Since I started this website in 2007, I've had dozens of emails from visitors to the site, asking all kinds of questions, from the interesting to the frankly bizarre. So, I thought I'd put some of them up on here, along with other questions I've been asked by other photographers, explorers and journalists, along with my answers.
What equipment do you use?
I use Nikon SLR's (both film and digital) and various Nikon lenses, as well as a Panasonic compact and sometimes the camera on my phone. However, I'm a firm believer that it's the photographer, not the camera that is the most important factor in photography. No matter how good your camera is, it won't choose the best composition, right lens (or focal length), optimum time and moment, best light, best position or process it in a way that articulates your vision. Neither will it research a location, or drive itself there to take a photograph.
That said, good equipment will often enable you, or at least make it easier for you, to get the picture you want. By this I'm thinking about fast, wide angle lenses, pro-spec bodies with good low light capabilities, etc. But they're not essential - quite a few of the photos on this site were taken on film with a 30 year old Nikon FM.
Why 'The View From The North'?
Long story, but I'd been racking my brain trying to think of a good name for a website, and I put this together in my head, as I thought it was suitably generic enough for any photos I took, particularly as my photographs are predominantly taken in the north of England. It was only when I came to register the domain that I realised that the .co.uk address was already taken by David Halls TV Production company of the same name. Thing is, I've watched loads of their programmes on TV, and at the very end of the credits, the company name comes up, so I'd not really come up with the idea at all, just remembered it from there. Oops.
Who are your inspirations?
I'm inspired / influenced by many photographers, but my style is my own. I enjoy the work of landscape photographer John Davies, social documentary photographer Ian Beesley and the British photo journalists of the 50’s and 60’s collectively known as the ‘Young Meteors’ (Denis Thorpe, Don McCullin, Philip Jones Griffiths, etc).
I also admire the industrial landscapes of Edward Burtynsky and the urban exploration of Henk van Rensbergen.
I'm planning on visiting one of the sites you've visited. Will you tell me how to get in?
Sorry, but unless I know you, or you are known in the urbex community, the answer's 'no'. Take this the right way, but unless you meet those criteria, I don't know your intentions, and there's too many thieves, vandals and arsonists round to risk it. Sorry about that!
How do you get into these places?
Through holes in fences, open doors, open gates, through broken windows and by asking permission. Yes, sometimes I ask permision. I don't subscribe to the mantra of 'Better to ask for forgiveness than permission'. Sometimes you can't get in unless you ask.
But let's be absolutely clear on something - I do NOT break into places. I'll repeat that. I do NOT break into places. If there is no access, I walk away. I'm not into the habit of causing criminal damage for the sake of some photographs!
How do you find these places?
Lots of research! I'm active on most of the urbex forums, plus I use Geograph, Google Earth, Bing Maps, and keep my eye on the news. I also go out and look for places when I'm driving round or on trains, albeit not as much as I used to.
Do you sell prints?
Yes, go to www.photoboxgallery.com/theviewfromthenorth, or click on 'Print Sales' at the top of the page. The prices are not negotiable.
I do not provide electronic copies of my photographs other than for commercial use - see the next question.
Can I use your photos in a newspaper / magazine / book?
Yes, please look up the appropriate usage and fee and on this page, http://www.londonfreelance.org/rates/photonew.html and contact me to discuss. If you're not prepared to pay the going freelance rate, then don't bother contacting me. And please don't use without permission, I take copyright theft very seriously.
Can I not just have copies for free?
No, and here's why. This isn't a commercial venture, but any money raised from print sales will be spent on keeping the website online into the future for others to enjoy.
Bear in mind that I've spent hundreds of pounds on website hosting fees since theviewfromthenorth.org came online, travelled thousands of miles and spent thousands on camera equipment, fuel etc, and spent hundreds if not thousands of hours working on the photographs and the website, all out of my own pocket, so any income from sales and licensing of images keeps the place going.
I used to work at one of the places you've visited!
Great, if you can add any information, or have any stories or recollections, feel free to add them into the comments boxes below the photographs, or contact me via the contact page.
I have some old photos of one of the sites you've visited, would you be interested in them?
Yes, if you can scan them, I'll gladly put them onto the website. Please contact me via the contact page.
Are you a professional photographer?
No, I am an engineer by education and profession, and I have a day job in the aerospace industry that pays the bills. However, I do take my photography pretty seriously - I have various qualifications, am an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, and have been involved with teaching photography to adults. In addition, my photographs have been sold for use in a text book, appeared twice in Amateur Photographer magazine, are on sale on the Alamy stock library, and appear in museum and company archives.
Do you do naked photoshoots?
No, I tend to keep my clothes on.
Do you sell cardboard boxes?
Errr, no, I think you've got the wrong website......?
(yes, these are genuine queries!!!)