Impressive orange light display in a cloudy sky

Nicola Turner Photography

For a long time, we have seen and shared snaps from talented photographers through our #LoveUKWeather hashtag on social media, and in March 2023 we launched a Featured Photographer series to highlight a few frequent contributors.

Nicola Turner is the first of these! Read on to find out more from Nicola about why she chooses to use our forecasts, how she uses the Met Office App, and what weather she's most interested in. 

A headshot of Nicola Turner

Can you tell me a bit about what you do? 

I'm an amateur photographer. I love scenic landscapes and I like to walk, run and cycle – in the last year I’ve trained to be a cycling instructor - so I’m often out and about. Since getting more into photography, I also tend to use those activities as an opportunity to take photographs. I can spend an hour or more waiting for the sky to change to capture sunsets and sunrises, different cloud formations and for colours to emerge. 

At one time I used to do some painting, and I think that shapes my approach to photography, coming at it in terms of composition and colour, I suppose, rather than technicalities, which makes the weather forecast very important. 

A countryside photo of a small field of grass covered in snow, encircled by tall trees, also covered in snow.Otherwise, I'm semi-retired and work freelance. I've been doing some fixed-term contracts, so through that I've ended up working in different places across the UK. That’s meant an abundance of opportunities for taking photos, often at the beginning and end of the day! 

Can you tell me a bit about how the weather, and changing weather throughout the year, impacts what you do?

The weather has a big impact on what I’m able to achieve in my photography. I use an iPhone camera, so nothing very technical, but it means that I have it with me wherever I go. Being able to know with a good level of certainty what the weather conditions will be on days where I am heading out to take photographs is important to my decision making. 

I want to know how much rain there might be, or what the temperatures will be like, for practical purposes. But I'm also always looking for interesting weather conditions to capture in my photography. I particularly like taking photos at sunrise and sunset and I’ve noticed that even on cloudy days the clouds often break at those times of day creating beautiful shots; ideally, I’m looking for sunny intervals for my favourite kind of photography. 

A photo from one bank of a river crossed by a suspension bridge at sunset, with skies coloured orange, pink, yellow, blue and greyClouds often break and develop beautiful colours at sunrise and sunset and I love taking photos of sky reflections in water in local reservoirs near to me, or any other still water or even on wet sand. Other than that, weather like mist, frost, snow or some combination of those can make for really beautiful photographs.  

Strong sunshine isn’t good because I find it tends to wash out the colour in photos quite a lot, but what I'm really trying to avoid is heavy rain which I certainly haven't mastered, and I don't like being completely soaked either! Heavy cloud can also cause some problems because it’s just really dull and grey and images can look very flat. Occasionally I'll take black and white photographs in those kinds of conditions, but generally I'm looking for something a bit more interesting. 

Do you find Met Office forecasts useful? What are you looking at most? 

I’m a Met Office app addict! I look at the forecast sometimes several times a day, so use the app on my phone or tablet. I also check the Met Office website for additional weather information should I need to. I’m partly looking at it from a practical point of view about how many layers of clothes to wear, for example. But I’m also looking at the forecast to find interesting weather conditions near to me, particularly around sunrise and sunset. When I’m travelling around the UK for work or on holiday, in places like Scotland or the East Coast of England, I also find it fascinating that sunset and sunrise times were actually up to half an hour different between Scotland and Manchester, for example, and several minutes different from East and West Coast, and so on. So, I use the Met Office app to get accurate times for that too, as well as the general expected conditions for the area.  

Do you use it to plan further ahead days in advance? Or check the night before?   

I often look at Met Office forecasts several times a day either to check the forecast for that day, for specific times of day or further ahead into the week. Even if cloud is forecast, as long as it’s not thick cloud, I’ve got a chance of seeing clouds breaking at sunrise/sunset as sometimes things can change. 

This evening, for example, I’m planning to go out on my bike at about 5PM to give me time to get to a suitable location in good time before sunset. I’d checked earlier in the day so I can see that it’s worth going out because I’m likely to get my favourite sunny intervals or broken cloud kind of weather. 

I also look further ahead to plan my week, to think about what day of the week may be good to get up early or go out later in the day, or when it’s not likely to be worth bothering.  

How accurate do you find Met Office forecasts?  

I've generally found Met Office forecasts accurate and very reliable. I like the level of detail they go into, like the hour-by-hour breakdown of weather conditions, percentage chances of rain and what temperature is expected to be and to feel like.  

I definitely trust it over others, although I would say if I'm going walking in the mountainous area, I will also use the mountain weather forecast the Met Office provides as well to get more information than the standard forecasts provide. 

I treat the Met Office forecasts as accurate to the point that I’m outraged on the occasion that it rains when the forecast has only said a 10% chance, but I do remind myself that even 10% happens sometimes! Even so, I’m still happy to rely on the Met Office forecast services because I do find them generally very accurate, and they give me the kind of detail that I’m interested in that others don’t provide. 

What more would you like to see from us?   

The one thing I would love to see in the future, which I appreciate is quite specialist, is a way to know the angles of sunrise and sunset at different times of year in different places. Where I live, I have a good understanding of what to expect at what time of day and time of year in my favourite places to take photos, but when I’m in other parts of the UK it’s difficult for me to estimate more accurately where the sun will be other than a general direction. It influences my photography because depending on where the sun rises and sets affects the views I can photograph at those times of day and where I can hope to see interesting views of the sky framing trees or other landmarks or where I can achieve good photos of the sky reflecting in still water. So, that's the one thing that's on my wish list!