A Journey into Landscape Photography

Seascape at Southend-on-Sea pier at slow shutter speed.


In the world of photography there is a lot of pigeon holing, and past a certain useful point, it pisses me off. People tend to get into their own defined (by someone; who?) type of photography, they become specialists, and then it seems they must embellish the differences between their photography and other kinds so that it become something entirely other. I read all kinds of amazing statements like “If you’re a wedding photographer, you CAN’T be a lifestyle photographer.” Why not? Is a lifestyle photographer a separate species from me?

The answer is ‘No, of course not.’ I do not claim to be as knowledgeable about lifestyle photography as I am about shooting weddings, but the cross-over is not inconsiderable.

I recently attended the Societies of Photographers 2019 Convention at the Novotel in Hammersmith, London. Among other excellent masterclasses there, I attended two which gave me some serious inspiration with regards to progressing my photography.

The first was a great talk by Terry Donnelly about how all types of photography have large elements of lots of other types of photography within them. I’ll give you an example, using my usual professional speciality – weddings – which often consists of any number of the following:

  • Portraiture photography
  • Documentary photography
  • Lifestyle photography
  • Events photography
  • Editorial photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Architectural photography
  • Product photography
  • Landscape photography

…the list goes on.

This talk, coming from a hugely successful photography master, was great news for me, because it testifies powerfully against the many internet voices that will tell you that each one of these specialities is an exclusive realm.

The other talk that inspired me was by John Bakie, a wedding photographer who I greatly admire, who shoots amazing environmental portraiture, partly because he so good at landscape photography (check out his stunning book The Magic of the North Coast 500).

Okay. So now I’ll get to the point. Following these talk by these great men of photography, I decided to get into landscape photography for two prime reasons:

  1. It merges beautifully with my deep love of wildlife photography.
  2. It will greatly enhance my wedding photography, allowing me to offer stunning environmental portraiture.

Making a Beginning

The first thing I had to do was buy some kit. Not much, actually, just a cheap ND filter kit to use with my existing lenses. It cost 30 quid and it’s perfectly serviceable for learning with. It consists of a bracket with different fittings for different size lenses, and a selection of ND full and graduated filters.

These filters are literally just clear darkened pieces of plastic (glass, when I upgrade soon for my professional work) which sit over the lens and block out some light. They range from 1 stop (a little light) to 10 stops (a lot of light), and the graduated ones are dark at the top and fade to completely clear at the bottom for evening out bright skies with darker landscapes. The great thing about the darker filters is that they offer the shooter much slower shutter speeds which creates painterly like qualities in landscape photography and a gorgeous, silky smokiness to water.

The first thing  I wanted to do was shoot some running water to get this amazing effect, so I went to Holland Park, which is just around the corner from where I live.

This is the result of my first landscape photography outing.

Nikon D810; Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 lens; ISO 64; 200mm; F16; 25sec. 6 stop ND filter; Tripod and remote shutter release.

Blocking out 6 stops of light, lowering my ISO to 64, and shooting at F16 allowed me to use a 30 second exposure to get that nice, silky waterfall. Taking a 30 second exposure requires a tripod and remote shutter release for stability, as the slightest movement will ruin the photo.

That was it. I was hooked on landscape photography and was desperate to get out and do some more.

Next, Kizzy and I took a trip to Southend-on-Sea to try some seascapes, with the following results:

Nikon D810; Nikkor 35mm F2 prime; ISO 64; 35mm; F22; 69 sec. 9 stop ND filter. Tripod and remote shutter release.

Nikon D810; Nikkor 35mm F2 prime; ISO 64; F22; 25 sec. 6 stop ND filter. Tripod and remote shutter release.

Our third trip was to the Japanese garden in Regent’s Park, which has a lovely big waterfall, where  I got these shots:

Nikon D810; Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 lens; ISO 64; 32mm; F22; 64 sec. 9 stop ND filter. Tripod and remote shutter release.

Nikon D810; Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 lens; ISO 64; 52mm; F22; 10 sec. 6 stop ND filter. Tripod and remote shutter release.

Nikon D810; Nikkor 35mm F2 prime; ISO 64; 35mm; F22; 20 sec. 6 Stop ND filter. Tripod and remote shutter release.

And finally, last evening I popped out catch a sunset at Greenwich park, offering some pretty awesome views across London.

Nikon D810; Nikkor 35mm F2 prime; ISO 400; 35mm; F18; 1/200; Tripod and remote shutter release. HDR (3 exposures).

Nikon D810; Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 lens; ISO 1250; 65mm; F13; 1/3; Tripod and remote shutter release. HDR (5 exposures).

I can’t wait to get out into the wilds and take some serious landscape shots. I love nothing better than getting out into nature, getting some peace and quiet, and coming home to upload my photos to see how well I have captured Mother Nature’s beauty. It is a sublime privilege to be in nature, and, importantly it will see our wedding photography take on a new, expansive aspect.

Stay tuned for the next blog, and don’t forget to sign up and check out our older ones too.

Thanks for reading folks, and please do get in touch with your wedding plans, to make a booking, or to ask any questions.

Pax et lux.

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1 thought on “A Journey into Landscape Photography”

  1. Hi. I wanted to say how much I appreciate what you wrote and why shouldn’t you go into other forms of photography. Your landscape photography is spectacular and my favourite shot is seeing that water under the pier. It is so beautiful to see your work and how versatile you are!
    I want to buy a digital camera to take better photos than I do with my iphone when I present photos to clients. But not an easy choice to make!

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