Tag: landscape

Running your own design company, while making time for your own photography can certainly be a challenge. One that photographer Faye Dunmall handles so very well.

Achieving a Commended award in the Your View category of the prestigious Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards with her awe inspiring drone image Gaia, we wanted to catch up with Faye to find out more about her photographic journey so far and what might come next.

‘I have run my own design company for 10 years. After graduating nearly 20 years ago I settled into agency life however, during the last big recession redundancy hit and it was then that I decided pursue my ambition to become freelance. Part of the design process is choosing imagery from stock sites for brochures and magazines or to conceptualise, so I suppose I have been exposed to a lot of photography over the years – just without really realising it.

‘My interest in landscape photography began on a trip to Jordan back in 2016. I was obsessed with seeing Petra and when a trip with friends fell through last minute I decided to go on my own. Except I didn’t want to go alone!

‘I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across the Canadian company I booked with (Discovery Photo Tours) but when I saw their pictures and itinerary I was instantly hooked. I had wanted to learn how to take better holiday photos so combining a guided tour of the country with a photography class seemed like the perfect solution. I bought myself a little compact camera (Sony RX100) and taught myself a few basics, including how to use manual mode, before I set off.

‘I will never forget arriving and being surrounded by professional photographers with a multitude of camera bodies and G.I. Joe style tool belts for lenses and accessories. To this day we all still joke about how I turned up with just my “mini” camera!’

‘The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. It was life changing. Jordan was magnificent, I made lifelong friends and discovered a passion for photography that doesn’t show any signs of letting up.’

‘I am entirely self-taught via YouTube and online tutorials although I have been lucky to have had the support and mentorship from the incredibly talented Ken Kaminesky and Patrick DiFruscia who led that life-changing trip to Jordan.’

Your landscapes have a definite richness to them – what draws you to a certain landscape? Many images involve water – is this a particular interest?

‘That’s an interesting question! These days I am drawn to more unusual landscapes, like the volcanic plains of La Palma, and to more intimate and abstract scenes. I love working with colour and I think subconsciously I seek out vibrant scenes.

‘I gain a lot of satisfaction from photographing water and some of my fondest memories are from being thigh deep in a stream in front of a waterfall or up high on a cliff with the waves crashing down below. But I prefer to be well away from the sea and the salt water! I love how different shutter speeds capture water and can take the look and feel from slow, silky veils to fast, frozen chaos.’

Have you managed to carry on shooting this year with the dreaded Covid? So many people have sought solace in the outdoors. Obviously with travel so limited this year, what have you been working on? Any lockdown projects?

‘I have always travelled a lot. I grew up living in Africa, Holland, Indonesia and Singapore and I have been fortunate to have travelled to many more places besides. I usually head abroad every couple of months and so Covid has been quite difficult for me in that respect. I was planning to take a sabbatical this year to travel around America and Australia for 6 months but I have had to put those plans on hold for now.

‘However, I have used the time at home to expand my processing skills and explore other genres of photography. I bought a 90mm macro lens at the beginning of the first lockdown and dipped my toes into the world of macro – a steep learning curve but a lot of fun.

‘I have also been learning to shoot wildlife. Whilst I don’t think I have the patience or tenacity to be a true wildlife photographer, I have enjoyed days out in hides and stalking the baby swans at our local nature reserve. My most recent purchase is a light pad to use for flat-lay photography which will hopefully give me a creative project for the darker, winter months!’

It’s quite unusual to find an accomplished female drone pilot. How did you get to this from photography? Was there a specific task/shoot which led you to this, or was it simply to achieve an alternative perspective?

‘That’s very kind, thank you. I was interested in drone photography right from the beginning but at that time the cameras on them weren’t great and so I held off buying one until the DJI Mavic 2 Pro was released. I love the different perspective they afford me and finding pictures within pictures from up in the air. One of my favourite past times is scouring google earth for sections of land that have interesting colours, patterns and shapes.

‘The big dream for the drone work is to drive across Africa, from Namibia through Botswana and Zambia up into Tanzania. It’s a pipe dream but one I hope to achieve one day. For now I am exploring locally and working on my flying skills as well as diving into the realm of videography.’

