Historic Photographer of the Year 2021 – category winner

I’m so chuffed to say that my photo of Clifton Suspension Bridge in the mist has won the Historic England category of the 2021 Historic Photographer of the Year awards. The morning I took this was a particularly surreal one – the mist sweeping across the city, under the bridge and through the Avon Gorge, like a giant river. It was, and always is, an incredible thing to witness.

I also found out that a further 3 photos were shortlisted as well, including one of Burrow Mump at night and two Corfe Castle images. Needless to say, it’s a bit mindblowing!

You can see coverage of the awards and photos on the news websites here – BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail, The Times, Amateur Photographer and Der Spiegel!

50 landscape photography locations around Bristol

Cumberland Basin

Any photographer visiting the city of Bristol is blessed with a huge variety of places to photograph. Due to the relatively small geographic size of the city, it is quite easy to jump from one location to the next in a short period of time, ticking off a lot of locations!

Clifton Downs view

Where are the best photo locations?

So where are the best landscape photography locations in and around Bristol? Here is my comprehensive list for the local area.

Before I begin, I need to add a note that there are a number of repeated target locations here – for example, the best views of Clifton Suspension Bridge can be found at varying spots across the city, each with their own value and best time of day/year. It is the most famous part of the Bristol landscape – on a drive or visit to the centre of the city it is practically impossible to avoid catching sight of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s eye-catching bridge.

