Having a family, balancing family life with location photography means careful planning. I go walking in the country at least one a month without fail (come rain or shine). My boys come with me quite often, so the location chosen has to be not too difficult and yet not boring. A trip to Dovedale on a warm summer afternoon is ideal. Nice easy paths with stunning views of the river Dove and its limestone attributes like Ilam Rock. Like most young boys, they love throwing stones into the river, this is an ideal time to set up the tripod and start shooting.
 
 
Trips out without the children are a different matter. A fellow photographer and I try to get out on our own once every couple of months. Locations like Holy Island and Stone Henge, which require a lot of travelling time (there and back usually in the same day) are reserved for such occasions. Also the mountains of Snowdonia are never very far from our thoughts.
     
 
Tactical planning, we have found, requires basically only a few decisions: children yes or no. If yes then we will look at a list of locations that fall into one category. If no then we look at the other list. Both lists comprise of north, south, east and west locations of Stoke on Trent . If the weather (which is checked on the morning of the trip) will be poor in the north-west, then there is no point going to Snowdonia. A location in the east or south-east is looked for. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule, as the weather people sometimes don't get it quite right! And it can be good to shoot a location with different weather and different times of year. The location list is being added to on a continual basis. Ordinance survey maps are a good starting point.
     

 
Looking for interesting features like stone circles, abandoned mines, waterfalls etc can provide good subject matter. The Internet also has a wealth of information. Looking through a walking book, I came across a photograph of Nine Stones (which is on Hartwell moor). I have visited Nine ladies stone circle on the near by Stanton moor a couple of times thinking it was the same place as the ordinance survey map only named Nine Ladies stone circle. Once typed into a search engine, a couple of web sites came up with the location, complete with other places of interest within the local vicinity like Robin Hood's Stride
     
 

A simple day at the beach can give good rewards too. The boys were busy building sandcastles on the beach at Southport . The sky was very strange with the sun emerging now and again. Sitting watching the changing light was mesmerising. Luckily we were sitting just in the right place to photograph the pier and the resultant photograph was one of about twenty taken from the same spot.

     
I did however need to explore further. With a sigh from my wife, off I set. I wanted to get under the pier and use its structure as a frame. Walking towards it, there was a large pool of water in the sand. This was perfect foreground detail. Ten minutes later I was back happy as a boy playing in the sand.