- Chris Nowell
With the year coming to a cold end I thought it would be a good time to look back at some highlights of 2021. Not necessarily the best images or the most fun adventures just a few Landscape Photography trips that come to mind.
Imagery as always associated with @Vanguard Photo UK and Kase Filters UK. To that end let's step back in time grab yourself a brew and enjoying a few stories of 2021.
As the year began a new item was released from Vanguard photo UK. The truly impressive VEO 3+ Tripod.
Available in aluminium and carbon fibre for your personal choice. Personally I chose the aluminium version as I don't necessarily need that slightly lighter ability with the carbon fibre. Not at all that aluminium and carbon fibre are better than each other it literally just comes down to personal choice and if you want something slightly more less weight or more. Was the perfect timing that they had begun with a new item from Vanguard I was ready to step back to the landscape and test this bad boy for its full potential.
One of the first highlights of the year brought the colour of spring in the form of bluebells and smelly wild garlic. I know some people quite like the smell of wild garlic but to be honest it drives me mad and that my boots then smell like a vampires underwear for at least a week after I have walked inside of it. The bluebells on the other hand is a very pleasant smell a gentle scent of spring and one of the first colours in the woodland.
As the first spring bulbs began restrictions were lifted shortly after meaning I was excited but would still probably stay local in my local Woodlands instead of venturing very far. Opting for the Dronfield and Barlow area or more specifically just outside the outskirts.
After the work around the local woods I was keen to achieve some landscape photography adventures back in the Peak District National Park. To start off with we began with a simple sunset on Baslow Edge. A highlight as this is a nice location to see the Highland cattle. Of course these extremely gentle beasts are very much harmless and will not hurt a soul but me personally I still try to give them space but just enjoy being around them as they quietly go along their business chewing the grass.
One highlight of 2021 was my solo wild camp followed by sunrise meet up with fellow Peak District photographer Matt Oliver Photography. With only a sleeping bag to walking poles and my army issued poncho roughing it for one night alone was a great adventure followed by these incredible conditions the following morning. Towards the back end of August the flowering Heather was nice and the temperatures were very decent meaning everything was nice and comfortable.
Below are a few final images throughout the year. On the left wild camp with James peddler looking towards Thors Cave. In the middle sunset on Car head rocks. On the White sunset on Carl Wark.
Although the year made getting out with the camera and completing landscape photography adventures more difficult due to restrictions or lack of motivation. It also gave me the opportunity to explore my local woodland. Locations I would've normally discarded or not even thought about due to the fact that we're not technically in the Peak District or just not on my radar. I have a lot to learn still about woodland photography however there is no denying I enjoyed the peace and quiet if not sometimes absolute silence that comes from being amongst trees.
So here are a few tales and images captured around my local Woodlands and a few Peak District trips concentrating only on trees. Of course you saw the small handful of bluebells at the beginning of the year however autumn was very much on my hit list.
On reflection the combination of a new woodland to explore and new photographs to capture at the same time of the autumnal colours kicking off it all seemed like perfect timing. This was the entrance of my new secret playground a decent sized Wood of which I was given a small amount of permission to enjoy from local farmers and landowners. The secret is however the fact it is only 3 miles away from home just gives me the ability to return whenever I need and really explore and capture the best of this new location.
The secret Woodland.
The story of this location however has only just begun I have more exploring to complete and with the changing of the seasons you will have many more adventures to enjoy over the years so look out for that.
Fog and trees go together in the most perfect way for landscape photography. What can look perhaps scary on a dark foggy morning to some people for landscape photographers is a dream and something we long for throughout the whole year. When that man a woman on the weather forecast predicts high amounts of fog in the morning you know the landscape photographer is packing up and ready to go out with their camera.
Luckily at the beginning of November during the height of the autumnal colours we were gifted those perfect conditions. To that end I headed off with a local friend in the area of Bole Hill Quarry. An area well known for those perfect conditions and for those wanting to enjoy these small skinny trees. A location that is rich in local history great amounts of wildlife plus perfect for those wanting to pick up some interesting fungus.
