Abruzzo, Italy: August 2019

From Tuscany we moved down to Abruzzo as my partner is buying a house here. We plan to spend a lot of time in Italy, in particular touring and photographing the region and the country as a whole. As you drive down, you notice a change in landscape. Things become wilder, less well ordered and more unkempt. There is more scrub and huge swathes of forest. I preferred the wilderness of the more southerly regions to the overly pristine fields of Tuscany (although both have their obvious charms). As we neared the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso mountain region I was gobsmacked. It is a beautiful mountain range, and I plan to spend many more hours photographing the mountains alone! Within the mountain ranges there are bears and wolves, verdant plant life and abundant invertebrates and other wildlife.

Investment in the roads was a standout issue in Abruzzo, but only in some areas. Housing is more sparse than in Tuscany, and in some areas these are poorly maintained or simply abandoned. There are many ruins standing alone on quiet hills or just by the roadside. There are so many of the stunning hilltop medieval towns that are characteristic of Italy, each pulling you in for a closer look. We visited a few of these. We also visited Civitella del Tronto and its Fortress and Grotte di Stiffe with its limestone stalactites and stalagmites. We saw and experienced the most incredible thunderstorms too, whilst there, which was entertaining for me as I managed to film some of it, and it also alleviated some of the intense heat of the previous few days. I cannot wait to go back.

Tuscany, Italy: August 2019

We traveled to the Toscana region of Italy in August, and stayed there for two days in a beautiful old walled town, before moving on to the Abruzzo region much further south of Italy. While in Tuscany we explored the region a little, but not enough! There is so much to see. I noted how tidy and organised Tuscany is; the land is neatly parcelled up into vineyards and olive fields, with not much else grown other than resident’s own vegetable and fruit plots, of which there were many. As a horticulturist, it is joyful to see so many people growing their own food. The buildings are all well kept, well maintained and seem well-loved. Of course, there were many empty old houses and ruins, as appears to be the case in much of Italy, but these were much less numerous than in Abruzzo.

I would love to explore Tuscany much more, and we plan to do just that in the near future. These are just some of the images I took while briefly exploring Tuscany.


Kinder Scout: August 2019

Last week on a blazing hot day, the boy and I took a hike up Kinder Scout in the Dark Peaks. We had planned to walk up one side and come back down within 2-3 hours. Five hours later we were on the descent and dying… We could have come down earlier but were both buzzing and full of energy at the top so we continued to the waterfall.

On the way around we saw a female Stag’s Head Beetle, numerous Lepidoptera larvae, lizards, a raven, young frogs, plenty of adult butterflies and other insect species, and plenty of Swaledale sheep on the mountain.

The walk was hard going but not terrible. I hurt for a couple of days afterwards and had burnt shoulders, and a burnt neck and back, but it was well worth the walk and obtaining a few more images.


Flora: May/June 2019

Here are some images of flora taken over the last few months.

I am planning to create a business using my photography, editing, layout and writing skills. It would be lovely to think that I could work on a magazine creation (possibly of my own) and make a living from it, but that would be unlikely. It won’t stop me from creating my own magazine and sharing it with anyone who wants to read it. Selling images as prints for framing or selling images for commercial use or as stock photography is definitely something a photographer can fairly easily do to earn some cash. I need to make a living from this thing I love doing but I’m struggling to see how it’s possible.

How on earth does a student photographer see their way through to selling their work for a living?

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Peaks: February 2019

One of our assessments for our second semester magazine project was to produce a full advertorial for inclusion in the magazine and marking. We spent a day with Fujifilm in the Dark Peaks at the Derbyshire/Sheffield border taking images with Chris Upton. Some of the images I took on the day are included here. I particularly loved the quality of light at the site, and the wilderness of it. I have since re-visited the area a few times, but must go back again soon to attempt more landscape photography.

Masters Summer Project

I have neglected to update the site for a while. Having completed our second semester of the masters degree I am undertaking, to be finished in August this year, I have spent almost exclusively all of my time capturing images and editing images, and learning and perfecting layout using Adobe InDesign, Lightroom, Illustrator and Photoshop. It has been a great experience learning to use these tools effectively and efficiently. My second semester final project was a full 96 page magazine, completed by myself using entirely my own photography and my own researched and written, scientific articles. I am very proud of the result and will post up images from the magazine in due course.

Now we are working on our final summer projects for completion of the masters, and my subject is a local National Trust estate, Calke Abbey. I am spending eight weeks taking images at the estate including some of its wildlife – invertebrates, birds, mammals, plants and trees – its old gardens and buildings and some of the internal rooms of the house itself. It is proving to be an enjoyable and rewarding project thus far. The final result will be a book to be printed and submitted for marking by August.

So far I have layout and many of the images needed, although far from all of them. Birds and mammals are proving more difficult than trees, plants and insects, for obvious reasons. Invertebrate photography is not as straightforward as it seems, as they are always on the move and it’s a fine line which aperture to use to capture as much detail of the insect as possible while maintaining nice bokeh and background.

Some of these images were taken while working on the summer project, and I will be adding more in time. They give a general idea of the images which will be included, however none of these will be included in the book, as I have many others.

Budapest: January 2019

We took a short break to Budapest, as it is a city I have wanted to visit for a very long time. Obviously, my camera came with me. I couldn’t possibly have left it behind…

My plans are to travel as much as earning money will allow me in the future, after graduating with my Masters degree, but for now I remain a poor student so any kind of holiday is so much appreciated. Equally, any travel is a great opportunity to learn more, and I try to take those opportunities and use them.

On this holiday, although it was short, I used the hotel location with a window overlooking the beautiful train station building and busy roads to try some long exposure shots of traffic light trails at night. This was my first attempt at light trails and I was relatively pleased that the technique worked and with the results.

Into the woods: November 2018

One of the aspects of photography I have always wanted to be more confident at trying – and really make an effort to master – is landscape photography. Maybe every photographer goes down a similar route – it is the genre of photography that we all know, and see, and it is one in which you can still make a living producing prints for sale. However, I have consistently failed at it at any decent level. Now, undertaking my masters degree, I have finally got the confidence to just go out into the woods or fields, take the tripod, stand and play with settings and try to get it right.

I did a bit of reading and watched some youtube videos to get a good idea of ideal landscape settings. I wanted to achieve sunbursts so that was a specific set of camera settings I had to nail down. Then it was a case of taking my fairly new (second-hand) wide angle lens (16-35mm Canon L) and using it on the tripod, with remote shutter, and trying longer exposures. It seems to be working, and I have of course been motivated to want to catch some colourful images due to the amazing autumnal trees out in the countryside at this time of year.

The leaves are rapidly falling, however, so it will soon be time to try to catch misty or snowy winter tree scenes instead. I’m looking forward to it.

Wollaton Stags: October 2018

Obviously, everyone is out taking images of rutting and prancing stags at the moment, as it is that time of year! I have been up to my eyeballs in uni work and actual work, and have been unlucky with sunrise and sunsets. I did get a few images of the very friendly deer at Nottingham’s Wollaton Hall and Park site (and a cheeky crow).

Chasing light: September/October 2018

At the end of September I started a Masters course in Biological Photography and Imaging. This has meant a huge shift in terms of comfort levels when using my camera. My obsession with AV mode on the Canon EOS 5D Mk III has been fixed!

We have a number of assignment deadlines coming up already, but I have managed to get out and about both on the incorporated field trips and in my spare (haha) time. Here are a few images from our various trips and my own trips out.