If I have everything set, it means that

when that special moment arrives, I can

just point and shoot. I’m not trying to

muck about with any other settings – I

can concentrate on the moment.

I also trust my autofocus. Why pay

over £2,000 for a lens and then insist on

manually focusing it? By the time you’ve got

it right, that moment has been consigned to

history and you’ve missed the shot. I don’t

use back-button focusing either. I tried it,

but I perhaps didn’t have the patience for

muscle memory to kick in. I find it simple

to have a single point of focus (usually slap

bang in the centre). I can use a half-press

to focus on what I want, then move slightly

to compose the shot as I see it and press

the release the whole way down. It works for

me, but I appreciate we are all different.

Right (top) A line of silver birch catching the late

light in November. Always catch the 1pm boat

from Glenridding in November.

Right (below) A backlit sailboat providing

a romantic scene as we sailed in to finish.

Outdoor Photography 33



Shooting these little moments means that

tripods are superfluous. I have a fondness

for geared heads for those times when

you want the world to slow down – those

occasions when you want to be precise

about what you are including and what you

are excluding – but if you are photographing

moments in time, you don’t have the luxury

of spinning little dials backwards and

forwards. As I said earlier, I’m using a clunky

DSLR as you would a little point and shoot.

Sometimes, you might not point it in quite

the right direction, but that’s life.

Likewise, I never use filters. I rely on a

camera with a high dynamic range and a

knowledge of what I’m going to shoot at

certain times of day. Camera manufacturers

have made huge strides with dynamic

range and higher ISO performance, so

why not take advantage of all their hard

work? I have no qualms about raising

my ISO to ensure I have a fast enough

shutter speed to ensure a sharp shot.

However, I’m aware that while I can

screw my eyes up and squint a bit when it’s

bright, the camera can’t, so I’ll just miss the

Above Late afternoon sunlight in Glencoyne

Head giving a wonderful balance of light

and dark.

sky out. Ullswater is surrounded by hills,

so it isn’t that hard a job to shoot without

the sky. It made me think about what time

of day you intend to shoot your chosen

subject to account for the direction of the

light. I realised that certain locations were

mesmerisingly beautiful at certain times of

the day, but impossible to shoot at others.

34 Outdoor Photography



The constant movement of the boat impressed

upon me the variety of compositions there are

for each scene. When sailing down the lake

with a variety of skippers, you are never the

same distance from the shore. You might even

be sailing at a different angle to the shore.

This all conspired to impress upon me the

need to find the right place to shoot from; that

there is a single ‘best’ place to take any shot

from. You just have to find it.

Without my experience on the boat, I might

have remained a typical flibbertigibbet,

wandering aimlessly, shooting as and when.

Instead, when I see a scene that strikes a

chord, I immediately try to recreate it in 3D in

my mind’s eye in order to seek out the right

viewpoint. The arrangement of the elements

in a scene is down to us to get right. And if

you have to work to find that spot and sweat a

little, so be it. If a shot is worth taking, it’s worth

getting it right. The last thing you want to do is

get home, review your image and wish you’d

been a few feet higher. It’s too late then.

Right This tree goes the most beautiful colour but

then sheds its leaves within days. You have to be

in the right place at the right time.


Before the boats persuaded me into

photographing snippets in time, I would have

stayed indoors when the weather was poor.

But bad weather – the drama of brief bursts

of light illuminating the darkness – has

seduced me. I now seek out inclement

weather. I’m drawn to photographing the light

and clouds just as much as the effect of light

on the land. Too many photographers don’t

pay enough attention to clouds. Fit them into

your composition.

On occasion, when sailing through

cloudburst and thunder storms, the rain

can be so hard it flattens the waves and the

raindrops on them are so hard they look like

grains of sand blowing over small dunes.

It’s invigorating to watch, but you do get a

bit wet trying to photograph it. And it does

reinforce the feeling that sometimes, it’s hard

to recapture what we see. Too many times, we

are critical of ourselves because our pictures

don’t match up to what we saw in our mind’s

eye, but sometimes it’s just not possible to do

a scene justice. It might make our heart pound,

but it can leave a digital camera unmoved.

Right Norfolk Island silhouetted

against a backlit squall over Glenridding Dodd.

Outdoor Photography 35


A gorgeous row of ripples leading towards my favourite trees and the front edge of Hartsop Dodd.

36 Outdoor Photography



Despite working on a lake for a decade, I’ve

never been a fan of straightforward reflection

shots. All that people think when they look at

them is, ‘Ooh, look at that lovely reflection.’ But

looking at water every day made me realise the

varying levels of calmness and the way that can

be portrayed. I love the Klimt-style reflections

on certain days when the water is just moving

slightly, or on other days as it starts to shimmer

gently. Sometimes, it’s just nice to bring in the

depth of a dark, mysterious reflection to add

another dimension to an image.

I hate preconceptions in photography, as

they lead to misconceptions. And without a

foreground, I rarely look for leading lines.

Nor do I tend to think of a rule of thirds.

Because of the movement of the boat, I think

more in terms of scenes. I see a scene that

makes my heartbeat quicken and I try to

capture it. I perhaps think about how much

I want to include and what I want to leave out,

but my thinking rarely has time for leading lines

or any of the other technical formulas that can

help us make a poor photograph acceptable.

A tranquil Sandwick Bay. I loved the way the small tree was being framed by the softly-lit blossom.


My own feeling is that by taking our

own photographs and following our own

initiative, we build our style. Photographs

become unmistakably ours. Some

photographers become known for a

particular genre or style, which might

be very much a niche subject.

Thanks to working from a moving

platform travelling three times a day from

the edge of the Eden Valley to the heart of

the Lake District, I think my circumstances

led to me perhaps avoiding a preset idea

of what I was going to photograph and

changed my ‘style’. These days, I describe

myself as an outdoor photographer as

opposed to a landscape photographer.

I capture moments instead of creating them.

And having said all this, I’ve now left the

boats and moved to Wester Ross. I live 200

yards from a sandy beach with views to

Harris and Skye at sunset. I’ve never shot

sunsets before. I might need to invest in

a wideangle lens, a 10-stop ND filter

and a tripod. Wish me luck.

Outdoor Photography 37


Improve your fungi photography

With their delicate designs and exotic names (stinkhorns anyone?), mushrooms and toadstools present

a seasonal opportunity not to be missed. Their picture potential is huge, says Ross Hoddinott,

if you know where to look, what kit to use and how best to photograph them

One of autumn’s delights is the weird and

wonderful array of fungi that rapidly appear

in damp, dark places. Visit ancient woodland

during October and November and marvel at

these extraordinary organisms that can either

be elegant or grotesque, delicious or deadly.

Fungi are both fascinating and photogenic.

Having existed for millions of years, they

have evolved into an array of forms, varying

greatly in shape, size, colour and design.

Fungi are not plants, being incapable

of photosynthesis. Instead, they absorb

nutrients from organic substances. Quite

simply, they are Planet Earth’s great

recyclers. The mushrooms and toadstools

we see are just the fruiting bodies of unseen

organisms that exist as a mass of threads

underground. The mild, damp weather and

bounty of decaying leaves and food during

autumn encourage many species to fruit.

They appear abruptly, often overnight,

quickly ripen, shed their spores and then,

just as quickly, decay and disappear. It is

a spectacular process.


Although fungi can be found at various

times of the year and not just autumn, this is

without doubt the best time of year to look

for subjects. They favour moist environments

and ancient woodland – the older the

woodland, the more mycelium (fungus roots)

will occur, increasing the likelihood of finding

an interesting range of species. Finding

subjects can be easy or challenging – they

appear and vanish so quickly that a degree

of luck is always involved. Ideally, you need

to check sites regularly – daily if possible

– during autumn to give yourself the best

chance of discovering photogenic subjects in

prime condition and in photogenic locations.

Search decaying stumps and among

rotting tree matter, fallen branches and

dense leaf deposits. Some species are large,

grow in clumps and will be relatively easy to

find, while others will be small, hidden and

Above Shooting angle and background are key

decisions when shooting fungi. Here autumnal

foliage provides a warm, flattering backdrop.

camouflaged. You will find jellies, bracket

fungus, waxcaps, stinkhorns, puffalls, death

caps and maybe fly agaric – the ‘fairytale’

mushroom. Close-up enthusiasts will quickly

recognise the photo potential of mushrooms

and toadstools.

38 Outdoor Photography



Through a close-focusing lens, you truly begin

to appreciate the delicacy and design of fungi.

Subjects range greatly in size and for larger

species, a telezoom with a short minimum

focusing distance will suffce. Meanwhile,

wideangles (or a short macro) are good for

environmental-style shots showing a subject’s

context and scale. However, many of the most

attractive species are small, so a high level of

magnification is required.

Close-up filters and extension tubes are

inexpensive attachments that will enable you to

capture frame-filling results. Just be prepared

to get very close to subjects, something which

can limit light and your ability to use or position

reflectors, flash or LED devices.

A dedicated macro lens in the region of

100mm is a good choice for fungi, providing

a more practical working distance. A camera

body with an articulated screen will make it

easier to compose shots from awkward and

ground-level viewpoints. For older cameras,

consider investing in a compatible

right-angle finder.

A good tripod will really benefit your fungi

photography – opt for a design with low-level

capability. When using a support, trigger

the shutter remotely to eliminate any risk

of camera movement caused by physically

pressing the shutter button. You could use

Above A low shooting angle looking upward will

make your subject look larger and more imposing.

Below (left) Backlighting will reveal the intricate

design and pattern of a mushroom’s gills.

Below (right) Use a higher level of magnification to

isolate small areas of colour or repetition.

a cable release or remote device – or simply

select the camera’s self-timer or delay mode.

A reflector, diffuser and LED device are

good lighting accessories to carry, along with

a ground sheet to keep you and your kit clean

while taking shots in damp woodlands. In truth,

you can get away with a very simple set-up for

larger, more common types of fungi.

Outdoor Photography 39

Above You can alter the light easily when shooting fungi by using a reflector or LED light. These two images, which were taken just moments apart, illustrate the

dramatic difference between natural light (right) and artificial (left).


Fungi often grow in dark, damp, dingy places,

so expect shutter speeds to be slow if you are

employing a low ISO to maximise file quality.

For this reason, I’d recommend using a tripod

whenever possible. It is also worth noting that

a mushroom’s gills and stem will typically

receive less light than its cap, so if you opt for

a low viewpoint, you really need to supplement

the light to ensure it looks balanced. One of

the advantages of using a tripod is that, with

your camera fixed in position, it is easier for

you to supplement or manipulate the light,

leaving you with at least one hand free to hold

or place a reflector, flash or LED device.

