on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Matt Lethbridge

Featured Photographer

Matt Lethbridge

I have been making landscape photographs for around 8 years now and I am very passionate about what I do.I really enjoy the creative challenges brought on by working with natural light, especially in variable weather conditions. I have just started to dip my toe in the water with 35mm film photography and I an looking forward to the many challenges ahead.Flickr

mattlethbridgelandscapephotographer.co.uk



Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter



This issue we're chatting to someone who has only recently given landscape photography a concerted effort (his oldest photo on Flickr is from 2014) but he's done pretty well in that short period of time. Matt's also a dedicated proponent of the Fuji X system. I can't put my finger on it but his photographs have something distinctive that I really like...

Can you tell me a little about your education, childhood passions, early exposure to photography and vocation?

I was born on the island of St Mary's, Isles of Scilly and spent much of my formative years surrounded by beautiful scenery and golden sandy beaches. I think my love of the outdoors stems from this early experience. As for education, well, I really could have done better, my school reports were littered with phrases like "must try harder, more effort required" and so on and so forth as I found little to inspire me at that time.

Although my Dad dabbled with photography, mainly Black and White and home developed portraits, my only interest was with motorcycles in my teens.

My career path has been nothing if not diverse....from joining the Army at Seventeen, HGV driver, Manufacturing Director of a small pallet company right through to my present position as an industrial instructor/examiner, teaching forklift truck and gantry crane use in a large Engineering firm.

Holme Fell Birch

What are you most proud of in your photography?

I started my photographic journey quite late as it happens, around 9-10 years ago. I suppose it's a bit of a cliche now, but it was the disappointing results from my little compact camera on a trip to Scotland that made me decide I needed to do better, that and the chance discovery in a bookshop of Joe Cornish's "First Light". I'm completely self-taught, so it took a few years to understand the fundamentals of Landscape photography but over time my abilities along with my confidence grew. Last year I plucked up enough confidence to apply to the Royal Photographic Society for the LRPS distinction, a very nerve-racking but eventually positive achievement of which I'm very proud.

They showed me what was possible with a camera, how the landscape could be rendered to the viewer and the atmosphere and emotion, depth and feeling that could be displayed in printed form.

In most photographers lives there are 'epiphanic’ moments where things become clear, or new directions are formed. What were your two main moments and how did they change your photography?

Along with many others, I would think, my first real epiphany was when I came across the work of people like Joe Cornish, David Ward and Charlie Waite, it sounds a bit of a cliche now, but these three alone must have inspired the photographic journey of hundreds of photographers. They showed me what was possible with a camera, how the landscape could be rendered to the viewer and the atmosphere and emotion, depth and feeling that could be displayed in printed form.

Woodland ~5

The second Epiphany was when I decided to make images in any conditions instead of waiting for the "right" conditions. I found that although a vibrant and colourful sunrise may still be very appealing, there are also great images to be found in rain-soaked woodland under an overcast sky. I now find myself just as comfortable working under an umbrella as I do in sunlight.

The only images I make nowadays are landscape images, that's when my passion lies. I love the way it takes me into the unknown, the fact that you are quite often alone at sunrise with only the dawn chorus as company, the way it makes me disconnect from the mundane and strive to connect fully with the landscape around me. I love the compositional challenges it presents, the frustrations and the triumphs, that real euphoria when it all comes together, and you know you have got the photograph you came for.

Could you tell us a little about the cameras and lenses you typically take on a trip and how they affect your photography.

I found that although a vibrant and colourful sunrise may still be very appealing, there are also great images to be found in rain-soaked woodland under an overcast sky.
I used to shoot with Canons 1DS mk111 and L lenses but was an early adopter of the Fujifilm X-Mount system. I now use a Fuji XT-1 and various Fuji XF primes, along with their excellent XF16-55mm zoom. The image quality from this combination is nothing short of remarkable for its size. I never leave home without a full set of Lee graduated filters, polariser and Big Stopper. I always develop my images from Raw files, mainly with Photoshop CS6 and have no hard and fast rules when it comes to editing. In my opinion its the print quality that matters ultimately and I am happy to use any tools that I feel are needed to this effect.

Rosebury Wildflowers

Who (photographers, artists or individuals) or what has most inspired you, or driven you forward in your development as a photographer? What books stimulated your interest in photography?

Along with the three photographers mentioned above, I find that my main inspiration nowadays comes from my circle of friends on social media. There are so many talented photographers out there at the moment producing fantastic work, the likes of Joe Rainbow, Pete Hyde, Mike Prince, Mike Parr, Brian Kerr, Geoff Woods, Marc Elliot, Karl Williams and Darren Ciolli Leach to name but a small fraction.

