Steve Walton UK Landscape & Travel Photographer bio picture
  • Steve Walton UK Landscape & Travel Photographer

    Professional photographer, author, landscape and travel photography tour and workshop leader.

    Steve is a Fellow of the Master Photographers Association, Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography, Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.

    Owner and tour leader at Wild Light Phototours and Managing Director of Steve Walton Photography Ltd, he has been nominated three times as UK Landscape & Travel Photographer of the Year at the professional showcase MPA/BIPP joint British Professional Photographic Awards.

    In 2016, Steve Walton is President of the Master Photographers Association.

Landscape photographers need neutral density grad and neutral density filters!  Make that statement on any photography forum and someone ‘who knows’ will leap at the opportunity to tell you differently.   They will tell you that you can combine exposures, that you can mangle your images with HDR and that you can apply graduations in post processing.  They’ll tell you that filters are old hat and past their sell-by date because you can do anything so much better with your editing software.  Ignore them and use filters,  you are a photographer and you need to control light at the taking stage instead of trying to create images on your computer.  If landscape photography is your metier, then you need filters!

With that point made, most landscape photographers with a background in film photography will have continued to use their same filter sets with their digital cameras.  Lee and Formatt-Hitech are the most universally well-known filter manufacturers and whose systems are absolutely of professional standard.  A basic landscape photography set will consist of 2-4 neutral density grad filters and 1-3 neutral density filters.  Neutral density graduated filters for full frame digital and film are 100 x 50mm sheets of acrylic. In their supplied pouches, a set of filters is quite bulky and having to sort through separate pouches to find the filters you want to use can be tedious and time consuming.  A single pouch or bag which is specifically designed to hold your filters in a logical way makes life in the field much easier.  It’s such a  simple concept, yet it is only recently that some camera bag manufacturers have come to the realisation that there are landscapists who need a filter bag.

There are now a number of filter bag options available from several manufacturers. For the past couple of years, I have been using the Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169.  it’s a simple bag with 10 separate padded compartments that will each take up to a 100 x 150mm neutral density grad filter.  The lid flap has a Velcro closure and Velcro belt loops, so you can wear the pouch on your waist whilst working.  Even more useful is the short strap-cum-carrying handle with a clip that allows you to clip the pouch around your tripod.

Simple ideas are often the best, and the Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch is a a simple and functional piece of kit that many landscape photographers will find very useful on location.


Kinesis F169 Large Graduated Filter Pouch Overview.


Simple, durable construction.  The Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch has been an indispensable part of my landscape photography kit for the past couple of years.  No waist belt is supplied, I have added a CCS belt to mine for carrying.

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169


Velcro adjustable waist belt loops and a handle that can be clipped around the tripod for convenience.

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169


There are 10 padded sections that will accommodate a 100 x 150mm neutral density grad filter.  Velcro-attached tabs for the compartments are available to enable you to find the right filter quickly.  I have a set way of organising my filters in the pouch and I didn’t require the labels.

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169


Having the Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch attached to the tripod is convenient.  If the wind is moving the pouch and threatening to blur your images, you can always revert to using it with a waist belt.

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169

Kinesis Large Grad Filter Pouch F169




Vanguard invited me to review another tripod, this time from their premium carbon fibre Veo range. In the interest of full disclosure, I have no commercial or financial interest in, or other association with Vanguard and I have received no payment or reward for these reviews.

This is a review of the Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod which is a very compact and lightweight travel tripod.  It has a rrp of around £249.95  The 265CB has a rotating centre column design which makes it very compact when folded. It comes complete with an Arca Swiss compatible ball head and a very useful padded bag with a shoulder strap.  The legs are 5 section carbon fibre with the largest tubes being 26mm diameter and a foam grip to aid carrying fitted to one of the upper sections.  The downside of having to adjust 4 flip lock levers per leg is that it can take slightly longer to set the tripod up.  In reality, this point is often over stated on photography forums. The time it takes to fiddle with a few more levers can really be measured in seconds rather than minutes and the benefit of an extremely compact folded tripod negates the criticism further.

One criticism that may be justified is that those extra fittings do add weight to the tripod.  The manufacturer quotes a folded length of 390mm which is commendably compact and the weight is around 1.5kg.  It is slightly shorter when folded, but about half as heavy again as my Gitzo 1550T .  If counting grammes is important, then close comparison with other manufacturer’s offerings will be required.  For most purposes that additional 500g isn’t a major issue, but it is noticeable when you have something which is lighter to hand for comparison.  That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that losing that half kilo could well cost at least a couple of hundred post-Brexit GB pounds more for an alternative manufacturer’s offerings (eg Gitzo), which may not include an Arca-Swiss type ball head.