I favour reflected and LED light, as you can

preview and adjust their effect before you

trigger the shutter. You can adjust a reflector’s

angle or intensity or hold a LED in position

until you achieve the result you desire.

Reflected light is more subtle and natural

compared to flash, while LED light can prove

quite dramatic when used in dull conditions,

like under a dense leaf canopy.

The advantage of using a continuous light

source is that you can generate light from

any angle. What you see is what you get,

so LEDs are easy to place correctly and

are useful little devices for achieving more

creative results. I mostly use one to add rim

or backlighting to my subject, either

handholding the device in position or fixing

it to a mini tripod and placing it just behind

and slightly to one side of my subject.

A reflector is perfect for bouncing light on to

your subject to relieve ugly shadows and

produce natural, subtle results.

40 Outdoor Photography



Fungi are static, sturdy subjects that are

not usually affected by the wind or weather,

so once located, they are normally quite

straightforward to photograph. However,

that is not to say that it is easy to take good,

creative images. Most subjects are small,

so a high level of magnification is required,

resulting in a shallow depth of field. They

typically grow in awkward positions and

their woodland surroundings can be

messy and chaotic.

Before setting up your tripod, study your

subject carefully from all angles to identify

the best viewpoint. Also, carefully consider

background choice – it can be as important

as the subject itself. Can you neatly isolate

your subject from its surroundings through

your choice of focal length, depth of field or

shooting angle? Or can you maybe use its

woodland setting to create a sense of context

instead? If the answers are no, look for a

subject growing in a better position.

Subject selection is an important choice –

don’t necessarily shoot the first mushroom

you see. Take time to look around and assess

the options. Once you’ve chosen a subject,

carefully remove any distracting leaves, pine

needles or debris from the frame, while being

careful not to damage your subject or other

mushrooms growing close by.

Many types of fungi are strangely shaped,

which can complicate how much depth of

field is required. For example, a mushroom’s

cap will extend closer to the sensor plane

than its stalk. To keep both acceptably sharp,

a smaller aperture is needed – or you could

consider focus stacking. The exact f-stop

you require will depend on the subject’s size

and shape, the level of magnification and the

effect you desire. However, f/8 is normally a

good starting point, providing a useful zone

of focus, yet remaining shallow enough to

render backgrounds attractively out of focus.

Review depth of field at the time you take

the photo, either by evaluating live depth of

field via LCD or (if you are mirrorless user)

through your camera’s EVF, or replaying

images on the camera’s LCD and scrutinising

sharpness after you’ve taken the shot. When

focusing, use the magnify button to enlarge

your point of focus. This will help you focus

with better accuracy. Personally, I favour

switching to manual focus when doing

this – focus peaking can be a useful aid.

Right (top) Some species are less obvious than

others, but in close-up you can reveal their shape,

design and beauty.

Right (below) In this instance, I used a small LED

device to backlight this tiny mushroom and create

an abstract-looking result.

Outdoor Photography 41



A mushroom’s gills are often its most

photogenic features, while some species are

beautifully translucent. To reveal the texture,

detail and pattern of their underbelly, a low and

upward-looking perspective often works best.

A worm’s-eye view also makes subjects appear

taller and larger, and helps produce more

dramatic, impactful shots. A low angle may

allow you to use the leaf canopy as a backdrop,

while sunlight bleeding through branches can

create beautiful bokeh and circles of diffused

bright light that will help highlight your subject.

Try shooting with your lens wide open to

capture dreamier results where only a tiny slice

of the subject is sharp and backgrounds are

beautifully diffused. Be creative and selective

with what you record in focus – after all, no

one ever said every part of the subject must

be sharp. Also consider capturing just a small

section of your subject, using a macro lens to

fill the frame and highlighting just a tiny area of

colour, detail or texture.

Photographs of single subjects can work

very well, but mushrooms can grow in large

numbers, forming dense clumps or growing

neatly in a line along the cracks and crevices

of fallen tree trunks and boughs. When

photographing more than one subject, the

challenge is keeping everything acceptably

sharp. When shooting multiple subjects, try to

keep them on a similar plane of focus, carefully

positioning your camera parallel to where they

are growing. And be prepared to increase depth

of field if necessary – assuming you are using

a tripod and triggering the shutter remotely,

you won’t need to worry if shutter speed grows

lengthy. If you can’t generate suffcient depth of

field in one frame, stacking is the only solution.


There is something about fungi that makes

them irresistibly photogenic. They are a

seasonal treat that should have any close-up

enthusiast reaching for their close-focusing

lens. Sadly, I don’t think there is ‘mushroom’

left to say anything else (sorry, couldn’t

resist). Enjoy the fruits of autumn…

Left (top) For more creative results, try using

a shallow depth of field.

Left (below) Look for interesting repetition and

textures when shooting fungi.

Opposite (top) Fungi can appear suddenly almost

anywhere. I noticed this little group growing on

a stump in my back garden.

Opposite (middle) When you find a subject growing

in an attractive setting, go wider to capture scale

and context.

Opposite (below) Photograph subjects when they

are pristine and perfect. Use a small brush to

gently remove dirt and debris.

42 Outdoor Photography






Keep a watchful eye on the subject’s

background and avoid messy or

chaotic environments – clean, diffused

backdrops often work well.


Use a reflector – or a piece of white

card – to relieve ugly shadows

from caps and stems.


A small LED is a useful aid,

allowing you to generate light

from any angle and add dramatic rim

or backlighting to subjects to help

highlight shape and form.


Look for pristine subjects, as

these will photograph best, and

avoid damaged mushrooms that have

been nibbled by slugs or damaged

by the weather.


A close-focusing lens is often best

for fungi, but don’t overlook using

a shorter focal length. A wideangle is

a great choice if you wish to capture

environmental shots which capture

the subject in context.


Carry a groundsheet with you – or

wear waterproof clothing – to stay

clean and dry when taking photographs

at ground level in muddy woodland.


When taking photos at awkward

or low angles, use a camera with

a vari-angle screen to allow you to

compose and focus your shots

comfortably. Alternatively, consider

investing in a right-angle viewfinder.


Carry a small paintbrush to gently

remove tiny but distracting particles

of earth and debris from your subjects.

Doing so well will save you from having

to remove them at the editing stage.


Fungi grow in dark places so shutter

speeds are typically slow. Use a

tripod whenever possible or be prepared

to increase ISO when shooting handheld.


Look at your subject from all

angles before deciding how to

frame your shot. Very low angles, with

your camera pointing upward, typically

work best, but shooting from the side

or overhead can prove effective too.

Outdoor Photography 43


Sarah Howard

Cotswolds-based Sarah Howard is a landscaper who unashamedly ranks excellence above innovation.

And the results are superb. Nick Smith puts her in the spotlight.

Castlerigg stone circle, the Lake District

Nick Smith: How would you describe

yourself as a photographer?

Sarah Howard: I like it when I’m called a

‘classic British landscape photographer’. In

some respects, it sounds a bit boring, doesn’t

it? I’m not looking to do anything wildly

different. I just want to capture what’s in front

of me in a beautiful way: what I see and what

I’m attracted to. I’m not doing anything weird,

wonderful or abstract.

NS: And what about your locations?

They’re classic too…

SH: When it comes to the UK, especially with

my workshops, I’ll go anywhere from south

Cornwall all the way up to Glencoe. In terms

of the locations that I love personally and find

the most inspiring, it has changed over the

years a little, but to be honest it’s anywhere

with mountains and lakes. Here I am in the

middle of the Cotswolds, which has pretty

rolling scenery, but it doesn’t have the drama

and the great bodies of water that I’m

attracted to in a lot of my work.

NS: You’re happy to work in familiar locations?

SH: My objective is to show the best that

British locations have to offer. With my

workshops, for some people it will be the first

time they’ve been to, say, the Lake District.

So I’ll take them to the well-known locations,

classic scenes that you see time and time again.

There’s a reason these places are popular:

it’s because there are lovely photos to be

taken, and everyone’s interpretations will be

different. It’s all about finding the best places

and showing them in the best way possible.

NS: What’s the secret to presenting these

locations in that way?

SH: Going back to them time and time again.

Going there at different times of the year in

different conditions. Getting to know an area

properly and being patient. I know that every

landscaper talks about waiting for the light,

but you’ve got to work a location so you can

capture those changes taking place over a

period of time.

Bluebells, West Woods, Marlborough

44 Outdoor Photography

NS: How did the Covid lockdowns affect

your work?

SH: Well, almost 80 per cent of what I do is

running workshops, so Covid was horrendous

and I’m amazed I got out of it in one piece, to

be honest. But I was also working on a book

about the Cotswolds for FotoVue and that

was great as it gave me a project to focus on

and, because it was local, I could still work on

it during lockdown. That was a blessing. But

there were times I wondered if it was a good

thing to be a self-employed photographer.

NS: What are the advantages of

photographic workshops?

SH: It’s funny because I get a real mix of people,

from those who need a huge amount of tuition

to those who need almost none at all, who have

signed up purely to be guided around locations.

People come on workshops for all sorts of

reasons, but everyone has the desire to be

immersed in photography in a beautiful place.

NS: Are there any special techniques you

employ in your images?

SH: I don’t do much post-processing at all. In

fact, I do a bare minimum because I like my

images to look natural. I like to get everything

right in the camera. I’m particular about that.

I’ll take great care with my compositions in

the field, rather than crop and straighten later.

People say, ‘Oh, I’ll fix that later’ and I think,

‘Why? Because you can do it now…’ Fixing it

on the computer is not how I work at all.

NS: You also like to take things slowly when

you’re working…

SH: That’s the key: taking time, slowing down,

using a tripod, refining your composition,

looking around the edge of the viewfinder,

really thinking about all the elements within

that photograph and how they come together.

Gunnerside Meadows, Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

To see more of Sarah’s work,

visit sarahhowardphotography.com

Sarah’s top tips

One thing I never go on a shoot without is…

A tripod. I find it slows me down and allows

me to fine-tune my composition.

My one piece of advice would be to…

Take a step back from the camera to actually

see, feel and absorb your surroundings.

Something I try to avoid is…

The feeling I must be original. If I like a place

I will photograph it, no matter how many

times it’s been done before.

Sarah’s critical moments

Derwent Water, the Lake District


Dad gave me my

first camera, his

old Praktica.


Caught the photo bug travelling

around south-east Asia,

Australia and New Zealand.


Met Charlie Waite who

went on to become

my mentor.


First book published,

A Year in the Life

of Westonbirt.


Started photography business,

including workshops under

the name of Image Seen.


Currently working

on Photographing the

Cotswolds for FotoVue.

