Ted leeming: SOlo hiking WITH Zero Footprints 

Ted Leeming is an f-stop Ambassador and one half of Leeming & Paterson, professional outdoor photographers based in Scotland and more recently also the stunning hills of Liguria in northern Italy. He is currently undertaking a 260-mile solo hike through the Alps, where, as you can see in the image above, he is already experiencing stunning landscapes on the trail. 

We caught up with Ted just before he set off on this personal project to find out what motivated him to undertake this mammoth hike, and how this relates to the wider Zero Footprints project using photography to both highlight the effects of climate change and showcase the glory of natural landscapes. 

Read on for his insights, along with a taste of his photographic work, and how you can follow his progress and get involved:

 

Ted, this is quite the hike that you are about to undertake. What was your initial motivation for undertaking this project and deciding to do this solo?

Wow, I feel ridiculously sedentary compared to many of the mad capers the other f-stop ambassadors get up to.  Just 260 miles with 21,000m of ascent high level traverse, solo, camping on across the Maritime Alps on the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri.  I done a fair amount of bike packing and many day walks and week long walking holidays staying in a hostel or bothy but never at this level so it is definitely new to me.  So why, might you think, I would want to undertake such nonsense.  Well, I guess there are a few reasons

Firstly, its there, so why not.  As good a reason as any probably.  And answer saves a lot of further soul searching.  So perhaps my favourite. Then there is the fact that we (Morag and I) have recently moved to Liguria in Italy and I need desperately to learn Italian if I am not to be considered an ignorant idiot by the locals.  We want to fit in to the local community and am really not a great fan of expat bars (not that there are any here).  So I guess 4 hours + a day of language tapes is one solution and it will be hard to avoid now I’ve posted that I am doing this!

f-stop Ambassador Ted Leeming contemplates his solo trek for Zero Footprints

260 miles in your own company leaves plenty of time for comtemplation. 

"I also want to spend time looking at a slightly different angle for my photography. This is a great opportunity for me to learn absorb my new surroundings and be inspired by them. "

The area is so rich in culture, scenery and wild life I hardly know where to begin so will I will have to see where this takes me. Panasonic have very kindly donated one of their G series cameras as I wanted to trial a single camera/lens approach. I recently spend a year shooting almost exclusively with a Sony A7rII with the amazing Zeiss 55mm prime lens attached so this is not an entirely new concept for me but it will still be strange to see how this develops. I will be posting blogs as I go so will keep you posted on what I am doing, kit and the experience if you are interested. By walking I am also minimising my carbon footprint, a factor increasingly important in our work, following our original Zero Footprint project where we spent 5 years taking every image from exactly the same location as we built our Zero Energy house. You can see some of those images at at our website and we even ended up doing a book on it!

Finally, the main reason for the walk is to raise money for and raise the profile of the new community Zero Footprints - “The Voice of Photographers Exploring Climate Change”.  Please go take a look at the website, and if you are interested perhaps join us and donate an image or your “voice” on the subject of climate change. We are really keen to grow the initiative across the global photographic community - professional and amateur - educating and raising awareness & funds to help combat climate change. We’ve only just begun but have had an amazing response so would like as many folk as possible to join us. Basically, I felt that rather than sit and wait for others to do something I should do my bit. All of the money raised will go directly to an amazing grass roots charity called Solaraid, who offset carbon, increase the health, economic and social welfare of African communities, with 92% of all monies raise going to the front line.  It's amazing work these guys do and I am proud to support them.

Mezzaluna Tree.  Sony A7R2 with 100-400mm

 

You mentioned few interesting topics here, but let’s start with a the most important topic – changing Scotland for Italy? I always thought Scots were very proud of their homeland, with its stunning scenery. Tell us Ted, why did you and Morag decide to move to Italy?

(Laughs) Firstly, I am not Scottish  - though Morag is. We have always wanted a Mediterranean escape and came across Liguria purely by chance having seen it on one of those awful TV homes programs. Morag visited the area when at the Arles Photography Week, sent a video of the house and we bought it without my ever having seen it. Reality is so much more and we are currently very happy with our choice as not only is Liguria and its people fantastic but it also opens up access across Europe for adventures,

 

What is the “Zero Footprint” project? how did this start and what are the next steps?

We were building our Zero Energy House in Scotland and decided, as part of the project, to see if we could create a portfolio of images all taken from exactly the same location, thus minimizing our carbon footprint – something as photographers we’re are increasingly aware of.  And thus the Zero Footprint concept was born.  After 5 years we produced a book of the project and we continue to add ideas to the concept.

 

Mezzaluna Trees. Sony A7R2 with Sony 100-400mm 

Albenga Seafront. Sony A7R2 with Zeiss 55mm

 

You mentioned the “The Voice of Photographers Exploring Climate Change”.  What is your goal and how do you want to achieve it?

We all know the phrase “a photograph speaks a thousand words”.  Our vision is to raise awareness and educate people as a global photographic community on the subject of climate change, and at the same time actively raise money to offset carbon emissions. To work it must be fun, interactive and inclusive. That is why we have opened it up to all photographers to participate.

How can other photographers get involved?

Any photographer can submit an image to and review other images on our The Zero Footprints Community Facebook page where they can interact, discuss, create collaborations and simply view the work of others. We will review this page, together with direct submissions to the website, for extraordinary images which will be invited to be hosted on the website. These images are donated free of charge, and we already have work donated by a host of some of the worlds leading photographers, and all the money raised from sales (after print costs) are donated to charities offsetting climate change.

Varigotti. Sony A7R2 with Sony 100-400mm

The logistics of a 260-mile trek must require some preparation and gearing up. What are your essentials for this trip?

The real essentials (aside from not enough training ;o) are a light pack as I have to carry everything including my tent, sleeping bag and mat, cooking kit, clothes., food & water etc with me. Not to mention my camera gear. I even need my own power supply, solar panels and a battery so I can recharge my camera and phone. The entire kit will weigh about 15-20kg, what I usually carry on a day trip photographic outing in the field. I am really looking forward to testing my theories and sharing them with everyone via the Blog as I progress. I will even be able to tell you how comfortable that f-stop rucksack is when carrying a full load for some three weeks! See you on the trail!

Lovenjo chapel.  Sony A7R2 with Zeiss Batis 25mm

What's in the bag, when you have 3 weeks on trail ahead of you?

Now underway! Read the full packing list for this solo hike on Ted'd blog here. You can follow Ted's journey through daily blog posts - he'd love to take you along for the journey! 

To hear more about the Zero Footprints global community of photographers, Ted & Morag are hosting a free interactive webinar on June 7th open to all. You can sign for the Zero Footprints webinar here.

 

EXPLORE THE GEAR USED IN THIS STORY:

For this trip, Ted Leeming is using his 80L f-stop Shinn.