Waves and more waves

This year continues to be all about waves. I am delighted to have won the Sunday Times Magazine’s award in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016 with my image, Maelstrom, taken during Storm Imogen in February.



I had 5 images shortlisted so I knew I was in with a chance of getting one into the book but the congratulatory email on Friday came as something of a surprise, a rather nice surprise. Yesterday was slightly surreal as Maelstrom occupied a double-page spread in the magazine but I wasn’t allowed to share the news myself until the official results were out this morning. I can now also share that I received a Highly Commended award and a judge’s choice for another Storm Imogen photo, Poseidon Rising, and a Commended award for a third, Leviathan.

Poseidon rising

Poseidon Rising

All three images will be in the LPotY Portfolio 10 book, on sale from today, and Maelstrom will also feature in an exhibition at London Waterloo from 21st November.



You can see many of the other successful images here.  Many, many thanks to the Sunday Times Magazine for choosing my picture.

Yachts from the Air

Round the Island-7
Earlier this month, the annual Round the Island yacht race took place. 1,533 boats set off from Cowes to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight.
Round the Island again again
It’s a spectacular sight, literally a sea of sails. Rather excitingly, I had the opportunity to shoot the race from the air, from a helicopter owned by  Phoenix Helicopters, Goodwood.
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It wasn’t my first time shooting from a helicopter without doors so I wasn’t phased when we took off and headed out over the Solent. I love flying in helicopters!
Round the Island-5
Phoenix had obtained a low fly permit for me so we were able to fly fairly close to the yachts, although there are of course limits and I was glad to have my 70-200mm zoom with me.
Round the Island-2
Using two cameras, the other one with my 24-70mm lens, enabled me to capture wider views as well.
Round the Island-9
I had particularly wanted to photograph the yachts rounding The Needles, arguably the Island’s most iconic landmark and certainly one that looms large in my memories from a childhood spent sailing the Solent.

In addition to the big ‘race’ shots, I hoped to capture some closer pictures that would work in black and white for a more timeless feel.

Round the Island-11

In addition to all the many yachts on the sea, the RNLI lifeboats were kept busy attending to boats struggling in the challenging conditions on the day.

Round the Island again-4

It was an exhilarating experience, and one I hope to repeat. Many thanks to Max from Phoenix for his excellent piloting.

Round the Island-6

Round the Island-12

Back to normal


After all the excitement of Surrey Artists Open Studios and my talk at Patchings Festival last weekend, it’s been good to get back to the normal business of fulfilling print orders, organising workshops and, last but most definitely not least, a couple of much-needed coastal trips. The light wasn’t especially awesome this week, certainly nothing as dramatic as I had on my last trip before Open Studios (above) but, as I said at my talk on Sunday, even if you come home with nothing very special on your memory card, a day by the sea is never wasted. Psychological batteries recharged.

Below are a couple of pictures of our studio in action.

Wave monsters

newhaven waves 2


This winter, I have managed to make it down to the coast at least once almost every week. We’ve had some big seas and interesting light, but not at the same time. Until this Tuesday, that is…

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Horned monster

High tide and winds whipped up the surf, creating wave monsters backlit by rays bursting through low clouds.

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No hands!

What a thrill! One of the best photoshoots I’ve had for a while.

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White horses

Like most Brits, I am half-obsessed with the sea; if I could only photograph one thing for the rest of my life, it would be the sea.

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I live in a landlocked county but, happily, the coast is an easy day trip away.  Back again next Tuesday!

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For the curious, these images were all taken in Newhaven, East Sussex with a shutter speed of 1/800 to freeze the waves.

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I hope you enjoy meeting my wave creatures.

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“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Autumn in the garden

I love gardens in Autumn after rain. There’s something about the smell of wet earth and decay that is unique to this season. Colours are more vibrant, washed clean, and overblown late summer flowers droop under the weight of droplets. I think of the Autumn garden as rather like a dowager fallen on hard times, still making a show of things but a little shabby at the edges.


“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
– Stanley Horowitz

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside (a.k.a. Your March Public Service Announcement)

I very rarely re blog, but this post on a blog I follow is well worth it, even though it is not really about photography. Kat is a healthy, fit 40-something photographer with an active lifestyle. If she can get DVT without flying so can any one of us.

Travel. Garden. Eat.

The tree of life.  I decided it was an appropriate choice for a henna tattoo on my exposed right calf while the left calf was encased in a black compression sock.  I limped around the Minnesota State Fair a week after I was diagnosed with a blood clot–a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) with suspected PE (pulmonary embolism)—and decided to take a load off my feet at the henna tattoo parlor.  One never knows what may be lurking inside the human body.

Henna Tattoo

March is Blood Clot Awareness Month

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has posted these statistics and sobering facts, reminding us that blood clots can affect anyone:

  • The precise number of people affected by DVT/PE is unknown, but estimates range from 300,000 to 600,000 (1 to 2 per 1,000, and in those over 80 years of age, as high as 1 in 100) each year in the United States.
  • Estimates…

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People of Burano

This is the last in my series about the colourful Italian island of Burano.
I am not a street photographer and none of these shots would even begin to qualify as decent candid portraits, but they are the best I could manage, awkwardly trying not to be noticed as I furtively snatched an image or two.
I wonder what it is like living on a tiny island where every day the day trippers vastly outnumber the inhabitants.
Do the locals heave a hearty sigh of relief when the late afternoon’s long shadows see the departure of the last vaporetto and the colourful streets no longer echo with the babble of multiple foreign tongues?
Tourism and the sale of intricate lace, to tourists, are the principal/only industries on Burano so the relationship with the tourists must necessarily be one of polite encouragement.  Certainly we didn’t feel any animosity.  But it must be a strange existence.
Tourism websites are rather coy on the question of the origins of the tradition for colourful houses. They seem to agree that it began during the middle ages and had something to do with distinguishing dwellings from each other. Apparently the colours follow a well-established pattern and if one wants to paint one’s house one must apply to the government who will then provide a list of permitted colours.
I leave you with a few more shots of the colourful island.

Pure draughtsmen are philosophers and dialecticians. Colourists are epic poets. (Charles Baudelaire)


The picture will have charm when each colour is very unlike the one next to it. (Leon Battista Alberti)


Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration. (Marc Chagall)

I don’t often reblog but every now and then I feel compelled to share a special post by a fellow blogger. Please enjoy this beautiful and inspirational post from Tricia. Normal service resumes tomorrow. Rachael

Grosnez castle

castle ruins, Jersey

Our visit to Jersey gave me an opportunity to add to my castle series.  Grosnez Castle was built in the 14th century.  Little remains of the castle but it makes a very atmospheric ruin, perched atop the headland at the Northwest corner of the island.

Ruined arch of Grosnez Castle

‘Grosnez’ comes from the old Norse, grar nes, meaning ‘grey headland’, rather than the French for ‘big nose’.  According to an interpretation board at the site, the castle was probably built in around 1330.  It was taken by the French in 1373 and 1381 and was likely demolished during or shortly after the French occupation of 1461-8.

Jersey coastline

The castle certainly has a commanding view of the Jersey coast.  Just along the headland stands another martial construction taking advantage of those views, a German WW2 range-finder tower, part of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’.

Tower among heather on cliff, Jersey

It is a strangely forbidding construction, a stark contrast to the tapestry of heather and wildflowers at its base. The two structures together are a reminder of Jersey’s history of occupation, straddling some of her most beautiful landscape.

WW2 observation tower seen from Grosnez Castle, Jersey.