An exercise in high country landscape photography

Looking south along Cathedral Range ridge from North Jawbone Peak towards South Jawbone and Sugarloaf
I took this photograph on the first of my renewed and long-overdue “proper” hikes. I was standing on the North Jawbone Peak, looking south towards Sugarloaf Peak on Cathedral Ridge in Victoria. How would this look before sunrise or after sunset? Or half-draped in a cloud inversion? Only one way to find out … more hiking and some wild camping.

Nearly six years ago, before I began leading photography workshops, I was physically much fitter. And not just because I’ve now made it into my early fifties. Back then, as well as being a jobbing photographer and photography teacher, I led hikes. I guided HF Holidays‘ guests around the UK’s most beautiful uplands in Scotland, The Lake District, The Yorkshire Dales, and so on.

Of course, people had cameras with them on those walks, including some “serious” kit. But these were emphatically not photography holidays – this was obvious from the peer pressure amongst the guests when their companions were thought to be faffing about photographing.

I had joined HF – after enduring its rigorous outdoor skills and people management assessment – because, although I’ve always loved hiking, and I had moved my family to the Yorkshire Dales to be near the hills, I was always finding excuses not to go for a walk.

So I hatched a plan: if upwards of fifteen people had travelled hundreds of miles and paid good money to go walking with me, I’d have to get my backside into walking gear.

The plan worked. I led up to ten weeks’ hiking each year. I enjoyed expenses-paid walking holidays based at HF’s lovely country house hotels. And, because I was sometimes able to resist the sumptuous desserts, I was leaner as well as fitter.

Those hiking gigs often coincided with HF’s photography holidays. I’d tell my guests what they wanted to hear: I’d sooner keep the walking and the photography separate because one invariably gets in the way of the other. But, increasingly, I fancied some expenses paid landscape photography trips. So I put myself forward to lead photography holidays. Then, for a couple of years, I mostly hosted photography, fitting in fewer pure-play hiking leads.

I enjoyed leading the photography holidays, but I got a whole lot less exercise.

Fast forward to now. In significant ways, my Photography First landscape photography workshops are unlike most of the workshops available here in Australia – click on that link if you want to know why. And, for practical reasons they don’t include anything that could be described as “serious hiking”. Understandably, people paying for a photography workshop don’t want to waste valuable photography time yomping over mountains.

Time for another plan

Accept that most workshops can’t involve “serious hiking” and make more time to do some of the latter for myself.


  • proper hiking once a week as aerobic exercise
  • beautiful upland scenery
  • ideally, a few (maybe less) satisfying landscape photographs that aren’t possible less than a kilometre from the car!

Use the contact form if you’d like to join me.

2 thoughts on “An exercise in high country landscape photography”

  1. Hi David,
    I am currently in the UK with my family on holiday and we spent some time in the Lake District. I don’t think I have seen such beautiful scenery. We did a short hike from Grasmere to Easedale Tarn it it was simply stunning. I have been as asking myself why you left? When I get back to Aust I will get in touch with you about doing a high country photography course.
    Cheers Adam Bentley

    1. Hi Adam and thank you for commenting.

      I’ve walked that outstandingly beautiful route between Grasmere and Easdale Tarn many times. More recently, I took many groups of photographers that way. And now you’ve made me miss it even more than I’ve been trying not to miss it.

      Why did we leave? I’ll tell you over whichever beverage you favour.

      Looking forward to seeing your photographs and sharing another photography day with you when you return.

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