The flip lock adjusters are robust and allow for tightness adjustment and on the review sample the tightness of the locking mechanism was optimum straight out of the box.  I did not experience any slippage or the kind of ‘leg creep’ that is the bane of my old alloy Manfrotto 190XB studio tripod.  After several months of regular use and literally hundreds of extending and collapsing cycles, the flip lock adjusters are still as firm as the day I unpacked the tripod.  This is a telling comparison with my Manfrotto 190XB which needs constant and annoying re-tightening.

The overall construction and design of the 265CB is excellent.  All of the component parts are accurately machined and fit perfectly together.   The key to the structural integrity of this type of tripod design is with the leg and centre column attachment.  There is a substantial ‘U’ shaped cast alloy collar which the legs are attached to and which the centre column goes through.  The collar is quite deep and does add to the overall weight of the tripod but I can see that it would need to be robust to cope with torsional stresses when the centre column is rotated downwards for packing or the legs are splayed outwards for low-level shooting.  If this casting were to fail, it would be impossible to lock the centre column height and the heavy duty appearance of the collar casting is clearly designed for long-term use and to prevent failure.

Vanguard 265CB tripod

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod


The image below illustrates the method behind the compact folded size of the Veo 265CB.  There is a spring-loaded pin in the centre column, the kind you find in steel tent poles, which when pressed in allows you to pull the centre column up through the cast alloy collar and then swing the column down so that it rests between the three legs when folded.  It’s a simple and effective solution.  The image below shows the centre column in the folded position and there is a plastic shock-absorbing bumper under the head.

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The included Arca-Swiss compatible ball head is well made and has a bubble level  set into it. If your camera does not have a level horizon display or you don’t have an accessory level attached to your camera, then the built-in bubble level will be quite useful for initial setting up.  The ball head also has a lockable panning base which is a useful addition for stitching image files later.  The ball head locks firmly in position and I have not experienced any tendency for my Nikon D810 and 24 or 85mm f1.4G lenses to droop, even when left for long periods.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The legs each have a spring loaded locking button to adjust for very low level shooting.  As with all tripods that have a centre column, the camera height from the ground will be dictated by the centre column.  Vanguard have thought about this and a short centre column is provided to replace the standard column for very low level work.  One leg has a foam rubber grip at the top to aid handling, a welcome feature over less well designed tripods.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

With five sections and individual locking buttons for splaying the tripod legs, there is unlimited height and angle adjustment.  The camera and lens combined weight limit is quoted as 8kg, far more than my Nikon D810 and Nikon 20mm f1.8G lens.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The maximum height of the tripod is given at a fraction under 5 feet.  This is with the centre column extended to it’s maximum height.  I would not normally extend the centre column at all, with exposures of several minutes in calm conditions I did not experience any blurred images due to movement during exposure.  The Arca-Swiss type ball head is good quality with no binding or slippage when locked down in portrait format.  The heaviest camera and lenses I used on the Veo 265CB were the Hasselblad 503cw with 50mm distagon Cfi, Nikon D810 with Nikon 85mm f1.4G and Nikon 24mm f1.4G and a Fuji GSW690iii.  These combinations are well within Vanguard’s quoted maximum load limit of up to 8kg.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The small folded size and light weight is a real bonus during a full day on the hill.  The rubber feet screw in to reveal metal spikes.  This is one area where I found a couple of potential issues:  1. the leg tubes are not sealed and water will enter the tubes, and 2. the threads on the spikes can also become clogged with sand and grit, making adjustment difficult.  Regular care and maintenance with these points will be required.

On uneven ground, having four flip locks on each leg makes fine adjustment quite easy and the extended tripod is stable enough for long exposures.

Overall, the Vanguard Veo 265CB represents good value in the competitive middle ground.  It performs well and does what it’s supposed to do within is range of camera and lens weights.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod


  • Very compact when folded for carrying.  It will easily fit inside most aircraft cabin baggage.
  • Robust with good quality materials and workmanship.
  • Reasonable height.
  • Arca-Swiss compatible panning ball head included.
  • Accessory short column for low-level work.
  • Padded bag with shoulder strap.
  • Rubber feet with concealed spikes.
  • Flip lock adjusters
  • 26mm carbon fibre tube legs.
  • Price (£249.95).  Reasonable cost for a versatile fully-featured carbon fibre tripod.


  • Weight (compared to my much more expensive Gitzo 1550T).
  • Foot spike threads may not be corrosion resistant.
  • Legs are not sealed.