Tell us about your image Gaia which was commended in the ‘Your View’ category of LPOTY. Where was this taken and what drove you to enter the awards?

‘Gaia was taken along the Northumberland coastline. I was up in the area last summer visiting the Farne Islands to see the puffins. I had spotted a particular area on google earth that appeared to have detailed sand patterns and so on one of the less favourable weather days I took a trip out to see what it looked like in reality. Thankfully it was even better than expected. With the tide out, what remained were intricate sand rivets and veins of algae which, from the air, formed the shape of a tree. I took several other images here and am hoping to return to expand on this series once we are free to travel again.

‘It was my first time entering LPOTY. A friend sent me a link a few days before the deadline and said I should give it a go. I felt that my sand series was quite unique and might stand out from the crowd a little, so this is what I entered.’

There’s lots of exciting ‘coming soon’ on your website, including launching a range of fine art prints. Do you plan to move into photography as a job/career or continue to simply enjoy it as a hobby?

‘I think often when a hobby becomes a career it’s easy to lose passion and motivation. For me, photography is my downtime and relaxation and for that reason I plan to keep it as a hobby. It might naturally evolve into something more and if that happens then I will see where it takes me. I’m open to the idea of leading tours and workshops and I will be opening a print shop on my website very soon.

‘My initial exposure into the world of landscape photography was with Canadian photographers and so I suppose I have been heavily influenced by the recent American style of photography and post processing. Marc Adamus, Alex Noriega, Albert Dros, Erin Babnik and Michael Shainblum are some of my inspiration.’

We couldn’t help but notice you’ve achieved a huge following on Instagram with over 17k followers from just over 100 posts. What’s your secret?

‘No secret really. It’s all been organic, I refuse to pay Facebook any money! I only post my best images – I’m not into posting every day like some people are. I also try to make my captions a reflection of my personality rather than just descriptions of where I was etc.

‘I think the main thing is I’ve been very social on Instagram over the past few years. I talk to a lot of people and make connections; I interact beyond just liking a post or dropping a comment. I always read the captions on other people’s posts (so important) and I spend a lot of time getting to know people via DMs. I try to remember things about people (birthdays, good/bad things they are going through in life) and check in on those that are struggling.

‘I support other artists as much as possible by sharing their posts and buying the odd thing here and there. I answer any questions about settings/photography honestly and in detail. I guess I try to treat everyone I come into contact with as a friend.

‘I now have an extensive network of people I can call on for advice or even just to show me around their part of the world if I’m travelling abroad. It all comes down to using the platform as “social” media and not just an online portfolio.

‘Unfortunately it’s much more difficult to grow on there these days and I think the platform is in decline. So anyone hunting for likes or followers will have to work really hard. I find it far more enjoyable and rewarding long-term to forget about the numbers and focus on the human aspect instead.’

‘What’s important to me in photography is creating from the heart and staying true to yourself – which can be difficult in the modern day world of social media trends.’

‘In a world where we spend more and more time distracted, staring at our screens, getting away from technology and outside into the natural world has never been more important. Photography, for me, is a pastime that encourages this.

‘I also think it can be extremely helpful for those with mental health difficulties. I suffer with complex PTSD which affects my sleep and general day to day living. Photography helps to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel on a daily basis and being out with my camera is often the only time I ever feel at peace.

‘There is something compelling about being completely caught up in the moment – time disappears, you forget yourself, and you become a part of something much larger, something deeply rooted and connected. I think that if you go beyond just using photography as a way to gain popularity, make money or win competitions, it can be incredibly healing.’

To find out more about Faye’s work, check out her website or have a browse through her Instagram.

 

 

2020 has been a challenging year to say the very least – and one that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. As once again many of us face (or are already in) a further period of ‘lockdown’, we wanted to share a glimmer of positivity and hope.

During this difficult time, one in which many people are facing numerous challenges, our gardens and open spaces have been one area where many of us have sought solace, joy and quiet.

