In this interview, the outdoor photography expert, Amy Moore guides us through her techniques, recounts her experiences, imparts tips, and discusses her preferred choices for camera gear.
Amy Moore has a unique way of observing the world: ‘The world offers these tiny, intricate moments, and you have to be ready and in the right place to capture them.’ Her fascination with outdoor photography began in her teenage years, marked by countless hours in the garden: ‘I was outside a lot, looking for interesting insects, plants, and other things in the garden,’ Amy recalls, reminiscing about her early days with her beloved Ricoh camera.
Over the years, she’s expanded her canvas, capturing outdoor photography from dramatic storms to tranquil landscapes. ‘I realised I loved capturing natural moments, whether that be storms, landscapes, wildlife or street photography.’ Now, Amy’s expertise in outdoor photography brings both the vastness of landscapes and the intricate details of wildlife to life, where each image showcases a delicate interplay of light, setting, and subject.
In this interview, Amy Moore, an MPB photography expert and rising star on YouTube, guides us through her techniques, recounts her experiences, imparts tips, and discusses her preferred choices for camera gear in outdoor photography.
“Only buying new is not only a bit rubbish for the environment, but it also means you’re the one stuck with the depreciating asset rather than getting a great deal.”
Can you tell us about your journey into professional photography and what drew you specifically to outdoor photography?
I became keen on photography during my teenage years, borrowing cameras from family members. The first camera that was actually mine was a little Ricoh Caplio R7, which had a brilliant macro mode. It meant I was outside a lot, looking for interesting insects, plants and other things in the garden. From there, I got an FZ28 bridge camera from Panasonic, which meant I had zoom and could start getting deeper into wildlife photography, which I loved. I was really interested in the weather, birds and wildlife in general, so I ended up spending a lot of time outdoors trying to gain experience of photographing my favourite subjects. After that, I got my first job at a UK camera retailer, and from there, my obsession with cameras and photography grew. I realised I loved capturing natural moments, whether that be storms, landscapes, wildlife or street photography. Although I also love shooting with lighting setups – nothing beats natural outdoor light for me.
Can you explain a bit more about outdoor photography?
For me, outdoor photography encompasses landscapes, weather, natural light, wildlife, and streets. For someone else, I think there is some leeway for that description to change. When I shoot outdoors, I think there is a sense of freedom but also a lack of control, which I enjoy. The world offers these tiny, intricate moments, and you have to be ready and in the right place to capture them. I just personally prefer that over creating that moment myself.
Which cameras and lenses are your favourites for outdoor photography?
I would say this totally depends on what I’m shooting. When I shoot lightning, I like to use a relatively high-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens in order to give myself the best chance of capturing a strike. However, I have always found telephoto zooms, such as 100-400mm lenses, offer great depth and the ability to capture a scene without being close enough to affect it in any way. You also can’t go wrong with a nice bright prime lens, just in case the light isn’t on your side! I’m not fussy; I like the challenge of a prime but do prefer them 35mm and up just so you can use that shallow depth of field – although wider primes are sometimes fantastic for interesting weather shots.
How do the challenges and rewards of outdoor photography change with the seasons?
I predominantly shoot in Britain, which can have all four seasons in the space of two days! A sturdy, weather-proof kit is a must for me, especially with what I shoot. I would say there are physical challenges all year round, but of course, the bitter cold of winter or a 40°C day definitely makes things a little difficult. However, experiencing what the outdoors has to offer always makes outdoor shoots worthwhile, even when it’s pouring rain!
As “winter is coming,” what are your go-to choices for cameras and lenses for outdoor photography this season?
That’s a big question! I’m notoriously a bit of a camera fanatic, so it is hard to narrow it down. I think my ideal setup this winter would be a Canon EOS R5 + RF 24-70mm f/2.8, RF 70-200mm f/2.8, RF 100-500m, RF 35mm f/1.8 and an RF 85mm f/1.2. I feel like that would be a dream kit that covers everything I love to shoot.
How do you protect your gear from the elements, like snow, frost, and condensation?
I always keep silica gel bags in my camera bags, as well as flannels and paper towels in the car. If things are getting really snowy, I sometimes use a camera rain cover (though not often!) and always remember lens hoods: the bigger, the better! Keeping that front element clear is the most important thing.
Beyond the camera gear, what clothing and accessories do you consider indispensable for a winter photo expedition?
Always remember to wear layers so you can keep at a comfortable temperature, and gloves are a must! If your camera is a bit fiddly, you may want to consider the type where you can uncover your fingers. I always like to carry a black bag, just in case things are incredibly wet and muddy; it gives you somewhere to rest your camera bag. And don’t forget an emergency chocolate bar, that’s very important.
What unique challenges do you face when shooting outdoors, and how do you overcome them?
Personally, there is always a safety concern when shooting alone with heavy kit. If you badly sprained an ankle which I have done before or got stuck in sudden bad weather it can be an absolute nightmare, and depending on where you are, can be genuinely dangerous. I like to have satellite mode setup on my phone in case I need the emergency services, I always let at least two people know where I’m going and I keep a small set of first aid supplies in my kit bag. Also, everyone should download the app what3words. It is absolutely excellent at providing an easy to share location, with friends, colleagues or even emergency services.
How do you handle the outdoor often contrasting light conditions, especially with the low-angle sun and reflective snow during winter?
I have made use of the LEE filter system in the past, using hard and soft grads to manage highly contrasting skies. Nowadays, I find RAW files have so much play, I just try my best to expose without losing highlights and shadows and then work on the image if it needs tweaking. I also like to carry a circular polariser for those unwanted reflections. To be honest though, I love a low sun, I think winter light is often some of the most beautiful, like incredibly long sunrises and sunsets.
For aspiring photographers interested in outdoor photography in winter, what’s the one piece of equipment you’d say is a must-have?
A camera you don’t have to put away. Either get a genuinely good rain cover you’re comfortable using or a camera that is made to be used in tough conditions. Think about what wildlife photographers, press and sports photographers have used over the past few years and look at those types of cameras. The build quality is normally great, and if you can get one with a low shutter count, it probably means it’s been used for personal rather than professional use.
Can you share one of your most memorable experiences while shooting outdoors?
I was once shooting mountain hares in Scotland with a friend of mine who is a wildlife photographer. We had been laying in the snow, army crawling towards a hare who was settled in a little nook for the past couple of hours. We had planned for the weather and were in full thermals and waterproofs, which were great against the snow but not so good when it turned out I’d crawled over a small frozen pond I couldn’t see in the snow. I broke through but luckily managed to keep my camera above the surface. It wasn’t too deep, but it was still pretty freezing! We got some shots and had to head down before I got hypothermia. My friend was nice and warm though, probably from how much they laughed.
Lastly, with the rapid advancements in photography gear, are there any tips you would like to share that photographers can follow?
The photography kit is now changing at such a rate it can be difficult to keep up. I think I’ve only bought one new camera in my whole life (which is saying something with my collection). If you want to make the most of your talent and grow with your kit, it is good to be able to buy and trade equipment. Although the photographer is the most important variable when it comes to capturing images, it is also useful to have the right tools, and as you progress, trying new things and honing what you love – you may need to change those tools. Only buying new is not only a bit rubbish for the environment, but it also means you’re the one stuck with the depreciating asset rather than getting a great deal. That’s the main reason I wanted to work with MPB: I think if more companies had the same mentality towards a circular, more sustainable business model – we’ll all be able to photograph the outdoors for a lot longer!