Embracing it all
I’m originally from Lancashire, but I’ve been living on the Isle of Anglesey for the last nine years, working in the hospitality industry. I live with views of the Menai Strait, looking out to the Carneddau Mountain range and, on a clear day, the peak of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) can be seen. Living here has definitely been a catalyst for me to rekindle my love for photography.
Living in North Wales I am incredibly spoilt with the raw natural beauty of the area. I can be on a wide-open sandy beach in the morning and in the Eyri/Snowdonia mountain range a couple of hours later.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @115mm . F/2.8 . 1/250″ . ISO 400 – Brecon
This has made hiking an important part of my downtime from work. Managing busy restaurants in tourist hot spots can be extremely demanding, so being able to walk for hours in the mountains or on the beaches, with my cameras is a perfect way to clear my head from day-to-day stresses.
The solitude I find when hiking with my camera is in stark contrast to the hoards of people I would serve on a daily basis in my workplace.
My dad was a wedding & portrait photographer when I was younger. I remember him taking me to his favourite camera shop, the smell of secondhand cameras and film being processed & printed will always stick with me.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @58.70mm . F/8 . 1/1000″ . ISO 400 – La Gomera Island
However, I’d not taken an interest in photography until my last module during my college years and I shot a black-and-white project of some local woodland.
After I saw the magic of my photographs appearing in a black-and-white darkroom, I was hooked. Always having my camera with me and a university application for a degree in photography is how my photography journey started!
I always like the peacefulness of being able to wander with my camera. Which is how landscape photography began to fuel my need for solitude. And this has been an ever present within my images, it is very rare that there will be anyone in my photography.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @50mm . F/8 . 1/250″ . ISO 200 – Menai Strait
This is a recurring theme which I mention later in this article when talking about my ‘Benches in the Landscape’ series.
Whilst I have a genre of photography which I work in, I like to stay open to all kinds of inspiration. The paintings by Edward Hopper are as much of an influence as the photography of Ansel Adams.
Thomas Heaton, whose YouTube landscape photography channel is a constant source of inspiration, especially when my own photography seems a little forced and I’m feeling stuck in a rut. Not only do I admire his photography (he’s another with a love of all things minimal), but he is very open about his struggles to keep motivated.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @54.10mm . F/10 . 1/250″ . ISO 200 – Nant Peris
The Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram account and book, the work of Dave Jordano, Gregory Crewdson, Edgar Martins, the art & culture magazine Aesthetica, Nick Barkworth, Scott Choucino, Ziqian Liu… I could go on forever listing people who provide influence and inspiration!
The running theme through the list of people above is that there isn’t really a theme. They all have very different styles and genres of image making. My short but sweet only piece of advice about art would be: embrace it all!
I bought my first Fujifilm X camera in 2017, an X-T10. I was attracted to the retro aesthetic, and the design reminded me of the 35mm cameras I’d used in college and university. The size was also a factor. Compared to the Nikon D3000 I had at that point, the new mirrorless format was a perfect size and weight for carrying around on long hikes.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @10mm . F/10 . 1/60″ . ISO 640 – Rhosneigr
And then the Fujifilm bug bit and as a spontaneous purchase, I bought a secondhand X-Pro1 from a camera store around six months later, and the final addition was when I bought my X-T2 in late 2018.
However, after a visit to the Camera Show at the NEC in Birmingham, I was sold on the new Nikon full-frame mirrorless Z system. It was a camera system that had been on my mind for a few months after the show, and obviously, it was a lot bigger than the X series of cameras but still smaller than my old Nikon gear. But I took the plunge and bought Nikon the Z6 and its 24-70mm f4 lens. I’d used Nikon all through education, so I still had a soft spot and remaining loyalty to them.
However, I always kept my old faithful X-T2 in my camera bag. As much as I thought I’d appreciate the full-frame sensor of the Nikon Z6, the colours from my Fuji’s just had something special about them (not that I need to tell anyone who’s reading this about the colours!). The recreation of the Classic Chrome or Acros film simulation was something I’d often try to emulate with my Nikon images.
