I have always dipped in and out of photography but only started to focus on landscapes seriously just over two years ago, after becoming chronically depressed during lockdown. I’ve suffered with depression all of my life, and find photography an incredible therapy. Nothing beats being out in nature or in the middle of a woodland in the early morning. It really is food for the soul, and medicine for a troubled mind.
• Read more: The best cameras for landscape photography
When it comes to choosing the right camera equipment for landscape photography, it obviously helps to have a good camera body and quality glass in front of it. The Nikon Z 6 certainly excels as a landscape camera, but technique is far more important, in my humble opinion.
This young oak tree (main image) is very near to my home, and is currently part of a 12-month-long project: photographing it every month for a calendar. I call this particular image ‘Lonely Joe’. It was captured in February and depicts an incredible sunrise, which lit the clouds up and created those stunning magenta hues. I love how the clouds have formed an arch over the tree, a frame within a frame that channels the viewer’s gaze towards the silhouetted lone subject.
As soon as I came upon this scene, my mind went immediately to the first The Lord of the Rings film, when the hobbits are forced to hide from a Ringwraith beneath a large collection of roots and next to a long avenue of trees. Hence the image’s name: ‘Elven Avenue’. The tree standing guard at the avenue’s entrance, which fades off into the distance, really sparked my imagination. I stood in a clearing while capturing this image and the light was hitting the tree beautifully, giving it an otherworldly glow.
Readers who are film buffs might recognize this tree. It was featured in the critically acclaimed war movie 1917, and is the tree a young soldier sits under at the end of the film. I visited a Wiltshire wood in search of hoar frost, but ended up going onto Salisbury Plain, knowing this lone tree resided somewhere nearby. I found it about 10 minutes after a snow storm had started, which gave me some really fantastic conditions to shoot in. The snow, combined with fog, obscured the background, making the tree look even more solitary.
This magnificent oak tree is hidden in a small poplar wood. I estimate it to be at least 500 years old, judging by the trunk’s incredible girth. I had been testing a new drone in the field next door, when I saw the sun was starting to burn through the mist. I rushed into the woods and was lucky enough to be greeted by these amazing rays of light, which were bathing the oak tree in a warm golden glow.
A midday scout through a wood in Dorset turned into an epic photography session. When I arrived, the area was shrouded in low-hanging clouds. This beech tree looks very sinister, with skull-like features on one side of the trunk. I added to the mood by framing it low to the ground, and used my wide-angle prime to make its gnarled features look even more warped.
SIMON'S TOP TIPS!
• Find your local landscape! There will be plenty of stunning scenes near your home. Use Google Earth and OS Maps to help you scout good locations.
• Use a tripod. You often have to shoot at low shutter speeds in the woods, as it gets quite murky among the trees. Get a good tripod to help you stabilize shots for those long exposures!
• Look for trees with character. Even trees of the same species can look very different. Characterful subjects will stand out more in your image.