Stephen Cheatley: “The Astro Landscape”, November 6th 2019

On November 6th Stephen Cheatley travelled up from Blackpool to entertain and educate members and a significant number of visitors with his presentation “The Astro Landscape”. Stephen is a professional photographer whose biggest passion is photographing the night sky. He won the Royal Meteorological Society, Weather Photographer of the Year in 2018 with his night-time photograph of a lightning storm over Blackpool.


Stephen explained how his interest in astronomy started watching programmes such as “The Sky at Night” and was further developed watching “Stargazing Live”. A pivotal moment for him was when he splashed out and took an “Aurora Flight” from Blackpool airport. There was no aurora borealis to be seen that night but Stephen was inspired by the witnessing amazing views of the Milky Way from the darkened plane.

Stephen then went on to describe some of the locations where he takes his night-time images from. One of the factors he has to take into consideration when taking landscape photographs is light pollution. He showed a map on which the main origins of light pollution in the north of England are located and also showed images on which it could be seen how far light pollution actually extends. With careful consideration of time of year, the night sky, and location, Stephen is able to take photographs with minimal light pollution contaminating them.


With star charts and his own images Stephen was able to highlight to us the main features of the night sky and those features which are most suitable to be photographed. He also gave us practical advice such as how to locate Polaris, the North Star and how use of relatively inexpensive tracking devices can track the night sky to enable longer exposure times without the stars becoming blurred. In contrast he also showed how very long exposure times with no tracking of the night sky can produce very different “star trail” images with the moving stars creating a series of concentric circles around the North Star.


There were several images of the Milky Way and Stephen explained how it progresses across the northern sky during the year and how various parts of the Milky Way become visible as it moves. He advised members of the audience who had not tried astrophotography before that it is really quite easy, with a little planning, to take impressive photographs of the Milky Way. The only real necessity as far equipment is concerned is a sturdy tripod to hold the camera steady for the long exposure times. All that is needed of the camera is to be able to open the shutter for long enough.

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Stephen finished his presentation with a series of lunar images. He was able to demonstrate how using lenses of differing focal length can result in dramatically contrasting compositions of the moon and foregrounds.

Julie and Alan Walker “Discovering Nature Photography Part 4 – Japan and Beyond” October 30th

At our meeting on 30th October we were treated to another superb collection of natural history photographs presented by two of our more experienced and active members, Julie and Alan Walker. This was the fourth in a series of their “travel shows” and concentrated on images taken in winter, but in a wide series of locations.

Their journey started in Japan in deep snow and temperatures as low as -20°C with a delightful series of mainly close ups of Japanese macaque monkeys bathing in hot spring pools.


Alan explained that close-ups were one option of managing the steam from the pools and the hosts of fellow photographers and tourists surrounding the pools. He then described the difficulties and gave advice on photographing white Red Crowned Cranes and white Whooper swans against a snowy background.


He added in the unique problems of clearing out snowdrifts on a regular basis from within the lens hood and some of the camera controls freezing in the sub-zero temperatures. The final images from Japan were of Stellar Eagles on the sea ice in the Sea of Okhotsk.


The next stop on our journey was Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico where birds were the main targets of Julie and Alan’s lenses. These included snow geese in their thousands, cranes and a rare photo of the elusive Road Runner ( more commonly seen in Looney Tunes than in real life!).


We were shown some very evocative images created by creative use of panning and varied exposures.


Returning to the UK images of mountain hares in the Cairngorms opened this episode. From a photographic point of view the hare population is split into “runners” and “sitters”.


The “sitters” may possibly be older, wiser hares who realise that they are unlikely to be the targets for birds of prey whilst they are the targets for Julie and Alan’s cameras. Red squirrel images are always popular and Alan and Julie’s did not disappoint. Alan demonstrated how rainfall can produce a balanced soft light.


Further south in the UK in Hampshire there were a series of images of owls both captive and wild, and of kingfishers feeding.


Winter in the Kalahari desert does not have the extremes of temperature as Japan but offers different photographic challenges of trying to capture images of animals well camouflaged in the dry brown grassland around them.


Alan commented that incorporating the essence of the surrounding environment is now almost as important as the creatures themselves. This ethos was well demonstrated in some terrific images of lions and cheetahs.


