So along with jumping on the end of year, look back, pick my highlights of the year bandwagon I’ve also taken Bruce Percy’s lead from his fabulous talk at the OnLandscape Conference, and upon whittling down my favourite images of the year I’ve also looked back at last year’s selection to see if there has been any direction changes or patterns emerging. Which, in and of itself was an interesting and hugely valuable thing to do.
There’s definitely been a simplification in my work, which is both a sub-conscious thing and also a conscious thing if that’s possible. I still love a woodland…thankfully…I enjoy details and the quieter things, and also a little abstract now and again. One surprise was the inclusion of a totally traditional landscape for me, and not only a traditional landscape but one of an icon, an instantly recognisable skyline, and the one that was directly responsible for me shunning grand vistas in the first place…the Langdale Pikes…and from no lesser spot than Blea Tarn. Trust me, three months ago I didn’t see that coming either, but I like it…so it’s in…although it’s a bugger to print and I haven’t made a version that I like emerge from my printer yet…but I’ll get there…
So in no particular order here they are, my top 10 of 2016. Included in this ragtag bag of imagery is the one I snuck into the LPOTY 10 book, a couple that appeared in my interview in Outdoor Photography, some that I’ve shared online and one or two that some people may not have seen before. I hope you enjoy browsing through them, and for all the pedants out there, yes my top 10 list of images actually has 15 images in it…but ‘My Top 15’ isn’t anywhere near as catchy and sounds far more self indulgent. Anyway, enough wittering for now…in non-chronological order, onto the images…thanks for getting this far…and for those who have made it this far and can’t be bothered to read on….my personal favourite is the one with wildlife in.
A cold bright blue sky day, one where the best thing you can do is get in the shadows on a beautiful beach in Pembrokeshire and simply revel in the gold and blue. Another top tip is to also make sure you get the shot before inquisitive dog owners approach you from the other side of the deserted stretch of sand just to see what you’re taking a photo of, not realising that gallumfing labrador paw prints aren’t really the missing key ingredient to your composition.
The icon, The Langdale Pikes in their winter coat from above Blea Tarn. I love the light and tones of this image and along with the obvious mirroring of the pikes with the large ice plucked roche moutonnee in the foreground, the autumn detail in the woodland lifts an otherwise oppressively dark area.
An abstract from ‘around the back’ of the fishing huts of Southwold. You simply can’t beat a bit of rusty tin roof and a fence post or bit of old rock to enjoy some abstract textures and patterns.
A few strands of grass floating around the edge of a small lake in Snowdonia on my first visit there. Vistas to be had everywhere but I just couldn’t help looking at my feet again.
It would appear I spend a lot of time looking at my feet when on location, which suits me fine when I get to pick out details like this one of some wind bleached tree roots crawling out of a grike on a limestone pavement in Yorkshire. I love the skeletal feel of the roots and the beautiful texture and similar colour palette of the limestone slab itself.
Boulders in the River Gruinard in Wester Ross lit by reflected light from the surrounding bracken covered slopes and blue skies above. A pivotal image in terms of working through and understanding my own photographic processes.
A reed study from a small lochan somewhere in Assynt, the precision benefits of a geared tripod head were vital to being able to carefully compose this as I perched precariously on the edge of the wee lochan
A lesson in trusting your eye when it spots an image, this was taken whilst walking off a beach after one of those subconscious neck snapping moments where your brain registers something in your peripheral vision. The whole area surrounding this scene was covered in rubbish and various flotsam and jetsam washed in on the high tide, but somehow this small square meter or two remained free from paw prints, footprints and rubbish.
A very quick grab shot, again from Southwold, I had just enough time to catch the two jackdaws wittering away on the wonky telephone line before they flew away. This bizarrely is probably my favourite image of the year, I just love the simplicity and the lines and sense of space.
Now this is as local as you can get, shot from my study window on a super foggy morning, simplicity almost taken as far as it is possible to go. And misty telegraph poles make a nice alternative to misty trees now and again.
My LPOTY image, the one that finally got in, and thanks to Jasmine Teer for the Judges Choice award too. Again a small tableaux from the back of the fishing huts at Southwold
The last gasp autumn colour of a birch at Bolehill in the Peak District. Almost all the other trees were well past shedding their leaves but this little tree clung onto a few last handfuls of gold, which contrasted delightfully with the blue light in the valley beyond. A rare moment of ‘light’ for me.
Another from the same day in Bolehill, and a short wait for the right light which was critical to the success of the image, creating the contrasts necessary to pick out the two birch trees. For me there’s a definite parent-child relationship between the two trees, with ‘Dad’ waiting to catch the climbing child if he falls.
A small clearing in a particularly dark bit of my local woodland, lit by some soft diffuse light through the lightest of mist in the air. It’s a great patch of woodland, with a real mix of deciduous and coniferous planting.
And finally, the last chronologically of 2016, taken in the Forest of Dean on a cold morning where the promised mist didn’t really materialise. Unashamedly more than a touch melancholic with the deep blue shadows, ice and threatening form of the moss covered oak tree, but called a Glimmer of hope for a reason.
Here’s to 2017 everyone.