Outdoor Photography 45

Enjoy the


A pre-lockdown house move

and a new area to explore inspired

Alan Thompson to focus on a local

nature reserve and its intimate

diversity and atmosphere. The

result is a series of landscapes that

radiate seasonal colour and detail

I have been a keen photographer from

the age of 23 and have used many types of

cameras since, from 35mm, medium format

and large format to full-frame digital and

micro four-thirds, all the time choosing to

shoot my local surroundings. My current

style of photography prefers a slightly chaotic

composition, which is probably a reaction

to camera club judges and rules, although a

traditional composition sometimes sneaks

through. I’m currently working on a series of

what I call ‘jumblies’, or chaotic landscapes.

We moved house just before the first

lockdown and this new area has provided

a wealth of photographic opportunities –

it is so easy to revisit a scene until weather,

time of day and year coincide to create a

worthwhile image.

Newdigate Brickworks Nature Reserve,

Surrey, is a 15-minute walk from home and

became a regular dog walk during the various

lockdowns. The reserve is 20 years old and

covers 24 hectares, comprising one large

lake and two smaller ponds. I am always

amazed at how flora and fauna can produce

an area of such outstanding natural beauty

when left to its own devices.

I chose to capture this beauty with not only

the traditional view, including returning birds

and fowl, but also a slightly chaotic close-up

view of parts of this reclaimed area, which

now covers over half of the reserve. I also tried

to encapsulate the intimate diversity and

atmosphere of the ever-changing mosaic of

light, weather and colour.

All of my images were taken during

autumn and winter when I felt the reserve

looked its best and the close-up views showed

the immense and colourful detail of the

natural vegetation as it slowly decayed. The

reserve becomes quite overgrown during the

spring and summer months, so my November

visit coincided with a thinning out of

vegetation and a burst of autumn hues.

My immediate attraction was to the

low-growing vegetation, which was

displaying some wonderful colours, and

46 Outdoor Photography


Outdoor Photography 47

48 Outdoor Photography

I decided at this point to shoot these areas

with a long lens to compress perspective

while at the same time retaining sharpness

throughout. This required the use of a tripod,

which is not my favourite piece of equipment,

but in this case, I needed to focus stack about

six images per picture, which were then

worked on in Lightroom and Photoshop to

achieve front-to back sharpness.

The main path circles the large lake, but as

the vegetation is quite dense there are only a

few places where views across the lake can be

taken. Whenever I shoot an image in this type

of landscape, I like to keep any distracting sky

out of the frame. This not only stops the eye

from being drawn to the bright edge areas,

it also makes the computer work after a lot

easier (get it right in camera has always been

one of my maxims, probably developed during

my film days).

Another attraction is that it is relatively

quiet – we didn’t see a single soul the whole

time we were there – so getting lost in the

moment was so much easier. Some parts of

the reserve just leap out and say ‘photograph

me’, but there are others where a little work

and imagination is necessary. These are the

ones I really enjoy taking. I have tried to

include birds and waterfowl in some of the

pictures, but as an additional element rather

than a dominating feature.

The reserve is a beautiful place to relax and

see the natural world in all its glory, although

I have concentrated on the geography of the

landscape rather than the wildlife. Perhaps

there is a nature series here also?


Outdoor Photography 49


Photographing Orkney

Monoliths, monuments, tombs… if you want to add a dash of history to your coastal photography, this remote

concentration of islands has it in spades. Jeremy Flint guides us around this haven for marine and avian wildlife

Situated off the north coast of Great

Britain lie the enchanting Orkney

Islands, an archipelago in the

Northern Isles of Scotland. Beyond

the Pentland Firth, the sea that separates

Orkney from Caithness and John O’Groats,

Orkney is an inspirational place to visit,

with a richness and variety of world-class

attractions and stunning nature.

Of the 16 (out of 70) inhabited islands,

Skara Brae

Ring of Brodgar

mainland Orkney offers visitors miles of

spectacular cliff scenery and sheltered

sandy bays along the Atlantic coastline. The

landscape comprises wonderful farmland,

hills and moorland that run through the

heart of the island. Orkney also boasts the

densest concentration of archaeological sites

to be found anywhere in Britain, including

ancient stone monoliths, spectacular

prehistoric monuments and thousandyear-old

tombs offering photographers a

spectacular array of photographic wonders.

Orkney’s most famous archaeological

treasures include the Unesco World Heritage

sites of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and

the Standing Stones of Stenness, which are

extremely popular and situated close together

on the mainland. There are few places in the

world where you can experience thousands

of years of history in a single day.

Where to shoot

Skara Brae

Skara Brae is the best-preserved Neolithic

village in northern Europe. The site provides a

magnificent prehistoric village and a dramatic

white beach nearby called the Bay of Skaill.

Situated on the west coast of the mainland, it is

a fascinating place of revealing relics and stone

furniture that presents a remarkable picture of

life in Orkney more than 5,000 years ago.

Ring of Brodgar and the

Standing Stones of Stenness

The Ring of Brodgar is a megalithic henge of

36 stones (it originally numbered around 60)

that marks a large circle of single stones.

These impressive sentinels stand proud on the

open moor and make a brilliant subject from all

angles, anytime between dawn and dusk.

A stone’s throw away, the huge Standing Stones

of Stenness make up a smaller circle and are

equally spectacular, with interesting and unique

formations to capture. The Standing Stones lie

within the Brodgar peninsula and between the

lochs of Stenness and Harray, where seals can

occasionally be seen basking in the sun.


Yesnaby is one of the most striking stretches

of coastline in Orkney. This wild and often windy

location offers stunning sea views and, during

a westerly gale, you can expect to see huge

waves crashing into the cliffs. In calmer weather,

it’s a nature-lover’s paradise with wildflowers

and plenty of seabirds to spot. The cliffs around

Yesnaby are some of the most photogenic on the

island, with distinctive sandstone layers, rocky

inlets, sea stacks and jagged overhangs on offer.

Take care when walking the coastal path here,

as the rocks can be slippery and the ground

underfoot at the edge can be loose. Be sure to

enjoy the sights and sounds from a safe distance,

as you are totally exposed to the elements.

50 Outdoor Photography

Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is a small, uninhabited,

causewayed island located off the north-west

corner of mainland Orkney. The untamed beauty

of Birsay unveils itself at low tide when visitors

can walk across the causeway for panoramic

views and glorious coastal scenes. Wildlife

spotting is a wonderful experience here and

photographic highlights include whales and

dolphins. The island is a popular bird-watching

spot, especially during the summer months

when puffns can be photographed perched on

the stunning sea cliffs.


Westray is an island north-east of the mainland,

known as the Queen o’ the Isles, which offers

an awe-inspiring coastline and plenty of island

charm. You can visit beautiful beaches, huge

cliffs and an impressive lighthouse overlooking

the Atlantic. You will have plenty of breeding

seabirds for company and spectacular views,

including fishing boats gliding in the ocean.


Through the seasons

Summer sees wildlife flourish and the cliffs

and moorlands carpeted in wildflowers.

While the weather can be particularly

wild and unpredictable in the autumn and

winter, it can make for even more dramatic

seascapes. Time your visit in winter for the

chance of snow and, if you are lucky, the

northern lights dancing across the night sky.


The towering sea cliffs are home to

thousands of birds including puffns,

guillemots, gulls, gannets and Arctic skuas.

The marshlands and moorlands are a

natural habitat for curlews, red-throated

divers and hen harriers. Seals can be

spotted throughout Orkney and there are

regular sightings of whales, dolphins and

orcas. Look closely and you might even see

a local otter or the unique Orkney vole.

Tips and advice

Day trips to other islands are possible, with

Burray and South Ronaldsay accessible

across the Churchill barriers, concrete

structures that link the islands. There

are also flights from Kirkwall to outlying

islands or you can catch a ferry, but both

are weather dependent. The island of Hoy

offers the Old Man of Hoy, one of Orkney’s

best-known landmarks. This 137m sea

stack soars out of the sea and is a popular

spot among rock climbers. It is located off

the west coast of Hoy, with cliffop views,

seabirds and the attractive Rackwick Bay.

Puffn, Brough of Birsay

Lighthouse on Westray

Outdoor Photography 51

Photographic Adventure Travel to Superb Remote Locations




We want to see your best shots from

around the UK and Ireland. Each

month the winner will receive £200!

Turn to page 70 for submission details.

1 Millstone Edge

South Yorkshire

2 Bubwith Old Railway Path

North Yorkshire

3 Coumeenoole beach

County Kerry

4 Porthleven beach






These are based around an ‘averagely fit’ person.

Below are loose guidelines to what the ratings mean

(N.B. they are assigned by the author and not verified by

OP. Walk distances are one-way only):


1/5 Easy access. You can

pretty much get straight out of your car and quickly be

at the viewpoint via good quality paths.

2/5 Gentle walking is

involved, which may be on mixed quality paths.

3/5 Medium length walk

of up to about two miles, over quite easy terrain.

4/5 Longer length hike

up to about four miles over mixed terrain, possibly with

some quite steep gradients.

5/5 The most difficult

access. Long hike over challenging terrain (e.g.

mountains/summits/steep coastal terrain); or involves

travelling over particularly extreme ground (e.g.

scrambling on rocks/exposed coastal paths or

mountain ridges) over any distance.



John Peace

Millstone Edge,

South Yorkshire

Situated in the Peak District National

Park, this area has great views over the

Hope Valley. If you rouse yourself early

enough, you will be rewarded with early

morning mists settling in the lower areas.

How to get there: From Sheffeld, take the

A625 (signposted to Castleton). Head

south-west along this road for approximately

seven miles. Here, the A265 turns off to the

south, but you want to continue straight, now

following the A6187. In just under two miles,

you’ll see the large car park on your right.

It’s only a half-mile walk to Millstone Edge.

What to shoot: Views across the valley,

rock formations and rare flowers.

Nearby locations: Bamford Edge (5 miles);

Wyming Brook Nature Reserve (7 miles).


John wins £200 for his great picture.

1.5 miles from Hathersage • 10 miles from Sheffeld ACCESS RATING

54 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 55

6 miles from Selby • 12 miles from York ACCESS RATING

Above Opposite (top) Opposite (below)

David Henderson Todor Tilev todortilev.com Matthew Grey matthewgrey.co.uk

Bubwith Old Railway Path,

North Yorkshire

The delightful, easy-going and accessible

riverside paths at Bubwith provide

picturesque options both to the north

and south along the splendid River Derwent.

How to get there: From York, take the A19

south towards Selby. After roughly 10 miles,

turn left on to the A163 to reach Bubwith

Bridge and car park just beyond. This

viewpoint is where the railway path meets

the River Derwent about a mile south of

the car park.

What to shoot: Riverside reflections and

views, old railway bridges and the wooded

disused railway line.

