LEE Filters Masters of Photography – Jeremy Walker

Having started taking photographs at school, Jeremy Walker studied at art college before going on to work as a photographer's assistant in London A stint at a commercial studio in the Midlands followed, before he went freelance

Around this time, he also started shooting landscapes for the stock library market Before long, landscape photography took over Nowadays, he supplies images to design agencies and publishers, and runs workshops on behalf of LEE Filters and the Nikon School, as well as providing private tuition both in the UK and overseas I met with him to discuss three of his images Hi Jeremy

Nice to see you and get the chance to talk about some of your pictures I understand with this first one there's a story about the benefit of moving away from the crowds It was shot on a very famous beach in Iceland When I first visited in 2003, you'd have the place to yourself Now there are a lot of photographers and tourists, but they all go within about 100 yards of the car park

Walk half a mile down the beach and you get something a bit different You don't get the huge icebergs, but it's quite nice to look for the smaller detail shots It makes you think about what you've got to shoot And you go looking for the shot, rather than the shot presenting itself in front of you The iceberg itself is about double the size of a rugby ball

It's not huge, but I love the light coming through, I love the texture in the ice, and I love the shadow with the patch of detail The black volcanic sand, with the light glinting and twinkling off it, makes the shot It's a colour image, but with a monochromatic feel How low is the sun? It's about an hour after sunrise, but it's winter so the sun is very low on the horizon You've lost all the warmth of the sunrise

It was a case of, 'Do I shoot it? Don't I shoot it?' But in the end, the light was perfect, even though it wasn't the warm sunrise I thought I was going to shoot You have to be flexible; you have to be able to look for other things A lot of people would head out to shoot the sunrise, and if they don't get it, they pack up and go home When you're somewhere remote, you have to come back with the shot – you have to make it work You have to use your eyes and legs, and get out and walk and look, and go and find the image

And sometimes, like you say, look for the smaller things rather than the big, grand scene I'd almost call this a micro landscape, rather than the big, grand view A lot of people stick a wideangle lens on and look for the big view This was shot on the Nikon 45mm tilt-shift lens It's one of those occasions where the smaller view has certainly worked

In the background we have what looks like pure sky, but actually isn't, is it? It's the sea The exposure is several minutes I've used the Super Stopper and a soft-edged Grad to control the exposure of the white water It's several minutes of exposure, and during the exposure, I'm praying that the waves aren't going to come in too far, and lift the ice and move it, ruining the whole shot I just got away with it

The highest wave came within about 12 inches of the ice But I love the way the water has blurred To have the water pin sharp would have detracted from the textures of the ice It's the simplicity that pulls the eye in and makes the shot This next picture is part of a book project, I believe

Yes, it's part of a long-term publishing project I've been working on involving ruins and castles This is Keiss Castle in Scotland It's almost as far north as you can go in Scotland If you want a castle to yourself, it's a good one to shoot You will see nobody

The access to it is great, because Scotland has the right to roam, so you can walk across the fields to get there I love its position in the bay; I love the fact that it's part of the cliffs You can certainly see why it was built where it is You can see the purpose of it It's a great location

It's a very remote location, but if you're in that part of Scotland, it's a great castle to shoot But on this day, conditions were against you It's one of those grey Scottish days You get a lot of them – certainly when I'm up there You go to these remote locations, and you want to come back with a shot, you want to make the most of it

That's where LEE Filters will help I used the Big Stopper to get motion in the water I was very lucky, because the clouds were moving straight away from me So in a long exposure, they form a 'V', which takes your eye into the shot Then, as with a lot of my landscapes, I shot with a 0

6 hard-edged Grad over the sky to help with the mood and balance with the foreground That's one of the advantages of the Stopper filters – they allow you to get a picture on a day that otherwise you might head home or to the pub A lot of people will look at a grey day and think they can't shoot, because they wanted a pretty sunrise or sunset I actually think the Stopper filters – grey, overcast days, with low contrast – those filters really work They come into their own

