Left and right brained thinkingWhy is it that some people appear to find it easier to make a pleasing photographic composition than others?

Well, it seems we all have two ways of thinking - verbal, analytical, sequential and visual, perceptual, simultaneous. Broadly speaking the left part of our brain is responsible for the former and the right part is responsible for the latter.

The problem is that In the western world, the range of subjects we are taught from an early age focusses more on needing to use the left part of our brain (what I would call the academic side) than the right (the artistic side), which might be the very reason some people struggle when it comes to composition. I come across this a lot when running photography workshops. I will often hear participants complementing another on their photograph and wishing they'd found it themselves - when they may have only been stood a very short distance from the other participant when they took it.

Train your brain

Well, if this all sounds familiar, don't despair because you can train your brain so that you can find more pleasing compositions more often

Lee graduated filter setGraduated filters come in numerous varieties from a host of different manufacturers, so there's plenty to choose from. However, I often find a workshop participant that would have been better served if they had bought filters with a different strength of graduation to more closely match their camera's sensor size. As good quality filters are not cheap I thought I would put together this short article to explain the reasons for choosing the right graduated filters for the job required. 

One of the most common questions I get asked when running my landscape photography workshops is about focusing - or more specifically, "where do I focus to get everything nice and sharp from front to back"? So this is obviously a big problem for a lot of landscape photographers - and one which isn't being answered by studying hyperfocal distance alone. I guess this shouldn't come as a big surprise, because hyperfocal distance is rather complicated to master and from experience, I find it just doesn't work as I expect it to when I use the method myself.

I do have an answer though!

I'm delighted to have been asked for a second year to run a series of one-day workshops for the Royal Photographic Society. 
These workshops are a great way to accelerate your photographic skills along with meeting up with like-minded photographers with a passion for landscape photography. Although discounts are available for RPS members you do not have to be a member to take part in any of these workshops.

Full details about my RPS workshops can be found here.

Crummock Water in autumnThis year has been such a glorious year for landscape photography and I'm really pleased that I've been able to enjoy it with other like-minded people when running workshops. I've shared fabulous experiences and helped other photographers take amazing images in the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Lewis & Harris, Isle of Skye, Lake District, North York Moors, North East Coast and the Yorkshire Dales. Shortly I will be

RPS Journal Magazine article - Mark Banks using filters in landscape photographyI'm delighted to be collaborating with the Royal Photographic Society in running a one day workshop on using filters for landscape photography.

Masterclass WorkshopsAs we speak I'm on a ferry back to the Isle of Harris & Lewis to run a 5 day Masterclass workshop based in Uig on Lewis.
Last year, workshop participants were given a challenge to create a book of 30 images between them demonstrating the beauty yet brutal nature of Harris. In just 5 days they had taken stunning images, edited them and created this beautiful Blurb book using the Book module in Lightroom ready for publishing. They also created some wonderful Haiku's to accompany their images and also involved the guest house owner who supplied some local sayings not only in English but Gaelic, too! It was a great experience and each participant received a copy of the book as a memento. So much so whilst returning on the ferry they booked me again for this year so they could create a sequel, this time on Lewis. I can't wait! :) 
This workshop booked up within a couple of hours

2017 will be the 9th year of my proud association with running photography workshops at the Joe Cornish Gallery in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. I will be running my own 4 x one-day workshops and co-leading 3 x 5 day residential workshops with Joe Cornish at various locations around the North of England. News of the residential workshops will be added here in a forthcoming news article. This article is to notify you about the former one-day workshops...

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be running another two 1 day photography workshops from the Joe Cornish Gallery in September, 2016.

Beginner's Landscape Photography Workshop - September 15th, 2016

The beginner's landscape photography workshop is the perfect place to start on your photographic journey. I will help you demystify the myriad of settings on your camera and demonstrate an easy to follow approach that will keep with you forever!

Learn more »

Using Filters in the Landscape - September 29th, 2016

One of the most difficult challenges that confront landscape photographers is the correct use of filters. Most use them as a tool to maintain the correct amount of light hitting the camera sensor, generally to avoid over-exposing the sky. Yet, filters can transform an image in many more creative ways than this.

Learn more »

Decorating with weather and light 6As a teacher of landscape photography, the most common question I receive from participants the days prior to an upcoming workshop is about the weather. Most are usually along the lines of "if it's pouring down I presume you will postpone the workshop?" (or words to that effect). Now, I have to say that it's certainly nicer to teach in glorious sunshine than when it's raining cats and dogs and yes, if the forecast looks like heavy gales and a total wash-out then I am likely to postpone - but mainly for reasons of safety. Otherwise, I adapt my choice of location depending on the latest weather forecast as I do when I go out to make my own images.

