Phil Norton, NiSi UK Ambassador
Phil is a full-time professional landscape photographer from the North of England. His passion for landscapes can be seen in his images from the Peak District, Lake District, Wales and Scotland amongst others.
His images portray the landscape in all its seasons, from a beautiful colourful sunrise, or the golden light of autumn, to snowy winter scenes, and weather where most of us are glad to be at home. He says he is at his happiest being out in bad weather when the light changes fast to make it adventurous and unpredictable.
Phil joined the NiSi Ambassador team in 2015 and has been a great advocate for the quality of the filters. He runs workshops and one to one tuition mainly in the North, and from 2022 will be expanding these to workshop tours all over the UK, with plans for Portugal, Norway and Iceland.
Phil’s Gear Bag
Cameras: Olympus EM1mk3 & OM-1 / Nikon Z7
Lenses: Olympus m.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8 Pro, 12-100mm f4 Pro, 40-150mm f2.8 Pro, Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S
Bag: F-Stop Ajna/Tilopa
Tripod: Gitzo Systematic/Mountaineer, Benro Mach3 38C
NiSi UK: What got you into photography?
Phil: I was always creative from being young and would spend hours drawing and painting. Composition, balancing positive and negative space, came naturally to me and led me to studying Fine Art and Spatial Design. I had my first introduction to photography at university using Olympus and Minolta SLR cameras.
It introduced me to a new world of being creative. Being a car-less student I was limited to locations I could get to, but I had the bug and would bulk buy Ilford mono film and turned my room into a darkroom. The advent of digital was liberating and allowed me to pursue photography as a form of expression even more.
On the left: Arrifana, Portugal NiSi V6 Landscape CPL, 6 Stop ND, 3 Stop Reverse Graduated
Talk me through your favourite shot with NiSi filters
Phil: This image has always been a favourite because, as well as shooting landscape and seascape vistas, I do love to shoot intimate scenes too. There are a number of waterfalls in the Peak District I go to often, and usually on dull, overcast days. I’m drawn to the ethereal atmosphere it gives. When I take workshops attendees they are always surprised, they never consider a dull day for photography.
This image was difficult to compose because it is so low and the basin I was standing in is quite deep. It also needed thought to get it right in camera. I only needed my NiSi polariser to reduce the shutter speed which also removed reflections from the wet rocks. The top of the scene was brighter, which was controlled with a NiSi 3 stop Soft Grad. To balance the tones and to keep the viewers eye in the frame I didn’t want the foreground too bright. I used a NiSi 2 Stop Soft Graduated upside down on the foreground to pull back the tones. It keeps attention in the frame, where it should be.
NiSi UK: What is your dream location to photograph?
Phil: The Andes and Patagonia, I am in awe of mountains, they put into perspective just how incredible our planet is, and how small we are. Until I get there, if ever, I am happy to get my mountain fix from Snowdonia and Scotland. I am planning trips to Norway and the Dolomites, so I hope to add to the portfolio of mountain images.
This image taken at Sligachan on the Isle of Skye was a lucky break. I have been here numerous times and each time it has given great light and no water flow or vice-versa. On this occasion it all came together with beautiful light, drama, and plenty of water. Storm Ciara was heading to the UK and the weather had been shocking, but going out at dawn was a chance worth taking. A break is all that is needed.
Every photographer has that one day when it all went wrong – tell us about yours.
Phil: As photographers we have an idea of the shot we want, and hope the weather will deliver. The weather is unpredictable and even on a good forecast it can change completely.
This image at the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, is an example of that. The previous year myself and a group of friends who go every year, battled snow and sleet to get there and we got nothing, other than a soaking. We tried and we all have fond memories and funny videos of the attempt.
The following year, the weather didn’t break, the wind didn’t stop, and it didn’t change direction to give an easy walk back. Yet another storm was heading for Scotland, and it was showing its full intent. It was miserable. We were cold and wet; we questioned why on earth we were even out, just like last time. But this time I got a shot I am very content with; it conveys a mood I don’t think I will better, even in good light.
Two recent images, sunset in the Peak District where I run many workshops and go when I want some time by myself with the camera, and BlackChurch Rock on the North Devon coast, from a recent trip.
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