As well as the benefits of being outdoors, gardens can be beautiful and inspiring in every season – helping guide us through the winter, with sparkling frosts and colourful foliage, until the first shoots of spring emerge.

With this in mind, we wanted to share a virtual celebration of colour and positivity, from one of our very own Wilki Ambassadors, Clive Nichols.

The spring and summer of 2020 saw some of the best British weather, pollution free skies and misty mornings ever – and in turn, the UK saw a massive surge in the popularity of gardening, growing our own edibles and generally appreciating the outside space we can access.

Clive (considered Britain’s best garden photographer by PhotoPlus Magazine) talked us through how 2020 has, creatively, been one of his best years and the positive impact his stunning imagery has had for so many people.

‘I’ve been shooting mostly big country gardens on dreamy mornings, or when the evening light drips into them. It’s definitely been a mental release for me and people seem to love the pictures we put on Instagram – it’s pure escapism,’ said Clive.

‘I know I am in a very privileged position because gardens are one of the few photographic genres where you can work totally alone. So during lockdown I was able to continue working and photograph some really gorgeous gardens, which were completely empty of people, save for the odd gardener or owner.

‘You were allowed to go to work if you couldn’t work from home and as I don’t have much of a garden at home, I was able to go out to shoot private locations.

‘The weather was also amazing – day after day of gorgeous sunshine and with few planes and cars around the light was just incredible. I noticed when processing my pictures that I didn’t have to add any colour saturation to my RAW files even in the Raw Converter which was almost never the case in the past with garden scenes. It reminded me of the light you get in Greece or Provence where there is little or no pollution, so I shot some of my best images ever!’

‘People are realising that gardens are a sanctuary where they can get away from all the mainstream media nonsense and get some sanity back in their lives. It’s also a perfectly safe environment because you can potter about on your own and socially distance easily.’

‘Of course some locations remained closed and all of the gardens that I shot during lockdown were country gardens – but these are the gardens I like shooting most anyway.’

In your world it’s almost like Covid hasn’t happened – we’re just transported to a beautiful, peaceful place: perfect escapism. Do you think people have found solace in your images?

‘Instagram is my primary social media platform and I wanted to give people a really positive message during lockdown, so I posted pictures every day that I hoped would show people that they could still have some beauty in their lives – and that it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Since the pandemic started, my Instagram following has almost doubled, now with over 90,000 followers.

‘I must say the response from my followers has been fantastic, with many of them saying that they looked forward everyday to seeing my feed because it cheered them up after all the gloom in the news.

‘I am a half full kind of person and so I tend not to dwell on negativity – if you want to run a successful business then you have to stay positive, especially when economic conditions are difficult.

‘We saw a huge surge in followers – and interest in garden photography generally – with people looking to learn which gardens are good to visit and looking to gain a deeper knowledge of garden photography, gardens, flowers and veg!’

What were your favourite locations from this time and do you have a favourite image that really stands out for you?

‘There is a beautiful garden in my village called Pettifers and the owner, Gina Price, always plants thousands of tulips, which were at their peak during lockdown. I made several visits in April and May and they were some of the best photos of tulips I have ever taken.

‘I also visited a wonderful garden near Redditch called Morton Hall which I have been photographing for the past five years and I took some amazing shots during those beautiful spring days.

‘My favourite image was a shot of blue camassias beneath blossom at Pettifers.

‘I also heard the other day that gardening is now the UK’s most popular hobby – not surprising as people have found such sanctuary in their gardens this year.’

2021 Gardens Calendar

‘We are about to bring out a 2021 Clive Nichols’ Gardens Calendar that will feature some of the gardens featured on my Insta feed – it will be out very soon, more details to follow! Keep an eye on my Instagram (link below) or Wilkinson Cameras’ own social media platforms.’

‘Unfortunately, one of the projects that has been delayed is the launch of my new book which features some of the finest gardens of England – this has now been pushed back until Spring 2021.

‘The current plan is to launch it on Instagram first around next spring – with physical launch events and books signings at some of the garden venues after that – Covid permitting!’

