March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography News

Looking forward to a post-Covid world

March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography News. Windsurfing at Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon.
Windsurfing at Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon, Great Britain.

Moving towards a better spring

Welcome to the March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography news!

With an official roadmap now pointing a way out of Covid lockdown, coupled with the growing success of the vaccination programme, I’m ever more hopeful that my plans for most of what I intend to do this year will be possible.

Coupled with a lot of work online aimed at keeping things going despite lockdown, it has been quite a busy time here, ranging from my ongoing online talks to the development of a new online shop.

So I hope you’ll enjoy reading this newsletter. Below is a list of what you’ll find here this month. Click on any of them to go to the relevant section.

A new Farne Islands photo gallery

February’s talk: Low Light Photography, the recording

Upcoming March online talk: Wildlife Photography, Mammals and Birds

This spring’s photography courses

A tour to Iceland this autumn

Farne Islands: a new wildlife photo gallery

March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography News. Puffins greeting, Farne Islands.

Back in the dim and distant past, namely the summer of 2019, I was able to undertake a great photo shoot in the Farne Islands, off Northumberland’s coast.

The visit coincided with the height of the breeding season, so the islands were a raucous scene of thousands of seabirds, ranging from kittiwakes to puffins to guillemots and razobills.

I finally processed the stills images from that trip during this lockdown, and there is now a gallery of sample images on the website. I’m hoping you might enjoy seeing this latest batch of wildlife photography. Just click on the link below to see the images.

The bulk of the photos are now making their way into a number of photo libraries. I’m also hoping to be able to use some of the images in a new book project in the next year or two.

Watch February’s talk online: Low Light Photography

March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography news. Low Light Photography talk.

My February online talk about Low Light Photography, went ahead on the 24th, with an audience of over 40 people, and seemed to go down very well.

Not surprisingly, the talk covered photographic techniques primarily for shooting between sunset and sunrise: in other words, when the sun is very close to or below the horizon.

Subject matter ranged from landscape photography at dawn, sunrise, sunset and dusk, as well as photography of urban skylines at dusk, combining the ambient blue dusk light with the manmade warmer lighting.

Also covered was night sky photography, which included photography of the moon, the stars as either pinpricks of light or long-exposure trails, and the Northern Lights.

The talk can now be watched online on You Tube, on my website or on my blog. Click on any of the links below.

Wildlife Photography: Mammals and Birds

March’s online photography talk
March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography news. Cheetahs in the Maasai Mara, Kenya.

This month’s online photography talk is already rushing up towards us, scheduled for:


Wed 24th March, 8pm


As you can see, I’ll be talking about wildlife photography, specifically as it relates to photography of mammals and birds; in other words the (mostly) relatively large stuff!

As usual, the talk is free to attend. You just need to register to be sent the link. Registration is open for this talk, as well as the subsequent three talks.

To get more details and to sign up, click on the link below, and then fill in and submit the short form.

You will see on the registration page that there is now a Donation button, so if you feel like making a contribution towards my costs for running these talks by all means feel free: it would be hugely appreciated.

I’ll look forward to seeing you online on 24th March!

Spring Workshops

Provided things continue to improve, then it looks very much as though only one of my spring photography workshops will have to be postponed. That fate belongs to the Low Light Photography course, scheduled originally for 21st March.

I’ve now postponed that event to 7th November, so there’ll be a lot more news on that much later!

So, my first workshop of 2021 will now be South Devon Coast Photography, scheduled for 17th April.

An outline of the planned list of spring workshops is shown below.

The cost for all courses this year is £95 per person, the same as for 2020.

Refunds and deferrments

Rest assured that, if you are booked onto a course that has to be postponed or cancelled, then as with last year, you will have a full range of options, namely:

  • To accept the new date (for a postponed course);
  • To transfer to another course of your choosing;
  • Simply to defer your booking to an as-yet undefined future event;
  • Have a full refund.

Hopefully, things won’t come to this, but I want to put your mind at rest, that you will not lose any money you’ve paid.

