Sorry I didn’t catch Covid-19 for a year, it is just a sensational title like everything in the news these days! As far as I know I haven’t had it and I do not even know anyone that has either, but we have all been living the last year affected by Covid-19 in some way.I have tried to keep busy during all our lockdown so this is going to be a long read!
I came back to England in June 2019 with the intention to see my family after 6 years in Singapore and photograph my home extensively for the first time. I had planned to be here around a year, then our first lockdown came in March 2020, all my fairs cancelled in Singapore and I was stuck here. I could have still travelled but I chose to do the right thing and avoid flying during these unknown times.
It has however a blessing in disguise, I haven’t spent this much time with my parents since I left home 18 years ago at the age of 21, other than odd weekends trips from London, so it has been nice to get to know them again.
I have been lucky to get stuck in the England where as a full-time landscape photographer I have been free to continue my work, which as always is just me and nature. The lockdowns made it feel like going back in time with less people around, it now makes me wonder is that is one element of what the good old days is that people mention – less people and smaller closer communities.
I explored and captured the Yorkshire Dales where I was living, with my favourite area being the Howgill Fells below. I love all the narrow valleys that create the beautiful ripples in the earth and that the usual stone walls haven’t been built all over them, so they look untouched by humans.
I have never photographed Spring before so I intended the most of being here during the changing seasons. Micheldever Forest as the bluebells bloom is truly incredibly to see as you can see below. What started as a 2 days ended up being 4 capturing every angle of this forest. What made it even more special is I had it all to myself.
I visited Norfolk for the first time to see the windmills, it’s a place so much more beautiful from the air since there aren’t many hills to walk up. These lakes, canals and rivers are rarely empty like I witnessed, being a popular holiday spot to rent about and cruise the waterways.
Once restrictions had eased and I could travel into Scotland I took a road trip around the highlands and the famous NC500. I wasn’t the only one with this plan though, as many Londoners had taken a train and hired a car to do the same, which meant many drivers not knowing the rules of single track country roads. Thankfully they didn’t stray too far from their cars meaning once I got up the mountains I was all alone again to enjoy the beauty of the landscape.
Stac Polliadh, below, was my favourite sunrise hike. I sat at the top of the mountain taking in the incredible untouched views to the ocean whilst listening to classical film scores for hours, it is one of the best views I have seen in the UK.
Even though I have been to the Isle of Skye twice already I couldn’t help myself and had a 2 day detour since I was so close. I didn’t intend to shoot the Old Man of Storr for the 3rd time but as I passed by the epic pinnacles drew me in with lovely afternoon light after a storm.
After 2 weeks I decided to head back to Yorkshire once a week of bad weather came, Scotland is no fun when it rains all day! You can see my Scotland collection here.
I had planned to take a long 3 month road trip to Norway over summer, but as August came I realised it wasn’t going to happen this year. Instead I took a ferry over to Ireland for the first time. I had no schedule to stick to, I just wanted drive the entire coastline along the famous Wild Atlantic Way and see as much as I could.
Wow is all I can say about the Irish coast, standing on the edges of cliffs and seeing the huge Atlantic waves crashing is just incredible. The wind was unrelenting too which caused my tripod to blow over 4 days in and break a lens! The best thing is it was so quiet even in the usually busy spots and I rarely saw anyone else, I guess the English weren’t taking ferries. The Giant’s Causeway below has probably never been so quiet.
Capturing this scene a huge wave crashed against the rocks and splashed my camera, this trip was not looking good for the health of my gear so early on. The last time this happened on a boat in the Philippines my camera started acting up and needed the top plate replacing.
This was one of my favourite shots of Ireland above, taken in Clew Bay. I waited 3 days for this light whilst it rained most of the time. It was so peaceful there on a calm day, I don’t think I have even been somewhere so quiet. It must be lovely to live in one of the houses on the hundreds of islands with the small community feel. I was there waiting so much they the local residents would walk by to check on me and we would have little chats.
I loved exploring the Dingle Peninsula where I walked 27km of the rugged coastline and camped along the way. What made this road trip enjoyable was that I had no schedule to keep to, so if I found somewhere special I spent as much time as I wanted there before moving on. Dingle got the most of my time with a whole week there. I also picked the perfect month to visit, the locals kept telling me the weather up until now had been terrible with barely a summer to be seen.
