Developing a Style – Part 1 – Introduction

I’ve been reading a number of blog posts and articles recently about developing a style in photography.

I’ve been big into photographing land and seascapes for a number of years now and have never really thought about my “style”. I really just shoot what i like and then process the image in a way that either suits the subject or pleases me, or both.

But, after my recent trip to Cornwall, photographing the often amazing scenery down that way, I’ve started to notice some repeating themes or style elements to my images. This may just be due to the weather conditions, i’m not always lucky with that, or it may just be my own personal preferences sneaking in.

Take a look at the following images and see for yourself. Some were taken during this recent trip, but others are older, but I think they all have a distinct “feel” to them across the range.

I like the “feel” of these images and will continue to produce images like this, but that is not to say that my style will stay in this place. I think my style is still developing and I will continue to explore other ideas, such as the images below. Which again, are all mine, but all with very different vibes to them.

Keep an eye out for my next blog post which will delve deeper into how to develop your own style.

Landscape Photography for Beginners – Part 5 – When To Shoot

This is the final part of my basic guide to landscape photography for beginners and talks about the best times of the day to shoot to get the best lighting. After all, photography is all about light.
To be absolutely honest, there are images to be made at any time of the day, but there are certain times which may be more effective and do give you different lighting options.

The golden hour – This is the period just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is low in the sky and produces a softer, more golden light. This is a particularly popular time for landscape and seascape photography, not just because of the colours but also the shadows that can be created.

The magic hour—Some people refer to the golden hour as the magic hour but I prefer to think of it as the time when the sun is just below the horizon about to peek up at dawn or the sun has just gone below the horizon at dusk. At this time you won’t get the strong glow of the sun but what you will get is a beautiful soft light and colours that helps to capture some beautiful images.

The blue hour—this is when the sun is still a little further below the horizon at dawn and just gone a little further down below the horizon at dusk. In the right circumstances this will produce a beautiful deep blue sky and the beginnings of light starting or ending below the horizon.

Most landscape photographers will agree that these are the best times to capture landscapes, but, whilst the sun will be high in the sky in the middle of the day, causing a more flat light and less shadows, you can still create some interesting images, especially in black & white.

You can of course still create stunning landscape images long after the sun has gone down or before it comes up.

New Stuff

I’ve just treated myself.

I’m off to Cornwall for some landscape/seascape shots in a couple of weeks and so i’ve treated myself to a few new toys.

First up i’ve finally replaced my broken Lee Little Stopper. I loved that filter the last time I went down to Cornwall, right up until I drop it down the steps at Bedruthan and watched it smash on the rocks. I couldn’t leave the broken bits so after walking up the stairs I trekked all the the way back down to pick up the broken pieces. Anyone who has been to Bedruthan will know that’s no easy task. I’m looking forward to getting out and trying them again.

My next toy is a set of Lee Sunset filters. I’ve never used these type of filters before so am looking forward to trying these out. The are a collection of three graduated filters ranging in colour from red to yellow to give more colour in the sky during the sunset. I can’t wait to give them a try.

And finally, and most excitingly, a new tripod. There wasn’t too much wrong with my last one to be honest but it was a bit cheap and a little bit wobbly. My new one is by a company called Artcise and is made from carbon fibre and on first sight, looks amazing. It’s tall, it’s strong, it has a bowl head and as an extra little gimmick it has a funky little mobile phone holder, and again, I’m excited to get out there and try it out.

I’ll try to give some proper reviews once i’ve tried them all out. 🙂

Landscape Photography for Beginners – Part 4 – Composition

As with the camera settings, I could write (and maybe will in the future) a whole guide on composition techniques.
If you’re unsure what I mean, composition is all about where you place objects and patterns within the frame when you are photographing them.
There are a few important compositional rules that you should know, but later on when you get more experience, you will also get to learn when to break these rules.
I won’t go into that here in this beginners guide, I will briefly discuss just two of the rules, which should be enough to get you started in landscape photography.
The first one is the rule of thirds. If you imagine your frame divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically you get a kind of grid on the screen.
See below:


Now if you were photographing a landscape your aim would be to put the horizon on one of the horizontal lines and your main point of interest somewhere around one of the points where the lines intersect.
This should make for a stronger image as these are the areas that your eyes naturally travel to.

The second rule is one of leading lines (or lead in lines). The idea here is to have lines within your images that pull your eyes toward a subject or around the frame.
Although not a great image, this is an example where the pathway is a leading line up to the tree.
This technique encourages the viewers eyes to see the whole image and brings him or her to the subject.

Here is another example where the tree line and the reflection and the clouds all lead into the frame toward the bright sun.

