On Wednesday 15 September, for our first talk of the 2021-22 photographic season, we were delighted to welcomed Simon Turnbull FRPS via Zoom for a fascinating exploration of “intimate landscapes”. There are a couple of intimate landscape competitions in the offing – our own league competition (set subject “Intimate Landscape”) on 20 October and the Tring Interclub Intimate LandScapes Competition on 24 March 2022. The latter competition is organised by the Tring & District Camera Club and it is of course entirely coincidental that Simon is a member of that Club! Simon was born in the Lake District but now lives in Hertfordshire. His photography focuses on intimate landscape, nature, and travel to create thoughtful and inspiring images. Among his achievements are FRPS in 2020 and Highly Commended in this year’s Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year for “A Gathered Storm”. He lives right by the Ashridge and many of his photographs have been taken up there, especially during lockdown. Having begun his photographic journey looking for “epic” landscapes, Simon realised that, living in Hertfordshire and (with family and job responsibilities) unable to get much “quality time” with his camera, he wasn’t going to get those shots – there was very little chance of him being in the right place at the right time. His mind shifted to more intimate landscapes. It didn’t matter where these shots were taken because they weren’t about location but about subject matter, ie the natural world.

More of Simon’s work can be found at


He is also on Instagram


And on Facebook


For more information about intimate landscapes Tring & District Camera Club have set up a resource for photographers wishing to develop their understanding of the genre.  See

Simon’s talk took us through “the what, the why, and the how” of intimate landscapes.  The brief for the Tring Interclub Intimate LandScapes Competition provided the “what”.

Intimate LandScapes

Seeing the small picture

An intimate scape is one in which you’re selecting and isolating one small part of a scene that captures your interest and presents an ‘intimate feel’. It might be a smaller part of a wider scape, it might also be a smaller composition that focuses on shapes, lines, colours, textures or patterns. It is a view of a scene in which an object of focus, is surrounded by its context.

We encourage the celebration of the beauty of the natural world. Thus, the scape can be land, sea, water or city but, whatever the content, it must be an ‘intimate’ scene.

The challenge encourages creative submissions – close up and macro;  black and white or colour; multiple exposures and other creative techniques.

As a definition of the genre, this leaves plenty of room for debate.  But apparently, it is deliberately vague in order “to be inclusive”.  It is clear, though, that there is a focus on the natural world, on smaller scenes and details, and on showing those scenes and details in a wider context.

Simon explained the “why” of intimate landscapes by going through a selection of matters that make the genre attractive for him.

  • Taking pleasure in simple things
  • Seeing the wonder in the everyday
  • Mindfulness
  • The “seeing eye”
  • Becoming less location obsessed
  • Connecting with nature
  • Originality
  • Being more tortoise
  • Photocraft
  • Because it’s harder!  (Ie, to get impact out of something small and simple.)

While wide-sweeping images can certainly have the “wow” factor, Simon likes to concentrate on the details.  And he believes developing a keen “seeing eye” can be hugely beneficial for both your photography and your connection with nature.

Simon summarised the “how” of intimate landscapes as follows.

  • Slow it down
  • Anywhere goes
  • What is the subject
  • Lens choice (long lenses work well)
  • Depth of field (shallow to isolate)
  • Dawdle
  • Composition is King
  • Remove distractions
  • Creativity and fun
  • Projects

Much of this is of course relevant to other genres.

To develop creativity, Simon suggested getting inspiration from other people’s images (eg, on Instagram) and building a “resource bank” (eg, a notebook of ideas).  He also suggested going into “default brain mode” – ie, giving the brain some downtime and not thinking too hard!

Simon also described the approach he uses to create his own images, showing us plenty of examples and explaining why and how he took the shots.  His images ranged from wide vistas through to close-ups and comprehensively illustrated “the what, the why, and the how” of intimate landscapes.

Some of Simon’s images were not “intimate” landscapes, thus helping to show the difference.  And some were quite abstract.  But they were all interesting and imaginative and demonstrated Simon’s great eye for a subject.  Many of the intimate landscapes were in square format or portrait format.  And they clearly displayed what Simon meant by “the feeling of intimacy” and “appreciating the detail”.

Simon achieved his ARPS (on the way to his FRPS) with a panel of 15 intimate images.  He showed us the panel and explained how he had put it together.

In his accompanying Statement of Intent, he summed up the attractions of such intimate images.  “I take great joy in the form, texture and patterns in the details of the natural world.  This submission conveys the calming beauty in those details which surround us but are often overlooked.  It is about mindfulness.  These are unassuming, quiet outdoor images, often abstract, and aiming to show the tranquillity that Mother Nature reveals to us.”

With intimate landscape competitions to come, this was an especially inspiring evening.  And Simon’s presentation stimulated plenty of discussion.  He is clearly very passionate about his photography and this enthralling talk was lavishly illustrated with his fine colour and black and white images.  There was plenty to admire and enjoy and plenty of inspiration for aspiring photographers – whether their interest lies with intimate landscapes, wider landscapes, close-ups, abstracts, or indeed elsewhere.