Other times of year: Interest all year.

Nearby locations: Skipwith Common (4 miles);

Coumeenoole beach,

County Kerry

Coumeenoole beach is a small,

secluded beach with jagged cliffs,

strong currents and stunning views

of the Blasket Islands and Dunmore Head.

How to get there: From Dingle, take the

R559. After 11 miles, park at Coumeenoole

beach car park. You have to walk a little bit

to the edge of the cliffs, from where you

have this spectacular view.

What to shoot: Seascapes, islands,

sheep and goats, rock formations

and Dunmore Head.

Other times of year: Any time of the year, but

autumn and winter are the best for sunrises.

Nearby locations: Clogher Head (4 miles);

Conor Pass (14 miles).

Porthleven beach,


This beach sits immediately outside of

Porthleven harbour. There is ample

parking, including free parking along

the harbour wall. Access couldn’t be easier

– once parked, simply walk out of the harbour

towards the sea on the eastern wall. The beach

has sloped and stepped access.

How to get there: Porthleven beach is seven

minutes from Helston Town along the B3304.

Just follow the signs for Porthleven.

What to shoot: Cornish fishing vessels,

harbour walls adorned with canons,

and beaches with granite outcrops.

Other times of year: Although a great

place to visit all year round, be aware that

the summer months can get very busy.

Nearby locations: The Loe (1 mile);

St Michael’s Mount (9 miles).

56 Outdoor Photography

9 miles from Tralee • 12 miles from Dingle ACCESS RATING

12 miles from Penzance • 14 miles from Falmouth ACCESS RATING

Outdoor Photography 57







Have you ever thought of writing, or have you written,

a book about your passion for photography? Do you

long to fill the gaps of your existing library?

Then why not contact us with your original idea or

fresh approach to your specialist subject? New and

inexperienced writers will be given expert advice and

guidance by our friendly and professional team.

Write to:

Jonathan Bailey, Books Publisher

The Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd,

86 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, UK, BN7 1XN

Telephone: +44 (0) 1273 477374

Email: jonathanb@thegmcgroup.com

Website: ammonitepress.com



Why ‘good enough’ is never good enough

One of the strangest paradoxes of photography is why, in the pursuit of creative excellence,

we are condemned to shoot so much average work, says Nick Smith

A few years ago, I was at a social function talking with

a junior doctor who was serving her stint in accident

and emergency at Greenwich Hospital. By her own

admission it wasn’t something she particularly enjoyed,

seeing it as a necessary evil that would propel her to the

next rung on the medical ladder. The work was always

exhausting and sometimes disturbing, while the hours

were long beyond belief. A&E workers, she told me, are

the only people who can tell you off the top of their

heads how many hours there are in a week: ‘168. I know

that because I’m awake for most of them.’ I asked her if

she was happy in her job. She replied: ‘I don’t do happy.’

As we talked further, Virginia revealed that by far

the best default emotional state for her to aspire to at

work was ‘all right’ or ‘OK’. The reason was that, in her

experience, you paid through the nose for happiness in

the professional context with a disproportionate debt

of unhappiness. It was, she told me, a rollercoaster you

didn’t want to be on, which was why you aimed for

something neutral, because you knew where you were

with ‘all right’, especially if you hadn’t slept properly

for days. Being possessed of better social skills than

I am, Virginia shifted the discussion to asking what

I did for a living. When I told her I was a photographer,

she asked me if it was something I enjoyed, to which

I replied: ‘Funnily enough, I don’t do all right.’

Her quizzical look needed answering and so

I explained my statement by saying that here in the

world of photography, where time is measured by

the hundredths of a second it takes for the shutter

to complete its journey, my biggest fear was of taking

average photographs. If it could be described as a

game, then it was won when you could say you’d

produced a photograph so far above average that it

made you happy. The downside, of course, was that

inevitably you would be guilty of frame after frame

of embarrassing dross coming out of your camera

which, in one of photography’s kinder allowances,

you could dispose of before anyone ever got to see.

If this happened too frequently, and if only rarely

punctuated by moments of success, you could indeed

‘pay through the nose’ with unhappiness. But that

was better than being average because there’s nothing

worse than ‘all right’ photos. Puzzled, she asked: ‘So

OK photography is worse than bad photography?’

To which I replied: ‘Well you seem to think feeling

all right is better than being happy.’

Perhaps it’s just as well that not all conversations

are so abstract, elliptical or existentialist. But it did

seem to prove (to me at least) something valuable about

how we get to where we’re going photographically and

why ‘good enough’ is, by something of a neat paradox,

rarely ever good enough. Had Virginia not suddenly

spotted a friend on the other side of the room, I’d have

elaborated on my point by saying that while it may at

first glance seem a little unorthodox, when editing a

photoset the first images I throw away are the ones

where there’s not a great deal wrong with them – in

other words the ‘all right’ ones.

I do this because these are the shots – far more than

the occasional stinker – that can accidentally end up

sticking to the edit and tragically bring down the level

of your portfolio. You always look for a reason to keep

an acceptable photograph, which should be the precise

moment you bin it instanter. I’m not sure why, but

I’ve often found divesting myself of the mid-ranking

work to be of far higher priority than chucking out

the shots beyond redemption. For sure, this might be

based on nothing more than superstition, but I have

sometimes changed by mind about material I initially

disliked, but I’ve never promoted pleasant nonsense up

the batting order.

While you can see why doctors would want to keep

themselves on an emotionally even keel, it’s hard to

imagine what use that might be to the photographer.

If we take it as axiomatic that a common ambition

is to produce imagery that talks to the viewer on an

aesthetically charged level, then it stands to reason

the artist behind the camera should find themselves

experiencing different emotions. As a writer who has

interviewed hundreds of photographers over the years,

I’m often surprised by the frequency with which I hear

variations on the theme that the purpose of the image

is to convey an emotion. I’m also slightly taken aback

when the photographer seems at a loss to explain what

that means, although why it needs clarification is

perhaps beside the point. In all those years of listening

to photographers I’ve not heard one raise the idea

that it was their creative ambition to produce ‘OK’

pictures. I suppose it’s our fate that this is what we

are condemned to come up with most of the time.

But none of us means to, that’s for certain.

Meanwhile I find myself thinking about my

physician friend, wondering if she’d feel the same

way about happiness were she to pick up a camera

and walk a while in the misty dawns or golden sunsets

of Lincolnshire or Kent, Somerset or Shropshire. But

I think her answer would probably be that as a doctor

she doesn’t have time for any of that subjective stuff.

After all, there are only 168 hours in a week.

59 Outdoor Photography


Up, Up and Away

Retired zoologist and university professor John Brackenbury combines two passions –

ultra high-speed photography and the natural world. He talks to Claire Blow about

his new book and how he captures his amazing close-ups

Reconstructed take-off sequence in a peacock butterfly (Inachis io).

Claire Blow: How did your interest

in insect flight come about?

John Brackenbury: I have always been

fascinated by insects; they are one of the

reasons I studied zoology at university.

Later I became interested in flight, initially

from a research point of view, but eventually

the love of photography for its own sake

took over. Many of the methods I currently

use were developed in those early days,

so it was relatively easy to refine them

for the new project.

CB: Your images are stunning but quite

unconventional – why are you keen to

include the wider landscape in your

compositions and how do you achieve this?

JB: For many years I practised what you might

call conventional macro photography, based

on the use of a macro lens. A macro lens has

a very shallow depth of focus, of the order of

centimetres or even millimetres, depending

on the image magnification. As a result, it

produces a beautifully detailed close-up image

of the subject isolated from its background,

and this kind of image has become the

accepted norm among close-up photographers.

I wanted to create a different kind of close-up

image, one that restored the background and

showed the insect as a figure in a landscape,

the same landscape that we ourselves enjoy,

with its rich tapestry of fields, sky, cloud and

sun. To my mind, this brings the viewer much

closer to the visual world of an insect, or

indeed any other small animal. Not an insect

sitting still on a flower, but in the process of

what insects are designed to do: flying.

60 Outdoor Photography

CB: Can you tell us a bit about your set-up?

JB: The technical challenges were

considerable. First, achieving the closeup-in-landscape

image: something which

I call a ‘panoramic close-up’. And second,

freezing the motion of the flying insect. In

brief, the first objective could be achieved

using an extreme wideangle lens possessing

a very small focal length, much smaller

than any normally found in conventional

photography. This lens had to be coupled to

a camera body which needed to be light in

the hand – all my photography is handheld

and, typically, I have only a second or two to

react to an opportunity. It also has to possess

the facility for a high-speed burst up to 60fps

because, in the nature of things, a single shot

will never capture the flying insect.

CB: What are the biggest challenges you

face when capturing your shots?

JB: The most important ingredient for

success is an understanding of the behaviour

of the insect. In practice, there is no time to

compose a picture so I have to shoot blind,

relying on instinct and guesswork. Only an

intimate understanding of the behaviour of

the quarry will allow you to cope with the

unpredictable – this kind of photography

is really a mini battle of wills between you

and the insect. I need to get within a few

centimetres of the insect and be ready with

my finger on the shutter button. You must

accept a high failure rate, try to stay alert

for several hours waiting for opportunities,

which may not actually show themselves

until you are about to give up and go home.

And the weather: the camera needs lots of

light, I nearly always shoot in full sunlight,

often aiming the camera directly at the sun

in order to achieve dynamic lighting effects

on the moving wings.

CB: How has photography enhanced

your understanding of insect behaviour

and flight?

JB: Being so close to an insect in flight

teaches you a lot about the time frame

in which it operates, how much ‘life’ an

insect squeezes into every second of time.

I quote the great physicist Carl Sagan, who

remarked, ‘a butterfly flutters for a day

and thinks it is forever’.

Right (top) Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina)

Right (below) Mating green-veined white

butterflies (Artogeia napi)

Outdoor Photography 61

Above Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Opposite (top) Marbled white (Melanargia galathea)

Opposite (below) Painted lady (Cynthia cardui)

62 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 63

Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina)

CB: You also make high-speed videos…

JB: High-speed video became a natural

extension of the things I was discovering

through my stills photography. Basically,

I capture the same kind of image but at about

1000fps and my eyes have become opened

anew at the complexity of life in the air.

A butterfly can turn through 90 degrees in

the air in a single stroke of its wings and I am

surprised at the frequency with which insects

collide with then bounce off vegetation as

they launch into flight – something invisible

to the naked eye. Seen through this new

perspective, there is so much to learn about

insect behaviour and flight.

CB: What do you hope to achieve

with your book?

