Loving the Landscape

Holme Fen - Jamie Overland

Landscape Photographer Jamie Overland wants everyone to appreciate the stunning treescape of the silver birch woods at Holme Fen as much as he does. He's been inviting other photographers to join him as he films vlogs for his YouTube channel and would love you to step inside this magical world too.

I was born in the capital of the Fens, Wisbech, and spent my childhood helping my parents on their arable farm in Outwell, which is where I probably got my love for the great outdoors. Growing up without technology and spending most of my early years outdoors, you learn to respect the environment you live in and the part it plays in providing for those that depend on it.

I discovered an interest in photography quite late on in life really, which started with a digital point and shoot camera and then moved onto to a more ‘serious’ DSLR camera about 5 years ago. Once I’d mastered the basics of photography and how to shoot in ‘manual’, I decided to focus on purely landscape photography as a genre. 

As far as landscapes go, most of the epic scenery that you would have probably seen captured already, was certainly nowhere near the flat Cambridgeshire Fens! I decided therefore to learn and develop my skills in this local area and try to photograph the unseen beauty of the East instead.

It wasn’t long before I extended my photography to videography and in 2018 I started my YouTube channel so I could share the local areas I was capturing on camera with a wider community and try and put the Fens on the map as a place to visit.

Holme Fen 'Beauty and the Beast'

Holme Fen 'Beauty and the Beast' - Jamie Overland

One of the places that I have photographed and filmed many times is Holme Fen. I was amazed when I first visited this place - it really is rather special. From a photographer’s view point the shapely silver birches provide excellent subjects to shoot, with the contrast of their silvery-grey trunks against the summer greens or the autumn browns.

This place is huge, and has so much potential to photograph in all seasons and in all conditions. I have been lucky to experience some lovely misty and foggy mornings, which really add to the mood and atmosphere and help create some really special images. More recently, I have been joined by other experienced landscape photographers, who themselves live in areas of natural beauty such as Snowdonia, The Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Their reactions to the Fen was one of disbelief and they have since vowed to return time and time again…how good is that?!

Holme Fen and nearby Woodwalton Fen, both part of the Great Fen project, not only provide exceptional potential for landscape and woodland photography but also nature and wildlife photography. Particularly Woodwalton, where there is an abundance of wildlife. It is even home to Chinese water deer who, whilst shy in front of the camera, provide a great subject to photograph if you can spot them!

Holme Fen 'Silver and Gold'

Holme Fen 'Silver and Gold' - Jamie Overland

Both of these areas are protected nature reserves and need to be treated with respect while being enjoyed. The fantastic volunteers and staff at the Great Fen do exceptional work to maintain these places for people like myself to experience. The paths that take you through the woodland and around the lakes need constant attention and clearing, especially in the winter months or the summer storms. There are also some amazing biodiversity projects aimed at preserving the wetlands and protecting the peat from releasing carbon.

To offer my support, I have recently become a member of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, as I know my donations help towards the great work that is needed to preserve this place for me to continue to explore. My view is, by donating, I am helping to protect these places so I can continue to enjoy my hobby, enjoy the natural habitat and more importantly, help protect the wildlife and environment for years to come. I’d encourage you all to do the same, if you can. 

3 tips on photographing trees at Holme Fen

1.    Take advantage of the weather

Silver birch trees are very photogenic and there are plenty of compositions to find in this Fen woodland. However, the best time I have found to visit is in the early morning mist or fog where the woodland turns into an ethereal wilderness. Drizzly, wet conditions, often with soft overcast light, also help enrich the colours of the leaves and bracken too.

2.    Using paths and tracks

The maintained paths and tracks aid your compositions by providing great leading lines. Try and frame a shot with a path leading you into an area of light in the woodland, or if you're lucky enough, into the mist. Use the light to your advantage to pick out subjects that stand out at the end or corner of a path.

3.    Contrasting colours

Throughout the year there is natural contrast of colour in the Fen, using the silvery bark against the golden bracken or the yellow birch leaves. I’ve found that sometimes, if the light is right, the birch trunks take on a blue colour which goes really well against autumnal oranges and browns.  Finding a scene with different colours, shapes and textures will produce a striking image

Holme Fen path

Holme Fen path - Jamie Overland

You can follow and share more of Jamie's beautiful work from his website, YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook


The Wildlife Trust BCN 2021 Calendar

Featuring winning images from our 2020 photography competition, our calendar is now on sale for just £8 - and makes a great gift!

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Wicken Fen by Gary Norman - Photography Competition 2020 winner