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.

At the time of posting this, there is only one place left on my Wild Light Outer Hebrides landscape and seascape photography workshop on 14th-18th September, based at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert.   Due to the popularity of my Outer Hebrides landscape and seascape  photography workshops, I am holding two additional workshops in 2017. These will take place on 1st-5th August and 21st-25th November.  These additional dates give a choice of two seasons and vastly different light and weather conditions to work with.

August is often warm, settled and sunny.  The Islands are idyllic in summer with wild flowers, white sand beaches and blue sea.  Daylight hours are long and the  twilight of night time is a great opportunity for those moody long exposures.

Winter conditions bring another dimension to landscape photography and there is a good chance that the Harris Hills will be snow-capped in late November.   Stormy winter skies are frequent and will give attendees the opportunity to create dramatic images, particularly around the times of sunrise and sunset.

The cost is £1299 per person.  Groups are limited to four guests only to maximise individual tuition. The cost includes single occupancy accommodation for four nights at the Harris Hotel, breakfasts, evening dinners, transport to all locations on the workshop and personal tuition by myself.  All abilities are welcome and tuition is commensurate with your current level.  The objective of the workshop is for guests to join a small group of like-minded photographers to learn, gain knowledge and improve upon their existing skills.

To attend the workshop, a deposit of £300 is payable on booking and this is deductible from the balance.  The balance is payable10 weeks in advance of the workshop starting date.  Payments can be made by cash, cheque, PayPal and Bank Transfer  Please contact me via the contact form for full details and booking information.

New landscape and seascape photography workshop dates in the Outer Hebrides! 

Photography workshops in the Outer Hebrides

                      Inspirational Photography Tours and Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton.

 

Wild Light Landscape and Seascape Photography Workshops on Harris, Lewis and Scalpay  with Steve Walton: £1299*

*****Wild Light Outer Hebrides 2014 workshop fully booked, 2015 workshop fully booked, 2016 workshop fully booked, September 2017 workshop: 1 place available.*****

Due to the number of bookings and enquiries I have received, I will be hosting two more Harris & Lewis workshops in 2017.  The additional workshops will run on 1st-5th August 2017 and 21st-25th November 2017

The Outer Hebrides are a landscape photographer’s paradise.  Unique mountain geology, the finest beaches on earth, mysterious prehistoric sites, a strong cultural identity and the changing light of North Atlantic weather patterns set these islands apart.  I have been leading photography workshops in the Outer Hebrides for several years.  Our Wild Light Photography Workshop groups are deliberately small with a maximum of four like-minded photographers and myself to guide you.  Open to all abilities,  the emphasis is on learning and improving  your existing skills with ample individual tuition and a lot of spontaneous fun and ‘off piste’ exploration thrown in. Accommodation at the lovely Harris Hotel in Tarbert, breakfasts, evening meals and transport to locations during the workshop,  pick-up and drop-off at Stornoway Airport and ferry terminals is included.  All dietary requirements can be accommodated.  Image reviews and post processing tuition in the welcoming hotel bar before and after dinner are always a great social time for the group after a day of photography and many of my guests have gone on to become good friends with each other following the workshops.

Sunrises and sunsets at dramatic white sand Hebridean beaches, deserted crofts and the awe inspiring standing stones at Callanish and it’s satellite sites are our locations for the workshop.  Sunrise at Callanish will provide you with an unforgettable experience and we often follow that with an equally unforgettable sunset at Luskentyre on the same day.  Eilean Glas lighthouse at sunset is well worth the walk out on the peat cutter’s path across the moorland and the concrete hulk of the WW1 coal barge Cretetree are just two of the features of the little island community of Scalpay that we shall visit.  The workshop also includes a visit to see the most famous of all traditional Harris Tweed weavers at work in his weaving shed, Donald John MacKay MBE.

Join me for another five days of photography and fun in the Outer Hebrides next September.  I look forward to greeting you on the Islands and taking you on an inspirational photography tour to remember!

Workshop dates: 14th-18th September 2017 (Full BIPP/MPA members and previous Wild Light Workshop attendees will receive a 10% cost reduction)

 

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Hebridean beaches, from our 2016 Wild Light Outer Hebrides Photography Workshop

Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton

Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton

 

Callanish, the Jewel in the Crown!  Supermoon and sunrises from our previous Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides

Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis.

Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton

Changing weather and light on our previous Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides

Wild Light Photography Workshops

Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton

Dramatic locations on our Wild Light Outer Hebrides 2017 itinerary

Wild Light Outer Hebrides Photography Workshop locations

Wild Light Photography Workshops in the Outer Hebrides with Steve Walton

To ensure maximum opportunity for personal tuition, places are limited to four attendees only on Wild Light Photography Workshops.  Please contact me for booking details.

E: steve@stevewaltonphotography.info

T: +44 (0) 116 2994901

 

I have organised and led photography workshops in the Outer Hebrides for the past few years, operating as  Wild Light Phototours and Workshops. My Hebridean workshops take place in September or October each year and they continue to be popular.  My 2016 workshop was fully booked again and we had a great, fun time as always.  The emphasis is on being part of a small group and improving your photography skills with a good measure of fun.  As in previous years, our October 2016 workshop was blessed with settled, fine and sunny weather and good light.  One of the main features of the tour are those gloriously beautiful Hebridean beaches.  Both Lewis and Harris, especially, boast some of the finest beaches on earth.  The huge expanse of Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris is simply wonderful, I have photographed here many times and I will never tire of it.  Each visit reveals new and constantly changing light, new sand patterns, new mood and new drama.  Luskentyre is a magical place!

The story of Hebridean Beaches doesn’t end with Luskentyre, however.  Moving on down to the West of Harris, the beaches at Seilebost, Horgabost, Scarista and Borve all have their own character and the opportunities are there to endlessly create images.  Anyone who has been on the Isle of Harris on a dull, wet and windy day will have been stopped in their tracks by the effect of the warm ‘glow’ from that sand!  The world suddenly becomes brighter and more colourful, even on the dullest of days.  Even the ambient temperature seems to climb!  It doesn’t, of course, it’s a subtle effect of  the colour temperature being influenced by the sands of those beaches.  If you haven’t seen it and experienced the effect, then it’s difficult to visualise but once seen, it’s never forgotten.

The amazingly scenic drive out to Huisinish also terminates at a beautiful Hebridean crescent of pale pink sand.  The extreme far left of the beach is good for sunsets and the extreme far right good for sunrises.  Huisinish is a peaceful place in the evenings when visitors have gone and a perfect location for those long exposures.  It’s a little more exposed to prevailing winds and the sea correspondingly more lumpy than the more sheltered parts of Luskentyre and Seilebost, ideal for those 10-16 stop neutral density filters!

All of the images below were made during the workshop on my Hasselblad 503cw camera and Fuji Velvia 50 transparency film.  Prints are available for purchase, please contact me for details, size options and costs.

Huisinish beach, late afternoon. Fuji Velvia 50, Formatt-Hitech 10-stop irnd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Huisnish, late afternoon

Huisinish Beach

Huisinsh Beach afterglow, almost darkness.  Fuji Velvia 50, Formatt-Hitech 10 stop irnd.

Hebridean Beaches

Huisinish Afterglow

Taransay.  Fuji Velvia 50, Lee .6 hard graduated nd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Taransay

Golden Spindrift at Seilebost, Fuji Velvia 50

Hebridean Beaches

Evening spindrift

Seilebost, Fuji Velvia 50 with .9 soft graduated nd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Seilebost beach

Walking on Water, Seilebost.  Fuji Velvia 50 with Lee .9 soft graduated nd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Seilebost at low tide

Taransay from Luskentyre Beach.  Fuji Velvia 50.

Hebridean Beaches

Taransay from Luskentyre Beach

Seilebost, soft and cool evening light.  Fuji Velvia 50.

Hebridean Beaches

Seilebost beach, early evening.

Uig Beach Sand Patterns, Isle of Lewis.  Fuji Velvia 50 with Lee .6  soft graduated nd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Uig Beach, Isle of Lewis

Uig Beach, nightfall.  Fuji Velvia 50 with Formatt-Hitech 10 stop irnd filter.

Hebridean Beaches

Uig Beach, nightfall

Please respect my Copyright.  Do not attempt to steal my images!

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.

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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

 

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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

Likes:

  • 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.

Dislikes:

  • 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.

 

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