JB: In my book I try to give the reader

a new pair of glasses in order to see the

world of a flying insect as it sees itself. In

effect, I try to transform the viewer into

a pint-sized Tom Thumb sitting next to a

flower as an insect takes off. I feel that this

approach is in keeping with new ideas of

conservation, the idea that all living things

share the same planet and that the closer you

acquaint yourself with another animal, even

something as ‘lowly’ as an insect, the more

you will become aware that it is far more

complex than you previously thought.

Up, Up and Away: The Flight of Butterflies

& Other Insects by John Brackenbury

is published by Brown Dog Books,

price £25 (hardback) or £9.99 (ebook).

64 Outdoor Photography

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Each issue, we publish the best images from those submitted to our Reader Gallery.

Turn to page 70 to find out how to enter your work. Here is this month’s winner...

Above Fireworks anemone | Opposite (top and below) Dahlia anemone

Winner Ross McLaren

Over the past two or three years I’ve really

delved into underwater photography

and have tried to use it to highlight the

incredible marine life we have here.

Scotland is world-famous for its rugged

mountains and epic landscapes, but so

few people get to experience, or even

know about, our underwater world – it

is just as untamed and magical.

Diving here presents plenty of challenges,

especially when it comes to photography.

We are far from the crystal-clear waters of

places like the Maldives, where visibility

can be up to 50m or more. In Scotland, 5m

is considered to be a ‘clear’ day. So, as you

can imagine, photography in the lochs

can be a little tricky. You never know what

you’re going to discover, from the regulars

such as crabs and squat lobsters to the more

elusive little cuttle and even the odd squid.

All the photos were taken in Loch Long,

Loch Fyne or Loch Leven (Glencoe). All

three are saltwater sea lochs, which open

out into the sea and offer a relative haven for

marine life to flourish. Every photo has its

own story, but the two that really stand out

are those of the squid and the little cuttle.

Both are a perfect example of the surprises

Scottish loch diving can throw you.

Hometown Kilwinning, Ayrshire

Occupation Chemistry teacher

Photographic experience Five years

66 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 67

68 Outdoor Photography

Opposite (top) Little cuttle | Opposite (below) Squid | Above Tube worm

Submit your best images and win great prizes.

This month’s winner, Ross McLaren, receives

a pair of Keen Circadia hiking boots, worth £115

Offering lightweight performance and comfort, the new Circadia is a classically

styled everyday hiker infused with Keen’s benchmark protection and durability.

The boots have a rugged, trail-ready silhouette and are constructed in a

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notched in back for additional Achilles comfort – they also feature a time-tested

toe bumper, distinctive underfoot cushioning and high-traction outsole.

Find out more at keenfootwear.com

Outdoor Photography 69

How to get published

See your work in print and win great prizes!

Submit your images online at outdoorphotographymagazine.co.uk

If you only do one thing this month

Enter our ‘Celebrating trees’ photo challenge (page 94) and you could have

your image published in OP 288. Plus, the winner will receive a M a n f r o tt o

Befree tripod, worth £220.

Reader Gallery

We’re looking for inspiring outdoor images

that work brilliantly as a set. As well as having

your work showcased in the magazine, there is

a superb prize on offer; next month’s winner

will receive a pair of Keen Circadia hiking

boots, worth £115.



We want to see your favourite UK and Irish viewpoints!

Send us up to 10 of your best digital images and if

one of them is selected it will be published in the

magazine. Plus, there’s £200 up for grabs

each month for the winning image.



Write for us!

We are always on the lookout for inspiring new features.

If you have a great idea for an article then please send a short

outline (more than 60 words), plus five accompanying images

for our consideration via our online submissions page.

Exhibitions and events

If you would like an exhibition or event to be included in OP,

please email Claire Blow at claire.blow@thegmcgroup.com

at least eight weeks in advance.


If you win a prize (If you only do one thing this month and Reader

Gallery) you agree we can give your contact details (address, email

and telephone number) to the prize sponsor so they can contact you

about sending your prize. They will not use your details for any

other purpose or pass them on to a third party.

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Photographing birds of prey

Thanks to the efforts of conservationists and reintroduction programmes, raptors

such as common buzzards and peregrine falcons are returning in numbers, but time

and fieldcraft are still needed to overcome their wariness, says Laurie Campbell

Several years ago, I was honoured to be invited

by the Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG)

to give a presentation of my work with birds

of prey in the Scottish Parliament Building

in Edinburgh to ministers, field workers and

representatives of many conservation groups

and government bodies. There was to be no

mention of politics, the continued persecution

of some species or egg collectors, just a

celebration of the diversity of species we have

for people to enjoy, plain and simple. I showed

pictures of a wide range of species and, as

always, took the opportunity to include some

of the various set-ups and hides I had used,

together with a few tales of my experiences of

working with this group of birds in the field.

Having spent much of my working life

photographing nature, I’ve always been

interested in working with birds of prey, but

it’s been a long, slow process to accumulate the

coverage I have on the 17 species I have in my

archive to date. One species, the golden eagle,

was always at the top of my wish list, just as

it would be if you were to ask visitors to the

Scottish Highlands which species of bird they

would like to see most. For many, this bird is

emblematic of the remote and wild landscapes

they inhabit.

For many people, all raptors have always

had a certain aura about them and this is

reflected in their reactions to any situations

where there is an opportunity to see them

in close-up, such as at bird of prey centres

and falconry displays. It also explains the

popularity of bird of prey workshops that

many professional photographers now offer.

Photographing birds of prey in the wild

is really time-consuming and challenging

because more than any other group of

species, they tend be the wariest because

of the long, sad history of persecution they

have suffered at the hands of people. Not

everyone has the time or field skills needed

to photograph birds of prey in the wild, but

in recent years, and coupled with the growth

Below This photograph of a female goshawk

peering around the side of a tree is of a captive

bird, and shows a much-used set-up that closely

emulates the famous ‘brother wolf’ image

taken by renowned North American nature

photographer Jim Brandenburg.

Nikon D3 with 500mm f/4 AF-S lens, ISO 500,

1/200sec at f/4, tripod, cable release

72 Outdoor Photography

in nature-based tourism, we have seen the

development of sites where it’s relatively easy

to see and photograph red kites, ospreys and

white-tailed sea eagles. All of these rely on

tempting the birds within range with bait

and are open to anyone who just wants to see

and enjoy the spectacle. On a smaller scale,

some operators offer dedicated photography

hides using bait to attract other species, such

as sparrowhawks, common buzzards, tawny

owls and kestrels.

The fortunes of many birds of prey

have changed for the better over the past

few decades, largely due to the efforts of

conservation organisations, scientists and

reintroduction programmes. Common

buzzards, for example, were a species that

throughout my childhood I would never see

in the countryside by our home in the Scottish

Borders. Now, they are an everyday occurrence.

Peregrine falcons are another success story and

it is heartening to see them now nesting on

many of our tall buildings in towns and cities.

There are many other good news stories and

by working responsibly, photography can play

an important role in sharing an insight into

the world of this charismatic group of birds.

Below Photographed from a hide set up within

20m of its nest, this female hen harrier is

carrying a sprig of heather as it flies directly

towards me. Shortly after this image was taken,

it must have heard my camera shutter firing

and veered off to one side.

Nikon D300 with 500mm f/4G VR lens,

ISO 400, 1/2000sec at f/5, tripod, hide

Changing status

Many UK species of birds of prey are classed as

rare and vulnerable and are therefore protected

from disturbance by law under the Wildlife &

Countryside Act 1981. Schedule One of the Act

includes around 100 species of birds and states

that it is a criminal offence to ‘intentionally or

recklessly disturb the bird while it is at or near

its nest and including dependent young’.

Fortunately, as with other activities such as

bird ringing, where there is a risk of disturbance,

photography is permissible, but it is controlled

by a system of licensing. Check government

websites for more details of the act and

how to apply for a photography licence.

The status of some species changes. For

example, sparrowhawks were once considered

so rare that in the early 1980s, I needed to obtain

a photography licence to photograph them

near to the nest. This is no longer necessary

thanks to an increase in their numbers to

levels close to where they once were.

Long lenses alone are usually never enough

to guarantee close-ups of many species of

birds of prey and any success often comes

down to the use of fieldcraft too, even if it’s only

using a car as a hide. As with all animals, it’s

crucial to have an appreciation of their senses

and with birds, it’s their senses of sight and

hearing that are most highly developed. Using

a mirrorless camera in silent mode is a massive

advantage, but the eyesight of all birds of prey

is astonishingly good. Consider, for example,

that of a golden eagle, which can spot an item

of prey the size of a rabbit from over a kilometre

away. A single layer of scrim netting over the

front opening of a hide just won’t work.

As we see more and more photographs

of captive birds of prey online and being

published, it may seem there is little incentive

to put so much effort into photographing their

counterparts in the wild. Of course, that’s only

part of the story, with the plus side being the

immense sense of satisfaction to be had when

we do succeed. The experience of perfecting

fieldcraft techniques is always a bonus.

Outdoor Photography 73


Laurie’s October highlights


It can sometimes be diffcult to

capture the grandeur of trees in

autumn colours, especially where

we would like to show some detail

of the shape and structure of the

leaves. Shooting individual sprigs

of leaves using long lenses so that

background is rendered a blur

of the same colour can certainly

work. At the other extreme, a

fisheye lens positioned beneath

low, overhanging branches,

such as with this Norway

maple (Acer platanoides),

can be just as effective.

Nikon D300 with 10.5mm

f/2.8 fisheye lens, ISO 200,

1/125sec at f/14, handheld

Opposite (top)

The Woodland Trust is conducting

an ongoing survey to record all

the ancient and veteran trees

in the UK. To locate those close

to where you live, go online and

search for ‘woodland trust ancient

tree inventory’. With 180,000

trees already listed, there are

bound to be a few nearby. From

now, and throughout the coming

winter, visiting and photographing

a selection of trees could be the

start of an interesting project.

Nikon D3X with 70-200mm

f/2.8 lens at 100mm, ISO 100,

0.62sec at f/9, tripod, cable

release, mirror lock-up

Opposite (middle)

From October, huge flocks of

overwintering pink-footed geese

(Anser brachyrhynchus), often

numbering tens of thousands of

birds, make their way to traditional

roost sites to spend the night on

the comparative safety of water.

They arrive at much the same time

each evening and, early in the

month, this happily coincides with

sunset. Leave it too long and those

same skeins of geese will still be

arriving at the same time, but it may

be too dark to photograph them.

Nikon D3 with 500mm f/4

VR lens, ISO 800, 1/320sec

at f/5, tripod, hide

Opposite (below)

Many people will have collected

the fallen fruits of horse chestnut

(Aesculus hippocastanum),

whether to play conkers or to

simply admire their beautiful

colour and texture. When gathered

together, spread out on the

ground and photographed from

above, they offer an opportunity

for close-up photography that

doesn’t require the use of a macro

lens. A similar approach can be

used with other fruits, such as

beech mast and hazelnuts.

