on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers


Photographing the North York Moors & Coast

John Clifton

My photography began at my father's side - he processed and printed his own pictures to save on costs, so I did the same. I still hope to ‘dust off’ my darkroom gear at some point, but have spent the last few years learning to make great digital prints. I love the convenience that digital offers, and the immediate visual feedback it provides, but it is still that final analogue print that really ex-cites me. When not working at Trailblazer Outdoors, in Pickering, I am usually out walking the fabulous land-scapes of the North York Moors National Park. This is a place I find endlessly inspiring, offering a huge variety of scenery and subjects in a compact and accessible package. I am also co-organiser of #MOORSVIEW - a bi-annual photography seminar addressing landscape and wildlife photography on the North York Moors and Coast.


‘MOORSVIEW' is a new landscape photography event being organised in Pickering, North Yorkshire. The event began life with an idle conversation about some of the well known landscape photographers who live close by - Joe Cornish and David Ward, to name but two.

This led on to consideration of the fantastic variety of opportunities offered to photographers by the landscapes of the North York Moors and coastline. This enthusiasm was tempered, however, by various recent instances of photographers getting into difficulties when out in the wilds.

‘View from Rosedale Head’ - by John Clifton

‘View from Rosedale Head’ - by John Clifton

From these small beginnings the idea for ‘MOORSVIEW' was born - an event that would blend photographic inspiration and instruction, with advice on keeping safe whilst ‘getting the shot’:

  • Assembling renowned local photographers to celebrate the beauty of the North York Moors and coastline
  • Offering practical safety advice for photographers heading out into the wilds - especially in winter conditions
  • Providing guidance on outdoor gear for landscape photography - choosing it, using it, and maintaining it

The ‘Perils’ of Landscape Photography

On the face of it landscape photography seems like a pretty calm, reflective, and ultimately safe pastime. But like many outdoor activities, it all depends on how you go about it. For example, as the rain swept in across the North York Moors the other evening, and I took shelter in the lee of Skelton Tower, the thought struck me that nobody knew where I was.

‘Twilight at Skelton Tower’ - by John Clifton

‘Twilight at Skelton Tower’ - by John Clifton

I was alone, except for my dog, in a reasonably remote location, with no phone signal, and at least a mile from my car. I had also changed my mind about where to go after I had dropped my wife off at her Salsa class, and she was under the impression I was heading somewhere quite different. I was in absolutely no danger, but it reminded me of a chat I had recently with Richard Burdon, of RJB Photographic. The conversation went along the lines of: ‘it’s what we do isn’t it…head out, often on our own, into remote places and often at the beginning and end of the day…if anything happened to you there would be little hope of anyone coming to help..’

Now don’t get me wrong, I was not concerned, in fact I absolutely loved being out alone in the fast fading twilight. And the leaden clouds rushing in filled me with hope that I would get that ‘special light’ that seems to happen after rain. But I also realised that, not for the first time, I had just broken a fundamental rule of hill safety - tell someone where you are going..!

Who is involved in MOORSVIEW..?

MOORSVIEW has been put together in partnership with Neil Armstrong - of Trailblazer Outdoors, in Pickering. Neil is a long standing member of Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team (SRMRT) - who will be providing the safety sessions on the day, and will benefit from proceeds from the event. But the core of the day will be a series of inspirational talks by some fantastic local landscape photographers:

David Ward

Into the Light David Ward needs little introduction for readers of On Landscape. As one of Britain's foremost landscape photographers, his eye for shape and form is without equal and produces work that is startling in its clarity and intensity.

Saltwick blue & gold

‘Saltwick Blue and Gold’- by David Ward

Personally I find that David’s work always manages to make me stop, look, and think. In most landscape photographs the location is the dominant element within the shot - they are identifiably images of a particular place, and are therefore relatively easy to ‘decode’. David’s images are always redolent of the place where they were shot, but he also manages to distill his subjects down to an essence. In the process he often reveals something raw, elemental, universal.

David is taking the weather as the subject for his MOORSVIEW presentation - focusing in particular on shooting in challenging conditions. As someone who relishes shooting in so-called ‘bad’ weather, I will be fascinated to hear what guidance he can offer.

Lizzie Shepherd - Lizzie Shepherd Photography

Lizzie is another photographer who writes regularly for On Landscape - recently on the trials and tribulations of building your own gallery, and the practicalities of photographing from skis. For MOORSVIEW Lizzie will turn her eye to the artistic opportunities offered by an area where she runs regular photographic workshops

Singing Groynes at Sandsend' - by Lizzie Shepherd

Singing Groynes at Sandsend' - by Lizzie Shepherd

Lizzie says: “We have some spectacular scenery…on the Moors and on the Yorkshire coast, as well as in some of the lesser known areas in between. As I get to know these areas better and better, I find myself increasingly drawn to capturing the hidden landscape….Beauty and intrigue surrounds us and I hope that, as well as showcasing some of our classic views, my photographs reveal a little bit of the less obvious, hidden scenes - things that people might otherwise just walk by.”

