Amateur Photographer Magazine

Last week I was interviewed by Amateur Photographer magazine, for a 4 page spread / interview on Torness for their April issue.

Torness is an incredible landscape. Man made, fractious in appearance, it's pretty much the opposite of what I tend to shoot. But surely there is more to landscape photography than wilderness? Not that I'm slighting the wilderness. It's beautiful, but sometimes I feel I should be pushing the envelope in my own work and trying something different.

Well Torness was just that, and I'd felt I'd come up with some compelling images. So I submitted them to Outdoor Photography magazine here in the UK. Not because I feel that OP would be appropriate, but because there's very little choice in who I can submit it to. I wasn't surprised when OP rejected my article about Torness and the photos. The editor was keen on the pictures, but in their words they 'couldn't get anybody to pick it up'. I've always felt since that rejection that my images did not fit the narrow guidelines of the magazine.

So it was with surprise that Amateur Photographer magazine got in touch. They weren't interested in any of my other images, just the Torness ones for the exact reason I felt they were worth publishing - the were 'a little bit different from the usual early morning landscape work'.  Please don't misunderstand me, I don't feel that the Torness images are highly original. If I were honest, I'd say that I was let loose with a new 5D digital camera and fell quickly into making images that were influenced by Michael Kenna's work, albeit in colour.

Anyway, the article should be out in April at some point. I haven't seen any of the text for the interview, so I will be interested to see how I've been represented. The girl in question who interviewed me did a great job with her review of my site, so i'm hopeful for a good outcome.

Industrial Landscapes shot at Night

Torness nuclear power station shot during the nocturnal hours. Have you ever stepped outside your photography-comfort zone? I did just that when I took an interest in a nuclear power station situated on a reclaimed peninsula here in Scotland. It was my first proper foray into the realm of night photography.

In this podcast, I describe my mixed feelings about such a place being on the door step to the John Muir way.

Please click on the image to play the podcast


A cold evening shoot

One of my favourite places at the moment to photograph is the location surrounding Torness nuclear power station. Torness is situated on the east cost of Scotland on a reclaimed peninsula which is protected from the sea by a man made coast line of concrete blocks.

I like to do repeat visits to locations. Sometimes I'll come home with nothing, while other times, Ill find something new. In January we had a really hard cold spell. The changes in seasons can often add a new dimension to a place so I decided to head out to Torness to see what might happen.


I'm always looking for compositions, and if I find something that is of interest, I then start to look for things around to anchor it. What I mean by this is that I will try to find elements of the surrounding landscape to use in order to 'lead the eye' into the picture. This is always done with what is there - I never move things of create a contrived view point. I just look for what is there and decide if it's a good place to shoot from.

With wide angle images it's a classic compositional device to have something in the foreground of the image. My initial interest had been in the two concrete towers in the distance, and I knew that an image of them alone would not be interesting enough. The cost line had been manufactured (yes, that's right - it's not natural) of large stone blocks that had been moved into position to create a defence against the sea. It was covered in frost and the cracks and textures of the ground were far too interesting to pass up on. So I spent a few minutes searching the location for the best vantage point where I could get the right composition.

This is something I always do - I explore the surrounding landscape - always looking for the best compositional aspect. Many people use their zoom lenses to move around a scene, and often stay routed to the same spot for the entire duration of the shoot. I tend to like to roam, make a few shots and move off again. Always in search of a better vantage point.

The resulting image was a long exposure because the light was starting to fade, and also, because I'm partly fascinated by the idea of compressing many moments of time into one image. But what I also loved about the shot was the monochrome aspect to it. The light here in Scotland is very 'cold' and tends to have more blue in it's spectrum. Coupled with fading winter light and an overcast sky, I had very soft tones with which to shoot and used a 3 stop ND Soft Grad filter on the image to balance the earth with the sky.