Landscape photographer Stephen Spraggon likes to get away from his indoor day job into what he feels is his outdoor office where he can travel around the countryside seeking scenic places to photograph. What started as a hobby has developed into serious photography and each image is very carefully planned in advance. After holding some successful exhibitions of his work, Stephen's reputation grew and he now takes on commissions and also continues with his personal projects. Outdoor Photography magazine often features landscapes by Stephen and many images appear in other publications and advertisements.
Members enjoyed a slideshow of some early images featuring misty landscapes, dawn and sunset coastal scenes, rugged rock formations and tranquil woodland. An image of the Holy Thorn in silhouette against Glastonbury Tor is a particular favourite of Stephen's as sadly the tree is no longer standing.
Stephen brought along some of his kit and members were particularly interested in the tripod with extra-long legs - very useful on sloping ground and on rocks over water and the use of an L frame making the camera very stable on the tripod even in portrait mode. A spirit level on the hot shoe together with one on the tripod and the electronic inbuilt level in the camera combine to make sure the camera is perfectly level. Stephen also explained the uses of a tilt/shift lens which can give front to back sharpness in difficult situations.
To get such high quality landscape images takes planning, timing and persistence. Using maps and a photographers Ephemeris to find the exact position of the sun at the location, a tide table for coastal shots and the local weather forecast together with his experience Stephen hopes all this comes together for the ideal shot. Despite all the planning the conditions may still not be ideal on arrival and the weather not as predicted so sometimes waiting for the cloud to break might give a chance of an image for a few seconds but on other occasions it means hoping for better luck next time.
On the point of giving up after many visits over 4 years, finally the colour of the sky, position of the sun, tide height and light all came together for the superb image of the Cobb, Lyme Regis shown above was just the shot Stephen always had in his mind to acheive. The reflection of the Glastonbury Tor in a dyke right meant finding exactly the right position to set up the tripod and then to return to the spot several times until the bankside vegetation hid the unwanted line of electric fence posts and just the right amount of mist in order to get the ideal image.
Stephen prefers to keep post production work to the minimum. Adjustment layers are used in Photoshop to balance levels, white balance adjusted, annoying dust spots removed and cropping if needed. Sometimes several images are blended together to give just the result needed.
Finally Stephen showed a selection of his recent work with some images of Snowdonia and his experiments with star trails and full moon shots on Glastonbury Tor.
Thanks Stephen for giving useful advice and tips for landscape photographers and for showing a selection of your superb images. PM
Images © Stephen Spraggon Website