  1. Cumberland Basin. Sat Nav – BS1 6XN. Time – sunrise / sunset / night. This is a fantastic spot to photograph the bridge when there is a high tide – getting the mirror bridge combination… There are actually 3 great spots here – the first just below the off ramp from the flyover, the second on the far side of the river looking back across the Basin, and the third on the island at the far front, for the close-up view. Timing-wise, the location lends itself best to sunset, as the clouds and sky behind the bridge from this angle will light up as the end of the day approaches. However, it works very well for sunrise too – quite often I have found a thin bank of mist lying across the river – and if you go during the Spring / Summer months, it is prime territory for a flotilla of balloons to drift by above. Keep your eyes on the tide times for Cumberland Basin – high tide here can be spectacular for photography – at any hour. Night photography works brilliantly – especially with light trails from the traffic on Portway over on the far side.
  2. Clifton Observatory. Sat Nav – BS8 3NB. Time – sunrise / sunset / night. This is the classic bridge view. Parking in Clifton can be tricky during normal daytime hours – however a benefit of being a sunrise photographer is that nobody sane will be up at that time – so plenty of parking spaces to be had. Park down by Engineers House – you can then follow the path up to the Observatory. The view is pretty spectacular, overlooking the Avon Gorge, with the bridge lying ahead of you with the West of the city sitting behind it. From here you can see all across the city and over to Dundry (the church sitting at the highest point in the distance). There are plenty of great spots for the camera along the fence here – so take a wander all the way along and then down towards the bridge itself. This is also the classic spot for the Balloon Fiesta – on a mass launch you will have to get here super early to get a spot at the front. Sunrise is way off to the left of here, so if you want to have any sun in shot, you will need to head down to the bridge and cross over to the other side. Around the Summer Solstice, the sun actually rises in line with the towers – be sure to set your alarm early to watch this spectacle (so far not many have been as crazy as me for getting this…).
  3. Clifton Downs – Sea Walls. Sat Nav – BS9 1PG. Time – sunrise. This is a brilliant spot for the long view. At sunrise, the right tower of the bridge will light up, for an almost metallic reflection of gold! It’s a superb spot if the mist lies in the Gorge. Use a long focal length here to zoom right in, or alternatively shoot wide to capture the sweep of Portway, running towards the bridge.
  4. Clifton Promenade. Sat Nav – BS8 3NB. Time – sunrise / sunset. This is the best spot in the city for Autumn, as the tree lined promenade transforms into magical shades of gold. Use a longer focal length here to compress the view. If it’s misty, you may strike gold and get beams of light cutting across the view.
  5. Dundry. Sat Nav – BS41 8LQ. Time – sunrise / sunset. Dundry is the highest spot around Bristol, so from here you will get a great view. If you have a telephoto lens, this is an amazing spot for capturing the city. From here, you will be able to photograph the Balloon Fiesta, watching them glide past the Suspension Bridge. You can also see all the way to both Severn bridges, and Wales and the Brecons (on a clear day) beyond that.
  6. Maes Knoll. Sat Nav – BS39 4EY. Time – sunrise / sunset. Along the other end from Dundry lies Bristol’s best kept secret. The views from here, are in my opinion better than Dundry. Not only can you photograph the bridge (again with a long focal length), but you can see more of the city, and on the opposite side, where the sun rises, you are able to capture the rolling hills of north Somerset. On that side, it can often become a mist trap. Be warned – the road is in appalling condition, so you have to park down in Whitchurch and walk up.
  7. SS Great Britain. Sat Nav – BS1 6TY. Time – sunrise. Bristol’s other famous Brunel creation. The best spot to photograph this from is actually along Hotwell’s Road, on the opposite side of the river – you can capture the sun rising behind it. If you want to take a tour however (it’s well worth it), there’s parking right by the boat. There is a special view, higher up, above Hotwell’s Road, however this is a closely guarded secret, particularly as you are in a residential area. So I won’t be adding that.
  8. The Cottage puddle. Sat Nav – BS1 6XH. Time – sunrise, sunset. That’s right. A puddle. But not any ordinary puddle – a gigantic puddle, with a reflection that photographers dream of… The Cottage is a lovely pub on the side of the river, and if you are lucky you (and you’re willing to risk a soggy camera), you can capture the coloured houses of Cliftonwood reflecting in the gigantic puddle.
  9. Underfall Yard. Sat Nav – BS1 6XH. Time – sunset. Turn to your left from the cottage, and you can capture the working boatyard. There are plenty of interesting angles to be had here.
  10. Baltic Wharf. Sat Nav – BS1 6XH. Time – sunrise. Walk along from the Cottage pub, and there are plenty of photographic opportunities – Autumnal leaves, golden sunlight bouncing off the opposite side, rowers paddling through a mirror-like water… the list is endless.
  11. M Shed. Sat Nav – BS1 6UP. Time – sunrise, sunset. There are loads of fantastic photo opportunities along here with the cranes – watch out for mega puddles for some excellent reflections.
  12. Brunel’s Buttery jetty. Sat Nav – BS1 6UP. Time – sunrise. The jetty just by this spot is incredible for sunrise – try using a tripod for some pre-dawn long exposures. Sunrise mid-Summer will see the sun rise to the left of the cranes.
  13. Lloyd’s Amphitheatre. Sat Nav – BS1 6UP. Time – sunrise, sunset. Use a wide angle lens here, there are lots of interesting angles.
  14. Prince Street Bridge. Sat Nav – BS1 4RH. Time – sunrise, sunset. This is a great spot. Face St Mary Redcliffe for incredible sunrises with the coloured houses of Redcliffe Parade on the right. Turn the opposite way, for sunset photos – there are some steps down to the water – use a tripod here for some excellent long exposures.
  15. St Mary Redcliffe. Sat Nav – BS1 6AL. Time – sunrise. There are lots of great angles of this beautiful church. Elizabeth I described it as “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England.” Take a wide angle lens when you venture inside, and go in the late afternoon, to catch the light shining through the stained glass windows, reflecting off the bronze markings on the floor.
  16. Park Street and College Green. Sat Nav – BS1 5UU. Time – sunrise, sunset. There is always something go on here – whether it’s a protest forming on College Green (great if you’re a street photographer), or the twinkling of Christmas decorations running up Park Street, with shoppers clambering up the steep slope of Park Street. This is one of the best spots to come to when it’s raining at night – the colourful reflections can be incredible.
  17. Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill. Sat Nav – BS1 5UU (it’s just a short uphill walk from there). Time – sunrise, sunset. Brandon Hill is a classic Bristol spot for Autumn and Winter months, especially as the trees start to change colour. Cabot Tower can be seen from pretty much everywhere across Bristol – it’s an iconic part of the landscape. There are so many different angles here to be found along the winding paths, and make sure you try getting a reflection as well, from the ponds just beneath the tower itself.
  18. Royal Fort Garden. Sat Nav – BS8 1UH. Time – any, especially dusk… Part of the university campus, but open to the public, this is a beautiful spot. Make sure to wander the mirror maze – which offers a great photographic juxtaposition against the building behind. Keep your eyes peeled at dusk for the family of foxes which call the gardens their home…
  19. Christmas Steps. Sat Nav – BS1 5AZ. Time – night, preferably when snowing! Christmas Steps is one of the most picturesque spots in the city, and looks like a scene from Harry Potter. It’s great during the evening, especially during the festive season when the Christmas lights line the path to the bottom.
  20. Pero’s Bridge. Sat Nav – BS1 5UH. Time – any, better at night though. Named in honour of a slave who arrived in Bristol during the 18th century, this is an unusual and eye-catching location. Great for people photography, but also good for long exposures, particularly with the colourful fairground and bustling restaurant backdrop.
  21. Millennium Square. Sat Nav – BS1 5TY. There’s so much to see here – from the We The Curious Planetarium globe, reflecting in the water, or the ferris wheel, hustle and bustle of the day and night life, and much more. It’s great at any time of day.
  22. Hippodrome. Whilst it’s a great spot for street photography during the day, it comes into its own at night – take a nifty-fifty lens and grab some night street shots – or better still, bring your tripod and grab reflections and traffic trails in front of the glowing neon signs dotted around, including the bright lights of the Hippodrome.
  23. Leonard Lane. This is one for the street photographer. Like a secret alleyway, dotted with graffiti, and impossibly narrow!
  24. Church of St John’s the Baptist. Another great option for daytime and night photography (as buses zoom by).
  25. Nelson Street. Loads of interesting
  26. Castle Park
  27. Temple Meads
  28. Royal York Crescent
  29. St Nicks Market
  30. Valentine Bridge
  31. North Street
  32. Stokes Croft
  33. Totterdown
  34. Victoria Park
  35. Perrett’s Park
  36. Northern Slopes
  37. Troopers Hill
  38. Arnos Vale Cemetery
  39. Arnos Court Park
  40. St George – railway bridge
  41. Stoke Park
  42. Purdown Tower
  43. Eastville Park
  44. Ashton Court
  45. Leigh Woods
  46. Tyntesfield
  47. Blaise Castle
  48. Blaise Hamlet
  49. Portbury
  50. Severn Beach
  51. Clevedon
  52. Black Nore Lighthouse
  53. Portishead Marina
  54. Chew Valley Lake.
  55. Blagdon Lake.