The final episode of the evening involved a return to Arctic temperatures with a series of images of polar bears taken in Churchill, Canada. The extreme cold and a repetition of the problems of photographing white subjects on a white background did not deter Julie and Alan from producing a stunning collection of polar bears images in a variety of poses.


The proximity of the bears in some of the images was unnerving.


The quality and variety of images shown over 2 hours was very much appreciated and the next episode in their series of presentations is eagerly awaited. Many of their images can be viewed at

Richard Jakobson

1st Set Subject Competition, October 23rd 2019

On Wednesday 23rd October we held our first set subject competition of the season. These competitions were introduced to encourage members to have their images critiqued in an informal environment. The emphasis is on providing positive feedback with the aim of helping members improve their photography. Tony Marsh, our External Competitions Secretary, was the judge for the night. Tony has a particular interest in wildlife and macro photography and had set “Small” as the subject for the competition.

In total six prints and 51 digital images were judged. The overall quality of the images was very high which was reflected in the scores. Tony awarded the maximum mark of twenty to ten images. The choice of a winning image proved difficult because of the strength of the entry but Tony finally chose a charming image of two Harvest Mice on an ear of wheat with their tails linked, photographed by Alan Walker. He commented that the image was “absolutely exquisite”.


As expected, the majority of the images submitted were of creatures large and small and the latter were much in evidence. Images which scored twenty included a super sharp image of a bee by Richard Jakobson


and a fabulous image of a Marbled White Butterfly by Tricia Rayment.


Wendy Jordan scored nineteen for an image of a Ladybird and Tony complimented her and commented on the difficulty of producing a satisfactory photograph of this species due to their shiny and highly reflective shells.


Gordon Train also scored nineteen for two of his prints. One was of a tiny snail crossing a road


and the other of a backlit spider and web.


Some members chose to depict animals in their environment, showing their small scale relative to their surroundings. Memorable images included a Polar Bear in an icy landscape by Keith Snell


and another image by Alan Walker of two Klipspringers, which are small antelopes, dwarfed by the rock on which they stood in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Both images scored twenty.


There were also a number if images of birds. The highest scoring of these was Keith Snell’s “Fulmer under a Waterfall” which scored nineteen.


Tony pointed out, however, that many of the bird images suffered from being taken in bright sunlight which resulted in a loss of detail in the white areas.

Other members chose to interpret the subject of small in very different and imaginative ways. Richard Jakobson scored twenty for a humorous composite of two skiers descending in to a teacup.


Another image that raised a laugh from the audience was of smalls hanging on a washing line taken in Venice by Sue Rugg.


Flowers were also well represented and Tom Stenhouse scored twenty for his close up of Tulip stamens. Tony commented on the strong composition and sharpness of this image and felt that it would make a good picture for hanging on a wall.


Tom also scored nineteen for an image of a Parachute Mushroom.



Several members submitted images of children and Sue Rugg scored twenty for a print of a young girl and her toddler brother. Tony remarked that the low angle from which this had been taken was ideal for photographing children.


Another charming image of a four-day old baby was submitted by Heleen Franken-Gill.


Tony made many helpful comments during the evening to assist members to improve their images. He emphasised just how difficult macro photography is due to the small depth of field that a macro lens allows and he also stressed the importance of finding an uncluttered background. The evening was very entertaining and we all learned something to assist us in our photography.

Julie Walker

All the entered images can be viewed in our Gallery

1st Open Competition, October 9th, 2019

This week’s meeting was the first internal competition of the season. Our judge for the evening was Jack Bamford, an old friend of the society who was one of our own members before moving to the middle East, i.e. Hexham. Jack is a very well-respected judge with experience at looking at the photographs produced by a large number of camera clubs around the North of England. He started by congratulating the society on the quality and consistency of the images, especially the prints, “not a bad print amongst them”. (Members can enter up to two prints and two digital images each

Scores were given from within the range of 12 to 20 and there were seven prints that received the mark of nineteen; Julie walker showed a creative composite of a ballet dancer sitting on a stone bench in front of a wall-trained rose. Almost monochrome, the picture had been treated to give it an ethereal softness.


