Royal Connections

Category: News 05 September 2016

Highclere Castle, Hampshire-Berkshire border, England. Television’s Downton Abbey, I photographed this property for the Royal Mail’s Landscape Gardens stamp series. Canon 5DS R, 100-400mm lens at 158mm, 0.4 sec at f16, polariser.

I am told that ‘She’ has the final say on all designs. Well, since her head is on all of them, I guess She would, wouldn’t She? I’ve actually become quite used to composing pictures that leave space in the top corner for her head – nevertheless, the notion of Her poring over my pictures is intriguing. I can imagine Her exclaiming hotly to the Duke about my use of too heavy a hard grad: ‘What does he think this is, Top Gear?’ Nevertheless, they all got through, so She must have given her thumbs up. Does this mean I have Royal Approval?

Could be, although I’m pretty sure that putting the crown on everything from our website to the mugs in our office would be a little presumptuous. This may be the month I received the nod from Her and have been made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, but the song still remains the same: my Stamp Duty is long over and I’m back to the daily task of turning pixels into pounds.

Still, it was good while it lasted: I waited for the light at Churchill’s home, dodged drones at Croome, met a Brown expert, was frustrated by Capability at Berrington, shot to the sound of lions roaring in Wiltshire, and even got taken up the Tower by Her Ladyship. Carnarvon, that is, but the tower was at Downton, which is really Highclere. Perhaps I’d better explain.

The Royal Mail’s recently released Landscape Gardens set, featuring photography by David Noton and Joe Cornish.

Capability Brown was The Man in the 18th century when it came to landscaping the grounds of the stately homes of the era. To commemorate the tri-centennial of his birth, the Royal Mail have issued a special edition set of stamps that feature the photography of myself and my friend and comrade Joe Cornish. Of the eight featured properties, I got the call to shoot five: Croome Park, Blenheim Palace, Berrington Hall, Longleat and Highclere Castle. Now the Royal Mail’s Landscape Gardens stamps have been released, you can read the whole story behind the shoots for them in this month’s edition of Chasing the Light Online Magazine.












Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, England. The brief was to shoot for an almost square 4 x 3 aspect ratio stamp series, but I couldn’t resist making this five-frame stitched panorama for myself. Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm lens at 70mm, 3.2 sec at f11.

Elsewhere in this month’s edition we have, for our f11 Member’s perusal, Part Two of my Behind the Lens feature on the Road to Monticello in Tuscany. The How It’s Done series on the art of location finding continues with an examination of how to use maps to improve your photographic hit-rate, while my Video Field Trial assesses the functionality of Manfrotto’s Digital Director, a device that allows us to operate our cameras from an iPad. There are also my usual two Fundamentals of Post-Production Video Tutorials, which this month de-mystify the technique of layer masking. And as always, there are our reader’s images featured in the Member’s Gallery, with constructive comments by myself. 

Meanwhile our regular f11 columnists have been busy. Ross Hoddinott weighs in with a full and frank opinion piece on the pros and cons of Facebook. Bas Meelker turns his Netherlander’s eye on Scotland, while Ben Pipe reports from the American Southwest. Last, but not at all least, our Guest Feature this month is a thoughtful piece by nature photographer Ellen Anon: A Camera Looks Both Ways.

It’s all there for our f11 Members, who pay an annual subscription of just £39.00 for access to all 56 current and back issues of the monthly magazine, plus free downloads of my e-books worth £9.99 each: The Composition Tutorials, Light, and Exposure. If you’re still not an f11 Member, or you’re not sure what this is all about, there’s a video you can watch that explains it all.

Beech tree in Everlanes Wood near Milborne Port, Somerset, England. An image from the Video Field Trial in this month’s edition of Chasing the Light Online Magazine, this beech tree was shot in full summer leaf using Manfrotto’s Digital Director. Canon 5DS R, 14mm lens.

I’m writing this on the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, surrounded in the quiet zone of the lounge by snoring men of a certain age. Of course, I am well aware that this certain age is mine, and now I think of it, a snooze does seem appealing. But I must get this done; once I’m ashore there will be no respite, as I chase the Belmond Grand Hibernian around the Emerald Isle.

Yep, I’m train spotting again, but more on that when it’s all done next month. Suffice to say that after a delightful summer of Dorset rambles and barbecue smoke it’s all ramping up again, with some exciting trips and projects slotted in – so watch this space. By the way, our next Chasing the Light Road Show is Farnborough Camera Club’s 75th Anniversary event on 25 October.

Longleat House, Wiltshire, England. Taken on a misty summer’s morning, the images from this shoot didn’t capture enough Brownian features so they were rejected. Canon 5DS R, 100-400mm lens at 100mm, 0.6 sec at f16, polariser.

I must say, I’m humbled and honoured to have been made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and I’m looking forwards to being involved with the Society in all it does and stands for. When I was window cleaning in Watford in the early 1980s, I could never have believed that I’d end up being associated with such a prestigious organisation as the RPS, or the Royal Mail for that matter.

Now the Capability Brown stamps have just been released, almost a year on from when the photography was done. For all the frustrations and complications, it was a peach of a commission to work on. I get a real kick out of delivering for a client; it seems a purer form of working than the vagaries of speculative work. Producing images to order is, after all, what being a professional is all about. However, I do still wonder which image She likes best.

Keep exposing.

Photo: Alice Hatcher.
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