Alan Barrett Images | The Bigger Picture
In my twenties I went fell-walking in the Lakes almost every year. Sadly at that time I didn’t own a camera, so I have no images of the many high fells that I visited in those years. Fast-forward fifty years and I can no longer reach the peaks that I took for granted in my youth. However, there are many highly photogenic locations at the lower levels that do not require so much effort.
We managed to fit in one fortnight in 2021 staying a week in each of my favourite locations of Borrowdale and Langdale. We had more than our fair share of rain, not venturing out of our rented cottage for four days in succession. When eventually the deluge stopped, Derwent Water and all the other lakes were over their normal height and the becks running at full force.
White Pocket is another of those wonderful sandstone areas found on the Paria Plateau. I became aware of the area in 2005, having stumbled across photographs of it on the website of a German photographer. I had never heard of it before that time and further extensive searching didn’t throw up any other images or information other than that it existed somewhere in Arizona. Eventually I contacted a guide I knew who lived in Page, a lovely lady called Kate, and asked her if she could take us there, which she answered in the affirmative.
We duly drove there in the spring of 2006. Kate was intrigued as to how I had come to learn of this “secret” location and she suggested that we might well be the first Brits to visit it. Certainly I had never seen any photographs from the region in the UK club circuit.
Not long after our visit, the Arizona Highways magazine published a six-page spread of images from the area and suddenly the site was no longer a secret. When we went back there a year or so later, many of the delicate fins were showing the effects of careless boots and sadly not everyone had taken out their litter. Beautiful places shouldn’t be kept secret but what a shame that some folk cannot respect them.
This is the third Lofoten portfolio that I have posted and comes from our fourth visit to the region.
We experienced different weather on each of our previous visits and our repeated returns to the island were in the hope of experiencing snow and ice. This time we learnt we should be careful of what you wish for, because there had been a heavy snow dump just before our arrival and our time there was accompanied by high winds that at times defied one to stand up. However, in the calmer periods the photography was different from previous visits and justly rewarded our perseverance.
The beaches along the Asturias and Cantabria coastline of northern Spain are still something of a hidden gem, to photographers at least, although I suspect that might be changing. There are several better-known beaches that catch the camera, but nearly every beach is worth exploring and has something to offer.
The “bigger picture” images shown here show only half of the attraction and I have posted another portfolio of some lovely rock details in the Intimate Landscapes gallery.
The Yuanyang rice terraces in Yunnan province of southern China have recently been accorded UNESCO World Heritage Status, in recognition of the distinctive indigenous culture of the Hani people who till them.
To the photographer, the terraces offer endless opportunities with mist a frequent addition to the compositional challenge. In winter, the terraces are flooded and the still waters reflect the colours in the sky, whilst some terraces are naturally coloured by duckweed, planted to give protection to the resident fish.
This second portfolio of winter images from Yellowstone emphasises the rewards for those prepared to face the trying conditions.
Yellowstone is a fabulous park at any time of the year, but in winter it takes on a magical quality. It can be very cold - and moving around can be a trial - but once one comes to terms with the constraints imposed by the conditions it can provide an immensely rewarding experience to the landscape photographer. The colours are much more muted in the cold, particularly in the hot springs, and at times the scenery is almost monochromatic, but the very starkness provides a beauty of its own.
I have posted two other portfolios of this wonderful national monument in New Mexico.
The images in this portfolio were taken over several days when the region experienced almost complete cloud cover, with only occasional glimpses of the sun. The resultant filtered light turned the normally white gypsum sand varying shades of yellow through orange - but the real rewards for some quite depressing hiking conditions were the wonderful skies that were paraded throughout my visit, to produce an unusual interpretation of this lovely park.
The far north-west of Scotland is a magical place, particularly along the coast, with numerous wonderful beaches with almost Caribbean coloured seas - and Wester Ross must be up there as one of the highlights of the region.
This small state park, some 50 miles north of Las Vegas, is often overlooked by those rushing to the more famous national parks of Utah - and I can well understand the desire of those folk with little time to spare to see Zion and Bryce before wandering around a little-known desert park in Nevada.