Food options along the way was mostly Irish Pubs in the villages I was passing through, so everything came with fries and I was sick of them about 2 weeks in. I was so happy every time I passed near a larger town I made a point to visit a good restaurant even though I had no other reason to stop there.
I completed the Wild Atlantic Way in 4 weeks having driven 4086 miles and was back in Larne where I started to take a ferry back to England. My timing was perfect as on the last 2 days it suddenly got bitterly cold which coupled with the wind took away the pleasure of exploring. You can view the whole Ireland Gallery here.
I spent the autumn in Yorkshire and the Lake District to capture the beautiful fall colours, I missed it last year whilst on my road trip through the Italian and French Alps. Whilst they can’t be compared to mountains in the Alps, the woodlands and lakes are a wonderful place to walk anytime of the year. I walked so much through them during the year that they felt like a home away from home.
I would love to live in on this Island in Derwentwater, it must be so peaceful. You can view my Spring and Autumn Gallery here.
Last winter I stayed with my parents for my first Christmas with them in 12 years, I also hoped I could capture Yorkshire covered in snow. It ended up being a mainly cold, dreary and rainy winter, which is very uninspiring for photography as Yorkshire just looks dead with no leaves on the trees. This year however, I was lucky my plans to be in Asia couldn’t happen as we finally got a real winter with snow that stuck around for days and I made the most of it capturing all my favourite Yorkshire scenes. All the time spent exploring over the last year came in handy for knowing exactly where to go when the snowflakes started to fall.
Sheep are a feature of the Dales, so naturally I have been capturing them in my scenes, but it is very rare that they are the main feature as they never quite do what I hope, no matter how long I wait. This first day of snow in January however I was very lucky, as I walked passed a field they all ran to me hoping I was the farmer bringing them some food, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect formation that they stopped in when the realised had none. It is the perfect Yorkshire winter scene and I love their cute faces of confusion.
It was nice to finally have so much snow had the time to capture all the places I wanted to, you can view the rest of my winter gallery here.
Winter 2021 – The Lake District
The Lake District has always seemed mysterious to me and photographing it completely felt like a huge challenge, with so many hills, mountains and trails to explore. It is the prettiest part of England so I wanted to create a collection that showcased that.
In 2020 I visited often, camping when the weather was nice, but I found that being 2 hours away I would miss some great conditions as the weather predictions aren’t always accurate. So in February 2021 I decided to move there for the duration of our current lockdown and I rented a lovely little cottage in Ambleside, right in the heart of the lakes so I could really enjoy and get to know the area.
The first week I arrived I couldn’t believe my luck, there was snowfall. I wished I had a 4×4 as my car struggled up slippery hills! The wind is brutal up in the mountains during winter here too, it has been a while since I wore so many layers and felt this cold.
I also had 7 amazing mornings of cloud inversions, which are hard to capture as they can disappear quickly. Being able to wake up 40 minutes before sunrise and look out my window at the weather then be lakeside in 10 minutes is wonderful.
What makes it even more special is how quiet it has been due to the lockdown. Being the most beautiful part of England that is a rare thing and something that may never happen again, so I feel lucky for being able to enjoy that. It is also nice to leave winter fitter than when I started with all the hills and mountains I have been hiking up, usually I lose my hill walking legs as the cold months progress!
My favourite morning in my 10 weeks was completely unexpected. I got up early to capture Ullswater at Sunrise and as I set up on the shore a group of swans swam over to me and peacefully swam around creating the perfect scene that is far better than what I planned to capture. Eventually another man turned up also dressed in black, set down a little seat in the water and sat with the Swans and started stroking them, this was Andrew. I then learnt that he had been coming here everyday over winter to spend time with them since first came to him a few months ago when he was paddle boarding in the lake, two of them have even jumped on his paddle board! So now everyday at sunrise they come to the shore to look for him and they spend the morning together, so beautiful.
You can view my complete Lake District collection here, which went from zero in 2019 to 50 today.
I tried to make the most of the year despite everything that is going on, walking 2’217km with 22432m of elevation gain up all the hills. My England collection has expanded from 10 in 2019 to 119 today which I am so happy about, and very proud of the work I have captured of my home.
I hope you, your family and friends have been safe and well the last year.