My Image – Fistral Sunset

A while ago I signed up to Instagram as a way of showcasing my images. You can view my page here : https://www.instagram.com/smcimagesuk

Since then i’ve been posting regular images and watching with interest which ones are more popular than others. Currently, leading the pack with over 300 likes, is this image of Fistral Bay in Newquay, Cornwall.

When I took this image I particularly wanted to create the milky water effect and the smoothed out clouds and streaks of sun in the sky. To do this I used a LEE Little Stopper filter. This filter is one of my most favourite items of kit in my bag. Or it was until I accidentally dropped it over the side of a cliff at Bedruthan Steps. Having just walked all the way up the steps there, I then had to walk all the way down again to retrieve the broken parts of the filter.

Anyway, this nifty little filter blocks out 6 stops of light, therefore allowing me to slow my shutter speed right down and create this smooth effect.

Another thing you might light to know about this image is that despite the remote, desolate, look of the image, this was actually taken just metres away from the rear entrance of the hotel I was staying at, on a usually bustling beach in the seaside town of Newquay. It was evening when I took this and so the crowds of people had gone home but I enjoy the though that just a couple of hours before this image was taken this beach was full. (it was taken pre-covid with no lockdown restrictions).

I’m glad that the Instagram world like this image. It is one my favourites and I can’t wait to get a new LEE little stopper to replace the broken one and to get back out and shoot some more scenes like this one.

This image will be added to my Print Sales page soon so keep checking back.

Landscape Photography for Beginners – Part 3 – Camera Settings

A whole guide could probably be written about camera settings alone for landscape photography, but I want to keep this post reasonably straightforward. So I will first mention the exposure triangle.

The main settings on you camera that you need to pay attention to for any type of photography are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. The exposure triangle explains the relationship between these.

In order to correctly expose an image your camera will balance these three elements. A change in the ISO might affect the Aperture and/or the shutter speed, as might a change in Shutter speed affect the other two. Luckily most cameras have modes that help take the strain out of this. Even in fully manual mode you can set the camera to auto ISO.

My advice for any landscape beginner would be to put your camera on Aperture Priority mode and set the ISO manually yourself to no higher than around 400. Generally, the lower your ISO the less digital noise will be introduced into your image, although the higher end cameras tend to cope with this a lot better.

So with your ISO somewhere between 100—400, in aperture priority mode, the only other decision you need to make is what aperture you want to use. This will determine how much of your image is in focus. The smaller the aperture (higher f number) the more of your image around your focal point will be in focus. So if you want both the foreground and distance in your scene to be in focus you would be looking at Camera Settings somewhere around f11 to f16. I have found that going any higher (f number) than this doesn’t make a lot of difference. Your camera will then very cleverly calculate what it thinks the shutter speed should be to give you a balnaced exposure.

It is important to note that the smaller the aperture (higher f number), the less light is let onto the sensor and so the shutter speed needs to be slower to compensate. If the shutter speed needs to be too slow then this is where you may need to use a tripod and remote shutter release as mentioned in a previous blog post.

This should be enough to get you started. If you want to progress to using manual mode, which you will need should you start using filters, etc. then you can still set the ISO yourself to between 100-400, then set both the aperture and shutter speed as necessary to balance the exposure.

It takes practice and a bit of knowledge but you can utilise your own skill to balance these in order to create the desired effect. Good luck and happy shooting!

Location Idea : Caen Hill Locks

Living in Wiltshire I have some lovely spots on my doorstep and one of my favourites to go back to regularly is the Caen Hill Locks just outside Devizes.

The flight consists of a total of 29 locks, on the Kennet & Avon canal between Rowde and Devizes and have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles.

The locks come in three groups: the lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are spread over 34 mile (1.2 km); the next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line up the hillside and are designated as a scheduled monument. Because of the steepness of the terrain, the pounds between these locks are very short. As a result, fifteen of them have unusually large sideways-extended pounds, to store the water needed to operate them. A final six locks take the canal into Devizes. The locks take 5–6 hours to traverse in a boat.

I’ve visited the locks on many occassions and photographed them both from the top, looking down and from the bottom. The image above is one of my favourites of the place and can be viewed on my website in my Portfolio gallery, meaning it either hasn’t come on sale yet, or it has and has been sold out. Let me know what you think of it.

The image below hasn’t made it into my portfolio although I find it an interesting image of one of the locks from an unusual angle. This image goes to show though the variety of images that can be found around this area.

Getting There

By car – SATNAV postcode SN10 1QS. The Canal & River Trust pay & display car park is off of Marsh Lane and the last time I visited cost £1 for four hours.