Category Archives: Nature and Landscape

Best Landscapes to Inspire Beginner Photographers

When a knee injury forced me to stop mountain climbing back in 2008, I realised how much I missed the stunning views we used to get from the top of Mount Snowdon, reaching out to over the coast and Anglesey.

At the time I had a great little point and shoot Sony Cyber Shot camera which was okay for the family snaps, but I soon came to find on my hikes up and around Snowdon, that if I wanted to get some great shots (like my professional photographer sister frequently awed me with), I was going to have to invest in some good equipment.  I got myself a good savings account, and started putting a chunk of my salary away each month and finally got to go out and buy my camera.

I’ve always been a fan of Sony products so found myself drawn to the Sony Alpha D-SLR range and their lenses, the camera came as the body and one 18-55mm lens. Since then I’ve bought an 18-250mm SAL18250 – F/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens and also a Macro SAL30M28 30mm – F/2.8 lens, both fabulously-made Sony products.

Photography has only really been a hobby to get me out and about in my favourite places but even so I’ve managed to sell quite a few of my prints on canvas and even made some money on a stock photography site. Now I can enjoy being up in the mountains, with my camera and earn a little extra from it! In a world where everyone with a smartphone and Instagram thinks they’re a photographer, the call for really good quality shots has never been greater. So I wanted to give my pick of the awe-inspiring landscape shots that inspired me when I was starting out.

Some of the shots are mine and some are by others, perfectly capturing the beauty of the vistas. I’ll start with my favourite place, Snowdonia. This was taken at Ogwen Lake which is located just at the tip of a glacial valley and the second is Llanberis Lake:

© Lucy Mather

©Lucy Mather

Another of my favourite spots of any country I’ve been to has to be Wastwater in the Lake District. The western lakes are not the easiest to get to, especially if you choose the HardKnott and Wrynose Pass route, but they are the most wild and remote to give you shots like this below. Very definitely worth the effort as you can see:

© XtravaganT – Fotolia.com

Somewhere I’m really looking forward to visiting is the Jurassic coast, this coastline of East Devon and Dorset is England’s first World Heritage Site and it covers 95 miles of stunning coastline.

The following shot is the famous Durdle Door in Dorset:

© julianelliott – Fotolia.com

Next on my list of course has to be the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. I struggled with finding a really good shot of here that best showed the landscape but eventually decided on the below, I guess that my next trip is decided……..

© Joe Gough – Fotolia.com

A definite on here is The Orkney Isles, I’m lucky enough to have family there so take the opportunity as much as possible to visit! The shot I chose was from the famous Ring Of Brodgar but the opportunities are endless.

© Lucy Mather

Eilean Donan has to be the most photographed castle in the whole of the UK; it’s just fabulous with the mysteriousness of the water surrounding it. It makes me wonder if the castle was the inspiration behind Harry Potters ‘Hogwarts’.

I’m also thinking of renting out chairs to all the budding photographers!

Wildlife and Nature Photography in the Algarve

Sitting right on the south-westerly edge of Europe, the Algarve is a rural gem for wildlife lovers and photographers. With the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meeting on this coastal strip, expect to find a tantalising combination of cliff-side beaches, caves and scenic salt pans, teeming with plants and animals. Here’s what not to miss with your camera on a holiday in the Algarve.

• Ria Formosa – an ideal place to start is in the region’s biggest natural park. Ria Formosa stretches across the eastern coastline and is a haven for otters, storks, turtles and its very own flamingo colony. The marsh-filled wetlands areas are home to a variety of wading birds, including the glossy ibis with its mid-brown colour and distinctive curved bill. In the salt pans close to Tavira you could come across avocets or curlews, with nightjars visible as the evening draws in.

• Cabo de Sao Vicente – at the other end of the Algarve is Europe’s south-west edge, which is a beautifully remote and unspoilt part of Portugal. Keen birdwatchers will enjoy the wealth of bird species that can be found here, nestling in the rocks, grasslands and in the trees, particularly if you visit during the morning. Everything from swifts and egrets to kestrels and the short-toed eagle can ready to be photographed, either on land or with a specialist pelagic boat trip.

•Dolphin Watching – even if you don’t have long to spend seeing the sights on holiday, a 90 minute boat trip from one of the main marinas will be worth your time. There are plenty of companies offering dolphin sightings from Portimao, Alvor or Lagos, costing around €30 and promising an experience that doesn’t place the animals in captivity but in their natural habitat. You also get spectacular coastal panoramas for your photo collection, and many of the companies give a lively commentary on the region’s marine heritage.

• Pego do Inferno – perhaps you’d like to produce some atmospheric landscape images to balance out all of those wildlife shots? In that case, the strangely named ‘Hell’s Pool’ (a translation of Pego do Inferno) is the place to be. This lagoon, on the outskirts of Tavira and close to Santo Estevao, is renowned for its beauty and is a favourite picnic spot for locals. It has three waterfalls and is surrounded by olive trees and grasses. If you can’t resist looking for animals then try to catch sight of a hare or perhaps even a turtle when you’re here.

• Caldas de Monchique – heading inland it’s hard to resist this village, which contains natural spa waters and sits beside the Monchique hills. The Romans, who conquered the Algarve and left their mark on the area with distinctive architecture, couldn’t fault the spa and were convinced that it had healing benefits. Today you might want to photograph the cascading water, the moss-fringed pools or the beautiful plant life that has sprung up around the geothermal activity that continues to attract curious tourists.

• Tavira Camera Obscura – for a more unusual lens-led perspective of the local landscape, Tavira city has its own camera obscura, which is a small chamber that holds a moving image of the world outside. Set in an old water tower with brilliant views across the central streets and the surrounding countryside, this is an unusual but unmissable way to explore the Algarve.

With all this to see on the edge of Portugal, it’s clear that photographers can really test themselves when they visit the Algarve, from finding the right panorama to choosing a wildlife subject.

About the Author

Polly Allen is a journalist and Destination Marketer with a passion for travel and fashion. She’s recently visited Portugal, the USA and France in search of culture and style.