Kit talk. Far too much kit talk.

Great white egrets, Ham Wall.

As I have done so little photography in the last two months I hope you’ll forgive me if recount an incident from spring last year. In early May I paid a visit to Ham Wall in the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. In a post describing a previous visit I called this magnificent RSPB reserve ‘Heron HQ UK’ : as an example of habitat creation on a large scale it just can’t be beat.

My first morning there saw me making an early start. It was humid, still, and scraps of fog hovered above the wetlands and reedbeds.  I wasted little time in making my way to the Tor View hide, joining another early-rising photographer. It can be good to chat to like-minded souls in bird hides and one can sometimes pick up useful info about what can be seen locally. But on this occasion it really was a bit too early for conversation and, besides, a surreal dawn was slowly developing into a stunning sunrise. But he just wanted to talk ….”Are you using Canon, then…..?” Even worse, he wanted to talk about kit. And did he! He proceeded to list his lenses: …the 600 f5.6, the 500 f4 and the 400 f2.8 (…..possibly…..). He carried on in this vein.

Meanwhile a pair of great white egrets were just becoming active in the mist nearby, offering a stunning spectacle to the photographer. But he just didn’t seem to notice. Fortunately a couple of other photographers arrived which took the pressure off me to respond! The sun began to break through the trees, spotlighting sections of the egrets’ brilliant white plumage. I couldn’t believe I was the only one pointing my camera in their direction.

Perhaps backlit birds don’t offer ideal subject matter for the traditional bird photographer. Whatever the reason, the others sat on the other side of the hide and chatted away. The sun rose, dispersing the mist and warming the landscape.  I was able to photograph a bittern in flight with the summit of Glastonbury Tor in the background, an image that really sums up Ham Wall for me.

And what of our friend with the car boot full of equipment? I hadn’t noticed him slip away but certainly noticed him return. This time he was pulling a four wheeled trolley loaded with gear. Someone had advised him that thieves were known to frequent the car park and he must have thought it better that he had it all with him.

I’m struggling, really, to conclude this post because the moral is surely so clear to see. There is more to photography than kit.

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Approaching the Landscape – Photography workshop, May 2019

I will be running a residential landscape photography workshop from May 9th – 12th at Trigonos, Nantlle, north Wales.

Trigonos is a really excellent venue. For many years it has run a programme of personal growth, yoga and mindfulness workshops, but is now extending the range of courses that it offers. There is a range of accomodation available, and the staff provide very good quality vegetarian food. There is a very relaxed atmosphere around the site. Trigonos is situated on the banks of Llyn Nantlle Uchaf,  just a few minutes walk to the western end of the lake, from where one of the classic views of Snowdon can be seen. Nantlle itself is one of the quietest villages in Snowdonia and I have had long conversations with passers by in the middle of the main street without fear of being mown down by vehicles!

As well as being in an excellent location for the photographer of “unspoilt” landscapes, Trigonos is also close to some extensive disused slate quarries, and I expect we will visit a range of locations  from the sublime to the derelict. In fact, one of the themes of the Workshop will be the relationship of one to the other. It should have something for everyone.

For further details please click here Approaching-the-Landscape 2019.

There will also be an extended, four-day workshop from October 20th – 24th.

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