High Light, Peak Light, Lake Light, City Light, Snow Light, Land Light books by Dave Butcher

Dave Butcher Competitions

My Equipment:
  • Mamiya 7 II with 43, 65 and 150 mm lenses
  • Sekonic zoom 508 light meter
  • Gitzo GT1541 tripod with Gitzo QH1780 head
  • Lowepro Specialist camera case
  • Ilford FP4 Plus film B+W yellow and dark yellow filters
  • JB Equipment for group shots: Nikon D90 with Nikon 18 – 105 mm lens

Locations, in order:

  • Castle Naze near Chapel-en-le-Frith / Combs.
    This is a series of rocky outcrops and cliffs, popular with climbers, with spectacular views over rough ground, fields, farms, walls, a reservoir and hills. A bit like Stanage or Froggat edges in miniature.
  • Goyt Valley between Buxton and Whaley Bridge.
    We could have spent all day here there is so much to photograph with the river Goyt, waterfalls, a pack-horse bridge, trees, rocks and ferns. There is also a ruined stately home and a reservoir just along the road from where we were.
  • Cat & Fiddle; the highest pub in England, allegedly.
    We had lunch here. It is at the highest point on the Buxton to Macclesfield road, great views.
  • Three Shire Heads between Buxton and Congleton
    This is a 1½ mile walk from the car either along footpaths or a cart track. There are 2 pack-horse bridges, several waterfalls and some interesting trees, brackens and rocks.
  • Burbage Woods, Buxton
    Just off the Macclesfield Old Road in Burbage. This is a beech wood on the edge of moorland on a hillside with lots of trees shaped by the weather over many years.

Dave Butcher runs ad hoc competitions where the prize is a course for landscape photography in black and white. Here is how this came into being:

At the end of 2008 I was booking my advertising for the following year with Melanie at B&W Photo when she asked if I had considered running a competition in the magazine. We talked it through and agreed on a slot in the June 2009 issue to launch the competition.

I then talked it through with Harman Technology, who support me in various ways, and they were very enthusiastic to be involved. So it grew into the £1000 competition that we ran in June last year.

The winners were chosen at random; no special skills were needed.

The 3 prize winners each won a place on a special landscape photography course with me in the Peak District and products totalling £500 from Harman Technology (this included the Ilford, Harman and Kentmere brands).

1st prize and £250 products: Rob White from Alsager in Staffordshire
2nd prize and £150 products: Jayne Swinhoe from Ripley in Derbyshire
3rd prize and £100 products: Stephen Hill from London.

The day was set for 16th July; bright and windy in the morning and just 20 minutes of rain in the afternoon. We met at my house in the Peak District for a cup of tea and a chat to introduce ourselves. There were 2 digital and 1 film camera users. My wife Jan was with us in her usual role as 2nd tutor and also to take pictures of the group through the day.

I then showed a few prints and commented on composition and subject choice for black and white landscapes to hopefully inspire the intrepid trio and give them some ideas for different types of shots to look for.

With all of my landscape photography courses we are helping people to pick out pictures that work well in black and white and to understand a few basic principles that produce consistently good images. This includes picking out patterns, shapes and textures in the landscape, using lines leading into a scene, keeping images simple, avoiding clutter, watching the light move across the landscape and deciding when to press the shutter for greatest effect, using fast and slow shutter speeds with waterfalls. We also cover the use of camera controls, especially aperture priority, use of filters and some of the digital camera settings, as needed.

We started the photography in the garden with some mug shots before moving off to our first location, just a couple of miles away. During the day we visited 4 locations and a pub for lunch; 2 of the locations had 2 distinct areas for photography. Most were within a few hundred yards of the car but 3 Shire Heads waterfalls was a 3 mile round trip walk. The hardest subject was the last one; trees in poor light.

From the start there was soon a lot of banter around the group and it stayed light-hearted through the day. At the end, back at base, all seemed to have a good day and had learned quite a bit and exchanged emails to keep in touch with each other.

In 2010 there will be another competition, this time for a course in the Lake District. The winners will visit some of the locations in my new book, Lake Light, on the landscapes of the Lake District. To be published in March 2010.

The Winners and their Photographs from the Course:

Rob White from Alsager in Staffordshire
Jayne Swinhoe from Ripley in Derbyshire
Stephen Hill from London.


 Photographs © Jan Butcher 2009


All images are copyright © Dr Dave Butcher and may not be downloaded, copied or reproduced in any way without prior written permission. All rights are reserved.