Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2017



Yay! My 'Haul' image has been selected to be in the 2017 Outdoor Photographer of the Year book. I got really excited after taking and processing this image, I loved it. Unfortunately it completely bombed on Flickr and Twitter. A photographer I really admire the work of, Karl Mortimer, was very complimentary of it which reinforced my belief it could be a successful image in a competition such as this. Thanks Karl!

This shot was taken with my little DJI Spark on a short break we had at the Northumberland coast. I was able to spend some time exploring this beautiful part of the coastline from above. It is often difficult to find compositions at ground level so I typically arrive at a location and launch the drone to find abstracts and patterns in the landscape. On this occasion there did not appear to be anything of significant interest but in the distance I could see a fishing boat heading back to shore. After a quick change of batteries I flew over to the boat just in time to capture it being retrieved by the tractor.

The book is available to pre-order now and goes on sale on the 20th March. See link below for details.


Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017 Winners' Evening


The day had finally arrived for all the Landscape Photographer of the Year award winners to gather at Waterloo Station for this year's presentation. Benjamin Graham, a West Sussex-based photographer and all round nice chap, took the top spot with hid superbly subtle 'Diminutive Dune' shot taken at West Wittering in West Sussex. He wins the title 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' and £10,000 after his shot was chosen by the judges from 18,000 of so entries celebrating the varied landscapes of the UK. Benjamin's and all the other winners image scan be seen at the link below.


 This is me with my Highly Commended 'Cast' image!

This is me with my Highly Commended 'Cast' image!

The exhibition will be displayed at Waterloo Station until the 4th February where my images 'Cast' and 'Encompassed' can be be viewed at the mezzanine deck along with some of the other winning images.

 All of the winning images are displayed on digital boards throughout Waterloo Staton

All of the winning images are displayed on digital boards throughout Waterloo Staton

 All four of my sucseful images were taken with a drone.

All four of my sucseful images were taken with a drone.


Landscape Photographer of the Year Book 2017

It's here! Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 11. I'm obvioulsly thrilled that I managed to squeeze 4 images into the book this year.

 For my Highly Commended shot I was sent a free copy of the book signed by Charlie Waite, the awards founder.

For my Highly Commended shot I was sent a free copy of the book signed by Charlie Waite, the awards founder.

 I was really happy to share a page with Darren Coilli-Leach. Darren creates wonderful pieces of work, his website is over here  http://darrenciollileach.com/

I was really happy to share a page with Darren Coilli-Leach. Darren creates wonderful pieces of work, his website is over here http://darrenciollileach.com/


Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017

After my success in Take-a-View’s Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016, I never thought I'd be able to equal 3 commended awards in the competition. However, I'm proud to announce that not only have four of my images have been chosen to be in the book, but ‘Cast’ won highly commended and ‘Encompassed’ was given Judge’s Choice by the picture editor of The Times, Russ O’Connell.

The exhibition of selected images will be on display at Waterloo Station from 20th November, which includes my images ‘Cast’ and ‘Encompassed’. There will also be a digital display, where all the awarded images will be displayed, including my ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ and ‘Shift’ photographs.

The Landscape Photographer of the Year Edition 11 book is available at all good bookstores!


 Cast - Highly Commended

Cast - Highly Commended

There are several fields near home which are used for growing grass on a massive scale. I spotted the potential in this composition whilst returning home from a previous photographic outing. The sun was low in the sky, which created an incredibly long shadow from the lone tree. I originally envisaged a composition with the tree in the foreground and the shadow stretching out into the distance. The drone gave me the freedom to easily try different viewpoints but this composition I thought worked very well indeed.

 Encompassed - Commended

Encompassed - Commended

I had a hunt around for a wheat field being harvested with a view to taking an aerial shot of a combine harvester, but on this day it was all quiet! From a quiet country lane I spotted this lone tree on a rolling hill in the distance, nestled in a wheat crop. I took the opportunity to fly the drone over to see what image I could make from the scene. The circular tractor tracks encompassing the tree framed it perfectly whilst the straight tracks added direction beyond.