Sue Rugg, an experienced photographer but a new member to our society, had two with a strong portrait of a characterful bearded man, rather bizarrely sporting a white mouse on his lapel


and a powerfully striking picture of a young woman arising from mud and water a “Warrior” obstacle races. Keith Snell’s picture entitled “Survival” was an isolated tree, spot lit by sunlight, deep down in the dark surroundings of the epic quarry at Hodge Close, a site near Coniston beloved by landscape photographers.


Alan Walker’s picture of a small family group of elephants had also received a highly effective and artistic treatment of high key, (pale and contrasty), monochrome.


Tony Marsh showed a Griffin Vulture coming into land with wings up and legs down like a plane’s undercarriage,


and Ken Rennie, our expert landscape photographer, a monochrome panorama of wet sands with the focal point a lighthouse small and way over to the left side of the horizon. A daring composition but one that works really well.


There were four scores of twenty, Tony Marsh with a pin sharp shot of a tiny Common Blue Damselfly,


another shot on wet sand and sea, this time by Ronnie Gilbert and featuring a horseman and four of those fantastic white horses of the Camargue all lit by glorious evening sunlight and reflected in the water,


Julie Walker’s shot was of a white coated mountain hare stretching high on its legs in the rain.


Lastly, and judged to be the best print of all was a hovering Arctic Tern, beautifully sharp but with just a hint of a sandy beach below and behind it. As Jack said “a picture that I could live with on the wall”, and this was by Tricia Rayment.


Of the Projected images five earnt a score of nineteen, Julie Walker with another creative composite picture, this time of a dancer in a diaphanous dress, superimposed on a full moon and with some skeletal trees in the background.


A kingfisher bursting from the water carrying not one but two tiny fish was by David Woodthorpe,


and Alan Walker had produced a Leopard stalking through grasses with a puff of breath visible with everything beautifully backlit by early morning light.


Ronnie Gilbert, reverted to his more normal natural history style with an exciting shot of a Wolverine, (a wonderful creature of Scandinavia, think of a cross between a stoat and a bear!),


and Sue Rugg’s charming picture of two young ragamuffin sisters, (taken at a re-enaction), was mostly subdued in colour but was balanced perfectly by a striding cockerel with a bright red comb.


The twenty scores were Ken Rennie’s landscape shot of a dramatic rock needle,


“Tree Sprite” was an artistic shot by Keith Snell of a naked model sat on a curved branch of a flowering Magnolia tree,


and the shot judged to be the best projected image was a Dalmatian Pelican reaching for a fish on ice. Taken very close up with a wide angle lens Alan Walker had managed to keep everything sharply in focus from the tip of its colourful bill to the snow covered mountains behind the birds outstretched wings.


Although I have described only nineteen of the eighty-two images we looked at I hope this has conveyed the breadth and depth of the photographic talent within the society. Jack’s commentary and advice given about each picture made this an educational evening as well as an enjoyable way for members to show each other some of their work.

Les Forrester, My Vision, My Photography, October 2nd 2019

On Wednesday 2nd October the guest speaker for Keswick Photographic Society members was Les Forrester, a photographer of some renown amongst the camera club fraternity.  He recently gained a First Class Honours degree in Photography, has a Diploma from the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain and is an Associate Member of the Royal Photographic Society.  To top it off he was recently invited to become a member of the prestigious London Salon of Photography.

Throughout his presentation Les demonstrated his distinctive personal approach to a very broad range of photographic genres.  What emerged was the degree of research he conducts before he visits a new location so that he knows both the subject and the effect he is seeking to achieve before he even takes his camera out of the bag.  He was quite candid, and speaking to around 35 photographers I suppose he had to be, about the post processing necessary to achieve the effects he sought.  A user of Lightroom, Photoshop and NIK software, Les shared with us some of his techniques as well as explaining the effects of using the many different photographic papers.  Knowing that many of the well-known favourite landscape venues had been photographed by hundreds of photographers over the years, he attempted to put his own stamp on them.  This was successfully achieved in a number of ways, but his current approach is to move away from the saturated colour image to the very much more muted colouring and by being bold in the use of large proportions of negative space thereby producing quite minimalistic images.