See an outline of this spring’s courses below.

South Devon Coast Photography

Bigbury, Burgh Island and Bantham

17th April 2021, 1.30-8.30pm

Photography of some of South Devon’s most beautiful coastline; the beaches, cliffs and river estuary of Bigbury, Burgh Island and Bantham.  Finishing at sunset

Wildlife Photography

Dunster and Lynmouth, Somerset and Devon

24th April 2021, 10am-5pm

A day of wildlife photography on Exmoor, stalking deer in countryside near Dunster, followed by Dippers at Lynmouth.

Travel and architectural photography

Bath

16th May 2021, 10am-5pm

A day spent photographing the magnificent Georgian architecture of Bath, in this combined architectural and travel photography course.

Exmoor in Spring

Tarr Steps, Winsford Hill and Valley of Rocks (Lynton)

22nd May 2021, 2-9pm

An afternoon and evening spent photographing some of the beautiful rivers, woodlands, moors and coastal views, along with one of Exmoor’s most famous prehistoric sites. Finishing with the coastal views at the Valley of Rocks, for a glorious sunset.

Dartmoor in Spring

Dartmeet and Bench Tor

29th May 2021, 1.30-8.30pm

An afternoon and evening spent doing landscape photography in the ancient woodlands along the banks of the River Dart, followed by the rocks and open moors of Bench Tor.

To get full details and to sign up for any of these courses, just click on the link below.

A special note about the Jurassic Coast course, scheduled for October: The first workshop in the autumn will be the Jurassic Coast course, in Lyme Regis and Charmouth. Originally scheduled for 2nd October, I’ve had to reschedule it for 9th October, due to a mistake I made with the tides!

March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography news. A photography course on Burgh Island.

An autumn photography tour to Iceland

March 2021 Nigel Hicks Photography news. Iceland photography tour.

I’m still intending to run this autumn’s Iceland photography tour, unless Covid restrictions have other ideas!

The dates for the tour are;

18-24th Sept 2021


The itinerary is planned to cover mainly northern Iceland, taking in several major waterfalls, volcanoes and the central mountain ranges, as well as a whale-watching trip.

Admittedly, the way things stand at present the tour cannot happen, but if the roadmap works out well then things should change rapidly in the coming few months.

Already, Iceland (as with Cyprus) has lifted restrictions for arriving travellers who can prove they’ve been vaccinated. Further steps needed to make the trip viable include an increase in the number of flights running between Reykjavik and the UK, and relaxation of quarantine rules upon returning to the UK. I’m optimistic that these issues will improve over the summer.

So, if you fancy awarding yourself an overseas photography break to celebrate an escape from Covid, then of course I would love you to sign up. When making a booking the only payment you need to make at this stage is to pay a £100 deposit, returnable if the tour does have to be shelved.

For the full details, including itinerary and pricing click on the link below.

Books about southwest England

Our books about southwest England are of course still out there, still available. Click on the link below to find out more.

Books about southwest England

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Focus: the third critical component in successful photography

An online photography talk about the critical role of good focussing in great photography

Focus: the third critical component in successful photography was the subject of my first online photography talk of 2021. I have called it the third critical component because focus forms a holy trinity with composition and lighting. All three must come together for any photograph to have a chance of being successful, dare I say even great. If any one of these three elements is substandard in any photo then that image will be a failure.

Watch this talk here

This talk was recorded, and so you can watch it here now. Just click on the embedded link below. The talk is 40 minutes long, and I really hope you enjoy it.

What does this talk contain?

It may seem blindingly obvious, of course, to say that the main subject of a photo needs to be sharply in focus for that photo to be a success. However, correct focussing goes well beyond just this limited definition.

