Pro landscape photographer John Miskelly on why he likes playing the long game – Digital Camera World

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Landscape pro John Miskelly explains his obsession with long exposures and wild weather

“While I’m very fortunate to work as a professional landscape photographer, it’s also really important to challenge yourself and find those personal projects that get your creative juices flowing. Being able to combine my photography with my love of being in wild and remote places, whether that be on a beach or in the mountains, is my perfect combination. With that in mind, I’ve been working on a series of images over the past couple of years that represent these wild places, where the weather often becomes an integral part of the image and contributes to the emotion that I felt whilst being there.

Most of the images in this series are long exposures, ranging from 30 seconds to eight minutes. I use long exposure to remove unnecessary detail from the water and the sky. That allows me to create strong, simple compositions free of distractions. These images were all taken in challenging weather conditions, whether that was a blizzard in Senja, storms in Lofoten or gale-force winds in Iceland, while the image from Harris in the Outer Hebrides was taken on a much more ‘normal’ Scottish day, which was simply cold and wet! As you can see, I’m drawn to those colder and more rugged locations.

The biggest challenge in a project like this is keeping the gear as dry as possible, particularly the front of the filters that I almost always use, along with ensuring my own safety, especially when balancing on the rocks with big waves coming in with the storm, as they did in Uttakleiv in Lofoten.

When I was in Iceland recently, the main road that runs around the country, called Route One, had been closed for a 200km section for nearly two days due to gale-force winds. After being stuck for 36 hours at Vestrahorn, I managed to get to Diamond Beach, and I was the only person there. I had to sleep in the back of the car as it rocked and rolled, and I cooked my dinner in the nearby gents’ toilets. But the dawn light was amazing and it was a true privilege to experience the rawness of nature.

In terms of kit, I like to keep it relatively simple and light, preferring to use a couple of lenses that I know really well and know how they’ll perform. I use a Nikon Z 7, often paired with the Z 24-70mm f/4 S zoom and a PC-E 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift lens, which I absolutely love for its optical quality. I also use the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S ultra-wide zoom when I need something wider as it’s also fabulous. The weather-sealing is top class, it’s never let me down over all the years I’ve used it, along with my previous Nikon gear. When this setup is paired with my LEE ND filters, I’m able to capture my signature long-exposure images.

I think this is one of those series that won’t be finished for quite some time, as it’s not every day you get the right combination of weather, tides and light. Of course, this is part of the attraction in going for something that is both challenging to achieve and very satisfying when you get the feeling that you’ve captured something a bit special”.

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Adam has been the editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine for almost 12 years, and as such is one of Digital Camera World’s leading experts when it comes to all things Nikon-related.

Whether it’s reviews and hands-on tests of the latest Nikon cameras and lenses, sharing his skills using filters, tripods, lighting, L brackets and other photography equipment, or trading tips and techniques on shooting landscapes, wildlife and almost any genre of photography, Adam is always on hand to provide his insights.

Prior to his tenure on N-Photo, Adam was also a veteran of publications such as PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, so his wealth of photographic knowledge isn’t solely limited to the Big N.

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