1. New ebook

    Several years ago I produced an ebook, with a difference, titled The Backstory: Creative Close-Ups. This came about as a result of noticing that there were more than enough ‘how to’ books to satisfy the demands of wildlife and landscape photographers but very few, if any, dealing with the process leading up to the making of the image. I also found that through leading hundreds of workshops there were two things that most photographers wanted to know, which is – how and why did YOU take that photograph? In the ebook I described, in detail, the story behind each image, revealing both the technique and thought process that led up to it with the latter, I firmly believe, being the key ingredient in producing creative and memorable photographs. Four years on, and I have produced another in the same vein, this time dealing with landscapes.

    Landscape photography ebookAdobe Acrobat PDF document
    17 case studies
    20 high-resolution images
    22 pages. £4.50 + VAT

    Purchase here

    Creative Close-Ups has been revised and there are 3 new case studies. 

    Purchase Landscapes and Creative Close-Ups in the same visit, and receive a free copy of Autumn in Finnish Lapland, which includes a comprehensive guide to photographing the northern lights. 

    Purchase ebooks here

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  2. New ebook

    Ruska – Revontulet: Autumn in Finnish Lapland
    (How to Photograph the Northern Lights)

    I’ve just published a new ebook which can be purchased through my website. Although this will be my second, this is my first on a specific region and it is something I have wanted to do for quite some time. Infact, the title came long before the book! Some of you will already be aware of my numerous visits to Finnish Lapland through the tours that I run and my own personal adventures and so I thought it would be a nice idea to produce a Monograph containing my very best photographs from this stunning part of the world.

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    Comprising of 70 high resolution images and concluding with a detailed How to Photograph the Northern Lights section, this ebook contains invaluable tips and advice accumulated from innumerable hours of photographing the aurora borealis. For all those planning to venture to the far north (or south) in search of one of nature’s greatest spectacles or simply those who wish to have a clearer understanding of capturing our own night sky, this is sure to help you along your way.

    layout-6Adobe Acrobat PDF document.
    70 high resolution images (50 MB)
    63 pages. £4.99 + VAT

    Purchase here

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  3. This is not a trip report!

    Ten days ago I returned from leading a 6-day tour to southwest Ireland – more specifically Killarney and Dingle – two very contrasting regions which presented the group with innumerable opportunities. A wonderful (I hope!) time was had by all and normally, a week or two later, I would sit at my pc and ’craft’ a trip report which would include lots of images of those locations visited and anecdotes in the usual trip report fashion. As much as I enjoy doing this (it’s always nice to reminisce as well as showing potential clients what can be tackled on such a tour) I think it’s time for a change and so, for the time being at least, trip reports are history!

    Instead, I’ll select an image or two from the trip (or of whatever I have been photographing most recently) and give the story behind creating it. I’ve always been a stickler for the backstory, assuming that most photographers are as interested in the thought process leading up to the making of the image as they are of all the technicalities and I hope over the coming months you’ll enjoy some of the posts I’ll be writing.

    The first to be given this treatment is one of the last images from the trip of sunset at Clogher bay. Clogher, on the Dingle Peninsula, is a wonderful place at any time of the day and we were lucky to experience a very special sunset. You have to be careful here, however, as it has one of the most unpredictable tidal surges whereby in 2014 I almost lost a Nikon D610 (the tide came to within 2 inches of the base of the camera) and in 2015 I wrote off a D750. On this occasion I clung on tightly to my D810!

    I was late to the party. While I was faffing back at the car the group had ventured onto the beach and were merrily photographing the bay in dwindling light. At the time there was no sign that the sun was going to appear and when I eventually joined them on the beach I felt as though I had plenty of time to seek out a composition of my own. I was struggling. I had visited this same bay several times previously and I wasn’t going to copy what I had achieved previously. Following several hops over boulders I settled on the composition shown here. I found the nearest rock to have some interesting features and liked how the other two beyond pointed towards the headlands. The rock on which the tripod was standing was extremely slippery and I was struggling with getting a firm footing. It seemed to take an age and while doing so the sun appeared below the bank of cloud (I knew this because one of the group – James – suddenly shouted “sun!”) creating the kind of sunset we photographers yearn for. After much fiddling (which seemed to take an age and I was sure I was going to miss the opportunity) I eventually steadied the tripod and began tweaking the composition. I wanted to illustrate the water’s flow while at the same time retaining definition in the swirling sea beneath and in front of me. A Lee 0.6 (2 stop) ND grad was used to balance the sky/land exposure and in order to produce a starburst of the sun, an aperture of f/22 was selected. As you can imagine I shot a number of exposures (all of exactly the same composition) to be sure of securing the kind of image I had hoped for.

    Nikon D810, 20mm, ISO 100, 4 sec. f/22, Manfrotto 055 tripod with Markins M10 ball head.

    Exposure and post-processing
    In keeping with shooting RAW and wanting to maximise detail in the shadows I exposed to the right as much as I dare without clipping the highlights which when viewed on the camera’s rear LCD screen looked very washed out. Not being a slave to the image I concentrated solely on the histogram which showed plenty of detail in both shadows and highlights. Once imported into LR I reduced the exposure and did the usual tweaks of contrast, highlight and shadow recovery. A very small amount of clarity provided additional contrast in the mid-tones and the Graduated Filter tool was brought into play to reduce exposure in the sky further. As with all my processing I endeavour to arrive to an image that is a faithful representation of what I saw and although the tiniest amount of Vibrance was added, Saturation was left well and truly alone.

    Note on Saturation
    I rarely, if ever, use this feature as it affects every pixel in the image. Instead, I much prefer to use the HSL tools where I can individually select elements within the scene thereby allowing greater control over the ‘feel’ of the image I wish to create.

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