IT TOOK courage for David Speight to make the leap from a steady career in engineering to freelance photography.

But after 25 years in the oil and petrochemical industry he found his calling behind a lens, and has not looked back.

His breathtaking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, moors and coast, as well as striking images of the Lake District, Scotland and Northumberland, have led to him working with high-profile clients including the BBC, ITV, Ordnance Survey and Easyjet.

He has also been shortlisted three times for the prestigious national ‘Take a View’ landscape photographer of the year, and has exhibited across the UK at venues including the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds, the Hawes National Park Centre in the Yorkshire Dales, London’s National Theatre and Waterloo Station.

His passion, especially, for the Yorkshire Dales shines through in his work, from the patchwork of dry stone walls and lonely barns, to the wild flower-rich fissures in limestone pavements and cascading cliff face waterfalls.

As a career move, setting up his own photography business was not without risk, but with steady picture sales, private commissions and regular workshops, he has successfully established himself in the field.

Yet it was not the beauty of the Yorkshire landscapes that led to him taking up photography, but his love of fishing.

A keen angler from a young age, David would ask others to take snaps of him holding prize catches, and often found the results lacking.

“They were either out of focus or the fish was tiny among a crowd of people, or hidden at the side of the picture,” he says. “The photos never seemed to do just justice to the subject.”

The ones he himself took of his catches were often no better. “I got some good ones, but mostly they were disappointing.”

David had always enjoyed photography. Brought up in the West Yorkshire village of Lower Hopton near Mirfield, he had owned a camera since childhood and liked taking pictures. “I became more interested as a teenager, but never seriously,” he says.

That changed in his early twenties when he signed up for a guided fishing trip to the Lake District.

“The person running the trip took us out on his boat, on Windermere,” recalls David, “He had a good camera and the photos he took were excellent. He also let me take pictures using his camera.”

The guide told David he was about to upgrade his equipment and offered to sell him his Canon camera at a knock-down price. He agreed, little knowing that the deal would lead to a new career and life.

“I bought the camera and started to take more photographs,” he says. “Fishing involves a lot of sitting around so I started to take a few pictures of the landscapes around me. As well as Yorkshire, I used to fish in different parts of the UK, so I photographed areas including the Lake District and parts of Scotland.

“At this time I also began reading books on photography and looking closely at other people’s photographs. I would look at mine and see that they weren’t that good, which pushed me to improve.”

He remembers the first time he abandoned his fishing rod, picked up his camera and went out solely to take pictures. “I went to Malham and was standing in a field with my tripod while people were driving past looking at me - I felt very self-conscious.”

He set up in business in 2007, keeping his day job while taking pictures part-time. “I sold quite a few through the photography agency Alamy and was then commissioned by Ordnance Survey to take pictures for a big advertising campaign, which was quite lucrative.”

In 2012 David began holding photography workshops during his holidays from work.

They grew in popularity, with people from across the UK and as far afield as Australia and the USA signing up.

Finally, three years ago, he left his job and threw himself into photography full-time.

His decision was hastened by the death of his father, also an engineer, from pancreatic cancer. “It gave me the kick I needed,” he says.

David’s workshops - both groups and one-to-one, are tailored to experience. “I send out a questionnaire beforehand,” he says. “People come along with all sorts of different cameras, so I need to research the equipment too.”

Now living in Birstall, David shares a home with his partner Belinda and their daughters Alexandra, 15, and 12-year-old Evie, who have been extremely supportive.

He loves finding “new views” in places popular with photographers. Often, he sets off before dawn in his camper van - a vital tool of his trade, he says, transporting him, his equipment and giving the option of a bed for the night - and hikes to find off-the-beaten-track vistas.

“You have to walk a bit to find what you are looking for, and it doesn’t always happen,” he explains, adding that the diversity of the national park makes it special. “I love the green valleys, rivers, waterfalls and the hawthorn trees growing in limestone pavements. There are so many different landscapes.”

Yet you don’t always have to travel far to find wonderful images, he says. “As a child I used to play in the woods at Lower Hopton, where I have captured some lovely scenes.”

He adds: “I also love photographing Yorkshire’s fantastic castles, abbeys and churches. We are very spoilt in this area.”

He strives to find the perfect light. “In summer most of my workshops begin at lunchtime and end at 10pm to benefit from the evening light and the contrasts,” he says.

Earlier this year one of his workshops, in Northumberland, was interrupted by the Beast from the East, the weather system bringing extreme cold, high winds and driving snow. “There were 30ft waves breaking on Amble pier, which would have made great photographs, but with 50mph winds it would not have been safe so we had to abandon it.”

As well as his trademark rural scenes, his many commissions have included urban and industrial landscapes.

“One person wanted a photograph of Ferrybridge power station. There was a field of poppies and oxeye daisies in the foreground, so I took it across that,” he says.

David’s work is sold at a number of cafes and galleries across the Yorkshire region, including Café by the Lake at Kilnsey Park Estate in the Yorkshire Dales. “They have some large prints up to a metre wide on the walls which look really good.”

He hasn’t left fishing behind completely. “I still love fishing, but I just can’t find the time to go,” he laughs.