Les’ images ranged from the classic landscapes such as the Skye Cuillins’ Fairy Pools, various waterfalls and seascapes to the less well-photographed Hartlepool Chemical Works!  From farther afield, Les showed images of Portugal and explained that some of his landscapes had been accepted into the prestigious London and Edinburgh Salons.  Through his images Les explained his journey in photography which has led him to more monochromatic images and architectural images with either real or manipulated symmetry.


A lover of libraries for their internal organisation, we were shown a number of dramatic images from libraries across Germany, including Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

His portfolio for his degree was called ‘Equine Art’ and Les included within the presentation a number of quite stunning images of horses in unusual poses as well as macro images of aspects of saddlery.  He explained that for one shot he persuaded the handler to feed the horse an apple between its forelegs thereby getting the horse’s head in an unusual but very photogenic position.

Les’ deep interest and enthusiasm for developing a whole range of photography skills shone through as he showed masterful images from a fashion show, of sheep in winter, of landscapes close and far from his home, local harvesting, some sport, architecture, Underground railway stations and steam engines, to name but some.


But for a few exceptions such as flying birds, perhaps, Les finds the range of subjects to photograph endless.

He concluded his evening with us by showing photographs from his recent trip to Hong Kong.  It rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable and very informative evening.  His work is masterful and truly inspirational and more of his images can be seen at:

Julie Walker, Basic Creative Techniques, September 25th

Our last meeting featured a practical demonstration of creative photographic techniques lead by member Julie Walker.  As well as outstanding wildlife photography, Julie is renowned for her strikingly atmospheric creative images in which different photographic elements are brought together in a single image using Photoshop, a proprietary image processing software package in widespread use with photographers. Julie is skilled in exploiting this software to produce her award-winning creative images and was our entertaining guide to the techniques she uses. The information flow was enlivened by other knowledgeable members occasionally suggesting alternative methods of carrying out certain specific procedures. This exchange of know-how made for a lively interactive meeting.

Julie started off by introducing us to the use of texture layers to introduce interest into the backgrounds of images which would otherwise lack impact. The textures were abstract photographs of natural elements such as sand or stone as well as rust and even bathroom tiles. The textures were copied onto the image to be transformed and then selectively removed from unwanted areas to allow the subjects to show through and leave the texture only in the background. One of the examples which she showed was of some fighting stallions in the Carmargue region of France. On a dull day the background sky was featureless:


but by overlaying the texture below


the whole image gained impact and a painterly feel.


In another worked example, Julie produced a textured background for a portrait which was sympathetic in colour with the model’s dress and considerably enhanced the image. She also showed us how to change the colour hue of the texture to suit any image to which it might be applied.


Another example involved multiple textures layered on top of each other, some blurred or subdued in colour or detail to give the desired painterly effect.


All of this involved a huge amount of creative inspiration and we were in awe of Julie’s artistic vision which shone through in the finished image.

After the break, Julie showed us how she creates her composite images in which various photographic subjects are introduced into other backgrounds and contexts. The Carmargue stallions made a reappearance with three different horses being relocated to a forest setting. The horses were ‘captured’ using the selection tools available in Photoshop. After copying them into their new environment, considerable further processing work was necessary to achieve realism in the final image.


Julie emphasised the need to ensure that the lighting and shadows on the various subjects were consonant and that the colours of the subjects were in balance with each other and with the general environment of the image. It was also important to preserve a natural perspective by altering the sizes of subjects so that nearer subjects were larger than distant subjects and the furthest subjects were paler.  Her composite images often included layers of texture as well, so as to create her trademark painterly ambience. Indeed, what came over very much in Julie’s presentation was that the techniques that she tutored us in were the essential tools to be used to realise the creative vision which is the starting point for producing the photographic image. The audience were enthusiastic in their appreciation to Julie for introducing us to these creative tools and how to utilise them.

Tony Higginson, Versatility in the Landscape, 18th September

On Wednesday 18th September Keswick Photographic Society members were entertained by award winning photographer, Tony Higginson. Tony is based in Preston and although he makes a living from wedding photography, landscape photography is his passion.  In recent years he has won awards in both the Landscape Photography of the Year and the Scottish Photographer of the Year competitions. Tony also runs photographic workshops in Scotland and England through his company, Viewcapture.  Details of these can be found on his website

Tony’s enthusiasm for his subject shone through as he treated members to images taken from his favourite locations in the British Isles including the Highlands of Scotland, the Hebrides, Northumberland, the Lake District and Dorset as well as some taken in Iceland and Austria.


