Miles Middlebrook, Black and White winner 2021

We caught up with Miles Middlebrook, winner of Black and White category 2021. Find out about his favourite photography spots and the day he captured his winning image.
Black White Winner Miles Middlebrook Daybrerak beside the River Brathay
Dec 21

Huge congratulations Miles on winning the 2021 Black and White category. Where’s your favourite place to photograph?

In all honesty it is anywhere with a beautiful subject together with beautiful light! However, having said that, I love the Lake District, and the East Coast around Flamborough near where I live, with its remarkable cliffs and beaches. I also enjoy our monuments, particularly old Castles, Abbeys and Priories. I would love to be able to go back in time and see them as they were in their heyday! I’m really pleased that LPOTY has created a Historic Britain category for prizes.

IMG 1166 Enhanced BW

Let's go back in time a little. When did you discover photography?

Well, from a young age I was fascinated by my father’s colour slides, family snaps really, but on transparency film. Then when I was at school in my mid ‘teens we had a lecture and slide presentation on the 1975 ascent of Mount Everest by Nick Estcourt, a British climber who used to head up Everest, the Matterhorn and other inaccessible places with Chris Bonington. I was mesmerised by the images that those guys took, and it was then that I though to myself I really want to use photography to capture beautiful images on film. Tragically Nick Estcourt was killed in an avalanche on K2 the following year.

It was around this time that my father bought me my first camera, a Russian made Kiev rangefinder which had a light leak! I was always trying to pinch his Pentax Spotmatic and as he was rather possessive with it this proved challenging. Today I have a collection of refurbished Spotmatic cameras that I use occasionally for the pleasure of getting back to traditional film photography.

As with many other photographers doing home processing and printing before the age of digital I shot a lot of black and white film, and I think that’s why I still enjoy producing black and white images today.

Which camera do you use?

I predominantly use a Canon 5DS, though I also have a Canon G1XIII that I use when travelling light, and it’s a remarkably powerful little camera. I have a mixture of Canon and Tamron prime lenses; I don’t use zoom lenses anymore because over the years I have found the focal lengths that work for me, and I now stick with them. Sometimes I will go out with just one fixed focal length lens, as was the case with the winning picture actually.

View from Tryfan BW

Tell us about the day you photographed your winning image.

I was lucky enough to be able to get away to the Lake District for a few days between the lockdowns of 2020, and stay at one of my favourite places, Skelwith Bridge beside the beautiful River Brathay, which flows into Windermere at Waterhead, a few miles further downstream. I had stayed at Skelwith Bridge the year before, so I knew the area quite well, and it is very photogenic, especially early in the morning when the mist rises from the river, and I had gone with the intention of getting some atmospheric early morning shots.

As landscape photographers know, the best light is often very early in the morning, just after sunrise, but unfortunately for me this means rising very early in the morning, something that, despite best intentions, I am notoriously bad at, and a problem that is only compounded if the hotel has a well-stocked bar in which I have stayed too late the night before. Fortunately, I had taken my dog with me, and an urgent whining and scratching at the room door early in the morning heralding a need to go outside immediately was enough to get me up quick. I grabbed my camera and off we went, to be greeted by the beautiful tranquil scene down by the river, with the early morning sun lifting the mist off the river and hanging amongst the trees. So I was lucky really.

What’s your favourite image of yours?

Well as from the 24th of October this year it’s the one I won the Black and White category with! Seriously though I suppose in a way it’s the last decent picture I take, but then some photographs do stand the test of time and looking back on them they still hold great appeal for me, whereas some that I might have favoured at the time fade away. The image I took around ten years ago of cattle grazing beside the pond in Great Givendale, part of the Yorkshire Wolds, is still one of my favourites.

Great Givendale BW 1

Where is next on your list of places to visit to photograph?

I want to get some shots up in Scotland around Wester Ross and Assynt. I was last up there when I was at college, many years ago and I took a few pictures; the vast wilderness made a big impression on me then. It will just be a snap shot in time but I’m hoping the weather gods will be kind when I’m there.

Congratulations to Miles for his stunning winning image in the Black and White category, 2021. Miles was awarded £1,000. His photograph is included the LPOTY Collection 14 book, as well as on display in the LPOTY exhibition around the UK in partnership with Network Rail.

Latest news