Inspired By: Neil Burnell
Neil Burnell may not be a household name, but for those in the know, his minimalist and moody photography is genuinely inspirational.
Specialising in seascapes, landscapes and woodland scenes, Neil manages to fill every image he creates with emotion and atmosphere – so let's see how he does it and how you can too!
The Neil Burnell method
If you take a look at the galleries on Neil's website, it'll soon become evident that he's a fan of long exposure images – especially in his seascapes. The difference between his work and many long exposure photographs is that he's an expert at building mood through the medium. Many lesser photographers use the length of the exposure to turn the sea smooth and expect that to be enough to make their work appealing.
You can find countless examples of milky flowing water rushing up and down a beach on Flickr, but Neil chooses a more minimalist approach by shooting on calm, misty days. By picking one focal point – a beach hut, dead tree, or old boat – his best work is peaceful, uncluttered and otherworldly. If he does include the raging sea, it'll have structure and atmosphere that adds to the shot rather than being a distraction.
In much the same way, you can spot a Neil Burnell woodland scene a mile off because it'll have similar dreamy attributes. He often shoots in half-light or on misty days, which helps to build atmosphere, but he's also a master of finding engaging compositions amongst a sea of trees. There's a real art to this, and it's challenging to learn, but if you can, you'll open up many doors for your photography.
Shall we take a look at how you can apply some of Neil's signature techniques to your photography?
Learning from Neil
If you spend a long time browsing websites like Flickr, it's easy to get lost in the idea that every image you take has to be eye-candy. Neil's work shows that a picture can be visually stunning without screaming out in glorious technicolour! These are our top tips for creating more engaging but understated photographs:
Don't be afraid to use empty space to draw the eye to your subject.
Take your camera out on wet, misty days – you might be surprised at how great that light is to shoot in!
Use ND filters to create moody long exposure images, but don't follow the crowd – try something new.
Have a distinct focal point in your woodland shots.
Use muted colours for an understated look that draws the viewer into the world your creating.
If you follow these simple tips, you could soon be hanging canvas prints on your wall that are as impressive as the images in Neil Burnell's portfolio!
11 February, 2021