2020 Vision: A Review Of My Favourite Images
Bye-bye 2020, welcome 2021! I wish everyone the very best for the year ahead and hope that life can soon return to normal (whatever that means). I also hope some things don't return to normal - I know working from home has had its challenges but I've thoroughly enjoyed having more time with my lovely little family.
But before I jump into this new year and new hope, I thought I’d start by sharing my favourite landscape photographs from 2020, providing a little more background than I usually give. Despite the shackles, I did manage to get out and take a few images I’m actually quite happy with. I feel my photography has progressed despite everything (indeed partly because of the constraints) - I’m starting to see compositions better and have a better understanding of the kind of scenes I’m drawn to and would like to work on. I think it’s a useful personal exercise to choose a few favourites and draw out any lessons. I hope you’ll do the same and I look forward to seeing them. So, without further ado…
A Forest Sketch
An image from Ashridge, my local woods. As always I’m looking for something a little different and found this scene on one of my aimless wanderings around my local woods. This was meant to be just a scouting shot (the conditions were blah); to return to in better conditions but the result was pleasing when I combined an ICM image (moving the camera slowly upwards at a slow shutter speed) and a sharp shot. I blended the two together in Photoshop, reducing the opacity of the ICM image to about 30%. Very simple really but it was a surprising image that resulted and reminded to experiment when conditions aren’t seemingly perfect.
Tewet Dry Stone Wall
This was a lesson in mindfulness. I was on our (only) family trip away for the year to the Lakes and was given an escape pass for an evening of peace and quiet. I settled on Tewet Tarn as a nice sunset location and headed off, found a nice little spot on the mountain side and just sat there. For two hours. Sounds boring perhaps but I was quite content watching the light skip across the fells and fields and took this image of the dry stone wall. A little abstract. A little different. And for those reasons I like it. I think 2020 has taught me a lot about balance, in life but also in my landscape photography and it’s something I’ve noticed becoming more important in my images. I’m also a sucker for a dry-stone wall!
Peak District Tales
Not one of my usual intimate little scenes I hear you gasp but this image reminds me of a very pleasant time spent in the Peak District with one of my photo buddies, Kev. We’d started the day in torrential rain, hiking up a hill in the dark. The day ended on the other side of the hill, sat watching the light fade. Every now and again the sun would find a slot through the clouds and illuminate the landscape.
On that same trip I took this image while waiting for the rain to ease (and Kev to stop faffing about). Mind in neutral I saw these branches overhanging a river and thought that I liked the vibrants greens. But I had to wait for Kev because he’d borrowed my polariser filter (needed to reduce the glare from the river). I composed the scene to create the flow and balance I was looking for in the meantime. When Kev finally returned (he’s the master of taking time on shots) I requested my filter back. I then watched him juggle it, catch it, juggle it again, then drop it in the mud. Clown. Anyway, I digress. The picture is 5 images focus stacked together and I like the way it flows around the space. I think it marks a bit of a “moment” for me in terms of balance and flow in my images.
Huorn - The Guardian of Ashridge Forest
To be totally honest I’d nearly given up on my local woods. “Too chaotic” being my usual excuse. I found myself slightly reluctant to go out fearing failure. But I pulled myself together and tried to listen to some of my own advice about enjoying nature. I’d been out with the boys climbing trees and found this wonderful character not far from home so returned that evening. I spent a good hour just wandering around looking for the best compositions and was rewarded with some really lovely evening light. I’m reading Lord of the Rings with my son at the moment so this fitted very nicely with that Middle Earth feel. I call it “Huorn”, after the tales of ancient trees in the deepest forests, gnarled and unmoving, yet ever watchful. Yes, I’m a geek.
Now I know this isn’t for everyone! And perhaps in a year when looking back I’ll question my sanity but I like it. It’s a truly wonderful little hidden spot in the woods and while chaotic, I think I was able to find and compose a scene that worked. I enjoy shots that make the view have to think a little. It looks really fabulous printed up large too. If nothing else it’s a nice record of a place in the woods that’s special to me.
And finally an image from my short trip to Somerset. Weather-wise it wasn't great but I really enjoyed the time exploring new places in wonderful company (thanks Jules!). This is an inverted B&W image, I thought the birds in white looked more hopeful.
I have plenty more but this could go on for ages. I've added a few more below as a special treat.
My 2020 lessons learned:
Shoot local (even when you don’t need to). It sometimes just takes time for scenes to begin to present themselves.
Chaotic scenes can be ordered with time and imagination (and conditions).
Slow. It. Down.
My landscape photography goals for the year ahead? To have no goals. I simply go out when I can. Shoot what I can. Try to be different. Edit when I have time and then release my images into the world like delicate butterflies. Be gentle with them :-)
All the very best,