My Top 10 from 2014 (well 12).
I was recently asked to put together what I felt were my best 10 photographs from the last year. Being my usual awkward self, I decided 12 was a better number, so here you go. They're not strictly my favourite 12, but they show a good spectrum of the work I have been doing, and a development of a style. Hopefully this will continue into 2015.
The photographs are listed in chronological order, its almost a Calendar (Project for later in the year). These images have all, at some point been my favourite. Its been great going back through the archives to choose the images, I hope you like my choices.
Can I also use this Blog to wish anybody that reads it, a Very Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2015.....Lets make it a good one.
1) Lichfield Cathedral at Night
Im a big fan of reflections and this pool in Lichfield offers some great ones at sunset. It was a particularly chilly evening, but the sunlight had been good, and there were just enough clouds around to make the sky interesting. As happens so many times at the critical moments, the sun disappeared behind the remaining clouds on the horizon, and the wind picked up, creating choppy water, blitzing the reflection. Feeling a little disappointed with the conditions, I decided to play around with my new 10-stop ND filter, and here is the result. I could have corrected the blue colour cast created by the filter, but I felt it helped to illustrate the coldness of the night. I guess the lesson that I took from this outing was that plan B is sometimes better than Plan A (this happens a lot I now find).
2) Sunset on Iceland
I decided to be extravagant and treat myself to a photography trip to southern Iceland in February. A six day trip that fuelled my passion to be behind the lens. The trip was lead by professional photographers Ross Hoddinott and Mark Bauer, and their subtle words of advice improved my compositional skills overnight. I cannot praise these guys highly enough, and I am pleased to now be able to consider them friends. Picking just one image from this trip was hard work, but this is my favourite. You only get to see sunsets like this a handful of times a year, and having your camera with you at the right time and place is even more of a rarity. The black sands of Vik create the perfect contrast...I just love this one.
3) Gwithian and Godrevy
The cliff tops along this beach are a favourite for me and my Dog. We have walked them many times during 2014, and enjoyed more BLT sandwiches from the Godrevy Beach Cafe than I care to remember. Its a great spot, managed brilliantly by the National Trust. I can easily wear Eddie the Beagle out, before wandering down on to the rocks or beach to 'do my thing' as the sun sets over St.Ives. I always time my visits to coincide with low tide when the rock pools can act as a mirror to the sky. Theres usually only a handful of people on the beach, and maybe a dozen surfers making the most of the last of the light. This is heaven for me.
4) Dinosaur Egg Beach
I had seen photographs from Porth Nanven in magazines and some of the 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' Books. It looked amazing, so I had to go and find it. The boulders make the perfect foreground interest, and if you time your visits well, the sun sets in just the right spot. It can be a tricky beach to climb on (theres no walking on the sands here), so you need to check the tide times before you get engrossed in your craft. This is another location I have shot many times in 2014, and found it hard to pick just one image. The subtle, warm tones of this one made it a favourite for me though.
5) Bright Eyes
My most successful photograph to date, and the winner of the 'Classic View' in the 2014 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' competition. I think enough has been said about this image by now, so ill keep this entry short and sweet.
6) Priests Cove
The planning of my trips to Cornwall can be likened to that of a military operation. I get out the tide charts, check the sunrise and sunset times, even consult the Ephemeris to see the exact position of the sun at some of my favourite locations. I do as much as I can, but can never predict the weather more than a day in advance. This particular week in September was frustrating beyond belief. It was unseasonally warm and sunny, and with that warmth came very poor clarity of light. However on the final day of the trip the rain moved in big time, clearing the air. I thought it was going to rain all day until mid afternoon when it stopped and the sun tried to break through. It never quite managed it, but this 90second shot benefits from the moody sky, and remains one of my favourites from 2014.
7) Business down South
The sea defences around the UK always make a good subject for photographers, and as such are shot to death by us. But I still find them interesting. I decided to compose this image with the 'Groyne' off-centre, and keep the shutter open for a couple of minutes to blur the clouds and smooth out the ocean. The sharpness of the grain in the wood and the sandy beach contrast well against the lack of detail in the water. This was one of the rare occasions where the day job provided a great photo opportunity.
8) A field of Wild Poppies
What isn't to like about wild flowers on a perfect summer evening, except this year the poppies served as a reminder of events of 100 years before. These splashes of red dotted around the countryside became a symbol of remembrance to the brave soldiers that gave their lives in conflict, particularly the so called 'Great War' in 1914-1918. I remember this photoshoot well. Despite the proximity to a very busy road, there was an enormous feeling of peace as I quietly took my pictures.
9) A wet and windy trip to the Lakes
Buttermere had been on my radar for months, so I planned a trip to the great lake to fit in with work and the availability of dog sitters (my dog isn't well behaved so is banned from most photoshoots). What I hadn't banked on was the tail end of Hurricane Gonzales coming in to try and blow me away. Unfortunately the trip was cut short after just 2 days, but I did manage to find some great spots for another time.
By the time I managed to get back to the Lake District I had almost missed all of the autumnal colour. But on a still November morning just outside of Keswick, the mirror like surface of Derwent Water helped to double what colour there was left. I see many houses and cottages in picturesque locations during my travels, but this one is my favourite so far. How lucky you must be to wake up here every morning. I spent about 4 hours walking around the shores of this lake around sunrise. Not a bad way to start your Sunday.
11) Back Tor
On the morning the results were announced for Landscape photographer of the year, I decided to meet up with a photographer friend close to the location where my winning shot was taken. We had a great walk in very mixed conditions. When the sun did come out at around 10am, we had wandered as far as Back Tor. The golden light illuminated the side of the tor brilliantly, so we hastily began shooting. It was only when I got back to my computer that I noticed the breaking cloud on the summit. A nice little extra that gives the shot some atmosphere. Maybe this one is a bit 'Arty' to be considered wall-worthy to most, but its still one of my favourites of the year, for many reasons.
A picture I decided to call 'High Peaks, Low Temperatures'. This isn't intact a mono conversion, but a colour image, although the only colour evident is the green grass around the trees in the distance. I like this image as the conditions show off the naked trees to their best. Ordinarily the detail of the bare branches would be lost in the background, but with the snow and mist, they stand out lovely. Its actually a couple of photographs stitched together, something I will be doing more of in 2015. This was taken on my way home. Im glad I decided to stop the car and get the gear out again.
And so we get to the end of what turned out to be a pretty fantastic year. I ended 2014 with my enthusiasm for photography even greater than when I started 2014. I have learned so much over the last 12 months, but theres still so much more to discover. Most of all, I have enjoyed it, and thats got to be the main thing.