And finally, we’d really like to thank Clive for sharing not only his beautiful photography, but also his positivity in these difficult times and his daily dose of visual joy!

Check out Clive’s inspirational Instagram account.

Wilkinson Cameras ambassador James Rushforth has written four guidebooks in the past decade covering photography, ski mountaineering, rock climbing and via ferrata. He is currently finalising his next project, a photo location guidebook to Iceland for publisher fotoVUE.

Recently home from Iceland and writing from quarantine in Worcester, we asked him to share his experiences with book publishing and talk us through the process.

What you read and the images you see next may just have you reaching for your credit card and booking flights as soon as lockdown is over!

Ten years ago I agreed to write a rock climbing guidebook to the Dolomites for British publisher Rockfax. Shelling out £390 for my first camera (I paid less for my first car – were photographers all mad?) I bought a little Canon G12 and have never looked back. Which is not to say it has always been plain sailing, but it has been an experience.

I’ve tried to keep the following as succinct as possible, glossing over some of the more mundane economic considerations and focusing on the photographic side. I hope the article gives a little honest insight into guidebook writing, both the good and bad.

Logistical Considerations

This stage is key and there are some essential questions to ask before making a start in earnest.

• Are you going to work for a publisher or self publish?
• If the guidebook is a commercial enterprise is there a valid market? If so, will the market still exist by the time the book gets finished?
• Do you have time?
• Can you afford it?

Obviously the answers to these questions will vary depending on personal circumstances and the proposed project. For my part I’ve always worked for a publisher, which provides a certain level of security while alleviating some of the printing, advertising and shipping responsibilities associated with self publishing.

Certainly in my experience, writing a book always takes much longer than you think: come up with a timeline and then double it. For example, this current guide to Iceland contains 150 locations, with each location requiring an average of 4 images. That means I have to get 600 unique high quality images before I even consider the introductory material. Even if I were to average one print-worthy photo a day (which is nearly impossible – especially given the weather in Iceland), it would mean two years full time work before making a start on the text.

Then there are the finances to consider. My current expenses for Iceland are in the region of £20k, and that’s living out of a van and living as frugally as possible. Depending on the success of the book this can mean you’ve got several years to wait before you break even. In my experience guidebooks are profitable, but only in the long term. When I first started I took out a loan to cover the expenses, and now previous guidebooks cover the costs of the new ones.

Planning

Considering all of the above, it’s worth creating a quick mockup of how you envisage the pages looking. This invariably raises more important questions and allows a rough page count to be determined. Thought needs to be given to the book size, shipping costs and binding strength.

Gathering Content

Then it’s time to start gathering the content, always the best bit of any project! The key is to be organised and methodical from the start.

• Record everything – You can never have too much information. Voice notes are an excellent way of recording exactly what you see; these can be typed up or referred to later. Geotagging images with GPS data is really useful for later reference. Many cameras have this function built in, or if not a GPS unit can be added, or the camera can be paired with a mobile phone.
• A map is a great visual reference – I create a custom google map and log locations I’ve visited, colour coding them according to chapter and quality. This allows me to see if I’ve under-represented any areas and helps plan the next day’s photos according to location. It also makes driving and navigation easier.

• Organise your images carefully using cataloguing software of your choice. Be sure to keyword your images and use a logical filing structure. A quick and efficient method of finding a desired image will save so much time in the future.

• Plan your locations – Maximising time and stacking the odds in your favour for a desired shoot location is important for maximising efficiency. Use software such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris, PhotoPills or SkySafari to plan for the best light and important celestial events.

• Scout the locations in advance – There’s nothing worse than stumbling about in the dark looking for a foreground as the aurora goes crazy over your head. Get to locations early or use bad weather days to do some location research before the stars quite literally align.

• Mix it up – Today the potential audience for anyone reading your books is broad, leading to a very eclectic range of photographic tastes and preferences. Try and mix up your image styles, techniques, subjects and processing to reflect this. If nothing else it might inspire someone to try something new.

