Autumn and transition

Autumn is a season of transition and, this year, that has held true for me both professionally and personally. In August, my youngest child came back from a 5-week summer school at Berklee College of Music in Boston transformed into an independent young lady.  I see an empty nest yawning, especially as she wants to study in Boston when she’s 18.  It will be a challenge for me; we’re very close and she hasn’t given me any of the teenage trouble that might make one welcome a respite. Thank goodness there’s an opportunity here too and I’ve seized the extra time now available to further my photography business. I do feel very lucky at this stage of my life (not exactly Autumn yet, but certainly late Summer), when friends are starting to talk about retirement plans, to feel as though I am embarking on something new.


Storm Brian, in October, showed me that my Sirens portfolio was not finished.

Autumn and Spring are my ‘workshops seasons’ and, this Autumn, I’ve run more workshops than ever, including two new ones. I’m just back from my inaugural Creative Abstracts and Details workshops. Two very enthusiastic groups enjoyed breaking photographic ‘rules’ as they explored their creativity at the coast. Driving home last night, and musing on the transitional nature of things generally, I felt energised by the willingness of both groups to embrace experimentation and risk-taking in their photography. In fact, it’s a trend I’ve noticed across all my workshops this Autumn. There’s been a lot of talk this year about repetition and sameness in landscape photography but among my clients I’d say, if anything, the opposite is true. Reviewing the morning’s images over lunch on both days, I was struck by how very individual each photographer’s interpretations were. I hope this trend, if it is a trend, continues. It’s so refreshing.

Sea Impression VIII

A painterly wave top captured at one of the locations of my Creative Abstracts and Details workshop, but not while leading!

There are three more workshops next week and then a break until the new year but that time will fill up fast as print orders are increasing in the run up to the festive season. It doesn’t hurt print sales that one of my photographs, Perigee, was printed in the Sunday Times Magazine again last month in connection with the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. Perigee is the titular image in a series of abstract rust details. It’s certainly a change from my Sirens, and a much warmer palette, as you’d expect with rust! I’m enjoying printing Perigee on Platinum Etching paper, a lovely matte, textured paper with a warm base manufactured by Fotospeed.

perigee prints

Hot off the printer, Perigee triptych.

Another big development this Autumn was the announcement that I am starting to lead residential photography workshops for Ocean Capture. I want my existing business, f11 Workshops, to stay true to its successful day-workshops format so it makes sense to run the residential workshops under the banner of Ocean Capture. It’s a very successful international business run by well-known, fine art, ocean photographer, Jonathan Chritchley and an obvious fit with my photography. I’ve never been very good at having a ‘boss’, so it’s important to be working with someone I can trust to let me run my workshops my way. I’ve known Jonathan for several years and when he invited me to join Ocean Capture, it wasn’t a difficult decision. My first Ocean Capture workshops, called ‘Tides and Tempests’, will run in March and November 2018, in Sussex, and availability is already down to last places. Plans are afoot for more far-flung locations, but it’s too soon to say anything more about those, for now…

Imogen and the lighthouse

Fingers crossed for weather like this on my Tides and Tempests workshops.

As I write this, I’m looking forward to the opening night of the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition at Waterloo, on Monday 20th November. I’m lucky enough to be receiving an award again this year and I’m really pleased that several of my friends will be there celebrating their own successes too. The exhibition will run into early February on the mezzanine level inside the station. It’s free and well worth visiting. It seems fitting to me that my photograph, Fire Within, winner of the Classic View category, the Lee Filters Prize and two judges’ commendations, was taken at one of my closest and favourite beaches, Birling Gap. The rapidly eroding chalk-cliff coast of East Sussex is about as transitional as you can get and access to the beach at Birling Gap has been closed for the last 6 weeks while the steps are moved back.  The beach reopens next month, just when I am on a break from workshops, so I know where I’m going to be hanging out with my camera in December. If you’re down there and see a rather wind-blown ‘tog’ in a funny hat, do come over and say hello.

fire within

Fire Within, drama at Birling Gap.


“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot



Surrey landscape

f/11, 2″, ISO 50, 24mm, 0.6 ND Grad and 0.9 Pro Glass

I have had a wonderful week of photography, with two full days out in the field with fellow enthusiasts, Jenifer Bunnett and Tony Antoniou.  Conditions were perfect, with mist and patchy sun.  On both occasions I visited Boldermere, a peaceful lake incongruously nestled in the crook of the M25’s junction with the A3.  Each day was rounded off perfectly with one of nature’s most spectacular Autumn displays, a murmuration of starlings.  Those shots will follow in another post soon.  For now, a gentle panorama of this quiet, forgotten spot.

I have been outside all week, and am consequently very behind with visiting blogs.  I will try to catch up soon, before we head off on our next big adventure, Down Under!

Golden light and morning mist

Surrey Landscape
Jen and I enjoyed a wonderful shoot on Chatley Heath yesterday. For a short while, the sun burned through the early mist to cast its rays across the landscape. Chatley Heath is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is managed as a nature reserve by Surrey Wildlife Trust, a favourite charity of mine.
Surrey landscape

Standing tall


For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

-Herman Hesse,Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte.

Late Autumn lingers


Our very late Autumn this year has given so many opportunities to get out with the camera, I’ve hardly been able to keep up with downloading the images! These shots are from my outing last week with Jenifer Bunnett.  She found this beautiful set of fishing lakes, Frensham Trout Fisheries, and, apart from a solitary fisherman, we had them to ourselves.surrey landscape

The presence of a waterfall was fortuitous as I had only just the day before taken delivery of my new Lee Filters!