After around nine months of having the Z6, I found I was leaving it at home more and more often. As it was gathering dust, I decided to sell the Z6 and bought myself the Fujifilm 50-140mm f2.8 and 10-24mm f4 lenses.
So, since 2017, I’ve been a Nikon user to Fujifilm back to Nikon and finally settled with Fujifilm!
I shoot with just two lenses at the moment, the stunning 10-24mm f4 Fuji lens and the old workhouse & built like a tank Fuji 55-140mm f2.8 lens. I plan to get my hands on the 35mm f1.4 or f2 Fuji lens at some point to use as my walk around lens.
As with all landscape photographers, a selection of filters, a sturdy tripod and a waterproof camera bag is an essential kit. I have a selection of Lee filters: the Big Stopper ND, the Medium Grad ND kit and a Cokin Extreme three stop ND. I have a Vanguard aluminium tripod and a Lowepro Switch camera backpack. I also love the threaded shutter release on the X-T2, so I always carry around a cheap and cheerful 0.5m cable release.
RIGHT: View from Gallows Point Print
‘Benches in the Landscape’
This is an ongoing project, which I started during the first lockdown of March 2020, where I began photographing the benches I’d see during my daily walk around Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey.
In stark contrast to the norm of landscape photography, in these images I’m not waiting around for the best light or weather conditions and the compositions are very simple.
My intention is to document the solitude and quite often the beauty of the view which the bench provides at that particular moment in time.
Where possible I exclude any people in the photographs, in order for the viewer to be able to imagine themselves sat on the bench, with the only distraction being the landscape view provided by the bench.
My collection of images has since expanded to include locations all over the UK and abroad.
I have had my project exhibited in Found Gallery, Brecon in Wales, along with multiple online and printed publications.
I don’t see an end to the project, there’ll always be a new bench in a new place!
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @13.80mm . F/9 . 1/250″ . ISO 200 – Aberfalls
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @13.80mm . F/9 . 1/500″ . ISO 200 – Chania Old Port
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @15.10mm . F/8 . 1/500″ . ISO 200 – Dinorwig
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @16.60mm . F/11 . 1/125″ . ISO 200 – Rhosneigr
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF10-24mmF4 @17.40mm . F/8 . 1/250″ . ISO 200 – Trefor
I use Adobe Lightroom for the majority of my post-processing and Photoshop for removing distractions (which just lately has become due to some lens fungus in my 55-140mm lens, I’m not looking forward to the service and repair bill for that!).
Post-processing is an important part of my image making. While I always prefer to have the image exposed correctly in camera, I do use some Lightroom presets I’ve created from the Fujifilm simulations.
My images often have minimalist and bold design elements, often making use of negative space while also having a cinematic aesthetic.
This means colour grading is important in my post-processing workflow however I am careful to ensure that my images don’t look ‘over-cooked’. My best piece of advice when asked about post-processing is to edit, go and make a coffee (or have a glass of wine depending on the time!), go back to the edit taking a considered look and then go back to the edit a day or so later.
This time between editing will highlight anything I’ve missed, anything I’ve actually overworked and helps me to decide if an image is actually worth being posted on my social media or website.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @50mm . F/8 . 1/250″ . ISO 400 – South Stack
RIGHT: Fuji X-T2 . Fuji XF50-140mmF2.8 @50mm . F/2.8 . 1/60″ . ISO 400 – Nant Meigan Woodland
“With my photography, I like to create images which have a strong, bold design element to them. Often using negative space and a minimalist composition.
I am based on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. A perfect location for being on the beach for sunrise and in the mountains of Snowdonia for sunset.
I have had my work exhibited at Found Gallery in Brecon, a temporary window exhibition at Oriel Colwyn. Whilst also being published in Offline Journal and the website OnLandscape.”