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Top tips for taking a great Devon landscape image

PUBLISHED: 10:36 30 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:37 30 September 2014

Hope Cove by Andreas Byrne

Hope Cove by Andreas Byrne


Acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton offers advice on how best to take a landscape shot

There’s still time to enter the South West Coast Path Photographic Competition 2014. The aim of the competition is to showcase the landscape and wildlife of the path by taking beautifully crafted photographs.

Professional Judge and acclaimed landscape photographer, David Noton, gives us some advice of how best to take a landscape shot.

David says: “You can read about the technique until the cows come home, but what really is the key to taking stunning images is learning the tried and tested method of scouting a location, pre-visualising the light, planning a shoot and finally returning again and again until the conditions are perfect to create an award winning image that will have your friends and family frothing at the mouth. It sounds obvious but isn’t.

When a photographer first achieves this it really is a Eureka moment. Life, and your photography, will never be the same again.

The key to constant improvement is innovation, practise, imagination, persistence and crucially, learning from your mistakes. Believe me at least two times out of three it just doesn’t come together. Don’t beat yourself up about it, learn from it, analyse why a shoot isn’t working and plan accordingly. But above all, enjoy the dawn and dusk vigils and stick at it.”

Here are a number of pointers from David to consider before you even pick up the camera!

Plan your shoot.

Finding a good location is the first priority. There’s no substitute for getting the boots on and eyeballing the location. Try new parts of the Coast Path where you haven’t been before. Be adventurous.

Understanding light and how it changes over the 24 hour cycle is a key skill for a landscape photographer. The more you do this sort of shoot the more you get a feel for the nature of light.

The more you can pre-visualise the picture and plan the lighting you need the better the likelihood of success. Be prepared to return to the same location again and again until you get the right light and conditions

Be meticulous

Hone your photographic technique and work in a meticulous logical way to extract the maximum quality possible. Check focus, depth of field, exposure and tripod stability to make sure that you are getting the very best from your equipment.

Familiarity with your equipment is essential; you don’t want to be fiddling with camera settings whilst the often-fleeting best light is illuminating the subject. Our camera’s auto focus and exposure modes are so good it’s tempting to think we can just switch them on then just point and shoot.

Be Original

Create something different from a familiar view. They are dramatic locations where you’ll be sure to be presented with epic well known views requiring none of the arduous and time consuming business of location searching.

Beyond the beaten track search out locations and ideas which are a child solely of your imagination and photographic eye. Creating such originality isn’t easy but far more rewarding then merely reproducing what has been done before.


Enjoying your photography is the key. It sounds blindingly obvious but the task of creating masterpieces day in, day out can become a pressure. When the weather or circumstances turn against you the burden of expectation can ruin all enjoyment of the adventure.

Relax, and have faith in your own skills. You can’t beat Mother Nature. If you put yourself in the right place at the right time enough sooner or later you’ll get lucky.

Keep it Simple

The best compositions are always the simplest. Sweep your eye from corner to corner of the frame and ask yourself if there’s anything included that doesn’t deserve to be there. Photography is the art of knowing what to leave out. Less is more.

See the Light

Always consider the nature of the light and where it is coming from. The light itself can often become the subject itself. The right light will lift a shot immeasurably, whilst a scene illuminated by light from the wrong direction or at an unsuitable time of day.

Consider Perspective

Lens choice is all about perspective; in a nutshell that means deciding about the relationship between foreground and background within the image area. Wide lenses accentuate foreground interest, longer lenses emphasise the true scale of distant objects, while medium focal length lenses render a natural balance between the two.

This year’s top 12 photos will feature in the 2016 South West Coast Path Calendar, with the 1st prize winning image on the front page. Each copy sold will raise a minimum of 25p for the South West Coast Path Association for path improvements. There are some superb prizes including a One Night Luxury Spa Break at The Carbis Bay Hotel.

The deadline for entries is 31st December 2014. For more details and how to enter your photographs go to southwestcoastpath.com/photo-competition

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