• Think in three dimensions – Love or loathe them, the advent of drone technology has fundamentally changed the way we perceive photography. What would previously have been a £8k helicopter flight in Iceland can now be achieved multiple times with less than £1k worth of equipment. The technology is particularly good for guidebooks as it allows you to capture orientation style shots to aid navigation. Writing the Dolomites climbing guidebooks I frequently ascended mountains on the opposite side of the valley to get the crag shots I needed, whereas now you could simply fly a drone up from below. What took weeks would now take days.

• Buy a van – Okay, so you don’t have to buy a van, though it definitely helps! The ability to travel, cook and sleep under your chosen location makes getting the images you need much easier and that sunrise start becomes considerably less arduous.

 

Book Design and Layout

Some publishers will request the written text and images before laying out the book for you. Personally I much prefer doing this myself, then you’re involved in all stages of production. For all three publishers I’ve worked for, Adobe InDesign is the software of choice as it links so well with Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator for cataloguing, image editing, map and symbol creation.

Much like photography, designing a book is all about colour palettes that work together, interesting compositions, symmetry, variety and juxtaposition.

I won’t go into all the tedious details of writing except for the following quick tips:

• Try to avoid leaving all the writing until the end as it becomes a daunting task. Better to chip away at it slowly.
• Find yourself a good copy editor.
• Be patient: don’t think of the project as a whole as it’s daunting and instead take it one page at a time.
• Try and keep social media interest going. Schedulers like Planoly for Instagram are great as you can spend a day organising your social media posts for the next three months and then largely forget about it.

A few frequently asked questions…

Do you recommend guidebook writing as a career?

It’s lovely work, you get to travel frequently and spend time fully exploring beautiful corners of the world. You also get something tangible to show for all the hard work at the end. But you also have to make sacrifices. I’ve spent the last 10 years living out of a van, which is great when the weather is good, but less enjoyable when you’re stuck in a 2x5m area on the eighth consecutive day of rain. Or digging yourself out of yet another snow drift. Such a transient lifestyle also makes for a tough social life – you build up a great friendship network only to move on again. Of course, the dream is to write a guidebook from your home address!

Is guidebook writing an economically viable career?

A good question that’s difficult to answer. Certainly in my experience it’s a good supplementary income but I’d personally struggle to live off the royalties full time. I also lead photographic workshops, sell prints and do some guiding. I’ve found that to be a good combination that keeps me on my toes and gives me good work variety.

What camera equipment do you use?

I’ve never got particularly excited about camera gear, I like taking photos. Some of the best work I’ve seen on my workshops have been taken by guests using mobile phones. Artistic creativity and a good eye will always trump expensive equipment. Working in Iceland the Arctic and at the top of mountains frequently my primary consideration is durability, it doesn’t matter how good the image quality is if it doesn’t take pictures when I need it to.

I’m currently using:

Cameras:
Nikon D810 with Kirk BL-D800 L-Bracket
Nikon D850 with Kirk BL-D850 L-Bracket
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Lenses:
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 20mm f1.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II AF-S VR ED G Lens
Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens

Converters:
Nikon TC-14E AF-S Teleconverter III
Nikon TC-20E AF-S Teleconverter III

Tripod:
Gitzo GT3542LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod
Induro BHL1 Ball Head

I’m interested in writing a book, where do you recommend starting?

I think creating a photo book of one of your recent trips is a great place to start. If you enjoy the experience of whittling down your images, editing and creating a visual story then you can think more seriously about a bigger project.

If not, you’ll still have a nice photo book to show for your efforts!

Wilkinson Cameras has an excellent range of photobook options that are available to browse if you’re feeling inspired and want to get started with creating your very own photo book.

Enjoyed this feature?

If you would like to know more or get in touch with James you can visit his website.

James also has one of the most inspiring Instagram feeds we’ve seen – though we warn you it may give total wanderlust frustration at this time of temporary lockdown!

James was the overall winner of the Digital Splash Photographer of the Year Award 2018. He also won the Digital Splash Landscape Photographer of the Year and Digital Splash Sports Photographer of the Year categories in 2018.

 

 

 

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