Bluebells at Dockey Wood

I made the decision to travel 100 miles this year, after the Angmering Park Estate ruined their bluebell wood by dumping tonnes of waste wood instead of turning it into wood chips. Brushwood is often left to rot in situ following logging work, but it looks awful and the practice is usually related to saving money on shredding. If the estate had spent a little more money, beauty and biodiversity would be the clear winners. Unfortunately, forestry is a business and the graph on the wall tells the story of it all. Bluebells woods don't make money. A decade-long wait is on the cards before the wood rots down.

Dockey Wood, in Buckinghamshire is a popular location for visitors and photographers. Situated in a wealthy area, full of golf courses, mansions and Conservative Party banners, the woodland is a 90 minute walk from Tring railway station. If you have aspirations about buying a property here, keep in mind that tree houses and manholes are not included in any bank's lending criteria. The woodland is encompassed within the Ashridge Estate, which is owned by the National Trust. Dockey itself is a plantation of uniformly spaced beech and oak trees. After photographing the bluebells, I set off to find a pub in Little Gaddesden. Along the way, a group of about 50 Fallow deer had crossed the road to graze in a field. Fallow deer normally bolt on sight when I'm in Sussex; I shone my torch and 50 stationary pairs of eyes stared back. I had let myself in for an uncomfortable night in Dockey Wood. Without a tent (there's a ten year waiting list for Help-to-Buy manholes) and only (a now binned) sleeping bag, I endured a cold, damp and sleepless night, pacing about to keep myself warm in temperatures of 3°C. Dawn came quicker than I expected. About ten photographers turned up in their cars. I prefer my dawn photos, as the presence of extra tree cover on the north side of Dockey Wood prevented blown out highlights from appearing in the frame. ND grad filters are a must. The second photo is the evening effort I'm happiest with.

I'm happy with my experience of Dockey Wood, but never again! Getting there from Brighton is too much hassle, in terms of cost, time, long walks along busy roads and delays from broken down trains at Clapham Junction. I will visit Micheldever Wood in Hampshire next year (minus the overnight stay), but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the three best photos from my adventures!

Dockey Wood Bluebells at Dawn

Evening Bluebells at Dockey Wood

Dockey Wood Bluebells at Dawn

Friston Forest in the Fog

The UK coast often experiences fog in April, due to warm moist air passing over the cold sea. Friston Forest is the place to be when this happens. There always seems to be something interesting to look at in the forest, whatever the season. It may only be 13th April, but a few beech trees are now in leaf. In just two weeks, the entire forest will be completely transformed by fresh green, translucent leaves. Here are my favourite photos from an enchanting four hour walk around the forest.

Misty Ride, Friston Forest

Fog Bank, Friston Forest


First Leaves, Friston Forest

Fog, Friston Forest

Rows of beech trees in the fog, Friston Forest

Friston Forest

Until recently, I've never been able to enter a forest in winter and not grieve over the absence of leaf cover. A dormant forest has never felt life-affirming to me. The coming of March has given me the time to confront and re-evaluate this life-long avoidance of leafless woods. Friston Forest looked quite beautiful on a hazy, mild and sunny March afternoon.

Afternoon Ride, Friston Forest



Alan's work featured on brand new council website

My photos have beaten off strong competition to feature on the newly redesigned Lewes District Council website. Six of my images now appear as the main banner on all pages and will be selected randomly with every page load. I've been walking in the Lewes District since childhood and I'm proud to have my work used on a site attracting thousands of visits each day. I hope my photos encourage the people of Lewes District to access and use their local public services.




Beautiful Starling Murmurations | Brighton

It's February 2015 and starling numbers at Brighton Pier are at their highest for years. I estimate 60,000 - 75,000 birds gather every evening. The murmurations last for ages - 30 minutes of continuous action. In what could be my last starling post of the winter, I have opted for quality over quantity. Here are four creative and very different photographs.