The images included many taken in the South Lakes including atmospheric shots of a misty Windermere and Rydal Water:


The Langdales taken from Holme Fell:


and images of the River Brathay near Elterwater:


He also showed a number of seascapes taken at various spots along the Lancashire coast including one of an Anthony Gormley statue from his “Another Place” at Crosby. There were also several from the North East including a very evocative image of the Roker Pier and Lighthouse


It was clear that Tony seeks perfection in his images, waiting for half an hour or more at each location for ideal conditions, and sometimes returning to the same spot time and time again. He is also prepared to try different styles of photography including abstract shots of rock, sand and water:


Panned shots of waves and deliberately blurred images achieved by moving the camera slightly to achieve a painterly effect. Notably he relies on getting the image right in the camera as he prefers to capture a real moment in time and doesn’t like to interfere with the integrity of the image by making changes at the processing stage.


Tony was happy to share tips and advice on how to take good landscape images. He recommends shooting away from the sun at sunrise and sunset, ensuring that you are totally familiar with your camera and equipment and being prepared to persevere. He also advised members that to get amazing shots you have to get out in amazing conditions and suggested that you should only take photographs when your mind is clear to allow you to focus fully on what you are doing.

We all enjoyed Tony’s wonderful images and found his talk inspirational. Some of us may even follow his example and  try harder to get out at dawn when the weather conditions are ideal.

Kirk Norbury, Landscape and Timelapse Photography. September 11th

At the second meeting of our new season Kirk Norbury gave us a contrasting presentation in two distinct halves. Kirk is a professional photographer and timelapse cinematographer who now lives and works in Ayrshire.  He described how he his work has changed recently with more emphasis on commercial work, for example with several whisky distillers, and in his landscape photography with more emphasis on monochrome work.

In the first half of his talk he showed and talked about his monochrome images almost exclusively. We were shown a series of very atmospheric and moody images from the Scottish Isles, Ayrshire and Iceland.


Kirk demonstrated how concentrating on monochrome enable him to concentrate much more on composition.


Although his images are taken in colour and then processed to produce monochrome images, when taking his photographs he has his camera set up to only show a monochrome view on the rear screen. He also showed several monochrome images taken close-up to demonstrate the textures and effects of light. He demonstrated that in contrast to the usual practice of finding the best light at the beginning and end of the day, for his images highlighting texture the harsh midday sun is often more effective.

At the end of the first half he did show us some landscape photographs in colour including some beautifully evocative photographs of the Aurora borealis taken in Iceland.


The second half of Kirk’s talk was devoted to his timelapse photography. He showed us several of his timelapse films which varied from coastal landscapes to urban landscapes to commercial shoots of workers fitting new glass panels to a state of the art new build whisky distillery. Timelapse photography was new to most of the audience and Kirk demonstrated the techniques and equipment he uses. He explained why he believes he gets a superior result using timelapse rather then just shooting video in that with a series of high resolution images there is much more control over the quality of the final video. He did also refer to the downside of timelapse in that it, by definition, it involves standing next to your camera for often, hours at a time to obtain a result. However the quality and uniqueness of the timelapse videos Kirk showed us demonstrated how the result justified the time and effort he had put in. His timelapse videos can be viewed on his website at

Worldwide Photo Walk October 5th

One of our members, David Leighton, is leading a walk in Keswick as part of the 12th World Wide Photo Walk:

“The Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk, dubbed the world’s largest global and social photography event, has grown immensely in size and popularity since the inaugural walk in 2007. Last year, more than 24,000 photographers of all walks of life and skill level converged to explore their corners of the world through photography and social community. The concept of a Photo Walk is simple. Photo Walks are created by Walk Leaders in cities all over the world. Walkers meet up at a pre-designated location to spend a few hours socializing, capturing images, and sharing with like-minded people. At the end of the Photo Walk, most groups convene at local restaurants or taverns to share their images and experiences over food. In addition to the event, photo walkers will be able to upload their favourite picture to our popular Photo Walk contest for a chance to win prizes like a DSLR, gift cards, apps, and camera bags. We will also name a Grand Prize winner and 10 finalists to be selected by Scott Kelby himself! Every year, we encourage every photo walker to help support the initiative to “Walk with a Purpose” by donating to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya! The event is free, but pre-registration is required.  Register at, locate your city, and complete the free sign up form. Additionally, participants can connect socially before, during and after the event using the hashtag #WWPW2019 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