 Spirit of Ecstacy - Commended

Spirit of Ecstacy - Commended

Taken at Skipwith Common in North Yorkshire, Skipwith National Nature Reserve is one of the last remaining areas of lowland heath in the north of England. Like many of my aerial drone shots, it is difficult to scout out new compositions until you are up in the air. The marshland is scattered with lakes and ponds, which provides seemingly endless photo opportunities as the seasons alter the landscape. The high viewpoint gave me the opportunity to view the expanse of the common and look for interesting shapes on the ground. From around 100m up in the air this lake reminded me of Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament!

 Shift - Commended

Shift - Commended

This shot just happened to be a lucky find! I was helping my next door neighbour’s daughter with her college project, taking some aerial shots in the fields near the village where we live. When we had finished, I flew up to around 100m and panned the drone around to see if there was anything interesting in the landscape. I spotted this zig-zagged ditch about half a mile away in the distance and headed over to its location to see if I could make an interesting composition from it.

The Sunday Times Magazine Feature

Prior to the official announcement of the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, The Sunday Times published a selected few winning images in their Sunday supplement. I was over the moon to have my 'Encompassed' image included as one of the judges favourite. What made it even more special was that the judge is The Sunday Times Picture Editor, Russ O'Connell. My 'Cast' image was also included as it was Highly Commended in the competition.


The front cover shot is by Matthew Cattell, the previous year's winner of LPOTY 2016


I've Won a Drone!

I can't described how chuffed I was to have won Heliguy's photograph competition over on Instagram! I've always fancied owning a DJI Spark and couldn't believe my luck when they announced me as the winner. The Spark is marketed as a selfie drone but despite only shooting in JPEG format I'm looking forward to seeing what results I can get from it. It also saves me having to lug 13kg of DJI Inspire 1 Pro around with me too!

Head over to my Latest Additions sections, see if you can spot the images generated by this fantastic little drone.


Cast - The image which won me first prize.


'King of the Drones'

I've recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by the guys at The Togcast for my aerial photography work. Launched in September 2016 'The Togcast' is a bi-monthly podcast focusing on Photography and Photographers, primarily outdoor and landscape but venturing further afield into travel and adventure. Hosted by Photographers Sam Gregory & Paul Sanders the show aims to share a passion for photography across its community via interviews, gear reviews, location guides.

In my interview we talk about topics such as how I got into drone photography, how I use it for my image making, the public's perception and other photographer's perception of the use of drones in photography.

Below is the video content created to accompany the interview.....

.... and here is the link to the audio interview.


I'd like to thank Sam for giving me the opportunity to be part of this fantastic project and also giving me the title of 'King of the Drones'! Have a listen to the other interviews for some interesting insight into other photographer's approach to their photography.


Fake News!

I really hate that phrase but not everything in the Daily Mail is Fake News! I was recently contacted by CoverImages, an agency who promotes artist's work in the media. This rag wouldn't have been my first choice of outlets to be featured in, but hopefully my article on their website was a refreshing change to some of the right wing improvisation you normally find!

The full article can be viewed here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-4442814/David-Hopley-s-drone-photography-Britain.html

Outdoor Photographer of the Year

I'm really proud and chuffed to have made it into this year's Outdoor Photographer of the year book!

"Outdoor Photographer of the Year is an annual competition run by Outdoor Photography magazine. It aims to surface the most inspiring and compelling imagery in landscape, wildlife, nature travel and adventure from around the planet. Now in its sixth year, it has established itself as one of the leading photography competitions in this genre in the world, and attracts entries from professional and amateur photographers. With over 17,000 images entered from over 50 countries, it shines a light on the wonderful sights and stunning wildlife that can be found in nature."

"Following on from a series of wheat/barley crop images I had taken over the summer I was desperate to complete the series with a few images of a field being harvested. After several unsuccessful trips out into the countryside to find a combine in use I spotted the combined harvesters and balers out as I was on my way home from work. This photograph was taken at a height of about 75m."


Fotospeed Cover Image

If you've just picked up a copy of Fotospeed's new Product Guide and thought 'Hey! that looks like one of Dave's shots on the front cover' then you'd be correct!

I'm really pleased that Fotospeed asked me if they could use my image on the cover, it's a great honour, especially as the previous year's image was by Lee Acaster, former British Wildlife Photographer of the Year and current International Garden Photographer of the year. It feels great to be in such awesome company!