Nikon D3X with 200mm f/4

IF-ED micro lens, ISO 100,

1.3sec at f/22, tripod, cable

release, mirror lock-up

74 Outdoor Photography

More seasonal subjects


Sessile oak

Nikon F4S with 200mm f/4 IF-ED micro lens,

Fujichrome Velvia 50, 1/8sec at f/22, tripod,

cable release, mirror lock-up

Oak acorns – whether they are from English

(Quercus robur) or sessile (Quercus petraea)

oaks, fallen acorns always offer lots of scope

for macro photography.

Black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) – flowering

times are usually quoted as being from June to

September, but I have photographs I took in

the first week of November. Climate change?

Green elfcup fungi (Chlorociboria

aeruginascens) – found mostly on decaying

fallen branches, the turquoise-blue fruiting

bodies are more diffcult to find than the

green-stained wood.


Goldeneye duck

Nikon D2X with 500mm f/4 AF-S lens,

ISO 200, 1/800sec at f/6.3, tripod

Fallow deer (Dama dama) – the rutting

season coincides with that of red deer

(Cervus elaphus), but we see far fewer

photographs of rutting fallow deer.

Goldeneye duck (Bucephala clangula) – with

only a tiny breeding population in the Scottish

Highlands, the arrival of overwintering birds

offers the best chance for photography.

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) – these

migratory fish will still be leaping waterfalls in

autumn, but the silvery colour of the male fish in

summer is replaced by pinks and reds.

Outdoor Photography 75


Between the cracks

Fearing that flat light and unpredictable

subjects had scuppered the mission,

this split-second scene provided

Harry Skeggs with the perfect

depiction of danger and fragility

It’s so important to me and my work that the

narrative is already clear in my head long

before I take a single frame. With wildlife

photography, so little is in your control – the

light, the sightings, the behaviour – which

means you must be constantly reactive to your

surroundings and be in total control of what

elements you can. By having a predetermined

narrative, it’s possible to narrow your focus to

only that which works for you, amid the

chaotic maelstrom that is nature.

This was exactly the case as we headed out

to Antarctica. Working with the WWF, we had

decided we wanted images that spoke of fragility

and loss, to visually capture the tragic issues

facing the frozen south, the battleground of

climate change. This is a surprisingly hard

metaphor to convey and, for the first half of the

expedition, I struggled to get the sort of power

I was looking for; the power that I hoped

might speak to audiences.

As the anchor lifted to leave the Antarctic

peninsula, to sail the famous Shackleton route

from Elephant Island to South Georgia, my

spirits were low. Plagued by flat light and

unpredictable wildlife sightings, the image I was

looking for had eluded me. As I hunkered down

in the mess of our icebreaker, I looked dejectedly

out of the window, with a profound sense I had

let this incredible icy wilderness down. But, as is

so often the way with nature photography, it was

at this point that an image revealed itself.

Through the porthole, an enormous iceberg

slipped silently by, tipped on its axis from where

a shelf had collapsed, revealing a smooth,

sea-washed underbelly. On its shimmering blue

ice sat a large colony of chinstrap penguins –

penguins we had struggled to find, as they only

use ice to lay their eggs and, with many of our

landing sites unbearably warm, they had moved

from their historic and predictable nesting sites.

What makes this image work is the ominous

crack running through the looming shelf,

seemingly ready to drop and crush the nesting

colony beneath at any moment. It has the

brooding sense of danger and fragility I was

looking for and, for the few seconds that it passed

us by, I knew it had the strongest narrative of

anything we’d seen. No sooner had it arrived, it

was gone and the moment was over – so quickly,

in fact, that, other than two passengers who had

followed me out, none of the 140-strong ship saw

this incredible scene.

76 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 77



On the wing

Proving that rare birds can appear anywhere at any time, Steve Young returned to north Wales to catch a glimpse

of a squacco heron feeding. Even though it was too far away for great photos, he still managed a few record shots

For the first time in a very long time, last

August I spent a week in a caravan near Towyn

in north Wales, bringing back memories of

childhood holidays at various destinations in

the same country.

With me this time were the grandchildren

and their parents and it was great fun sharing

a room with my five-year-old grandson while

grandma shared with our granddaughter.

A great time was had by all (apart from my

grandson falling out of bed quite regularly).

I did try to do a little bit of birding/

photography on a couple of walks, but saw

virtually nothing for my trouble, just a few

distant terns and the odd oystercatcher.

A couple of weeks later, news of a rare

squacco heron (a southern European breeder

that winters in Africa) came through and

I glanced with interest when seeing it was in

north Wales, then stared in disbelief when

I realised it was literally a few hundred yards

from the caravan site we had stayed at. As

I knew almost exactly where it was and being

only just over an hour away, I decided to pay

a visit to see if I could photograph a species

that was not yet on my digital photo list.

Images had been posted overnight of the

bird showing amazingly well at a small pool on

a nature reserve (I was unaware of this reserve

during our stay in the area), so hopes were high

as I set off to a familiar destination.

My hopes were soon dashed when I arrived

to join a small crowd of birders; there had been

no sign since earlier, the bird having gone from

in front of one of the hides where it had been

‘showing superbly Steve, you should have been

here’. Yes, yes, thank you, heard it so many

times before. Not to worry, it was a pleasant

day and a walk around an unknown reserve is

always nice, even though I saw hardly anything

apart from a few common species.

Then, the good news: the squacco heron

had reappeared a few hundred yards away. A

quick walk and I was watching the bird feeding

along a large reed-fringed lake in perfect light,

although at quite a distance so not ideal for

photography. However, it was still a lovely

setting and, determined to at least have a

record shot, I found myself a gap in the trees

and took a few images as the heron moved

along the lake edge, occasionally running and

jumping as it tried to catch dragonflies. At one

point, it ran and flapped its white wings, which

are a total contrast to the rest of the body.

Luckily, the shutter fired at the right moment

to capture a nice-looking shot.

A couple of flight views followed, when at

one point it appeared to be heading back to

the reserve ponds, resulting in an actual run

to the hide. But it didn’t arrive, instead feeding

in even more distant creeks and ditches out

of sight. Despite the disappointment of not

having close views, it had been an enjoyable

day and shows that rare birds can turn up

anywhere. I just wished it had appeared a

couple of weeks earlier while I was just a few

hundred yards away in a caravan.

Left Sadly, the squacco was never really close

and this image, taken with a 500mm lens

on a D500, has been cropped.

Below The whole appearance of the squacco

changed when it flapped its wings while chasing

dragonflies along the water’s edge, the gleaming

white wings making it look like a different bird.

78 Outdoor Photography


Our bird of the month last issue was dunlin

and in autumn, this common species can

act as a ‘carrier’ for other waders that join in

with dunlin flocks and move with them. Little

stint falls into this category, as does our latest

bird of the month, curlew sandpiper, and it is

possible to see all three together.

Curlew sandpiper is so-called because of its

longer ‘curlew-like’ down-curved bill, but it is

nowhere near as long as curlew. It can be hard

to tell from dunlin to those who are not familiar

with the species, but most birds in the UK will

be juveniles at this time of year and can have a

peachy/buff wash on the breast and are larger

than dunlin, noticeable if seen side by side.

The legs are also longer. Plus, if you manage

to see one in flight, it will show a white rump.

All the slight differences combine to make

curlew sandpiper easier to find and identify

than you may think.


Left Seen here with a dunlin (left bird), and

despite being taken in mid-October, this is a

bright-looking curlew sandpiper complete with

a buff-orangey wash on the breast.

Centre This bird was photographed in September,

but it appears more washed-out than the

one with the dunlin.

Right Two birds together in flight – you can just

see the white rump on the right-hand bird.

Shooting bathing birds can be a lot of fun, both

for the bird and photographer, but it can also

be very unpredictable. I’ve spent hours sat by

bird baths while on catalogue commissions,

desperately wanting a blackbird, blue tit or any

species to use it for a prolonged bath, but to no

avail. Then I would walk back to the car to find a

song thrush bathing in a dirty muddy puddle…

Although the smaller species can be tricky

to catch while bathing, the larger birds found

at your local park won’t be, and species such

as coot, mute swan and Canada goose will

all splash about on ponds and lakes on

a daily basis – you just have to be ready when

it happens.

Fast shutter speeds will freeze the wings and

water, while slower speeds will result in blurred

wings and water. There’s only one way to find

out which works best for you and that is to try

them for yourself and see which you prefer.

Top (left) One of the easiest to photograph is

coot – an hour or two spent in a local park will

eventually provide a bathing bird, providing you

have the patience.

Top (right) Not so easy is snipe, but September

sees a build-up of this species at my local reserve

and occasionally they come out into the open to

bathe. A 1.4x converter was used on a 500mm lens.

Below (right) Unless you have a permanent pond

in your garden or at a feeding station, the smaller

species can be diffcult to photograph bathing.

This robin was in a muddy ditch taking a quick

bath when I stumbled across it and managed

a few shots before it flew off.

Outdoor Photography 79


The OP guide to…sleeping mats

Even with the best sleeping bag in the world, you’ll risk a cold and uncomfortable night in

your tent if your sleeping mat isn’t up to scratch. Here are five of our favourite options

Alpkit Airo 180 Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Best for occasional spring and summer use

A step up from a standard foam mat, a self-inflating sleeping mat offers a

little more comfort, a little more warmth and a lot more packability, with the

trade-off being they’re slightly heavier and cost more. The Airo 180 has a

contoured shape that matches the outline of a mummy-style sleeping bag.

This helps keep weight down to a little under 600g and allows a rolled pack

size of just 27x13cm. With an R-value of 2.8 and a thickness of 2.5cm, it

offers a decent amount of insulation for spring and summer camping and

a reasonable amount of cushioning. Like all self-inflating mats, you need to

take the term ‘self-inflating’ with a pinch of salt. Yes, given enough time with

the inflation valve left open, the foam inside the nylon shell will fully expand

(and you can help maintain its expandability by always storing the mat fully

inflated), but the chances are you’ll be giving it a few lungs full of puff to get it

to a suitable firmness. And a puncture will render the mat unusable, which

is why, like most mats of this type, the Airo 180 comes with a repair kit.

