Words: [email protected] Images: Paula Beaumont
One of the things I’ve always loved to do on my wild camping trips is photography. I’m forever trying to capture some of the great views and moments from a trip for posterity. Unfortunately, capturing the moment accurately is often trickier to achieve than you’d think even with today’s modern equipment.
However, someone who manages this with ease and who I’ve long admired and enjoyed following on Instagram is Paula Beaumont. From her base up in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales in the UK and together with her trusty 1989 Land Rover 90, ‘Norton’, she effortlessly combines her love of wild camping with a talent for taking some incredible and award-winning photographs.
The other week I was lucky enough to finally catch up with Paula, albeit via Zoom due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions here to find out how she’s managed to combine what would be for many of us a dream job, combining wild camping trips to beautiful remote places with photography.
So Paula, which came first, wild camping, Land Rovers or photography?
Well it would have to be camping as I’ve been doing that since I was 4 years old. When I was child my Dad bought an old bread van, fitted it out with old army camp beds and other homemade camping gear and then together with my Mum we’d head off on various camping adventures across Scotland, I’ve loved the outdoors and camping ever since.
And when did you start to combine camping with photography?
Both my parents were photographers, so it was something that I grew up with and was able to learn from them although I never thought I’d be able to make any sort of living from my outdoor landscape work. Initially I did weddings and specialised in baby photography but then over time started to build up a portfolio of landscape shots that I found sold well at local craft fairs and via my website. Eventually I’ve managed to make the transition to almost full-time landscape photographer interspersed with a few weddings and baby photography sessions each year as well as running my studio and photography courses.There’s no doubt the whole wild camping scene is growing in popularity, accelerated even more by the recent pandemic and people keen to get away from it all.
How often do you try to get away yourself in an average year?
I’m lucky to live where I do surrounded by the Dales so get out in Norton plenty during the week, however, wild camping in England is more tricky with laws forbidding it in many places, so I tend to head to Scotland where my Mum now lives, and then do bigger trips abroad in Europe with my travel buddy Susan. This past year I think I’ve managed about 60 nights in the rooftop tent. My Mum’s now 74 years old and she still wild camps up on Isle of Skye where she lives, I swear she’s still more hardy than I’ll ever be!
Norton? I assume this is the name you’ve given your Land Rover 90? Unusual name, where did that originate from and what sort of truck is it?
Well, my Dad’s name was Stanton Norton Farnaby, not your average Yorkshire name I know, and he loved old cars and camping so I named it after him so every time I take a trip I feel like he comes with me. As for Norton the Landy, he’s a 1989 Land Rover 90 which I’ve proudly owned for the past 5 years and he’s never let me down once and believe me, I do a lot of harsh off-roading in him.
They’re amazing vehicles alright, did you learn to drive it properly or have you just learnt from trial and error?
Well the day after I got Norton I headed up a green lane to Scarhouse Resevoir near where I live and it was first time I’d used low range. 200 yards up I got scared stiff so stopped and lit the Kelly Kettle for a brew whilst I decided what to do and ended up slowly reversing out! After that I realised, I needed a proper lesson on how to drive it and booked myself on a two-day intensive course which really taught me what it was capable of and how to drive it properly. It’s something I’d encourage everyone to do as the lessons learnt are invaluable and give you the confidence to make trips afterwards much more fun and relaxed.
So, what’s your favourite ‘toy’ you’ve fitted Norton out with and if you could add any new bit of kit what would it be?
Well he’s pretty well kitted out with a great draw system for all my camping gear, Tentbox roof tent, ARB awning with side walls etc. but I’d say my favourite bit of kit is my 55 litre Snowmaster fridge freezer which is great for keeping ice cold for a nice Gin & Tonic by the camp fire after a busy day’s on the trails. I’ve also recently fitted a diesel heater that sits behind the seat and can be pulled up into the tent which will make the winter camps much more comfortable although it’s yet to be used but looking forward to a lack of ice on the inside of the tent in the mornings. As for a wish list for new kit, to be honest there’s nothing to be honest, I’m lucky enough to have all need right now.Sounds fabulous, I have to say the diesel heater would have been welcome on one of our TURAS trips in S. Ireland last winter – never felt cold like it, don’t think I felt my feet for a couple of days.