I had a lot of fun experimenting with my five filters: the 105mm circ. polariser, .6 hard grad, .9 soft grad, .9 pro glass and Big Stopper.  The good news was that I had remembered all I had learned on the workshop ten days earlier.

autumn landscape 

The bad news was the circ. polariser created a horrible vignette when I used it with my 16-35mm lens at 16-20mm.  Hugely disappointing as that is my lens of choice for landscape work.   I was advised to use my 24-105mm on the course so this problem did not come up then. 😦

autumn landscape

Still Autumn, just…


f/11, 1/25, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser

There is a heavy hint of change in the air.  The trees no longer bask in full Autumn glory. Instead, their leaves billow under the wheels of passing vehicles.  Twice this week my day has begun with scraping frost from car windows.  Staying out to photograph the sunset, my hands and feet became numb from the cold.


f/11, 1/15, ISO100, 16mm, circ. polariser

Perhaps in sympathy, it’s been all change in my digital life this week.  I have finally downloaded Photoshop Creative Cloud and Lightroom 5.  For photographers there’s a special subscription deal for just under £9 a month.  That’s a huge discount, but hurry, it ends on 2nd December. It will take me a while to get to grips with Lightroom as I haven’t used it before but PS CC seems fairly intuitive, not too much of a leap from CS4.

One of the things that’s much improved from CS4 is the HDR facility.  The image below is my first attempt.  Just three exposures blended by PS CC.  It’s certainly light years ahead of what CS4 would have produced but I’m still not sure about it.  I had to tweak a lot to get it to look even vaguely natural.  Perhaps it’s a good thing I have ordered some ND graduated filters so I can do it in camera instead!


f/16, 1/6, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser

Just to make life even harder, I also upgraded my iMac operating system from Snow Leopard to Mavericks.  It seems mostly familiar but for some inexplicable reason I now have to scroll in the opposite direction.  Mighty confusing!  There’s probably a setting I need to tick somewhere.  (Scratches head bemusedly.)  

And, just to add to it all, I have finally given up on Redbubble and am working on creating a new website with Photium.  More on that soon.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these further images from my walk last week along the Wey Navigation towpath.

Autumn Falls



Last week I shared a picture of Coulson’s Weir on the Wey Navigation, Weybridge.  This is another shot of the same place, taken on the same day but a couple of hours later.  The light has become warmer and a cluster of oak leaves has fallen giving me some seasonal foreground. In fact, I like this one better than the first shot.  I think the person on the bridge helps the composition, although I know a few very good landscapers who absolutely hate seeing people in their shots.  I suppose this is not exactly a wild place and so a bit of human interest seems fitting. Which image do you prefer?  And what are your views on figures in landscapes?

I realise I have been wittering on about the Wey Navigation recently but haven’t really explained what it is.  I did a few posts about it last year, but that is a long time ago in blog-land!  A longer post on the Navigation is in the pipeline, plus one on technique, and one on selling your images online. But first my incredibly slow internet has to finish downloading OS X Mavericks.  So far, 8 hours and not even close to the middle of the progress bar!  Rant over.

An autumn stroll at Winkworth

f18, 1/5, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser


I had a lovely day yesterday in the company of Jenifer Bunnett at Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey.  Magical light and location, and a small starburst in keeping with this week’s theme.  One of the many wonderful things about Autumn as a landscape photography season is that the sun never gets very high in the sky, making for softer light, longer shadows and the availability of starbursts filtered through leaves.

A foggy day at Painshill

landscape garden

Turkish tent and five arch bridge

As regular readers of this blog will know, one of my favourite local locations is Painshill Park, an eighteenth century landscape garden in Cobham. When I woke up one morning late last month to find a heavy fog, I took my trusty Fuji down to Painshill for a ramble.

landscape garden

Gothic temple and five arch bridge

The mist had coated everything in the finest dew and the spiders’ webs were looking stunning against early Autumn foliage.

Autumn web

Autumn web

Every tuft of grass bore a sparkling hammock of silk.

landscape garden

Hammocks of gossamer and dew

Berries of every hue reminded me that, in the words of the immortal Keats, this was a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

berries and leaves

Red berries



Not to be outdone, fungi of all kinds were busy decorating the grass,

landscape garden

A toadstool in the park

the forest floor,

landscape garden

Toadstools in the wood

and every tree stump.


Bracken fungus (maybe)

Most of the trees had yet to start turning, but there were a few obliging maples dropping their pastel leaves prettily onto the banks of Painshill Lake, just to give me some foreground interest.

folly and autumn leaves

The ruined abbey

In the mist, everything was still. Even sound seemed to be muffled, and it felt as if I had the whole park to myself.

landscape garden

Painshill Lake

The Grotto was closed but I explored the outside.

landscape garden

View through the Grotto window

landscape garden

Nature colonising the Grotto

I often think the Gothic Tower, one of Painshill’s many follies, is a little too pretty to be truly gothic, but in the mist it did look a little bit spooky. A very little bit.

landscape garden

The Gothic Tower

In the woods, I came across these dens, no doubt made by parties of children. Blair Witch, anyone?

landcape garden

‘Mysterious’ dens

They were not far from The Hermitage, one of my favourite follies.

landscape garden

The Hermitage

For a while in the eighteenth century, every self-repecting landscape garden had to have a hermit. Painshill was no exception although story has it that the first man hired for the job lasted only two weeks before he was discovered in a local hostelry drowning his sorrows! He was never replaced.

landscape garden

Inside the Hermitage

Every time I go to Painshill I find something new, whether it be one of nature’s works of art or a fragment of the craft of people.

stone carving

A fragment of times past

I made a mental note to go back again later this month to see the Park in its full Autumn glory.

Painshill Park

The Chinese Bridge

Another of my posts about Painshill, including some of its history, is here.