One tree hill
Roger Voller finds beauty and drama in the lone trees dotted around Hampshire’s South Downs
My interest in photography started when I purchased my first D-SLR, a Nikon D3100, in 2011. Suddenly I could treat taking a ‘snapshot’ far more seriously – and get better results. I was a lover of the outdoors with an interest in art, so a passion for landscape photography was inevitable!
I live in Hampshire, and at weekends I’ll often venture into the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. Popular landscape photography hotspots are not really an attraction for me, because exploring areas off the beaten track fires my curiosity and reveals hidden gems like these lone trees scattered across the downs. Building an intimate relationship with the characteristics of an area enables me to make a deeper connection with the land, the seasons and the light, which I think is reflected in my images.
A long look
Instead of the classic wideangle landscape lens, I use my telephoto lens. I rely on simple clean compositions to highlight the natural curvature of the rolling downs, and to reinforce the presence of a single, alluring tree, often with the sense of space on one side of the frame. A single tree can also help to create beautiful light and
I avoid composing a frame with any distractions in it, as even something subtle can weaken a good photograph
shadow, as can be seen in Our Green Land .
I avoid composing a frame with any distractions in it, as even something subtle can weaken a good photograph. My Manfrotto tripod allows me to compose the shot accurately, and also avoid soft images from camera shake, especially at 300mm on my telephoto lens.
Catching the light
As I’m a local I can respond to favourable weather forecasts quickly and run out to capture the light, and I can also bide my time to capture particular subjects at the best time of year; Lemon Tonic  for example, was shot in the spring when the bright yellow rapeseed field was in full bloom. Shooting at the right time of year can make a huge difference; I shot the backlit tree in Pilgrim’s Rest
 when the sun was setting furthest north in June. Backlit images are a challenge to capture, but they produce the most dramatic light and shadow, so it’s worth the effort. My lens hood is critical for reducing flare.
Even though shooting digital makes taking a photograph easier than ever before, I still relish the discipline of getting it right in-camera. I find that’s the best way to practice, rather than spending hours editing an image, and it enables me to preserve the natural light and colours I witnessed .
Receiving two Commendations in the prestigious Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year awards has inspired me to carry on, and advance my landscape photography skills. In the future I would like to master film photography, and take more shots of close-up detail – outdoors, of course!
01 01 OUR GREE N LAND Nikon D5100, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR, 1/250 sec, f/11, ISO200
02 LE MON TONIC Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR, 1/50 sec, f/9, ISO100
03 03 PILGRI M’S RE ST Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR, 1/640 sec, f/8, ISO400