However, the Valley of Fire offers high rewards to those willing to explore off the beaten track. The colours in the sandstone are remarkably varied and more than compensate for the absence of the sinuous curves found further east in the sandstone of the Paria Plateau. Indeed, it is the fractured nature of the rock that offers countless alcoves and arches that reveal themselves to the curious explorer.
I have posted a separate portfolio of intimate sandstone images from this location, which I confess I enjoy as much, if not more than this portfolio.
This is the second portfolio I have posted of this favourite location in Italy. The images were made in spring and early summer - the latter time of year was by far the more rewarding with the gold, yellow and browns of harvested fields offering countless photographic opportunities. In comparison, the fields in spring were mainly green making photography harder and more weather dependent.
Tuscany has long been a favourite location for artists and photographers and the region around San Quirico d'Orcia is perhaps the most appealing.
I am no different from any other lover of the area and I am regularly attracted back to the region. One of the beauties of the area is that it is equally appealing - and quite different - in each of the four seasons, so repeat visits need not be "more of the same".
Autumn in Scotland is wonderful and the beauty of sea and colour is no better expressed than around Loch Torridon.
Tennessee is yet another American state blessed with wonderful autumn colours. As ever, I find composition of trees a challenge, but the colours - magic.
Rich blue skies are often a kiss of death to a photographer, but the brightly coloured lavender fields of Provence respond well to the sympathetic colouring of the sky.
In my innocence, before visiting Provence, I had not realised how many varieties of lavender existed and how varied was the bloom of each - nor how difficult it would be to find "clean" lavender rows, which were so often marred by weeds.
Moenkopi Wash in north east Arizona is part of a drainage system that includes Coal Mine Canyon, Blue Canyon and Ha Ho No Geh Canyon, all of which cut into soft, sedimentary rocks on the eastern edge of the Painted Desert. The sandstone is multi-coloured and layered with low grade coal, which explains the black/grey streaks in some cliffsides.
The area is on the border of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations and the canyons are largely unpopulated, and being away from the better known Arizona attractions they receive few visitors.
The terraces along the hot springs of this well-known area of Yellowstone National Park are a constant joy to the photographer. I have been fortunate to visit the area on a number of occasions. I have to admit that recent changes to the direction of flow of the springs, caused by recent earthquake activity, has meant that the spring run-offs are not as dramatic as I recall from my first visit, but it is still a lovely place to visit.
In 2017 I went to the Lofoten Islands in January, expecting lots of snow and ice - instead we were confronted with six days of almost cloudless skies. There was a light covering of snow on the high ground and just a little at ground level in the untrodden fields, but mostly we had almost spring-like weather. Whilst it was not what I was seeking, the first and last light on the mountains provided some rewarding photography.
These islands have become a popular winter location for photographers and it is easy to see why when one visits there - the combination of beaches backed by snow-clad, precipitous mountains falling almost directly into the sea is irresistible, and the frequent stormy weather only adds atmosphere to the scene.
I have been to Skye on several occasions and had come to the conclusion that it always rained on the island, until our latest visit in 2018, when the conditions were much more pleasant. The images on this portfolio where made in the south of the island over a five day period.
This is my second portfolio of images from winter trips to Iceland. These images were made mostly in the Snaefellsnes peninsular and along the south coast of the island, in weather that although cold was not unpleasant due to the absence of the normal strong winds. The icebergs beached outside the Jokulsarlon lagoon provided some particularly enjoyable photography, notwithstanding some fairly stormy skies and dull light.
I love photographing winter scenery and there is no better place to do so than in Iceland. Variable weather is almost guaranteed, albeit that at times it is not conducive to being outside in, but when conditions allow, the photographic opportunities are endless. I particularly love the frozen waterfalls and can happily spend hours picking out the detail with a long lens.
Any landscape looks different from the air, but that of Iceland particularly offers diverse and fascinating images. I have posted in my Intimate Section a couple of portfolios of abstract aerials from Iceland, but in this portfolio I have included what might be considered "straight" landscapes.
Photography in Greenland majors on icebergs - and aside from those shown here, I have posted a separate portfolio of such images in my Intimate Section - icebergs aside, there was not a great deal that excited me photographically about the island, save for the coloured houses and rocky shoreline.