DSC0793 MO Solitree USDuring the summer months I like to get out to do some hill walking at least 2 to 3 times a week - usually with my wife. Although we walk in beautiful locations I generally don't come across an image to return to at a later date. Maybe this is because I simply don't have my 'photography' head on or that I'm generally sticking to footpaths, which it would seem, don't always offer the best view points.
This is why this image I've named 'Solitree' is one of those rare images that I did indeed find whilst we were out walking recently. We had only been walking for around fifteen minutes when I stumbled across this scene and just knew I had to return to it.

Redcar Wind FarmJust over two years ago I took a visit to Redcar for a spot of photography. Whilst there I took a visit to the new cafe on the esplanade overlooking the sea. As I was sat down looking out of the window I could see a photo opportunity directly outside on the veranda. After I'd finished I took a closer look and liked what I saw.

Unfortunately, at that time the wind farm seen in the image was still under construction with only half the masts erected and an ugly pontoon for background interest. I therefore, made a note on my iPhone to return at a later date.

OutstretchedThis week I was asked by Sophie from Wex Photographic if I would be prepared to write a piece about an image I submitted to #WexMondays, a weekly twitter competition that invites photographers to submit images they've made over the previous week, which I have started doing just recently as I think it's a great way to share images and also to see what other photographers are getting up to. 

Of course I was happy to oblige and so armed with Sophie's brief here's how I approached making my black and white image, Old Pier (or Outstretched - the name I finally decided on before publishing it on my website's gallery page).

Sony Alpha A7rOccassionally I like to share my thoughts on any new camera equipment I might purchase mainly because I know it helps others with their purchasing decisions. That said, for me, a camera is a means to an end, a working tool that so long as it produces a decent image, I'm happy. Having worked in the electronics industry for over 30 years, gone are those days when I slaver over new technology and gadgets. I prefer instead to keep a camera a decent length of time so that I can become totally familiar with its functions and idiosyncrasies. That was until I came across the Alpha A7r.

Autumn DancersFor most people it would seem that the best of 2014 is coming to an end, what with the nights drawing in and the temperatures beginning to fall. However, for landscape photographers the best is yet to come. My diary books up months in advance for autumn with keen landscape enthusiasts requesting tuition at the peak of colour - usually around the end of October/beginning of November. This image I named 'Fire Dancers' was taken at the peak of autumn on the 3rd November, 2011. The beautiful soft light enhances the shape of the tree trunks as they entwine.

Which brings me onto the subject of what to do in winter months?

Holding OnHaving been so busy running 1 to 1 practical & post-production workshops along with co-leading multiple day workshops with Joe Cornish and Steve Gosling, 2014 seems to have become a blur to be honest. By far it has been my busiest year for tuition and looks set to continue into 2015 and beyond, which is great because I really enjoy running them! 

I'm not sure how I did it but I also managed to make a few images of my own which I thought I would share on the website.

Recently, one of my 'Geophorm' images was featured in a 2 page spread in Amateur Photographer magazine. Part of AP's Photo Insight articles, they are designed to bring readers expert advice on a range of photographic subjects - in this case it was making a successful abstract image.

Out of the darkThere's a well known phrase about the cobbler's children having no shoes and that's the position I've been in recently - building websites for paying clients thus never having the time to update my own. However, I've taken the bull by the horns and sorted it out at last!

For a while I've wanted to create a responsive website (That is one that responds and adjusts according to the platform it's being viewed on i.e. phone, tablet or computer), as more and more people are using portable devices to view websites these days. I also wanted a fresh, bright look for a change. So here it is!

I was also going to take this opportunity to advertise my joint 2014 workshops with Joe Cornish but they're already fully booked.

However, I can announce that after a successful 3 day workshop in Swaledale last year, I will be teaming up once again with Steve Gosling for another 3 day creative photography workshop in the western dales. >>

DSC1563 MO LadyHill-BW USOne of my favourite dales is Wensleydale. In comparison to others it's more lush and soft with it's undulating curves and slopes enriched by long meadow grass in the summer. I often run workshops in Wensleydale and of course I need to travel through it to visit other dales like Dentdale, Ribblesdale and Malhamdale for instance.

DSC1551 MO UllswaterStudyI USIt's no secret to those who keep an eye on my blogs, that I like to simplify my images as much as I can. I just find these types of images more calming and satisfying on the eye. I'm not sure if it's because I'm better at it or that I derive the most satisfaction from them.

DSC1071 MO IcedTree USAt the time of writing this blog the outside temperature is around 23˚c which is why I though it would be nice to publish an image to help cool us all down!

Today's image was taken on the same day as my 'Copse' image back in January when hoar-frost was in abundance,