A view of the Lizard Lighthouse in the distance with the heathland in the distance.

A view of the Lizard Lighthouse in the distance with the heathland in the distance. - Credit: ©NTPL/David Noton

South West Coast Path asks judge David Noton to give tips on taking the best photographs ahead of the South West Coast Path competition

The South West Coast Path offers unlimited photo ops - and their annual competition is your chance to show off your skills. Top photographer and judge David Noton offers some tips for capturing the landscape

The prestigious annual South West Coast Path Photographic Competition is once again calling for entries from budding landscape photographers for the chance to be featured in the 2017 official calendar among a host of other great prizes. This year’s top prizes include a luxury stay at the Thurlestone Hotel in South Devon and the Mullion Cove Hotel in Cornwall, both of which provide immediate access to some of the most stunning coastal scenery to be found anywhere along the South West Coast Path.

Top professional photographer David Noton will join the judges panel, alongside the South West Coast Path National Trail Officer Mark Owen and the publisher, Salmon Calendars.

The quality of photography in this competition reveals just how lucky we are to have such a jewel as the South West Coast Path on our doorstep,’ says David Noton, a former Wildlife Photographer of the Year. I never tire of walking the Coast Path which I find endlessly photographically inspiring.

Without a doubt some of my most treasured images have been created on this coast, each associated with the memorable experience of being there when the light and nature’s elements combine in a moment of profound uplifting beauty. To be asked to judge the South West Coast Path Photographic Competition is a real honour. I can’t wait to see this year’s entries.’

An exhibition of the 2014 winning photographs are currently on display at the Lynmouth Pavilion on The Esplanade in Lynmouth until the end of October and will be sold in a silent auction with all proceeds going towards improvements on the Exmoor Coast Path. For more details and to bid contact us on

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Editor Carol Burns will also join the judging panel to pick her favourite image of Cornwall. The winner will receive a year subscription to Cornwall Life.

Here are David’s 10 top tips to taking great landscape photographs:

1 Plan your Shoot

Great shots don’t happen by accident, they are the product of painstaking planning and preparation. Get your boots on and find a good location. Understand the light and how it changes over the 24-hour cycle.

2 Have an idea

The more you can visualise the picture and plan the lighting the better the likelihood of success. Be prepared to return to the same location again and again until you get the right light and conditions. It’s better to return with one strong picture rather than 20 mediocre efforts.

3 Be Meticulous

Hone your photographic technique and work in a meticulous logical way to extract the maximum quality possible. Check focus, depth of field, exposure and tripod stability to make sure that you are getting the very best from your equipment. Familiarity with your equipment is essential; you don’t want to be fiddling with camera settings when the often-fleeting best light is illuminating the subject.

4 Be Original

It’s tempting to head for the most dramatic locations where you’ll be sure to be presented with epic views. We all want to see these iconic spots but try to come up with something photographic that is unique to your vision; create something different from a familiar view or go beyond the beaten track. Creating such originality isn’t easy but far more rewarding. These are the pictures that you will treasure most in the years to come.

5 Stop Traveling

Don’t get sucked into a whistle stop tour of visitor attractions. It’s often far better to slow down, get beneath the surface of a place and observe the light on the landscape over several days. Have a plan for your trip, but leave as much freedom and flexibility built in to be able to react to local conditions and opportunities.

6 Keep it Simple

The best compositions are always the simplest. Sweep your eye from corner to corner of the frame and ask yourself if there’s anything included that doesn’t deserve to be there. Photography is the art of knowing what to leave out. Less is more.

7 See the Light

Always consider the nature of the light and where it is coming from. The light itself can often become the subject itself. The right light will lift a shot immeasurably, in contrast to a scene illuminated by light from the wrong direction or at an unsuitable time of day.

8 Consider Perspective

Lens choice is all about perspective; in a nutshell that means deciding about the relationship between foreground and background within the image area. Wide lenses accentuate foreground interest, longer lenses emphasise the true scale of distant objects, while medium focal length lenses render a natural balance between the two.

9 Understand

Familiarity with our equipment’s capabilities is crucial. Our camera’s auto focus and exposure modes are so good it’s tempting to think we can just switch them on then just point and shoot, but the more we understand about how they work and which modes are suitable for what situations the better.

10 Enjoy

When a trip is going well a momentum develops with one great photo session following another in a seemingly endless stream of fabulous locations and exhilarating opportunities. These are the times to be savoured. Enjoying your photography is the key. The best pictures will come when you are enjoying your photography the most.


Amateur and professional photographers, of all ages, are encouraged to enter their best pictures of the Coast Path in this annual photographic competition, which closes on December 1st.

This year’s 12 winning photographs will feature in the South West Coast Path 2017 calendar with the 1st prize winner taking the front page among a host of other great prizes.

Last year’s winners can be seen in the 2016 calendar, which is available to buy now Each copy sold raises a minimum of 25p for the South West Coast Path Association for Path improvements.

Full details of prizes and how to enter, along with terms and conditions can be found at

To find out more about David’s work visit