For more information and to sign up for the Keswick walk pleased go to –

Season Opening, September 4th

The 47th season of Keswick Photographic Society was launched on September 4th with our new chairman, David Woodthorpe introducing ten club members who would show and talk about some of their successful images from the competitions the society held last year. Just prior to doing that, however, he announced that we had achieved fifth and third places in the Open and Nature competitions respectively, run by the Photographic Society of America. These are prestigious competitions run over a number of rounds over the year and is open to all camera clubs from anywhere in the world. The fact that we have done so well against what the best of the world has to offer is a tribute to the high standards and strength in depth of our society.

David Woodthorpe started the main business showing three bird portraits taken locally as well as a quirky one of a white Mountain Hare cleaning his face with a hind paw, wittily entitled “Hare Washing”.


Our previous chairman, Keith Snell took us first to Scotland with a landscape shot of the River Orchy in spate, but also to far flung locations in Botswana and Svalbard with pictures that included a Juvenile Elephant stamping its feet in frustration and a delightful family portrait of Polar Bears.


Keswick’s doyenne of nature photography, Ronnie Gilbert, also transported us to exotic places in the Brazilian Pantanal, (Jaguar and Toucans), and India, (Tigers) but also Spain with Golden Eagles in golden light and most memorably a wonderfully caught encounter with the incredibly rare Iberian Lynx.


Next up was landscape expert, Ken Rennie, although in this selection, along with landscapes from Borrowdale, Skye, Brittany and north Spain was an atmospheric shot of a girl in a white dress and floppy sunhat surrounded by lavender plants. You could almost smell the aromatic oils and the magic was only slightly diminished when Ken explained that he had actually cloned out the girl’s outstretched arm and selfie-taking mobile phone.



Alan Walker showed expertly taken examples of a Grizzly Bear catching Salmon and a Polar Bear battling into a blizzard. He also showed three pictures based on studio portraits but transformed into intriguing stories with the addition of atmospheric backgrounds. His final shot was of an athlete splashing into the water during a steeplechase race, taken from a low perspective with a wide-angle lens.


Heleen Franken-Gill, a relatively new member of the society showed an ethereal landscape shot of Cat Bells and sunlit trees emerging out of the mist. Similarly striking was an artfully arranged collection of blue glass bottles on a window ledge, gently lit from behind. A monochrome close up of a Calligrapher concentrating on his work was taken in the historic Round Church in Cambridge.


Julie Walker took us to the Tetons with diamond dust glinting the air as four Elks picked across a thermally warmed river, Dalmatian Pelicans squabbling over fish on a frozen lake in Northern Greece and as change of temperature an aging rock star giving it his all at the microphone stand.


Ted Jordan reinforced his reputation after being given an award for most improved photographer last year and belied his rather self-deprecating remarks about just taking snaps with a variety of excellent shots ranging from a carnival performer in Gran Canaria, a classical view of Wast Water made special with fabulous light, to a Barbary Ape clutching a piece of fruit on the Rock of Gibraltar.


Marilyn Woodthorpe was similarly broad in her material with a gentle and evocative shot of early morning Varanasi taken from a boat on the Ganges through a wet Seathwaite Farmyard with a glimpse of the sodden fellsides and clouds beyond to a nicely observed close up shot of rusty iron work on an old gate.


Finally, but not least, one of Keswick’s other nature photographers, Carol Minks delighted us with two shots of a wonderful Great Grey Owl gliding in and plunging into deep snow, an imperious Golden Eagle standing over a Red Fox carcass, and much closer to home, a handsome Brown Hare, all twitching alertness in deep grass.


Keswick Photographic Society is a relatively small and friendly club and we welcome anybody, whether expert or beginner to our meetings, and we have set up a mentoring scheme to help everybody to improve their photography. Meetings are weekly over the winter and we meet at the Friends Meeting House just the other side of Booths car park on Wednesdays at 7.30. Our next meeting is a talk by professional photographer Tony Higginson about his landscape work