There are many other issues to consider, such as:

  • Does the entire image need to be sharp, not just the main subject, as is often the case with landscape photography?
  • Or would it be better, for example, to have the background blurred, enabling the sharply in-focus subject to ‘pop out’ of the picture, such as is common in portrait or wildlife photography?
  • Perhaps you need to have just one small part of the photo sharp (containing the main subject) and everything else blurred, ensuring that attention is directed just to this area of the frame;
  • What about blurred motion as the main subject? Does this need to be sharply in-focus even though it is blurred anyway as a result of movement?
Focus: the third critical component

Techniques and technologies

What all the above points cover is the subject of depth of field, and the need to control this in order to control just how much of any photo is sharp.

Depth of field is the amount of an image that is in focus from its nearest point (to the photographer) to its furthest point. This can be varied in a number of ways, primarily:

  • A wide-angle lens naturally has a bigger depth of field than a telephoto lens;
  • A narrow lens aperture (ie a high f-number, eg f/16) creates a bigger depth of field than a wide open aperture (ie a low f-number, eg f/5.6).

So, if you use a wide-angle lens shut down to a narrow aperture you will have a big depth of field, potentially ranging from shortly in front of the camera all the way to the horizon. This is commonly used in landscape photography, though also in other photographic genres.

On the other hand, if you use a telephoto lens with a wide-open aperture you will have a very small depth of field, perhaps a metre or less. This is a technique commonly used in portrait and wildlife photography to ensure the face really ‘pops out’ from its background and commands the viewer’s attention.

As the subject-to-camera distance decreases, perhaps once it is less than about 10 metres, then the depth of field starts to decrease for any lens and any lens aperture. Finally, when you get down to macro photography, such as of butterflies, the depth of field even at a very narrow lens aperture is quite tiny, usually no more than about 1 cm or thereabouts.

Focus: the third critical component

Further content

During the talk I show a range of images that illustrate the above points about depth of field. The final third of my talk covers some practical examples, in which I have deliberately taken sets of photos at different lens apertures and focussing distances, to illustrate how changing these, along with lens focal-lengths, can have a dramatic impact on the type of image that results.

The final section looks at the problems of macro photography and the tiny depth of field available here. In particular I introduce the technique of focus-stacking: taking a series shots focussed at different points, and then blending them together in the computer post-photography.

Overall, the talk gives a tour of the techniques and skills of good focussing, taking it well beyond the simple process of just getting the subject sharp. Instead, the aim should be to control the depth of field in an image through appropriate use of lens focal length and aperture to produce an image that works for the particular subject and its surroundings.

Focus: the third critical component

Find out more about my talks

I hope you enjoy watching this talk. If you’d like to find out more about my talks click on the links below, where you’ll be able to watch recordings of earlier talks, and sign up for some of my upcoming talks.

Each of my talks takes place on a Wednesday evening, once a month, and are free to attend.

I’ll look forward to seeing you online.

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Goals in Photography

The first talk in Nigel’s new series of online photography talks

I held the first of my new online photography talks on 23rd September, the inauguration of a planned ongoing series of free talks that anyone can attend. This first talk, entitled Goals in Photography, saw me explore some of the photography I’ve done during my lengthy career as a professional photographer. Images shown included some of my personal favourites, as well as images that have marked important points in my career, and/or illustrated and explained some of the goals that I constantly strive to achieve with my photography.

Mt Everest, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.
Mt Everest seen from the North Face Base Camp; Tibet, China.

Watch a video of the talk now

The talk was recorded and can now be watched on both You Tube and right here, lasting about 34 minutes.

To watch the talk just click on the link below:

Naturally, I really hope you will enjoy the talk. Feel free to leave any comments or queries in the comments section of this blog. I’ll do my best to answer anything you’d like to ask.

Young boy with bubble gum and toy guny, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.

Programme of upcoming talks

This Goals in Photography talk was hugely successful, with about 40 people taking part. There will now be three more talks before Christmas, which will be:

14th October – Composition

11th November – Light

9th December – Landscape photography

All the talks will be free to attend. All I ask is that you register in advance so that I know to send you the link to enable you to join.

To find out more and to register for any or all of the talks click on the button below.