£54.99 alpkit.com

Decathlon Forclaz Folding Foam Mat

Best for campers on a budget

The traditional foam sleeping mat is much beloved of Duke of Edinburgh

participants and those just starting out on their wild camping adventures. It’s

easy to see why. Whether you go for a typical roll mat or a folding design, like

this one from Decathlon, they’re cheap, lightweight (this is 480g) and almost

indestructible – you can’t puncture a foam mat and tears can be fixed with

duct tape. The biggest issue is they tend to be a little bulky, which inevitably

means they end up being carried on the outside of a pack, but because

they’re impervious to water this isn’t too much of a problem. They’re also

not the warmest or the most cushioning options available – the Forclaz’s

R-value (a measurement of how well the mat insulates) is only 2.1 and

it’s just 2cm thick. But it’s hard to complain when

they cost so little. Finally, when the mat does

eventually reach the end of its usability, you

can cut it down to make a convenient

lightweight sit or kneel-mat.

£14.99 decathlon.co.uk

80 Outdoor Photography


Robens Polarshield 120

Best for car campers who value comfort

The advantage of campsite camping is that you can usually park your car

fairly close to your tent. In such instances, the weight of your kit becomes

less important than its ability to fulfil its purpose. Weighing 2,425g and

with a far from svelte pack size of 39x28cm, the Robens Polarshield

120 is not a sleeping mat you want to be carrying any distance. Given

its price, it’s also not the kind of mat you’ll want to risk damaging in the

wilds of the countryside. But what you get from this heavyweight

and rather expensive mat is something about as close to your

mattress at home as you can get in a tent. With a positively

luxurious depth of 12cm, this is not a mat you’ll struggle

to get comfortable on, and at 77cm wide it also offers

more space than typical sleeping mats. It’s cosy R-value

of 5.0 means it can be used almost all year round and,

perhaps most amazingly, it’s self-inflating. Simply open

the peak valve with one-way technology and the mat will

take care of the rest (although, as we’ve already mentioned,

if you prefer a firmer mat you may need to do some puffng).

£197.99 robens.de

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Mat

Best for weight-conscious campers

If keeping weight and pack size to a minimum is essential,

then there’s only one option: an inflatable sleeping mat.

These have a lot in common with a holiday lilo in that their

firmness is governed by how much air you blow into them.

They have the advantage of packing down incredibly small

and weighing very little – the NeoAir XLite weighs just 360g

for the regular length version and measures 23x10cm when

in its stuff sack, yet offers a 6.4cm thickness. A fully inflatable

mat can cost less than a self-inflating mat too, but you’ll notice that

this Therm-a-rest doesn’t, and with good reason. Cheap, fully inflatable

mats offer plenty of cushioning, but very little insulation. They’re also

easily damaged. The NeoAir XLite is made from tough 30D HT Nylon and

features an internal reflective coating and triangular baffes to reduce heat

loss, giving it an impressive R-value of 4.2. It also comes with a pump

sack, allowing the mat to be inflated without using your breath, which can

introduce moisture into the mat, leading to mildew or mould growth.

£185 thermarest.com

Exped Ultra 7R Sleeping Mat

Best for winter wild camping

What if you intend to camp out in the coldest conditions

of winter but still need a mat that’s light and packable

enough to be carried into the wilderness? The Exped Ultra

7R is, essentially, an inflatable mattress, but one with a clever

heat-retaining twist. Air chambers run throughout the length

of the mat to provide 9cm of supportive cushioning, and these

air chambers contain 700 fill-power down – insulation more

typically found in jackets and sleeping bags. This down boosts

the Exped’s R-value to a mighty 7.1, making it suitable for

temperatures as low as -30°C. Because down can be adversely

affected by moisture, inflating the Ultra mat with your breath isn’t

recommended. Instead, a delightfully named Schnozzel Pumpbag

is provided, which enables inflation without involving your lungs. The

insulation adds a bit of bulk, but the Ultra 7R Sleeping Mat is still far from chunky,

weighing 650g and packing down to 23x14cm. The 20D ripstop polyester outer

is recycled, the down is RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified, and all

Exped mats are carbon neutral. Plus, wider and longer versions are available too.

£255 outwell.com

Outdoor Photography 81


DJI Mini 3 Pro

Drones are still a divisive topic for landscapers, but one thing is indisputable – the latest models have

tremendous quality and can shoot scenes that would otherwise be impossible. Is the new Mini 3 Pro

the best yet? Kingsley Singleton finds out

Guide price £859 (with DJI RC controller)

Contact dji.com



controller is a real

upgrade on the

regular model,

with a 5in screen.

Opposite (top)

Drones might not

be everyone’s cup

of tea, but they

offer views you

can’t get without

a 50ft tripod.

Opposite (below)

One of the Mini 3

Pro’s highlights is

its new gimbal,

which can swing

into a vertical


I’ve long found drones a compelling

option for scenics, but have often

been held back by size, weight and,

frankly, fear. Fear of upsetting others

in the environment, fear of alarming

wildlife and fear of crashing. The

DJI Mini 3 Pro solves a lot of these

issues. It’s a sub-250g model, meaning

it can be flown without masses of

regulation, fits into a bag or pocket

with ease and is quieter than most.

It also offers far better features than

DJI’s Mini 2, which I owned previously

before it had a disagreement with a

tree over a brook.

When it comes to not turning


Very small and light

Excellent stills and video

Stable in light wind

Collision sensors


Some stills options missing

No side sensors

your drone into a submarine, the

big difference is the Mini 3 Pro’s

obstacle-avoidance sensors, which

DJI calls APAS 4.0 (Advanced Pilot

Assistance Systems). It has six

sensors – two forward, two back

and two downward. The Mini 2 only

had downward sensors, so could

easily clip obstacles, and if you flew

it at your head it wouldn’t stop. The

only limitation is a lack of sideways

sensors, and this actually means that

sideways flight is disabled unless

you opt for it.

The Mini 3 Pro’s sensors work very

well, and if you’re planning to use the

drone’s Active Track feature to follow

a subject, it can be set to Bypass or

Brake, either evading or stopping

altogether when there’s a danger. The

feature can also be turned off, but

that seems a bit mad to me.

There’s also a rotating gimbal,

which lets you shoot both stills

and video in upright format. It’s

an incredibly useful option, and as

someone who shoots mostly vertical

landscapes, a real plus point for

me. Previously, you’d be looking at

cropping a horizontal frame and

losing pixels, or creating a vertical

panorama by manually angling the

gimbal, which takes longer and risks

the images not lining up in post.

There’s a 90º down mode, but you can

also now swing the gimbal up by 60º.

Of course, there’s no point having

this aerial platform if stills from it

are rubbish. Fortunately, the Mini 3

82 Outdoor Photography


Pro delivers some very nice results

and options for editing. The 1/1.3in

Quad Bayer CMOS sensor has a 4:3

format, a 12mm diagonal size and a

48MP 8064x6048px resolution, but

this can be downsampled to 12MP

for quicker shooting. Comparing the

detail from the two, both options are

very useful and I didn’t notice any

softness in the 48MP version, which

you might expect if the platform was

unsteady, but they take a fraction

longer to produce.

Speaking of steadiness, the Mini 3

Pro is a lightweight frame, but claims

wind-speed resistance up to 10.7m/s,

which is about 24mph. Obviously, the

slower the wind speed, the sharper

shots you’d expect, but there are

other variables, such as the distance

from a subject, too. Broadly, I flew

in conditions from 8mph to 15mph

and saw no problems. It’s worth

noting that the stronger the wind, the

shorter the flight time, with the props

and gimbal having to work harder.

The camera’s view is a 24mm

equivalent and it has a fixed f/1.7

aperture. There’s a 2x zoom setting,

but this just crops the image. There

are Auto and Pro exposure modes

and in the former, there’s exposure

compensation but nothing else. In the

latter, there’s full control over shutter

speed, ISO and white balance. Shutter

speed runs from 1/8000sec to 2sec,

meaning you can get sharper results

on windy days, and some subject

movement will be achievable when

conditions are very calm. Snap-on

NDs are available for that.

In terms of tackling the perennial

landscape problem of dynamic range,

there are a few options. Shots can

be bracketed in threes or fives, but

unfortunately there’s no option to

set just under or over brackets.

These fire off quickly so blending was

no problem, but there’s no bracketing

in the 48MP mode. What’s more,

the bracketing is limited to

0.7EV increments.

The Mini 3 Pro can shoot DNGformat

Raws as well as Jpegs,

although not Raws alone. The latitude

is pretty good for a small chip and,

in Photoshop, I recovered highlights

well from about 2 stops overexposed.

As you’d expect, shadows are more

forgiving, and pumping them up by

4 stops didn’t show too much noise.

Outdoor Photography 83

12 MP 48 MP


It takes fractionally longer to save the 48MP files,

but if conditions are right, the extra detail is worth it.

However, there’s currently no auto bracketing in this mode.


Sensor 1/1.3in Quad Bayer CMOS (9.6x7.2mm)

Resolution 48MP (8064x6048px) and 12MP

(4032x3024px) mode

Shutter speed 2sec to 1/8000sec

ISO 100-6400

Movie mode Maximum 4K 60p with

10-bit D-Cinelike mode

Card format Micro SD

Power Intelligent Flight Battery lithium ion

Flight time Max 34mins

Range 12km

Size 145x90x62mm (folded); 251x362x70mm

(unfolded with props)

Weight 249g with battery and card

Noise is also handled well, opening

up the possibility for low-light shots.

I’d be pretty comfortable shooting

up to ISO 1600, although even the

maximum ISO 6400 isn’t bad when

you consider this is a small sensor.

What’s more, modern Raw processing

software such as DxO’s PureRAW can

improve matters by at least 2 stops.

Video not being an OP reader’s

primary interest, I won’t go into much

detail here, but results are excellent,

in no small part due to the Mini 3

Pro’s D-Cinelike setting, which gives

greater dynamic range and quality via

10-bit footage. Some restrictions apply

if you push the maximum 4K beyond

30fps – for instance, the Active Track

mode isn’t available at 48fps, 50fps or

60fps – but there’s still masses to like.

Footage is highly detailed and very

smooth. There’s also a 1080p 120fps

mode, and a neat hyperlapse setting

that gives you a sped-up file, but also

the original video to play with.

As for buying options, you can

get the Mini 3 Pro alone at £639 (for

instance, if you have an existing

controller, having dropped your

Mini 2 in a river), with a standard

RC-N1 controller at £709, or with

the new DJI RC controller at £859.

The regular controller requires you

to add a phone in a cradle, which I

always found a pain (flights would be

interrupted by notifications and so

on). The DJI RC controller has a 5in

built-in screen that’s nice and bright,

plus it offers easier download of

images. It felt like a no-brainer to me,

and I’m glad I picked it.


This is a fantastic piece of kit and

thanks to its greater number of

sensors, a safer one too. Video

footage is superb for the price

and the stills are very good. You

have to accept the limitations of

the 1/1.3in sensor and work with

them, but ultimately, for the price

of a lens you’re getting previously

impossible angles on the world.


