As our lives continue in a restricted way through the Covid -19 virus how wonderful is it to be allowed to peep through a window, from time to time, into the wider world through our inspirational; hobby of photography.
In order to achieve the very best from our equipment it is so valuable to receive the wisdom of a high quality professional, like Nigel Hicks, taking us through the captivating open spaces that exist, pretty well in our own back yard, on the hills and valleys of the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.
The photographer was able to use his knowledge and skills to take us to moorland and to view it from a unique and exciting angle – showing us a sparkling pool in the foreground, in light created just before sunset, embellished using a neutral density filter allowing a daring view into the dying sun with cloud formations that create a frame for such open spaces and his clever use of the wide angle lens. Soon we are taken to an image with standing stones in the foreground with minute detail, this startling composition captured with a telephoto lens can it get any better? The sheer intelligence of the author blossoms with the capture of a stack of granite boulders, so often taken with a background view to capture the landscape but, on this occasion the precision placement of the camera from the other side taking us into the sky, again as the sun sets, a lesson in composition from which any standard could learn! But, of course, Nigel spoils us by returning after sunset, with a similar set up, and the Pole Star at the heart of an image taken with an array of star trails revealed by using increasing exposure time. Few of us noticed creeping light in the image as a result of light pollution from distant villages at the edge of the moor – in no way did this effect spoil the shot, it enhanced it.
The variations within the region soon became evident with views of woodland and river valleys, again with the use of the wide-angle lens, the ND filter and precision composition, observed to the finest detail. Bluebells in May scattered amongst trees and views over the river Dart with the telephoto lens taken after a heavy downpour to catch the lively fast running water, how the boulders catch the sunlight in early Summer. Many of us are not aware of the ancient oak woodland that lies, almost hidden, but where the river was viewed looking upstream and carefully composed, again, taking care that the white water is not burnt out, gave us the feeling and sound that Nigel must have felt in creating this image using trees and branches as frames.
Our journey continued with rich warm Autumn colours, across stepping stones, on to Winter with snowfalls taken not across broad lands, but along roadways, where we’ve all been caught from time to time. We visited Exmoor to see blown snow thrust against a five-bar gate and the style leads our eye to the blue sky and sun to provide contrast. Onward to classic scenes of this area seeing Dunkery Beacon taken late in the day with a red sunset.
No trip here could be made without seeing deer, of the three types the red deer provided an interesting and busy shot, supported by Nigel’s anecdote with a party of tutees who had not kept up and been in position to see these graceful animals.
Other pictures included a lonely hawthorn tree, bereft of foliage, taken at dusk with a spotted cloudy sky – simple but very effective. Devon and Somerset have extensive coastlines and no visit would be complete without seeing this and Bossington Hill by Minehead on the South West Coast Path. The view across flowering purple heather, yellow flowers and a mixture of grasses was stunning during June where the earlier fog was easing away to reveal the beauty. Shoreline groynes and Porlock completed our tour.
The author’s skills are not restricted to landscapes and his persistence searching had revealed some “friendly” dippers and the superb images, set against suitable contrasting backgrounds, provided an enviable feast with a 600mm lens, more red deer were, again, in evidence.
Nigel is a widely published author below are the covers of just 2 of his books :
Members might wish to visit Nigel’s web site: http://www.Nigelhicks.com
A veritable delight in every respect, a welcome visitor to our club at any time – Many thanks Nigel.