Although it has a maximum load rating of 8kg, my personal opinion is that this is not a sensible weight for a tripod of this type to support.  That isn’t to say the tripod will not take it, it certainly will,  but if I were using such a heavy camera and lens around 8kg in weight, I would not want to be risking camera shake.  However, I have used a Nikon D810, Fuji GSW690iii and a Hasselblad 503CW on the 265CB without any problems, even with exposures of several minutes.  For me, the Vanguard 265CB really comes into it’s own when it is paired with smaller cameras.  My Fuji X100T, Nikon FE and Leica MP all make a good compact options for destination and travel photography.  The 265CB matches all of them well and is where this tripod will perform at it’s best  If you are a frequent traveler or hiker looking for a good quality, reasonably lightweight and compact tripod, the Vanguard Veo 265CB is definitely worth a close look.  Vanguard’s quality of materials and manufacture are very high, the features are innovative and the price is attractive.

Some long exposures with a Fuji X100T mounted on the Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod.

Beach, North Norfolk

Tichwell beach at low tide, North Norfolk.


River Derwent, Peak District National Park

Upper River Derwent, Peak District National Park


Ben Bulben from Rosses Point, Co. Sligo

Clearing rainstorm and Ben Bulben from Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, Ireland.

I have used the Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod to photograph a wedding in Ireland and I have used it extensively on my Wild Light photography workshops in Kerry & Dingle, the Outer Hebrides, the Faroe Islands, Cornwall and the Yorkshire coast and moors.  It’s also been with me on numerous day walks in the Peak District, Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.  It has been out in all weathers and has stood in salt water for prolonged periods during long exposures.  The only visible effect of it’s travels  is a little corrosion in the threads of the adjustable foot spikes.  On the face of it they appear to be made of stainless steel,  I’m no metalurgist but I think the spikes and threads may only be plated.  If superficial plating is the case, the spikes will corrode without regular cleaning and maintenance.   It might be worth coating them with an anti corrosion treatment if you are going to be standing the tripod in salt water and it is advisable to dismantle and rinse the legs inside and out and then dry them thoroughly before reassembly after immersion.   Otherwise, I have no complaints about the 265CB. At this price point I think it makes a good option to consider if you are looking for a compact and lightweight carbon tripod to take on your travels.



Join us for a weekend of landscape, seascape and travel photography on our Wild Light photography workshop in Cornwall in April 2017.  We are based at the Cadgwith Cove Hotel in the unspoilt and quintessential Cornish fishing village of Cadgwith on the Lizard Peninsula.  Bookings are strictly limited to four people only to ensure maximum individual attention by professional landscape photographer, Steve Walton.  The workshop is intended for all abilities from beginners to advanced photographers and individual tuition will be delivered accordingly.  We will be visiting many diverse locations in the area, from tranquil creeks and hamlets on the beautiful Helford River to dramatic coastal locations at Lizard Point, Mullion Cove, Kynance Cove, Prussia Cove, Lamorna Cove, Penberth Cove, Porthcurno and Porth Nanven.  We will also visit prehistoric and industrial archaeological sites in the Celtic Cornish heartland of West Penwith, such as Lanyon and Botallack.  Obviously, this will mean long days out in the field, but there will be no strenuous walking or climbing as all locations are accessible for most physically able people.

With a maximum of only four attendees on the workshop there will be ample opportunity for individual tuition by Steve Walton.  Our Wild Light Photography Workshops are fun and flexible and the emphasis is on structured learning new skills and improving your existing photography skills.

Apart from your camera, lenses, tripod and remote release, there is no need to buy any specialist equipment for the workshop. Filters by Lee and Formatt-Hitech will be available to use if you don’t have them and you will gain practical hands-on experience of long exposures and controlling the light with neutral density and graduated neutral density filters.  Our groups are convivial and friendly and the evening dinners are always a great social occasion!

The workshop runs from 10.30am on Friday 7th – 5pm on Sunday 9th April 2017 and the cost is £395 per person.

What is included:

  • Two nights’ accommodation at the Cadgwith Cove Hotel, Cadgwith
  • Breakfasts on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April
  • Evening dinners on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April
  • refreshments (coffee/tea etc).
  • transport to all photography locations on the workshop itinerary
  • personal photography tuition by Steve Walton throughout the workshop
  • Fun whilst learning and improving your photography

What is not included:

  • your travel to and from the workshop
  • photographic equipment
  • lunches
  • alcoholic beverages


A £150 deposit will be required to secure your place on the workshop and the balance of £245 will be due for payment on 27th January 2017.  Contact Steve Walton on 0116 2994901 or email to book your place on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop in April 2017.  Be quick, places are limited to four attendees only!

Penberth Cove, just one of the dramatic locations we will visit on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop with Steve Walton in April 2017

Penberth Cove Near Cadgwith

Penberth Cove, Cornwall


Kynance Cove during Storm Frank, January 2016.  An amazing location in all conditions on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop in April 2017

Kynance Cove near Cadgwith

Kynance Cove during Storm Frank, January 2016. Love the wave ‘face’!