Personally I feel that Lizzie’s work has lately moved into a calmer, more meditative space, focusing on the ‘quiet beauty’ of the landscape all around us.  As well as admiring her work, I can personally vouch for the value of attending one of Lizzie’s workshops - she is responsible for getting me to actually use my tripod again - rather than just carrying it around on my back..!

Richard & Janet Burdon - RJB Photographic

Pickering based husband and wife team Richard and Janet are both past finalists in the Landscape Photographer of the Year and also the Scottish Nature Photography Awards.  Their presentation at MOORSVIEW will tackle the thorny issue of establishing an individual ‘identity’ or ‘style’ in landscape photography.

‘Twenty Seven Birds’ by Janet Burdon

‘Twenty Seven Birds’ by Janet Burdon

Beginning with colour, Richard will discuss how their exploration of minimalist monochrome work - particularly in winter - has been inspirational, and led to a certain ‘brand identity’ for RJB Photographic.  Janet will also be speaking about her journey into Infra-red photography - from initial beginnings using infra-red film, through using adaptors on an un-modified digital camera, and on to the present day using a modified DSLR.

Dave Mead - Farndale Fotos

Dave is a farmer in the beautiful valley of Farndale - in the heart of the North York Moors National Park. In recent years he has been lucky enough to travel to both the Arctic and the Antarctic with his camera, as well as many different parts of the UK, but Dave’s main inspiration remains the immediate area around where he lives - and that will be the focus of his MOORSVIEW presentation.

‘River Dove Flow' - by Dave Mead

‘River Dove Flow' - by Dave Mead

Dave says: “it is a huge privilege to live and work in such an inspiring location and I feel compelled to record it all, from the splendid vistas of heather clad moorland the intimate details along the banks of the river, in all weathers and all seasons. Being able to create images of the beautiful valley that I call home has, over the years, become an essential part of my life”.

Karl Holtby - Karl Holtby Photography

Karl is a photographer with a particular interest in the natural world, landscapes and fine art photography. With a background in conservation, it is often the ecological detail that intrigues him. This, along with man’s influence on the landscape is what captures his imagination, as much as a stunning vista.

Broxa Forest' - by Karl Holtby

Broxa Forest' - by Karl Holtby

Karl is often out ‘biking and hiking’ on the North York Moors, and will bring the photographic lessons learned to his MOORSVIEW presentation. In particular, he will discuss his use of lighter weight, more compact cameras such as the Sigma Merrill and Sony A7R. Karl is currently involved in collaborations with Sigma Imaging UK, and also for Manfrotto - writing articles for websites and social media.

Karl has exhibited widely, most notably at the Joe Cornish Galleries, in Northallerton.  Karl has a varied portfolio of commercial clients and he now runs bespoke workshops.

John Clifton - PC Photographic

I am a walker by inclination and, since moving to Pickering more than a decade ago, have spent much of my time exploring the ups and downs of the North York Moors National Park.  I will draw on these travels, and the images I have made, to introduce the MOORSVIEW sessions - picking out some of my favourite places to photograph - from the well known to the somewhat more obscure.

Riccaldale Springtime - by John Clifton

Riccaldale Springtime - by John Clifton

Personally I tend to be drawn to the grand in my photography - think big skies, serious weather, and sweeping vistas with distant horizons - things there are no shortage of on the North York Moors..!  But I am also fascinated by the details of nature - the intricacy of a seed head, the transformative power of hoar frost, the elegiac beauty of a decaying tree.

How do I book a ticket for MOORSVIEW..?

MOORSVIEW will run all day, taking place on Saturday 31st October, at The Kirk Theatre, Pickering.

You can book your place now by following this link to the Events Section of the SRMRT website: http://www.srmrt.org.uk/events/moorsview/

Day tickets will cost £60 - including refreshments, and a buffet lunch provided by The Black Swan, Pickering.

In addition to the sessions highlighted above, there will be a display of outdoor gear by Trailblazer Outdoors - featuring Paramo Directional Clothing in particular. All ticket holders will also be entered for a prize draw, to take place at the end of the day. Prizes are still being pledged, but already include a large framed prints from two of the speakers, a half-day of 1 to 1 photographic training from another, and a range of valuable outdoor gear.

Look out for further details on the web - just use the hashtag #MOORSVIEW within Facebook or Twitter. It is shaping up to be an inspirational, and above all 'useful' event - dovetailing the artistic with the practical aspects of landscape photography.

moorside flyer


We hope that it will also raise awareness of the photographic opportunities offered by the North York Moors and Coast, whilst hi-lighting the need for adequate preparation before heading out into the wilds..!

I would like to thank On Landscape in particular for supporting MOORSVIEW. As well as helping us to publicise the event, Tim Parkin has generously offered to loan us his very expensive projector - and fortunately his expertise in operating it. Tim is also hoping to film the MOORSVIEW sessions, for subsequent dissemination through On Landscape.


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