Simon Turnbull, amateur landscape photographer in Hertfordshire

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Published:
1:00 p.m. January 16, 2022



Simon Turnbull is a lawyer by day and an early morning landscape photographer – giving him balance and us a series of beautiful images of the wildest places in West Herts

Early mornings are not everyone’s cup of tea. They are certainly not those of Simon Turnbull. But needs have to, which is why at dawn the 43-year-old, despite the protests of his biological clock, is most likely to be found capturing photographs of fields, lakes and forests of western Hertfordshire.

“The light is best in the early morning,” says Simon, who was born and raised in the beautiful mountains and lakes of Cumbria, “and landscape photography is often about soft light.

“My wife says I’m not great at this time of day, so being alone in a field is probably the best place for me!”


Simon Turnbull has always loved the outdoors and when family, illness and work pressures increased he took up photography as a hobby.
– Credit: Simon Turnbull

Simon’s workshop is an old garage. He had a spell as a movie theater before “the wife, a personal trainer, commandeered him to a gym.”

Above, the first floor is now a workspace he shares with the family’s cat, Molly, and is where the daytime corporate lawyer is earning a reputation as a landscape photographer.

Given the demands of his daily job, the peace of the countryside is a welcome distraction. “I’ve always loved the outdoors and photography is a nice contrast.

“We moved to Ashridge about seven years ago. I started photography because of the chaos of the kids, my job and also Emily who had breast cancer at the time. You kinda forget things when you’re in the woods. I appreciate the conscious side of it.

When he began posting his images of the National Trust Ashridge Estate as well as images of his former playground, the Lake District, on social media, encouragement from family and friends fueled a growing confidence in him. -same.

Then someone asked to buy an image, a concept that hadn’t crossed Simon’s mind yet.


Simon Turnbull photo Marsworth Reeds at Marsworth Reservoir, Tring

Marsworth Reeds, Marsworth Reservoir, Tring
– Credit: Simon Turnbull

“People like to buy location-based photos and certain images are particularly popular. Mass appeal photos attract likes on Instagram, although I prefer abstract, more intimate woodland scenes which tend to generate interest of those who appreciate the art of composition.

Planning, however, is not necessarily part of the creative process. Simon has a preference for “aimless wandering”. He says trying too hard is likely to hinder creative ideas rather than encourage them. And being open and receptive to conditions is a must.

“One day I was driving for some poppy shots and passed a field with mist rolling in at five in the morning. I stopped and spent a beautiful two hours photographing a lone barn in soft light.


Simon Turnbull photo by Aldbury Barn

Aldbury Barn
– Credit: Simon Turnbull

With a conscious and thoughtful approach, Simon usually takes half a dozen shots with only a few minutes afterwards devoted to editing at home.

He makes his own prints so that any improvements missed on screen are clearly visible on A3 photographic paper and changes are easily made.

He edits and frames his work in limited series, which invariably have input from Molly. ‘No matter how many times I check, I always find cat hair, so I have to take the picture down and crop it!’

He is not an ‘extremely technical person’, he is proficient with light, aperture and digital photography settings and uses a Canon 5D Mark III, as well as a smaller Fuji XT3 on vacation.

A trip early in his creative career proved so inspiring that he plans to return. “I have a slight hint of regret,” he reflected.

“In 2016 I went to Iceland. Photography was not my full time hobby at that time and I had little learning experience. I took some great photos but I would like to come back back to put my own twist on it. It’s such a varied country with great inland areas. I have a lot of tourist-type photos, but next time plan to capture some more intimate scenes.


Simon Turnbull Early Light, Ashridge Forest

Beginning of Light, Ashridge Forest
– Credit: Simon Turnbull

His greater experience and a qualification from the Royal Photographic Society means he relishes the opportunity to run outdoor workshops, usually in the Ashridge area, which appeal to a range of abilities.

When I ask if the legal profession and photography influence each other, his answer is surprising. “Through the legal side, I am doing more and more work on climate change.

“Photography reflects my love of nature, something that I want to preserve. There is also mindfulness that can protect you from stress. Photography has helped me deal with the stresses of life.

Finding not only beauty and delicacy in nature but also well-being, Simon Turnbull’s hobby gave him a career parallel to his legal work and captured Ashridge and its surroundings in a new light.

Discover Simon’s limited edition photography at simonturnbullphotography.com and at Berkhamsted’s Here restaurant and Musette Cafe in Aldbury.

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