Starling Murmuration and Sunset

Murmuration Coordination


Motion Blur Starlings

Long Exposures | Royal Pavilion Brighton

Brighton's Royal Pavilion is a familiar and well-photographed landmark in the city. Strong subjects can often stifle innovation and creativity. I like to make an extra effort to turn a beautiful, interesting subject into an equally captivating photograph. Trying to be different can lead to over-thinking and images devoid of feeling and beauty. In an effort to escape conventions, photographers can become conservatively unconventional. I prefer to go with my feelings at the time, while still creating something fresh and exciting. An adjacent Art-Deco bus shelter, the motion blur from traffic and a blue-magenta twilight afterglow all came together to help create three varied and unique images. The permanent, semi-permanent and transient all sum up Brighton.

Royal Pavilion Brighton Long Exposure

Night Life

Brighton Royal Pavilion Long Exposure

The Unseen

You may have seen these on Flickr, but this eclectic selection of photographs have never featured on They include Roe deer on the Sussex Weald, South Downs poppies, Brighton starling murmurations and Beachy Head.

Fairy of the Woods

Garden Salad

Poppies in the Red Zone

Roe deer and Magpie


Roe Deer

Wooden Dreams

Bluebells, Beech Forest

Waiting for the Night


Assault on the Senses

Parallel Lines

The sun dipped below the horizon, just as the monthly spring tide revealed Brighton's hidden sandy beach. Sunsets often initially disappoint, as was the case, but within 15 minutes, an afterglow enveloped Brighton beach in hues of purple-magenta. I had come down to photograph the starling murmurations, but struggled once again to capture anything fresh and exciting. Perhaps I've done all I can for now. I miss photographing people. Sometimes one's most creative work is accomplished after a prolonged break.

Ballet at Low Tide

Spring Tide, Brighton

Parallel Lines

Romantic Stroll, Brighton beach      Tall Lines, Brighton beach

Photos of the Year: 2014

I certainly manage to get about for someone reliant on public transport. With the heavyweight Canon 500mm and 300mm lenses on my back, I certainly have no need for a gym subscription. Trains to Crawley, Horsham and Arundel and buses along to coast road to Friston Forest and Beachy Head mean I am well served with opportunities to visit beautiful and interesting locations. 2014 began mild, wet and windy. We enjoyed good weather in spring and high temperatures over July, peaking at about 28°C. Autumn lasted from September to early December, with one day in late October reaching 23°C. Climate change and increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide mean that trees can remain in leaf far longer than they could in the past. Some parts of Friston Forest were still nearly 100% green on 20th November.

A friend recently commented that my work is more focussed and settled than it was a few years ago. Creative blocks are a thing of the past, because I've learned to accept the mood I am in, rather than attempt to change it. Consequently, any creative blocks are like the passing weather and only last a day or two. Acceptance has not only helped me to stop taking photography too seriously, but it's made me a happier person.

I'd like to pick out the leaping Roe deer as my favourite photo of the year. It was the hardest shot to take, because the subject was very quick and elusive. I would pick out the first shot of Beachy Head as my second favourite. The bluebell woodland in April was like being surrounded by a 360° IMAX screen. My favourite occasion was on November 1st, when I left my camera at home and took two friends for a pub lunch and a walk in the forest. I felt proud to be sharing a special part of the world with them. And I now have two witnesses to prove that deer really do exist in Sussex!


Murmuration and West Pier

Starling Murmuration and West Pier, in a Hail Storm

The Famous Five

Leaping Roe Deer


Marbled White, female and male

Marbled White on Pyramid Orchid, Friston Forest

Rabbit in Meadow

Bluebell Wood

Friston Forest

Misty Forest Glade in Autumn

Accredited Herd

Kingston Ridge, June

S is for Sussex

Bread Basket

Fulking Escarpment

The Landscape is Changing

Enjoy the Silence

Night Life