I've also got a nice spread inside the guide which is a bit cool too (click on image to view full screen)

If you want more info on Fotospeed and their range of papers and inks follow the link https://www.fotospeed.com/

Lee's images can be seen here, well worth a look. http://www.leeacaster.com/index

Landscape Photographer of the Year Presentation 2016

The day had finally arrived for all the Landscape Photographer of the Year award winners to gather at Waterloo Station for this year's presentation. Matthew Cattell, a Berkshire-based photographer, took the top spot with an ethereal view of Brighton’s West Pier. He wins the title and £10,000 after his shot was chosen by the judges from thousands of entries celebrating the varied landscapes of the UK.

I also got to meet a few more 'Twitter Togs' who I have got to have known over the past few years on social media, one such being Damian Ward who won the Adobe prize this year for his Caister-on-Sea image taken in Norfolk, see his fantastic image here http://damianwardphotography.co.uk/lpoty/p1480333_web-2/

The highlight of the evening! I also got to meet Julia Bradbury from Countryfile who presented some of the awards.


The exhibition will be displayed at Waterloo Station until Sunday 5th February where my image 'Intersection' can be be viewed at the mezzanine deck along with some of the other winning images.

Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year!

A few months ago I found out that 5 of my drone images had been shortlisted for the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. I was extremely excited to receive an email on Friday saying that 3 images have been commended in the competition.

 Top Lock - Commended in the 'Your View' category

Top Lock - Commended in the 'Your View' category

I don't normally set 'life goals' but last year I said to myself "someday I will get an image in the book, I don't care if it takes 5, 10 or 15 years, I will get in!". I cannot quite believe that, not only did I achieve my goal within a year, but that 3 images were selected! There are figures quoted that around 18,000-20,000 images are submitted to the competition each year and I feel it makes my success even more remarkable!

 Ghost Lake - Commended in the 'Classic View' category

Ghost Lake - Commended in the 'Classic View' category

 Intersection - Commended in the 'Your View' category

Intersection - Commended in the 'Your View' category

My 'Intersection' photograph taken at the Pocklington Canal will be appearing in print at the London exhibition in Waterloo from 21st November until the 5th February next year. The Landscape Photographer of the Year book is on sale today containing all of the wining 153 images.

Feature in Outdoor Photography magazine

I'm feeling pretty chuffed to be featured in this month's Outdoor Photography magazine. This is the best landscape photography magazine you can buy, if you want a second opinion ask my Mum! This is a landmark moment for me, many photographers whose work I admire have had their photographs published here and I feel it's a massive achievement for me.

I will be starting my Civil Aviation Authority training next week so I can use the drone for commercial purposes. If any of you need some aerial photography to promote your business in the near future, give me a buzz (no pun intended)!

Öxarárfoss Waterfall

My wife and I recently had a 3 day mini break to Iceland, unfortunately it rained for most it and even more so in the areas I wanted to photograph. It wasn't a photography holiday as such, but I would have been even more disappointed if it had been!

This shot of Öxarárfoss waterfall in Þingvellir National Park is one of the very few I came home with which weren't taken in the wind and rain!. The waterfall flows from the river Öxará over the Almannagjá and is one of the main attractions of Þingvellir National Park.

 This is me aligning the Lee 0.6 ND Hard Grad filter (note blown out/over exposed sky) ©Judith Hopley, Panasonic DMC TZ-3, 4.6mm, 1/160th at f/3.3, ISO 100

Many of you will be aware of my obsession with #WexMondays, a weekly Twitter based photograph competition run by Wex Photographic, the largest independent online photographic specialist retailer in the UK. This shot was to be my week 33 entry.

The camera I used to take the shot was my little Canon EOS-M, which I use as my travel camera purchased from WEX along with my Lee filters including, my favourite of all, The Big Stopper. I used a 0.6 (2 stop) Hard Grad Neutral Density filter to balance the sky with the relatively dark foreground and the Big Stopper, a 10 stop Neutral density filter, to extend the exposure time to create the extreme motion blur in the clouds and water. I took a test shot without the Big Stopper and checked the histogram to make sure the scene was correctly exposed, the correct exposure time being 1/15th of a second. Using an exposure calculation table, I calculated the exposure time using the 10 stop filter to be 85 seconds. I used a remote release to trigger the shutter to remove the possibility of camera shake.