They're best on those days Don't just give up I'd say embrace the grey – especially in Scotland I'd seen this castle photographed by another photographer I could see it was a great location, but I didn't particularly like the shot

So I probably spent about a day and a half researching it and having a look round I was very lucky, because the rocks pointing in from the corner, and the headland pointing that way, it balances If the tide had been further out, the rocks in the right would have dominated too much If the tide had been further in, they'd have been covered So I was quite lucky to be around when the tide was right

I also spent about an hour on the beach, cleaning away all the seaweed, so the foreground is clean I like my images to be clean and neat and tidy, so I've removed all the seaweed It shows the value of that last check around the frame, and if there's something that bothers you It was messy, and there were a few Coke cans and things like that lying around I've got no problem with that

Some people would say you should photograph what's there, but in terms of producing a picture that Iwant, removing seaweed, rubbish and plastic bags is fair enough Plastic bags shouldn't be there anyway The picture is about the castle, and that's what you want attention to be drawn towards It's about the castle, the mood, the drama and it's the location that the castle is in – that's what it's all about This last picture shows the value of photographing a well-photographed subject

A lot of people will say, 'I'm not going to shoot that – it's been shot before' I think, to be honest, most things have been shot before But if you haven't shot it before, go and shoot it Forget what other people have done – go and shoot it This is the West Pier in Brighton

It was very wet and stormy, very grey But the clouds were beginning to break, it had stopped raining and the tide was right in, which accentuated the uprights here I got the kit out and shot it The water was barely moving and the clouds were barely moving I knew I had to have a long exposure to make it interesting

I used the Super Stopper – the 15-stop filter – and the exposure is nine minutes There was a lot of hoping the tripod hadn't sunk into the pebbles and things like that There is a danger of that happening without you realising, isn't there? Absolutely – then you get double images and you have to start all over again It's given me a hint of blur and movement in the sky, and it's blurred the sea around the old pier There's also a Grad

Even though things are sticking up above the horizon, I used a 06 hard-edged Grad across the horizon to control the exposure of the sky But it doesn't matter that things are sticking up, because once they're silhouetted and black, you can't make them any blacker Hence there's no line going through the middle of them Because they're very dark anyway

Also, it's a colour image, believe it or not There's a hint of rust coming through, but again it's a very monochromatic colour image, which adds to the feel and I like that look Did you desaturate it a little more in postproduction, or is this pretty much as it was? I have desaturated it a hint and I've also softened the shadows for the effect around the pier It's a technique I like A lot of people over-saturate images; they like colour and think images must be bursting with colour

I've tended to go the other way recently I like colour images that have a hint of colour, which this has I think, as a technique, it works well It certainly suits a subject such as this one It lends itself to this sort of subject

If it were a garden full of sunflowers, you probably wouldn't want to desaturate it A grey day, when there's very little colour to start with – it's a technique that works well Using the Super Stopper has accentuated the water and the sky, and has helped create a mood and an atmosphere It's shot as a single frame A lot of my panoramas are three images stitched, but you can't fit three nine-minute exposures together, because the clouds won't match up

In this instance, I cropped, but because the camera has such a huge pixel count, you can afford to throw some of them away and still have superb quality Is it cropped mainly from the bottom? No, it's mainly from the top This is pretty much the bottom of the frame When I set it up, I had a lot of sky because I wanted the blur of the clouds When I looked at the shot, I realised I didn't need the cloud

The most blur and movement is down on the horizon, so I got rid of some of the top of the image rather than the bottom It's probably one of my favourite images of the past year It's the sort of thing I'm into at the moment: minimal colour, it's neat, it's clean, it's tidy, and again, it's another one for the book project Thanks very much for your time, Jeremy, it's been good to talk to you, and it's always nice to learn a bit more about your pictures It's a pleasure

And it's nice to see some prints Normally, you look at the computer screen, you send things off to clients, and you never see it printed To do some big prints and talk about them – absolutely great

Source: Youtube