Why a career in
landscape photography ?
I was inspired by National Geographic. Plus, I really enjoy being out
in the countryside. I've never had any formal training so it's been a
lot of trial and error. I started on a Government scheme to start your
own business, receiving a grant for £40 a week. I took a lot of inspiration
from photographers like Ansel Adams
make great landscapes?
A heck of a lot of it is to do with light - or rather the quality
of light. That's what helps you get towards the wow factor. I love a sense
of drama. Some of my best pictures have been taken within minutes of my
own backyard, simply because I can react to the conditions as they happen.
Where is your
ideal landscape country?
The west coast of Scotland is great, partly because of the quality of
light it can offer. I also love the Lake District for its proportions
and the way the human element of the area blends with the natural landscape.
The hills, lakes and dry stone walls all fit beautifully together. If
you were to design the perfect landscape, you'd come up with the Lake
Are there any
tricks to try in poor conditions?
Not really. If you haven't got the light it's tough but you can change
tactics, like shoot in woodlands or look for details. That's certainly
what I do.
What's the best
piece of advice you were given when starting out?
Have a good alarm clock. Get up early, stay out late.
What is the biggest
mistake you see in other photographers' landscapes?
A lack of foreground interest and no sense of scale. You really do need
something to lead the eye into the photo. I'm always on the look out for
a foreground, whether it's a strange tree, a wall or a sheep.
would you kill for?
I love moody, dramatic lighting - the sort you get when a rainstorm is
moving in and there's a bit of clear sky for the sun to burst through.
It's not the most commercial but it gets me going. You have to work fast,
which is why I often work with 35mm.
Swaledale, Yorkshire. The eye is drawn across three distinct
areas of interest and activity in this photograph. The stone wall
trailing out of the picture at the top gives a sense of movement and
perspective. Looking down onto the scene, Peter has framed his landscape
scene in portrait format with excellent results. The warm light was
worth waiting for, as it has lifted the natural colours in the landscape.
Peter made sure the tractor and trailer were travelling in a direction
which aligned them with the angle of the barn. Small details are important.
Great foreground detail setting the scene. The beautiful old barn
creates a feeling of days gone by but Peter has framed carefully to
ensure it doesn't dominate the picture.
What (other than
a camera) do you consider your most important piece of kit and why?
Blu-Tack. It's really handy for attaching filters quickly without
having to change holders. I carry so many of different sizes that a bit
of it can work wonders. I also like to travel with a notebook and a compass
is great for checking where the sun is going to rise.
Tent, back of
car, bed & breakfast or five star hotel?
Which would you choose and why? I'd go for the tent. In fact, I do
go for the tent. If I'm in a hotel I could easily get lured by the comforts
of the bar. In a tent you are always aware of the changing weather conditions
and the light, and so can react to them quickly. I might stay in a B&B
late in the year.
What is your favourite
The Highlands and islands of northwest Scotland.
What do you choose.
Breakfast or another hour standing in a muddy field hoping the light will
I'm tempted to head for breakfast but if I've gone to a lot of effort
to find a location I'll sit it out until I think there's no hope left.
Mind you, experience has taught me a lot and I can usually second guess
what's going to happen, so I know when all hope has gone -then it's definitely
How long will you
wait for the perfect shot?
When I hit an area I can get fixated by certain photos and will stay (on
and off) in a certain spot for up to three days to catch it in the right
light. I always start with a bit of a pessimistic attitude but more often
than not my perseverance has paid off .
You've shot five
rolls of film and got one great landscape shot - Are you happy?
Very happy. One out of 10 rolls is okay with me. You see, your images
have got to be good to stand out and they've got to have it all - great
composition, perfect light, etc.
What lessons have
you learned the hard way?
Wear wellies. I used to wear walking boots but got thoroughly soaked too
many times. Now it's wellies and dry feet. I also used to be lazy about
cleaning lenses and filters, which is bad. The other thing to remember
is not to put filters down near the ground when there's a lot of moisture
about, as you spend more time drying them off than using them. It's also
easy to use them without noticing there's a few tiny droplets of water
messing up your great image. Keep them in a waistcoat pocket until you
What's the most
important - expensive kit or a great photographer's eye?
I've never been an equipment freak and I don't believe that, especially
with landscapes, the latest gear has that much to do with it. You can
use a bog-standard camera and still take a great shot.