So where have you and Norton been?
Well I’m always out and about locally in Yorkshire Dales and love Swaledale area and it’s rolling green hills full of green lanes, and no phone signal. I also do plenty of trips up and around Scotland which is spectacular and there’s not many spots along the NC500 I’ve not stopped along at some point or another. But over the last few years myself and my travel buddy, Susan, from Netherlands have been Bosnia, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, France and more.
Ah OK, so Susan is the other lady Land Rover 90 owner I’ve seen in some of your shots, how did you meet and start adventuring together?
Well my husband’s an ex-Royal Marine so to be honest he’s had his fill of sleeping out in the wild but fully encourages me to get out there. Through my membership of the LR Ladies group and posting some photo’s on there, Susan used to comment how awesome the photos were and she’d love to see it. So, I invited her over and we did a 6 day laning trip through the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District and we just clicked as two like-minded souls and we’ve been heading off on adventures a few times a year ever since.
That’s great, and have you a favourite spot that you’ve found on your travels?
Back in 2018 when we were in Pico’s De Europe, a fabulous National Park area in Northern Spain, we travelled mile upon mile along fabulous gravel tracks. By pure fate I got a puncture and we managed to get to a garage to get it repaired.
The owner was himself an off-roader and gave us directions to a spot he recommended. We followed his route to around 2000m where we camped overlooking the mountains! It was just incredible. We then left the Landy’s and hiked another couple of kilometres up to this amazing place from where the views were just breath-taking and there were vultures circling over-head. Definitely the most memorable spot I’ve ever been to so far, and if it wasn’t for the misfortune of the puncture we’d never have found out about it.
We’ve got a photograph from that trip here and it does look incredible. Indeed, so many of your photograph’s are stunning Paula and you’ve won so many awards I’m sure it’s impossible to pick a favourite, but do you have one you’re most proud of?
It would probably be the picture of the sheep taken in Scotland last year.
It was a completely off the cuff shot taken when driving a mountain trail over the Cairngorms in Scotland. I pulled over and the sheep were following us, I guess they see a Land Rover and assume it’s the farmer come to feed them.
Suddenly they just all lined up and the sky was amazing above them and I managed to capture this great shot which ended up being placed in the Top 10 from over 13,500 entrants in the Image of the Year competition which was a really proud achievement.
What type of camera/equipment do you tend to use?
I use a Canon 5D MkIII with a wide-angle lens and another 5DIII with a telephoto lens most of the time.
And for us mere mortals trying to capture a decent shot from our own travels have you any top tip you can share with us to improve our results?
To be honest the best tip is to remember the rule of thirds. This is basically to compose your shots into 1/3’s both vertically and horizontally and always try to get your point of interest into either the left or the right-hand side third, not in the middle. Also, light is hugely important. You’ll always get the best shots in either the early morning or evening sun, it produces much more drama whereas the mid-day sun just flattens everything out, I don’t even bother taking my camera out in the middle part of a day.
Well Paula, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, you’re photography is an inspiration to us all and the fact that yourself and Susan are out there doing all these adventures as two ladies together is great to see too as it can sometimes be a bit intimidating to head out there alone when you’re just starting out. Would you have any advice to others thinking about taking the plunge and heading off on their first proper wild camping adventure?
Just Do it! Honestly, in the 4 years myself and Susan have been travelling all across Europe we’ve met nothing but encouragement and kindness from everyone we’ve met along the way. Just always be courteous, make sure to always check it’s ok to wild camp if you’re somewhere you don’t know and remember to leave no trace and you’ll make so many friends and make memories to last you a lifetime, and take some great photo’s along the way to remind you too hopefully.
To see many more of Paula’s fabulous photograph’s and be able to purchase any favourites please check out her website at: www.paulabeaumontadventures.co.uk or see her on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/paulabeaumont_adventures