Handling 92%

Performance 90%

Specification 94%

Value 90%

Overall 91.5%

84 Outdoor Photography


Photography Workshops

Supported by Kase Filters, UK Digital and Novo

Take your photography to the next level with Sarah Howard

Dorset’s Jurassic Coast - October 7th - 9th 2022

The spectacular scenery of

the Jurassic coast with icons

such as Durdle Door, Corfe

Castle and Kimmeridge Bay

is unmissable.

©Sarah Howard

©Sarah Howard

More upcoming workshops

©Martyn Ferry

©Sarah Howard

©Sarah Howard

©Sarah Howard

Long Exposure Workshop

Sept 8th & 21st, Oct 23rd, Nov 4th

Dramatic North Cornwall

September 22nd - 25th

Waterfalls of the Vale of Neath

October 12th

The Lake District

November 3rd - 6th

Practical based workshops • Expert tuition

All abilities welcome • Inspiring locations • Small group sizes

For more information on all our workshops

www.imageseen.co.uk 07760 498 112


Marmot Always Summer

sleeping bag

Ready for your autumn and winter

shoots? This warm mummy-style

bag is great for camping on

location, or even waiting out

long exposures on the hill,

but it’s also light and packs

down small. Made of waterresistant,

recycled ripstop

shell and lining fabrics and

with 650 fill power duck

down insulation, it has neat

internal stash pockets to

keep personal items safe

and batteries warm in

plunging temperatures,

measures 19x41cm

when packed and

weighs 830g.

Guide price £200


Canon RF 15-30mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

Measuring 76.6x88.4mm and weighing 390g, the RF 15-30mm

f/4.5-6.3 IS STM looks like a great option for Canon EOS R users

who want a lightweight set-up for travel or hiking. Offering great

versatility with an ultra-wide framing at one end and a less extreme

angle at the other, it also offers a very respectable 13cm minimum

focusing distance, which gives a 0.5x magnification and near-macro

details, great for textures and foreground objects. If you’re shooting

handheld, there’s a 5.5-stop optical image stabiliser too.

Guide price £669 canon.co.uk


Lowepro Trekker Lite BP 250 AW

The Trekker Lite BP 250 combines great performance with

sustainability, being part of Lowepro’s ‘green line’ that uses recycled

plastics and other materials as well as a less wasteful dying process.

Aimed at travel and lightweight kits, the backpack will typically take a

smaller mirrorless camera with lens attached, one or two extra lenses,

and a few other accessories. The bag can also take up to a 15in laptop,

comes in black or grey, measures 29x18.5x49cm and weighs 1kg.

Guide price £159 lowepro.com

Sprayway Cape Wrath jacket

The Cape Wrath is a lightweight shell with a Gore-Tex Paclite Plus

2.5 layer, 75D 100% recycled polyester weave and a host of weatherdefying

features. There’s a fully adjustable hood with a wired peak

and roll away tabs to secure it when not in use, as well as large,

zipped hand pockets (one of which converts into a stuff sack), an

inner pocket, adjustable cuffs and drawcord hem. The centre YKK zip

also has a tabbed storm guard. It comes in several colours and sizes

of 8 to 18 in women’s fit and small to XXL in men’s.

Guide price £200 sprayway.com

86 Outdoor Photography


EDZ All Climate merino socks

Once you get hooked on proper walking

socks, their comfort is tough to give up in the

hotter months. Fortunately, lighter weights

can still give great performance, and EDZ’s

All Climate socks are a superb example.

Suitable for wearing across a wide range of

temperatures and conditions, they use a

merino wool, acrylic, elastine and nylon

mix for optimum performance and

durability, while loop-pile padding

allows greater comfort. They come

in sizes 3-5, 6-8, 9-11 and 12-13.

Guide price £11.99 edz.co.uk

Haglöfs L.I.M ZT Base

Inspired by the harsh landscapes of

Greenland, Haglöf’s new L.I.M ZT series is

designed and tested to withstand the most

brutal of conditions. As well as delivering

30% less humidity than conventional layering

systems, the pieces are built to reduce the

feelings of being either too hot or too cold.

One part of the collection is the L.I.M ZT

Base, a quick-drying base layer optimised

to rapidly move humidity away from the skin

and offering a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

As with all the pieces in the collection, it’s

available in men’s and women’s versions.

Guide price £110 haglofs.com

Keela Pregnancy Panels

British outdoor clothing brand Keela has

released a new range of zip-in pregnancy

panels, giving expectant women all the

comfort and protection they need to keep

working or enjoying nature. These panels,

which attach smoothly to a garment’s main

zip, also mean the wearer can continue

to use their regular Keela gear during and

after pregnancy, saving money and avoiding

waste. Available in a broad range of colours,

fabrics and sizes, they’re made to order,

taking about two weeks to fulfil.

Guide price £16.95 keela.co.uk

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG DN Art

Designed for low-light landscapes and highquality

general scenics, Sigma’s 20mm

f/1.4 DG DN Art has great light-gathering

potential and superb sharpness. The

wideangle prime features 17 elements in

14 groups, as well as two FLD, one SLD

and four aspherical elements along with

Sigma’s Super Multi-Layer coatings.

Helpfully for astrophotography, the lens also

has a focus lock and there’s a Lens Heater

Retainer to hold a heat strip in position and

prevent condensation. Available in Sony E

and L-mount, there’s also an 82mm front

filter thread and it’s relatively light at 635g.

Guide price £859 sigma-imaging-uk.com

Outdoor Photography 87


88 Outdoor Photography

If you only do one

thing this month…



In issue 282 we asked

you to send us your best

images of birds, and we

were wowed by your entries.

Here’s the winning picture

by Geraint Evans, who

receives a Keela Hydron

Softshell Jacket, and

our superb runners-up.

For details of our next

challenge, turn to page 94


Geraint Evans

Starlings, taken on the day Boris

Johnson resigned, in my back garden.

Nikon D850 with 300mm lens and 1.7x

teleconverter, ISO 720, 1/2000sec at f/4.8

Outdoor Photography 89


Left (top) Ian Doris

Striated heron watching coffee-coloured

waters in Los Llanos, Colombia.

Nikon P1000, ISO 125, 1/500sec at f/5.6

Left (middle) Tony Matthews

Golden eagle in a blizzard.

Canon EOS-1D MkII with 500mm lens

and 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 2000, 1/500sec

at f/5.6, mounted on fixing in hide

Left (below) Peter Ormsby

I had a robin’s nest in my garden,

and after the young had fledged,

I captured this shot of a parent feeding

one of the young on a branch.

Fujifilm X-T3 with 100-400mm

lens, ISO 1250, 1/160sec at f/8

Opposite (top) Jonathan Gaunt

Photographed from my woodland hide

in Northumberland, this image of a

nuthatch shows typical feeding behaviour.

The bird will wedge a nut into a crevice

in a branch or tree trunk and proceed

to break it up with its powerful bill.

Canon EOS-1D X with 500mm lens,

ISO 4000, 1/1600sec at f/5.6, beanbag

Opposite (below) Steve Palmer

This was shot early one morning at Black

Lake, Lindow Common, Wilmslow.

Persistence and a bit of luck had the grebe

parents feeding their young ones close to

me and I just loved this tender little scene.

Sony A7R III with 100-400mm lens,

ISO 1600, 1/1000sec at f/5.6

90 Outdoor Photography


Outdoor Photography 91


Left (top) Elaine Hagget

Robin photographed while on a walk at

Bosherston Lily Ponds, Pembrokeshire.

Canon EOS 40D with 70-300mm

lens, ISO 250, 1/100sec at f/5.6

Left (middle) Angus Reid

Fledgling lapwing rim lit by sunlight

among the grasses on farmland in

Northumberland, where a byway allows

access. I was using my car as a hide.

Nikon D810 with 200-500mm lens,

ISO 400, 1/500sec at f/5.6

Left (below) Jane Hope

Earlier this year, I spent time

experimenting with shots of small birds

in flight, trying to freeze the movements

of wings and the translucence of

feathers. This image captures two siskins

squabbling as one of the birds appears

to be uttering a rebuke to the other.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with 300mm

lens, ISO 5000, 1/4000sec at f/9, tripod

Opposite (top left) Mark James

A whitethroat on Ceredigion

Coast Path, near New Quay.

Canon EOS R5 with 150-600mm

lens, ISO 3200, 1/4000sec at f/11

Opposite (top right) James Hunter

I was shooting sunset at some cliffs on

the Faroe Islands when a few puffns

joined me. Puffns spend most of their

life at sea, only coming ashore to places

like the Faroe Islands to mate and

nest during the summer months.

Sony A7R III with 70-200mm lens,

ISO 100, 1/320sec at f/5.6

Opposite (below left) Geraint Evans

Flexing kingfisher on the

River Wharfe, Yorkshire.

Nikon D850 with 300mm lens and 1.7x

teleconverter, ISO 500, 1/2500sec at f/5

Opposite (below right) Elaine Inman

Alkborough Flats, Lincolnshire. Several

egrets sat on a pile of dead reeds and

one of them was looking incredibly

beautiful preening its feathers.

Nikon D500 with 600mm lens,

ISO 100, 1/250sec at f/8

92 Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography 93


Left (top) Ulrike Eisenmann

A great egret, flying between dead trees close

to a gorgeous little lake in Bavaria, Germany.

Nikon Z 7 with 24-200mm lens,

ISO 1000, 1/2000sec at f/6.3

Left (below) Neil MacGregor

Male kingfisher on a bullrush, taken

from a nature hide near Dumfries.

Nikon D3S with 200-400mm lens,

ISO 3200, 1/1600sec at f/4

Your next challenge

Enter online now!

Celebrating trees

This month, we are asking you to highlight

the precious beauty of trees. From fir to

oak, from the many varieties of blossoming

fruits to sculpted yews, there are so many

varieties of trees to photograph. Their

vital presence in our landscape deserves

to be celebrated, so send us your best

images where trees are the star. The

winner and runners-up will be published

in OP 288. To enter your images, go to


submissions. The closing date for

entries is midnight on 21 October.

See page 70 for more details

and terms and conditions.

Enter and you could win a

Manfrotto Befree Advanced

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Twist, worth £220!

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Completing the package is the

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Find out more at manfrotto.com

94 Outdoor Photography


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Outdoor Photography (ISSN 1470-5400)

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© Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd. 2022

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Your guide to shooting woodland

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outdoorphotographymag Ocellated turkey by Leander Khil, from Bird Photographer of the Year 2022 © Leander Khil / Bird Photographer of the Year 2022

96 Outdoor Photography

96 Outdoor Photography April 2020

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