Dongchuan is a mountainous area of Yunnan province in southern China, where for centuries farmers have worked the soil in terraces down the mountainsides. What makes the terraces so picturesque is the combination of brightly coloured, almost red soil and the variety of colour in the crops. The red soil (in truth, it is only red in certain light conditions) is caused by the heavy iron content.
This is my second portfolio of larger images from Colorado (there is also a folio on Aspen in the "Intimate Images" section) and indicates my admiration of the wonderful landscapes presented in autumn in this most beautiful of American states.
I have only recently "discovered" the Canadian Rockies - and wonder why I have not visited this wonderful area before now. Magic scenery which is made all the more beautiful by the cloak of winter, spoilt perhaps only by the bitter cold. Frostbitten fingers from an early morning sunrise shoot, when the temperature was minus 30, have not deterred me from returning again to this lovely part of Canada.
I have been fortunate to experience a couple of winter trips to the Canadian Rockies, a magical time of the year for photography. If the possibility of harsh winter weather conditions acts as a deterrent to those minded to explore this lovely area of North America at this time of the year, then there are rich photographic pickings to be had in the autumn.
At 15,000 ft above sea level, the Bolivian altiplano can be a little challenging to the visitor not used to altitude, but the discomfort is more than compensated for by the magnificent wild, arid scenery. From the salt flats at Uyuni to the deeply coloured lakes, the vistas are endless and almost unique.
There can surely be no beaches around the UK coastline that compare with those of Lewis & Harris - the combination of white, or near white sand together with sea of colours more often associated with tropical climes makes for irresistible vistas. At low tide many of the beaches have long stretches of sand showing lovely sand patterns, often accentuated by streams running out to sea.
The weather in these far northern Scottish islands can be unpredictable, but that only adds to the pleasure for a photographer.
The beach at Bandon in Oregon is a favourite amongst photographers. Flat sands giving plenty of reflections, numerous sea-stacks and often very active seas are a recipe for good images.
The photographs shown here were taken over a two day period when we were blessed with some exceptional skies.
I have been fortunate to photograph the autumn colours in many of the American states, but none have compared with the palette offered in the Upper Michigan peninsular this one year. The variety of colour was exceptional and the reds of the maples the most brilliant that I have seen - now, being an overseas visitor, my access to the American forests is undoubtedly limited, and maybe an American national will take issue with me, but to someone more used to the russets found in English beech forests, these Michigan colours were spectacular.
Colour aside though, I find photographing the woodland most difficult, with there being a great temptation to photograph the colour to the detriment of composition.
The word "awesome" is much misused in America, but it truly describes the aurora when it is in full display. Over a 12 day period we were treated to the full display on only one night - we did have sightings other nights, but the one night was truly magical and made worthwhile the seemingly endless waiting on other less favoured nights.
The aurora is visible from many northern locations, but these images were made north of Fairbanks in Alaska.
More images from the north-west of Scotland, where there are yet more wonderful beaches seen by us in mostly dull, cloudy and sometimes stormy conditions, which was altogether more desirable than clear sunny days.
We visited Alaska last autumn and spent some time in two of the national parks that are easier to access, Denali and Wrangell-St Elias. The autumn colours in the trees were lovely, but what really makes this most northern of states stand out are the reds and oranges of the tundra, combined of course, by numerous glaciers many of which are readily accessible.
Once the lakes in the Canadian Rockies ice over at the onset of winter, the first snowfall turns them into white sheets, devoid of photographic interest. The one exception is Abraham Lake, a man-made lake along Highway 11, where the lie of the mountains funnels the wind down the length of the lake, scouring away the snow to reveal fascinating ice patterns. In early winter the edge of the water begins to freeze and it is only in mid-winter that one can safely walk out onto the ice, and even then, local knowledge is highly desirable to know where to avoid.
We were introduced to the region by the well-known Canadian photographer Darwin Wiggett, who runs tours out of Aurum Lodge on the edge of the lake, together with Alan Ernst, the lodge owner. They ensured our safety and provided the opportunity for some wonderful landscape photography.