Can you choose 2-3 favourite photographs from your own portfolio and tell us a little about them? [please state the name and when sending in these images can you mark these as featured images.

The Old Friends

The Old Friends

We passed these derelict and abandoned trawlers at Salen Bay while on holiday on the Isle of Mull. There is, in fact, three trawlers here but I deliberately composed the image to hide the third. I just loved the juxtaposition between the vibrancy of the remaining paintwork and the rotting timbers. Forlorn and abandoned, I imagine them grumbling at the world as It drives past their final resting place.

Rain-Soaked Woodland

Rain Soaked Woodland

A very cold and very wet day in the Yorkshire Dales. A mammoth struggle ensued between my golf umbrella and me as I fought to keep the wind-driven rain of the camera. I was determined to get this woodland photograph as the overcast conditions and rain seemed to make the colours in this composition just sing.

Perseverance

Stormy Light

We sometimes talk about four seasons in one day in the Lake District, on this occasion, they all came within the hour. The pre-dawn walk up the side of Holme Fell was made in drizzle, the wait at the top was marked by an increase in the wind, as first light broke it was accompanied by hail and sleet. I had spotted this composition a week before and was determined to wait it out. Then, just as I was thinking about calling it a day, a brief gap in the cloud let the light through.

How easy – or difficult – do you find it to fit your photography around work and other commitments? When you travel for work, are you able to devote any time to either photography or researching new places?

I do sometimes find it quite hard to make enough time for my photography, juggling work and home life dictates that I may not go out with a camera for weeks at a time. I feel that this can also be seen as a positive, I have learnt to make the most of my time and rarely come home without a picture or two nowadays.

At first, I used a fairly regimented approach to my photography, plan it to the Nth degree, time, place, Google search et al. I find that lately I'm far more relaxed in my approach. I'll still do some research, but I'm far less likely to worry about a specific image. Why march past half a dozen potentially great shots just to get to a specific location?

If my mind's not peaceful, the camera stays in the bag. I have to be able to connect with the landscape around me if my mind is on other things I just can't find that special something. The picture should just flow, not be forced.

Rock Detail, Saltwick Bay. (Fujifilm Superia Xtra 400 ASA)

How important do you find it to be in the right frame of mind? Have you found ways to work around periods when your mind is busy with other things?

I think it is essential to be in the correct state of mind to make good images. If my mind's not peaceful, the camera stays in the bag. I have to be able to connect with the landscape around me if my mind is on other things I just can't find that special something. The picture should just flow, not be forced. If you try and force things, it shows in the end result.

If you had to take a break from all things photographic for a week, what would you end up doing?

I don't think I'd do much different, I'd still go out into the landscape, it is that feeling of curiosity, harmony and wellbeing that exploring the countryside brings to my everyday life that's the real driving force behind what I do. (My wife would say that like a young child I still can't resist wanting to see just what's around that corner, over that hill...

What sorts of things do you think might challenge you in the future or do you have any photographs or styles that you want to investigate? Where do you see your photography going in terms of subject and style?

I think I need to work a little more on consistency, to try to gain a greater understanding of why some of my images seem to work so well when others that should work equally as well seem to miss the bar somehow. I would also like to start printing my own work at home so as to take full control of the whole creative process.

Yellow

Which photographer(s) – amateur or professional - would you like to see featured in a future issue?

There are so many excellent landscape photographers out there it's hard to know where to start. I would like to see more of Dave Fieldhouse, Brian Kerr, Pete Hyde or Mike Prince's work as they all inspire.

You can see more of Matt's work on his website and Flickr page.

 



  • Gary Heiss

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m browsing for a way to show my own work and via a Google search hit upon this page. I empathise with both Matt’s images and his thoughts on the process of creativity. The kind of subtle, harmonious photography that I love and aspire to produce myself….
    Thank you.

    • Thanks very much Gary, I’m glad you like it. For me my photography is as much a state of mind as anything else, I try to convey this feeling through my pictures.

  • John Clifton

    Well done Matt – particularly like the single birch with the slate. Candidate for a black and white conversion too, I would say….

    • Many thanks John, may look at some mono conversions at a later date.

  • Joe Rainbow

    A really strong selection of work and pleased to be of inspiration. The feeling is mutual!

    • Many thanks Joe. I find your coastal images really inspire, I’m hoping to get a few myself this September as I’m heading down towards the Lizzard in Cornwall for a week.

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