on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Into the Landscape

Learning to See

Phil Hemsley

Photography of the landscape and nature is a passion. I try in my photography to record the atmosphere and ambiance of my subjects - be that the upland landscape of Dartmoor, to photographing wildlife or adventure sports from an 'up close' aspect.

During the week I am a Mathematics Lecturer at Exeter College, and make detours on the way home if the light and weather look promising for some landscape or wildlife photography.


We live in a world that has changed immensely over the last few thousand years as a result of our 'progression'. The majority of us live in villages, towns, and cities, yet many of us relish the opportunity to escape to the great outdoors, 'to get away from it all'. This life we lead with all its creature comforts is somehow not enough on its own.

Time spent outdoors may range from such things as a picnic or barbecue on the beach with friends and family to taking part in activities such as climbing, sailing, surfing or country walks. This immense change relates to our 'progression.' Yet despite life in towns and cities, it isn’t quite enough because we need to make changes and re-connect with the outside world.

In making such choices, we may allow ourselves the opportunity of embracing the landscape and chance the delight and sensation of focusing on the beauty of wildflowers growing near moss covered rocks as we amble alongside a moorland stream. We can be astounded by the pleasant sounds of birds in the trees and hedgerows when their songs speak of communication in their winged world of flight and fancy.

A curious European Robin perched on a granite rock in the Longtimber Woods, Dartmoor.

For adults and children, outings to the beach can open-up a world of discovery with the sensation of sand under their feet and the sight of the sun shining on the sea. A popular place where pebbles can be picked and tossed back into the salty water or near to where sea-creatures can be found in rock-pools. The sight of waves can be exciting and uplifting, as can a ride on a surfboard when a breaking wave is on its way. It becomes a metaphysical journey if we allow ourselves the freedom and time to experience, understand and focus rather than let such things of significance pass us by. These ideas beckon us toward the connection, be it emotional or visceral, with the wonders of the world beyond our own homes. The more we absorb through keen multi-sensory observation, the deeper we become immersed in such pleasures and because of these connections, we can experience a more enjoyable way of understanding our Earth in a rewarding and numinous way.

Waves swooshing back and forth, within Renny’s Reef, Heybrook Bay – on the edge of Plymouth Sound.

In my photography of the natural world, pastoral landscapes, and the transitional rural fringes, I try to distil the essence of my innermost feelings into something that conveys my responses; the very thing that I want to 'say' about a place... a moment in time that has been captured.  

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