"Photography is simply the greatest job in the world. It expands and deepens how we see the world. What else can do that?"
Although adventurous and experimental in matters of technique, Joe Cornish is a traditionalist and an advocate when it comes to his subject matter. Fascinated by the inter-relationships of everything in nature, his landscape images suggest a living force in everything he sees - be it organic, geological, elemental or man-made.
While his local area of North Yorkshire remains a source of inspiration, Joe has traveled widely in recent years, to Antarctica, the Arctic, the United States, and Iceland, as well as numerous visits to Scotland and Wales. Adopting the Sony α7R has allowed him to emulate a view camera technique using tilting adapters and legacy lenses, in a lighter and more maneuverable form. This has made mountain climbing and long hikes far more manageable while retaining the image quality and control advantages of large format.
Using such a small camera has been both a revelation in image quality and a revolution in working method. His gallery in North Yorkshire now includes a number of prints shot with the Sony α7R.
About / Biography
Joe Cornish had his first London exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in 1989. He has worked freelance for the National Trust for approaching three two decades, and in recent years has been commissioned my VisitBritain (British Tourist agency). He has created images that have defined the way the British landscape is seen at home and abroad, as well as helping him develop his own environmental philosophy.
His writing appears frequently in the online photography magazine, Onlandscape, and he has also written a number of books. First Light, a Landscape Photographer's Art is studied in schools and colleges, while Scotland’s Mountains, a Landscape Photographer’s View has been judged a classic by both photographers and mountaineers.
Joe has been a judge of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and he is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and one of the RPS distinctions panel adjudicators. He makes his own prints for the Joe Cornish gallery in Northallerton, and he is an experienced public speaker who has hosted the Natural History Museum's Understanding Photography evenings since 2011.
Commissions / Image Galleries
Full Text on 'Wrangel Island, Russian Arctic.'
I can count myself fortunate to work with the great marine biologist/wildlife photographer/film and tv presenter, and all-round amazing human being, Mark Carwardine. Mark spends most of his life raising awareness of the state of the planet and the plight of its marine wildlife, through a combination of writing, media work and lectures, and through remarkable whale-watching and adventure expeditions. It is on the latter that I have been involved, as fellow photographer, educator and post-production consultant. The trips are wonderful experiences in their own right, in the relative safety and comfort of an ice-strengthened ship (they all seem to involve the polar regions!). And they are also special photographic opportunities…a chance to see rare and endangered species, and some of the remotest landscapes on planet earth. This summer ’s voyage was in the Russian Arctic, to Wrangel Island which sits at the border of the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas (all part of the Arctic Ocean).
It was a first time here for most of us and certainly for all the passenger group. Beforehand I had mixed feelings about travelling through Russian territory, but there was no need to worry. All the arrangements and logistics were trouble-free, and our ship and its crew were simply outstanding. My role was busy, but it still allowed me to make some photographs of my own. As a landscape photographer my expertise contrasts with Mark’s wildlife-focussed skills; between us we are able to share our varied experience of field techniques, post-production and print with all keen photographers on-board.
Although my focus is landscape, working with keen wildlife photographers on several of these trips has taught me a wider and freer approach, especially technically. Hand-holding is essential for much of the time specially on the ship or during Zodiac (rigid inflatable boat) cruising. This proves more practical than I would have believed with the Sony A7rII, which has built-in stabilisation. I used aperture priority auto-exposure and auto-ISO on occasion, which sets the lowest ISO with a hand-holdable shutter speed for the focal length of the lens, and the aperture chosen (in the ambient light).
I took two cameras and two zoom lenses, which meant that I never had to change lenses in conditions that were sometimes tricky and changing quickly… it was a great combination. Both lenses performed well, and the 24-70 mm G-Master in particular knocked me out with its all-round high quality. As I like to place animals in their context it was good to use a ’standard’ zoom rather than a telephoto whenever we were close enough.
As well as the awe-inspiring wildlife the voyage offered opportunities to photograph derelict and abandoned research sites, and also Chukchi hut dwellings and gathering places that were once busy with people. These places are atmospheric and poignant, and speak volumes for the harshness of the Arctic. Nevertheless, conditions during the summer months in these latitudes is eminently tolerable. The long hours of daylight lead to some extraordinary opportunities, including one sunset which started around 10pm and simply kept going, the sun skating along the horizon for hours before it turned into sunrise around 2.30am. The colours during this period could scarcely be believed.
With luck these images will form the basis for an in-depth project and a collaboration with Mark and his fabulous wildlife photography.
Sony a7rII, vertical camera grip VG-C2EM, Arca Swiss tripod ‘L’ bracket
Sony a7II, ‘L’ bracket
Sony α7R with tripod L bracket
Sony A77IISony G 70-400mm f/4-5.6Sony RX-100 mkIVSony FE 90mm f/2.8 macroZeiss Distagon FE 35mm f/1.4Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 16-35mm f/4
Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8
Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8
Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4
Sony G FE 70-200mm F/4
Kipon tilting adapter, Nikkor PC 35mm f/2.8
Lee filter system: holders, ten ND graduates, polariser, two ND standards, step rings
RRS panning rail
Grey card/black card
Spare batteries, memory
Lightweight waterproof Paramo Vista jacket
Gitzo carbon fibre tripod, Linhof 3D Micro head