Gavin Dronfield, landscape photographer
I have been a keen hiker for many years and more recently taking landscape photographs has become a passion of mine, concentrating on the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
As a general rule I like to let the landscape speak for itself so try not to manipulate my photographs too much as nature does a good enough job of making things beautiful.
In the past I have travelled extensively, mainly in India and South East Asia, both areas that I love. However I find there is something about the light in the UK that makes it very photogenic, especially in the hills and mountains of northern Britain. The change in seasons also means there are endless opportunities to go back to the same places and get totally different photographs. Luckily I also enjoy wild camping which makes it much easier to be in the right place at either dawn or dusk, the times when I do most of my photography. For when I’m not camping I use a very good torch to help me find my way around.
Most of my landscape photographs are taken around Yorkshire and Cumbria as I have spent all my life living in those areas. I have lived in Penrith since 2011, very close to the Lake District. But one thing that will never change is me being a proud Yorkshireman!
Becoming a landscape photographer
I first became interested in photography having taken a holiday in NZ to visit family and friends in 2001. The Southern Alps were spectacular and yet the photos I took simply didn’t do justice to the scenery. In short, they were crap! Why spend so much on travelling and yet so little on a camera? And so it was that I bought my first SLR, determined that I was going to learn how to take proper photographs and I wasn’t going to suffer the same disappointment again.
The first camera body I bought was a Pentax film SLR and when digital came along upgrading to a Pentax *ist D was the natural course to take to avoid buying a complete set of new lenses. There are a few photographs taken with this camera on this site still – their photograph code is prefixed with ‘IMGP’.
However over time I became frustrated at the lack of lenses available for Pentax cameras when compared with the big two of Canon and Nikon. And so, in 2013, I upgraded to a Canon EOS 5D MkII and have never looked back since.
My camera and other photography equipment
Before listing the kit I currently use I ought to make one point clear: I don’t believe this is the most important factor when taking good photographs. Have a ‘good eye’ for a composition is obviously key. As is the understanding of how the type of camera being used works in a variety of lighting situations. And then there is the patience/stubbornness to go back to the same location time and time again to get that one photo!
Having started from scratch with Canon in 2012, I have only bought kit that I really thought I needed. Currently this includes the following:
- three Canon lenses (17-40mm, 24-105mm and 70-200mm),
- Cokin filter holder,
- Cokin polariser,
- mixture of Lee and HiTech ND filters,
- hot shoe spirit level, and
- Camlink TPPRO32B tripod.
All the lenses are fitted with UV filters for protection after an expensive accident with a lens in the past. That was the day I learnt not to leave a camera on a tripod unattended when it is very windy!
Cokin filters are cheaper than HiTech filters and are much, much cheaper than Lee ones. Sadly the coating on their ND filters produces a magenta colour cast that becomes very noticeable when using a long exposure time so now I avoid them like the plague! With ND filters you definitely get what you pay for. Cokin’s polarisers are made from glass though and don’t suffer with the same problem so I still use one of them.
A spirit level for the camera’s hot-shoe is one of the cheapest and best investments any landscape photographer can make. How else can you be totally sure that the horizon is level?
The Camlink tripod I use is a beast and weighs a good few kilos! With the EOS 5D being such a solid camera I find it is necessary though. On a light tripod the whole set-up becomes very top-heavy and unstable, even when balancing a rucksack from its central column. Lugging it up the fells keeps me fit and I think the results justify its use … although it has also caused me injuries in the past!