Landscape with stone wall and open moorland
England,  Landscape,  Pick a Word,  Travel galleries

Gallery: pick a word (January 2024)

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.

Ansel Adams

Our brains and eyes are amazing. They ignore the things we’d rather not see, like electricity pylons, and they pick out details that flat lighting causes a camera to miss. Little wonder that our photos sometimes fail to live up to expectations!

Once you understand this however, you can quite easily compensate for it. Look carefully at the scene and compose your shot in a way that eliminates the unwanted, perhaps by changing your viewpoint or zooming in a little. If you can, choose to shoot when the sun isn’t directly overhead, and include some foreground interest to give depth to your scene. Use composition techniques to emphasise key elements of the scene, placing them according to the rule of thirds or at a focal point created by leading lines. In short, think about what it was that first made you go ‘wow’, and try to reflect that in your images.

Paula’s Pick a Word challenge this month features five words that all relate (in my mind) to landscape photography. And all of them demand an approach that succeeds in capturing those wows! So here are five landscape shots which I feel match those words and which are at least in part successful. Unusually for me they were all taken in England, several of them in my favourite county, Northumberland.

FAR-REACHING

Landscape with fields, hedges and rolling hills

A view over the Somerset Levels to Glastonbury Tor

Taken from the Mendips near Cheddar. The slight mistiness emphasises the ‘otherworldliness’ of the Tor, which is thought by some to be the original Avalon, the island of Arthurian legends.


PANORAMIC

Panoramic view of a coastline with distant castle and rain approaching

View from the Heugh on Holy Island, Northumberland, looking south towards Bamburgh

This ridge of hard whinstone offers panoramic 360 degree views of the Northumberland coast and the Farne Islands. You can clearly see rain approaching from the south but fortunately it never reached us!


SCENIC

Landscape with hills, stone barns and walls, and sheep

In Swaledale, Yorkshire

A typical sheep-farming landscape in the Yorkshire Dales, with old barns and dry stone walls. For those who know the books or TV series, this is James Herriot country.


ALL-ENCOMPASSING

Coastline with seabirds and a distant castle

Looking north from the harbour in Seahouses towards Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

This view complements the one from Holy Island as it was taken from the coast further south and looking north towards Bamburgh. It takes in the rocky foreshore near the harbour and the almost deserted beaches and dunes that lie between the two small towns.


WIDE-RANGING

Landscape with stone wall and open moorland

Hadrian’s Wall near Housesteads Fort, Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall marked the boundary between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north. It stretches from England’s west coast near the Solway Firth to Wallsend on the northern bank of the Tyne on the east coast, a distance of 73 miles or 117 kilometres.

45 Comments

  • Sue

    Very true that our brains and eyes “ignore the things we’d rather not see” And you have certainly used composition techniques to emphasise key elements of these scenes, Sarah. Great set

  • wetanddustyroads

    That’s very true Sarah – many times I will say that the photo does not do justice to what I saw … but then it’s only because I probably didn’t really think about the photo itself while taking a picture! Your photos are all stunning and I have a hard time choosing between two today: The view over the Somerset Levels is beautiful, but then the green fields in Yorkshire are just lovely.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed these views 😊 I often don’t think about the first photo(s) I take at a scene, but the joy of digital is that after the first excitement has worn off you can still take more shots until you find a composition you’re happy with!

  • Sylvia

    Sarah, tried to leave you a comment yesterday, but it appears that it never posted! Oh well, just wanted to let you know that I felt your choice of photos for this challenge were wonderful, but then I believe you have an unlimited history of great landscape photos to be sure! I love those from Swaledale particularly! I’m very often disappointed in my own landscape photos for many reasons! I’m a great fan of the original series of “All Creatures Great and Small”, and was gifted with a collection of books which I think the series was based on! Wonderful post!!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Sylvia 😊 From what you say in this comment I would deduce that the anonymous one below is the missing one from yesterday? Sometimes if you’re not logged in to WordPress or if you use a different email address to log in, it doesn’t recognise you. That comment popped up in my folder for moderation as it looked like a ‘new’ commenter, but as it was clearly from someone who knows me I approved it as soon as I saw it, and replied, without being sure who had left it! I was unsure about this new series of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ but I now think I’m enjoying it as much as the original one, although that was so long ago I can’t be sure!

  • Anonymous

    Great choice of photos you selected to fit those descriptive terms, Sarah! But, I might argue you’ve taken any number of great photos that would be appropriate! I love the photos in your Swaledale post, among so many others! I’m almost always disappointed in my landscape photos!! I’m a huge fan of the “All Creatures Great and Small” series (prefer the orginal series) and even have the books! Love this part of England!

  • CoachBert62

    We often visit England, exploring the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Lake District. The photos are stunning! These are once again added to my bucket list of destinations.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Ah yes, that’s a good title Phil! I do have loads of shots of landscapes all over the world but I thought this was a good opportunity to show off some favourite English scenes 🙂

  • Suzanne

    Sarah. I have thought for some time that spending so much time taking photos we do miss out just being there observing and absorbing the feel of the place. I know that Les has taken in more details than myself. Lovely part of the UK and your images.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Suzanne 😀 I think that can be true – on the other hand, I sometimes feel I look at scenes more carefully because I’m searching for great photo opps. But I do try to put down the camera for long enough to soak it up, especially when somewhere really special!

  • Alli Templeton

    Well-chosen words and beautifully illustrated, Sarah. And where better to encapsulate your chosen words than Northumberland? Wonderful pictures of the wall, the coast and from Holy Island. And I love the Swaledale photo, the light and colours are stunning. Very appropriate too, as we’re currently working our way through Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small remake, and really enjoying it! I do love a good landscape, and these are exceptional. 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Alli 😊 I know you love Northumberland too! And Swaledale is also a special place for us. My father in law was evacuated there, loved it all his life and took us there several times, and when he died we followed his wishes and scattered his ashes on Grinton Moor. We now go back most years to visit the spot and catch up with the daughters of his evacuee hosts. I’m glad you’re enjoying All Creatures Great and Small – I really like it although at first I was determined to find it not a patch on the orginal series!

      • Alli Templeton

        That’s so lovely that you’ve kept the connection with your father-in-law’s evacuation family. I can’t imagine that’s a very common occurrence. And in such a beautiful place too.
        As for All Creatures Great and Small, how strange – we were exactly the same at first. Well, until recently in fact. We immediately dismissed it as an unnecessary remake and it couldn’t possibly be up to the standard of the original. But a couple of months ago an episode just happened to be on and we ended up watching a bit of it. We then decided we’d been a bit swift to judge, and now we’re really enjoying catching up. It’s excellent! Sam West has absolutely nailed Siegfried. 😀

  • Alison

    I thought this was a tricky one because as you say the words are inter changeable and one photo could mean all five. Your comments are very interesting and with good instructions!
    I often take views of sweeping landscapes and really not happy with the result

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Alison 😊 I agree, I could almost swap any of these around and they would fit! The problem with landscape photos is that when you view the scene ‘in real life’ you are awed by the scale and grandeur, but a photo tends to look better if there are some specific details to focus on. Try perhaps to place one specific ‘thing’ (tree, person, building, wall, bush etc. etc.) in the foreground, middle ground and background (at least in one of those, ideally in all three), so your eye can rest in certain points rather than flicking all over.

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you!