Incidentally, the purchase of the EOS-M was how I found out about #WexMondays, from an advertising leaflet that came with it. It is #WexMondays and the association with the competing entrants I credit for my inspired improvement of my photography over the past 18 or so months, the banter which is generated between everyone who takes part is also a joy to be part of. #WexMondays provides the 'drive' for me to take at least one 'worthy' photograph each week.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the top 3 in week 33 but the lovely people at WEX have invited me to share my story and workflow as to how I created the final image. 

Firstly, let's start with the unprocessed RAW image:-

Luckily, I just managed not to clip the highlights out of the image whilst retaining some detail in the shadows. Even before I had taken the shot I knew how I was going to process the image back home. I wanted a high contrast mono image with the clouds and water having a high rate of 'motion blur'.

1. The image was imported into Lightroom CC 2015 and was cropped to remove the rocks at the bottom, I also 'pulled back' the highlights to regain the detail in the clouds just above the waterfall edge.:-

2. I wanted to make the blue in the sky quite dark, but I often find in Lightroom that the blues can go a bit 'mushy' when moving the sliders to their extents, so I opened the image into Photoshop via Lightroom for further processing. As always, before I process an image in Photoshop, I create a 'Layer from Background' and duplicate it, just in case I need to refer back to the original photo or use elements from it for the final image. As you can see from the image below I applied a 'Brightness/Contrast' adjustment layer to just the copied layer and reduced the brightness.

3. Often when increasing contrast or over processing images, a halo effect can occur in high contrast areas. In the screenshot below you can see the subtle halo where the sky meets the rocks, the sky appearing lighter nearer the dark edge:

4. I moved the original image to the top of the layer stack and removed the sky; firstly by adding a 'Layer Mask' then using the 'Quick Selection Tool' to highlight the sky, I then painted out the selected masked area.

5. Going back to the copied layer; using the clone tool I removed the lighter areas of the sky, not worrying about cloning over the rocks. 

6. Below is the image with all layers turned back on, the halo removed.

7. The image was saved in Photoshop and closed, it then appeared in Lightroom where I could make final adjustments. Firstly it was converted to Black and White and the Green/Gray levels were increased to reveal the moss on the rocks. Adobe recommend that the Lightroom sliders are used from top to bottom, which I would usually do, but in this instance I was a bit random in my approach as you can see from the History! Clarity was increased as was sharpening and noise reduction, and a vignette applied. Radial filters were added near the base of the waterfall to darken the rocks and create a 'layered' effect. The new Dehaze tool in Lightroom was then used to add further contrast.

8. Finally a graduated filter was added to further darken the sky.

9. This is the final image. It wasn't a particularly challenging photograph to take, a couple of small water droplets landed on the filter which had been blown from the waterfall whilst the exposure was taking place and I had to carefully remove them with a lens cloth. The problematic issues that can occur when taking long exposures are in constantly changing light conditions, several shots may need to be taken to get an average exposure time before calculating the time required when using a 10 stop filter. Lots of experience also helps you to determine the exposure time. Sometimes I may decide to amend the calculated exposure time, once I have started the exposure, if the light conditions dramatically change. Sunrise and sunset long exposures are especially tricky to get right and an amount of educated guesswork is sometimes required to get an acceptably exposed image. Taking all the above into consideration, I would give this type of shot a 6.5 out of 10 difficulty rating.

Over the 3 days we had in Iceland, I only managed to take a small handful of 'keepers', this for me being the standout image. If you head over to the 'Latest Additions' page in 'Galleries' you can see some of the others.

Camera settings:
Manual Mode, f/16 (f/8 would have been sufficient for the depth of field required but f/16 increased exposure time), 85 seconds, Focal length 20mm, ISO 100

Equipment used:
Canon EOS-M with EF-M18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens
Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H01 Tripod
Lee 0.6 ND Hard Grad Filter and Big Stopper
Canon RC-6 Remote Shutter Release

You can buy all the above from WEX by following these links:-
Canon EOS-M - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-canon-eos-m3-digital-camera-with-18-55mm-lens/p1567369
Manfrotto Tripod - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-manfrotto-compact-action-tripod-black/p1554772
Lee Big Stopper - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-lee-big-stopper/p1519732
Lee Grad Filter - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-lee-neutral-density-0-6-hard-graduated-resin-filter/p1010469
Remote Release - http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-canon-rc-6-remote-control/p1519993