Golden Snub-nosed monkey, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.
Golden snub-nosed monkey.

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Fabulous Philippines

Nigel’s Birdfair talk about Philippine birds can now be seen here and on You Tube

The talk that I recently gave to the virtual Birdfair 2020 about Philippine birds (called Fabulous Philippines) is now on You Tube, and hence can be seen here. The talk is just over 16 minutes long, and to watch it just click on the link below. I really hope you enjoy it!

About the Fabulous Philippines talk

The talk introduces some of the Philippines most important forest habitats, and then showcases a few of the country’s most significant bird species, concentrating on those that are endemic, or unique, to the Philippines. These include the Philippine Eagle, several hornbills, the Philippine Bulbul, the Coleto and the Bleeding-heart pigeons.

The photography used comes from my Wild Philippines project, which was published a few months ago as a book, called Wild Philippines. Video clips in this talk, showing me working in the Philippines, were shot while I was gathering material for the project.

Bleeding-heart pigeon, a Philippine bird.
Negros Bleeding-heart pigeon.

About the Birdfair

The Birdfair is an annual UK event, usually held on the shores of Lake Rutland, in eastern England, that celebrates everything to do with birds and bird conservation. Not surprisingly, for 2020 the event was forced online, with a virtual event running for a week in mid-August.

Hopefully, for 2021 the event will be back in its rightful spot in the English countryside!

Getting a copy of Wild Philippines

If you find this talk interesting and would like to find out more about Philippine wildlife, and in particular the Wild Philippines project, click on the link below.

The Wild Philippines book is widely available from high street and online book shops (including Amazon). In the Philippines, it is stocked by National Book Stores. You can also buy it directly from this website: just click on the link below to go to my book shop.

Wild Philippines cover

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A Wild Philippines talk at Birdfair

The UK’s annual festival of all things to do with birds, Birdfair, has started and will run 18th-23rd August. I’m so proud to be able to say that in the line-up is a talk by myself, in which I’ll be showcasing the birds of the Philippines, a talk entitled by the organisers Fabulous Philippines.

Using photography from my recent book, Wild Philippines, the talk will explore the avian wildlife of that wonderful country, highlighting mainly just a handful of the many species unique to the country. These include the mighty Philippine Eagle, all 11 species of hornbill, and a host of pigeons and doves, to mention just a few.

Philippine Eagle
A Philippine Eagle

Birdfair goes online

Normally held on the shore of lovely Rutland Water, a major sanctuary for birdlife in eastern England, this year of course Birdfair has to be wholly online. That hasn’t stopped the organisers pulling together a superb event, with a huge line-up of talks, events and exhibitions.

To go to Birdfair’s home page click on the link below:

My Philippines talk at Birdfair

My talk on birds of the Philippines, which the organisers have entitled Fabulous Philippines, goes live at 8am (UK time; 3pm in the Philippines, 3am USA east coast) on Saturday 22nd August, so you’ll be able to watch it online from then and for the next three months. The talk will also be published next week on my You Tube channel.

Consisting of a mix of videos and stills photography, with my own narration, the talk runs for 15 minutes, introducing the Philippines’ main terrestrial habitats and some of their representative life. As already mentioned, the photography comes from my recent book project Wild Philippines.

Naturally, I really hope you’ll watch the talk, and that you’ll find it enjoyable. You can find my talk at the address below. The page is already live, but it won’t be possible to launch the video until Saturday 22nd Aug.

An early morning view across farmland near Tumpis (at about 1350 metres) to the summit of Mt Apo, Mt Apo Natural Park, Davao, Mindanao, the Philippines.

Getting hold of a copy of Wild Philippines

Wild Philippines is widely available from both high street and online book stores around the world, including Amazon. In the UK, the main high street outlet is Waterstones, while in the Philippines it is National Book Stores.

It can also be bought directly from me through my website. Just click on the link below to go to the relevant page.

Wild Philippines cover

I hope you’ll enjoy my Birdfair talk!

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