Porth Nanven, another of the dramatic locations we will visit on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop with Steve Walton in April 2017

Porth Nanven boulders and The Brisons, Cornwall

Porth Nanven and The Brisons, Cornwall

Porth Nanven is a small cove situated at the end of the sylvan Cot Valley, not far from St. Just.  The long sweep of the Cot Valley is famous amongst bird watchers, particularly in autumn when storm-driven vagrant species frequently turn up after being pushed across the Atlantic Ocean.  Cot Valley is not quite as ravaged by mineworkings as neighbouring Kenidjack Valley, although many remains are present.  The valley is equally famous amongst landscape and seascape photographers for the small cove of Porth Nanven, where the valley opens out at the seaward end.  This small cove and it’s large round, pebble-like boulders is an oft-photographed iconic Cornish location.

West-facing and open to the Atlantic Ocean weather systems, sunset and evenings are usually the best times for landscape photography here.  The light and the cloud formations can be very dramatic after the Autumn Equinox, especially on an incoming tide.  The location almost begs for neutral density filters and long exposures.  The sea is often restless and that is a vital ingredient for  those ethereal, misty effects.  A 10 stop neutral density filter will be one of the most useful filters to have to hand and  2 and 3 stop hard graduated neutral density filters will be needed when there is a good sunset.  On my most recent visit, the sunset, although very promising only minutes earlier, was lost to blanket cloud.  At our latitude, that isn’t so much of a problem if, like myself, you like the cold blue tones such conditions will bring.  End-of-the-day landscape photography in the UK doesn’t need to be only about yellow, magenta, pink and cyan pastel hues.  Blanket cloud can have a certain drama of it’s own with a wide angle lens and a 10 stop nd filter.  West-facing usually means photographing directly into the wind and with a long enough exposure, clouds will usually ‘streak’.

This image shows the beginnings of cloud streaking, as picked-up by the 20 second exposure time.  20 seconds is not really a ‘long exposure’ compared to some of my work, although it was just enough to calm the boisterous sea without making it completely flat.  Porth Nanven is one of those locations which require you to return to again to try different things.  One thing that is guaranteed is the potential for dramatic images.

Porth Nanven, overcast evening.  Nikon D810, Nikon 20mm f1.8G Formatt-Hitech 10 stop irnd filter.

Photography workshops with Steve Walton at Porth Nanven, Cornwall

Porth Nanven, Cornwall

Scalpay is joined to Harris by a bridge, even so it’s perceptibly different to it’s larger neighbour.  The jewel in the crown of Scalpay is the walk out across the peat to Eilean Glas Lighthouse.  It’s a mile or so of easy walking on mostly a gravel peat cutter’s path* and it’s a great place to while away a few hours on a fine evening with some long exposure photography. When I’m setting-up to photograph the lighthouse, I have to confess to being a bit anal about lighthouse placement within the image.  By this I mean I like to align the tower within the ‘notch’ of the Shiants in the distance.  I hope no one ever asks me why, I can’t explain this rationally.  I just do it!  I’ve visited this place several times and it’s  beautiful.  I’ve also been able to share the time I have spent here with a couple of people who have mattered very much to me.  The memories I am left with are priceless and I daresay I’ll visit Eilean Glas again with new friends and other photographers and return with more happy memories.  I’ll hold those first memories for ever, though!

Photographing with film in the evening is a challenge.  A three stop neutral density filter gave me the long enough exposure I needed with some added reciprocity compensation.  The problem of a long exposure with rapidly dropping light levels made itself felt and I found myself in something of a guessing game with the exposure for this image.  OK, I’ll stick my hand up and confess to being around three-quarters of a stop adrift with my combined calculations and guesswork.  So much for all the years of rufty-tufty experience gained from traipsing the length and breadth of the UK honing my skills!   The Fuji Velvia 50 frame was underexposed, but just within the capability of my Imacon scanner to retrieve detail from the gloop.  I’m glad it was salvageable.  The irnd filter combined with Velvia’s ability to plaster itself with a heavy colour cast produced an image of Eilean Glas that I quite like.  There is movement in the clouds and the sea has been calmed, it’s the mood that matters and the gloopy Fuji colours sort of holds things together.  Not forgetting, of course, the all-important requirement of the lighthouse tower bisecting the notch in the Shiants!

Great place, fun memories, want more!

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay, October 2015.  Hasselblad 503cw, Zeiss 80mm cfi planar, Fuji Velvia 50.

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, jewel in the crown of Scalpay.

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay

*Please park considerately near the gate entrance to the cutter’s track, it’s frequently in use!

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