Graham and I slowly made our way down the hillside captured the first obvious photograph of the millstones to the side of the pathway then myself and the dog explored a bit more on our own. I did expect more photographers to be around however at the beginning I saw one other photographer as we politely said hello and made sure we were not in each other's shot. Knowing this area quite well made it easy for me to find the right sort of area I wanted to be in. This is because I knew the sort of photograph I wanted to start off with. I was looking for a photograph full of separation. An image which would hopefully be almost perfect knowing that the word perfect with woodland photography is pretty much non-existent. You say trees are not perfect they grow however they want in whatever direction they want to that and perfection and the word trees don't grow perfectly. However perhaps that is the wrong way of looking at it however I was looking for the perfect set of trees that would not be touching each other in anyway and I knew that was not going to be possible so I just wanted one shot that would be almost perfect and this one I was very happy with.
The majority of the trees are not leaning on each other and you can nicely see the gap between them. However in the distance there are other trees leaning on each other or ever so slightly touching a branch or two but the majority of the image is just how I wanted it and with 40 minutes walking round and finally capturing this photograph I'm very happy with it and the time it took. Silence apart from the odd sound of a crow in the distance or a little robin nearby just myself the camera and the dog capturing this perfect silent foggy memory.
As I mentioned at the beginning it is almost impossible to display every photograph I have captured this year. Which is why I am showing some of my favourites and hopefully some that you will enjoy yourself. It would have to be a number of blogs created to show everything but to be honest not all of it is worth showing again anyway so for now I hope you've enjoyed these Woodland photographs and it takes you to a more relaxing quiet place just like I did for me at the time.
Next brought the white stuff cooler temperatures and at last the arrival of snow the next scene of landscape photography on the hit list.
With a slightly damaged knee at the moment due to my own stupidity with exercise. The arrival of the snow meant I needed to stay local but luckily enough I have a Number of local compositions that just so happened to work perfectly for capturing snow. Such as country lanes interesting trees and large open landscapes.
On this first adventure I bumped into a friendly chap called Mike as I was on my way to capture this local winters scene. We had a very welcome conversation on the way down the hill and it made the whole trip a little bit more bearable with my painful leg.
About five years in the making to capture this almost perfect winter scene and for now I am very happy with it and I hope it also brings you the joy it did me being back out with the camera.
The final part of this blog is my adventure to Northumberland. Northumberland Dartmoor and North Wales. Its location is very much at the top of my list to photograph over the next few years to be honest I wanted to do at least Dartmoor this year however with the restrictions at the beginning of the year when I was planning to go I've just put it off for another year. However myself fellow Peak District photographer James pictures and Vanguard ambassador and photographer Scott Reed created a plan and finally set off for a Northumberland adventure. Deciding to keep it or light with a local farm in the area of Bamburgh castle. From here we could venture off further up north and finish off on a final day towards dunstanburgh Castle therefore logistically this was a perfect place to start. Just ourselves in our own individual tents a few beers general chitchat on the following day we were off to capture the castles.
The following day and the weather forecast failed as we were hit by pretty crap flat grey skies however we were all quite enjoying just being at a new location so morale stayed quite high as it was just good to be photographing somewhere new. After this slightly disappointing sunrise we went further up north not far only up to holy Island which I wasn't overly excited due to the fact I was photographing in the middle of the day. We decided to head back to this location for sunset as the weather forecast was looking fairly promising.
A change of tied a change of conditions more light more excitement more morale the sunset brought pretty much exactly what we wanted making the whole adventure or trip worthwhile. Surprisingly quiet beach for sunset we had so many compositions to try and capture but to kick off I just wanted to concentrate on the side light look for an interesting composition and I think I did in this and I cannot wait to return in the future with so many compositions to capture.
Full of excitement we went back to the tenants had a few more beers and some good chat before packing up very early the following day and heading back home via Dunstanburgh Castle for sunrise.
This place was absolutely epic but at the same time a pure pain with my eyesight limitations and tragic balance. In the end I had two options stay at the top like a wet lettuce and watch the others have fun or make a movement which reminded me of Gollum and a spider crawling along the floor and make my way down to the slippery locks. Of course I decided to be a spider and make the most of it I would worry about getting back up the hill afterwards and yes it did take me sometime but on reflection I'm really glad I made it and I cannot wait to go again overall Northumberland was very good to us.
In the end I kept it in black-and-white just because it really enhance the clouds on the horizon in black-and-white although it's okay in colour this is one of those rare occasions where I decided to shoot or more specifically edit it into Black and white.