 

Landscape Photographer of the Year – Commended

I’m really chuffed to say that my photo of Cheddar Gorge at night was commended by the judges of Landscape Photographer of the Year, and will feature in the printed book along with the exhibition running at London Bridge station. I’m pretty blown away to be honest – it was a last minute decision to take the photo, and a last minute entry into the competition as well! Sometimes things just work out (I find the best photos work this way too…)…

Another photo was also shortlisted, which I was so pleased about at the time, however the news stopped me in my tracks when it came in the other day.

Now I need to plot next years entries…

The Instagram exodus

After the Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced on video that the app would be focusing primarily on video, there was an immediate backlash from the photographic community. Having spent the last half a decade or so making themselves at home on the app (which itself was created for photo-posting), photographers expressed outrage that their photo home was suddenly in jeopardy!

As a result, there was a sudden surge of photographers popping up on Twitter. I myself have started using the app again – and interestingly, found that one post caught far more engagement than the same one on Instagram (despite having approx 200 or so followers at the time – compared to 12k on Instagram). Things escalated quickly… A reporter at the Guardian caught wind of my post comparing the traffic difference, and called me up to discuss this and the world of Instagram ! Then a week later, the article appeared in the Observer and Guardian – click here for a read. Who knows what the future holds for Instagram…

Madeira – the land of mist and lava

We were lucky to be able to jet off for a week to the green listed Madeira. And what an incredible place it was! For such a small island – only an hour to get from one side to the other – there is so much variety of landscape crammed in. Madeira really feels like a cross between Iceland and Hawaii – it combines the best of both (minus volcanic eruptions…).

From the misty and enchanting Fanal Forest, down to the black sand beach of Seixal, up to the mountain in the clouds Pico do Arieiro, it is a photographers paradise…

 

Durdle Door sunrise through arch

durdle door sunrise through arch

For a few weeks each year, the sun rises in exactly the right position to be seen through the arch of Durdle Door, at Lulworth Cove. For a fan of sunburst photography, it really was something I couldn’t miss out on! Even though the forecast wasn’t great, it looked like the best shot I had for a while, so I popped out of bed at 4:30am (well dragged myself) and zipped off to the south coast. Even though there was a bank of cloud on the horizon when I got there, it moved off just in time… what a morning!

durdle door sunrise through arch durdle door sunrise through arch durdle door sunrise through arch durdle door sunrise through arch

The land of fire and ice (and loads of waterfalls)

It had been on my holiday to-do list for some time, but finally we took the chance to go for a few days to the epic awesomeness that is Iceland. It was ridiculous – in a good way. Vast mountains, huge waterfalls, geysirs, volcanoes, alien landscapes and neverending roads. This was photography heaven, and we are DEFINITELY going back…

Bristol & Beyond Photography Exhibition

I’m delighted to have been asked by talented local photographer The Bristol Nomad to join him and other gifted artists Chris Hill and Sam Miles in his exhibition showcasing the best of this city and the surrounding area.

The Bristol Nomad Photography exhibition at SPACE, Bristol

More details:

An evening of friendly faces, free wine, beautiful music and most importantly fantastic art.
Join myself (The Bristol Nomad), Chris Hill, Sam Miles & Sam Binding on a journey around your city and beyond.

7pm – 8pm Drinks 🍷
8pm – 9pm Live Music, drinks 🎶
9pm – 10pm charity auction for Cots for Tots and a few other surprises

For more details click here – https://theislandbristol.com/event/bristol-and-beyond/

Wildflower

Wildflower have been cropping up everywhere across Bristol this year, and sometimes in the most unusual places. Take this one for example, down by the M Shed at the harbour. The vivid blue cornflower are clinging like limpets to the side.

Early morning mist at Ashton Court

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:45am and had a peek out the window to see the hint of red on the horizon – I knew it was going to be a good one…

Twenty minutes later I was pulling into Ashton Court to be greeted by a blanket of fog rolling across the field, just as the sun was starting to creep its way over the hills. So I quickly jumped out, camera in hand, Barney in hot pursuit, and got to snapping. It was pretty awe inspiring.