Review - "A Decade of Nightscapes" with Ollie Taylor, 29 Mar 2021

A review by Janine Scola - "A Decade of Nightscapes" with Ollie Taylor, 29 Mar 2021
After a year of Zoom meetings (who would have thought!) we were delighted to welcome Ollie Taylor to join our Club Night all the way from Caithness in Scotland.

Ollie has been ‘practising’ landscape photography since before 2010 but in time, started to enjoy combining both landscape and night skies and ultimately gaining recognition for his stunning nightscape photography winning many awards. Initially he was working full time as an architect, whilst at the same time furthering his photographic career, travelling to Iceland and Europe for clients. Eventually, with the time required to fulfil his commissions, he decided to go freelance and has gone from strength-to-strength.

During 2012-2014 with the work that was being required of him, this was the time to hone his techniques. Ollie presented several images talking through his early processes of nightscapes, whilst incorporating the landscape. Along the way he commenced offering workshops throughout the South West where he lived, so not surprisingly, many of his images depicted Durdle Door and the headland of Portland, each offering a unique view of the Milky Way in these coastal areas. Of course, where there is coast there are lighthouses and Ollie spoke of how best to capture the night sky, bringing the lighthouse into the landscape image on a long exposure.

With his workshops going well, his travel became busier taking him further afield to New Zealand, Namibia, Santorini and the Dolomites. Here he presented stunning images taken in these locations, which showed how the Milky Way can change its angle within the night sky – the best times to capture such wonder being May to October.

During 2016 with a change in his personal circumstances, mixed with an increasing amount of travel, Ollie began to lose his motivation and creativity and at the same time other photographers were becoming aware and successful with astrophotography within the UK. It was not long before Ollie was back on track and now residing in Scotland; here the Aurora presented itself and for Ollie the opportunity to capture these unique events as evidenced by his images, both here and on trips to the Lofoten Islands and Iceland.

From 2017 to where we are today, has seen Ollie return to Iceland for a month at a time, as well as Santorini in the winter, to undertake both commission work and to run his workshops. His main advice for night photography, is to take time in the daylight to do a reconnaissance trip, so that you know what you want to execute and where to do it safely and to have an idea of where you will be walking in the dark! In addition, now that he is based in Scotland, he is finding new locations and of course, wherever he travels, areas where there is very low light pollution which can be very restrictive of the shot you envisage. His use of a tracker has proved invaluable in compensating for the Earth’s ‘spin’ and thus producing a clear image.

Many of his images featured snow and so it came as no surprise to learn that he can work in temperatures of -2°c to -20°c – pretty cold when also taking a long exposure! Not only that, but to get to some of the locations he favoured, a certain amount of stamina was required too. To try and keep both his camera and lens from freezing up, he has a small power pack attached to his tripod and connected to a special ‘wrap’ with a USB cord which stays warm and keep everything from icing up – I suspect one might be useful for your feet too!

In closing, Ollie presented images of ‘Mother of Pearl’ or better known as Nacreous Clouds formed in the stratosphere which has cooled down sufficiently to create them. With the pandemic taking hold, this has obviously restricted his travel and workshops, but it has given him the time to complete two books covering England and Scotland – these include some of the best locations for nightscape photography, as well as the more traditional coastal and rural landscapes that can be found in these countries, and the best times to be there. These will be available shortly to purchase through his website.

Another fascinating and interesting evening, covering an area of photography not all are fully acquainted with, giving the inspiration for us to get out in our gardens at least and have a go.

~ Janine Scola