My Top 20 from 2019
In early January, I like to look back over the pictures I took in the last year and choose my favourites. It's interesting to compare these with previous years to see how I've changed as a photographer.
One of the main differences compared to my favourites from 2018 is that this selection includes some natural history images. I've been entering competitions at Leek Photography Club and I realised this was a weak area for me, so I spent time in 2019 trying to address this.
"Shoeburyness Submarine Boom". I took this on a week-end in Southend in September when I was meeting up with my cousins for a family reunion. I'd normally process this kind of long exposure in black and white. But the colour of the light was gorgeous and I liked the pastel hues, so I decided to keep it in colour.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 21mm. 30sec at f/8, ISO 200.
"Mam Tor Sunrise". I took a day's holiday in October and decided to get out early to capture sunrise at Mam Tor. This is about an hour's drive for me and I'd expected to be jockeying with other photographers but I managed to have the whole place to myself. Although I struggle to get out early, I do love sunrise photography as the scene is always so peaceful.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 12mm. 1/1000s at f/8, ISO 200.
"Coniston Sunset". This was taken by Parkamoor Jetty on Coniston Lake in the Lake District. I spent a few days in the Lake District in May after doing some work in Glasgow. It was great to spend a couple of days dedicated to photography: it was like attending a photography workshop.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Laowa Compact Dreamer 7.5mm lens. 25sec at ISO 200 (f-stop not recorded).
"Queens Bridge, Belfast". I spent the first week of October working in Belfast. I had some negative preconceptions about the city formed by my memories of the Troubles in the 70s and 80s. Those preconceptions were blown away: it was a wonderful city with friendly people and I'd love to go back. I took this long exposure image one evening after work. I got lucky with the bus trail.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 23mm. 2.5sec at f/8, ISO 400.
"Three trees". I took this "peak autumn" shot in November a local park (just 10 minutes from my house) where I encountered this row of beech trees. The colours are genuine: I've not artificially boosted them. The original image has a metal gate at the end of the path, but I cloned that out.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 25mm. 1/40s at f/5.6, ISO 200.
"Early light, Lindisfarne Castle". I took this image, and the one following, during a holiday in Northumberland in October. I got to Lindisfarne just as the causeway was opening and this coincided with sunrise. At this time, there was hardly anybody about on the island, except for some National Trust staff and a few fishermen. I liked the way the fence leads the eye to the castle.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Laowa Compact Dreamer 7.5mm lens. 1/2000s, ISO 200 (f-stop not recorded).
"First light, Lindisfarne Castle". Always on the hunt for some interesting foreground interest, I found these rusty iron rings. They act like stepping stones as your eye moves up from the bottom of the picture.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 12mm. 1/320s at f/5.6, ISO 200.
"Holy Trinity". I took this composition a couple of years ago when I was in Lindisfarne. But at that time the castle was being renovated and I had to clone out the scaffolding around the castle. When I visited this time the scaffolding had gone so I took this long exposure. This time I just had to clone out the National Trust's white van at the bottom of the castle.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Laowa Compact Dreamer 7.5mm lens. 181secs, ISO 200 (f-stop not recorded).
"Wave Study #4". This was a windy day in Northumberland in late October so at sunset I headed off to see the waves at Bamburgh. To get this painterly effect I knew I needed to shoot at about half a second but I left my tripod in the car. It's testament to how good the image stabilisation is on the Olympus EM-1 Mk 2 that this was shot handheld. The rock is pin sharp. I wouldn't say every image was as sharp but the hit rate was pretty high.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 40mm. 0.5sec f/14, ISO 64.
"Gateshead Millennium Bridge". I knew that there was only one spot that I could stand to get this composition and when I arrived another photographer was already occupying it, doing a time lapse. Fortunately, he was shooting through the railings so I perched above him.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Laowa Compact Dreamer 7.5mm lens. 4.0secs, ISO 200 (f-stop not recorded).
"Moon over Mow Cop". This was shot handheld at 400mm. Mow Cop Castle is a Staffordshire landmark about a 20 min drive away from my home. I used PhotoPills to predict when the full moon would rise behind it in March. My calculations were slightly off so I had to, er, move the moon in Photoshop. I also darkened the foreground in front of the hill to hide some houses and I changed the colour balance to make the sky bluer. I added the bird from another image.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Leica DG 100-400/f4-f6.3 lens at 400mm. 1/250s at f/6.3, ISO 200.
"Torside Reservoir Overspill.". I visited Torside Reservoir in April to get this graphic shot but the reservoir level was too low. During that visit, I met someone at the reservoir who lived locally. I asked her if she would let me know when it flooded. She emailed me with the news in October so I went back and got this shot. Thanks Carol!
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 40mm. 90sec f/8, ISO 200.
"Boat House Detail, Lindisfarne". Inspired by the work of David Ward, I'm trying to take more 'intimate' landscape images. It's something I need to keep reminding myself about because big vistas are seductive. I should have spent longer on this image: I think it needs more breathing room to the left. I've also had to rotate the image in Lightroom because the composition wasn't quite right in camera.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 27mm. 1/60s at f/8, ISO 200.
"Hoar Frost". This was another attempt at an intimate landscape image. These leaves had bunched up just by my front door in November and I thought it would make more than just a texture image.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 40mm. 1/80s f/5.6, ISO 200.
"Gannet nest building". The next three images represent part of my attempt to get better at natural history photography. This image was taken at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, which I visited with photographer Tesni Ward in May.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Leica DG 100-400/f4-f6.3 lens at 400mm.. 1/800s at f/6.3, ISO 500.
"Blue tit in song". This was taken in my back garden in April. I clipped some magnolia and wedged it into the bird table. The garden birds then used the magnolia as a queuing post. I took pictures over the course of several days, and this was the one I was most pleased with.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Leica DG 100-400/f4-f6.3 lens at 318mm. 1/1250s at f/5.8, ISO 800.
"Fieldmouse". I visited a wildlife hide in Dorset run by Dean Mason in May. This was where I met these beyond-cute creatures.
Olympus EM-5 Mark II with Leica DG 100-400/f4-f6.3 lens at 100mm. 1/1600s at f/2.8, ISO 400.
"Titanic Museum, Belfast". In this image, I wanted to emphasise the iceberg-like reflection in the pool. I was lucky to get a good sunset and this really helps with the reflection.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 12mm. 1/30s at f/8, ISO 200.
"Between the bridges". This was taken in Belfast. When I looked at this image in Lightroom it seemed to match the Titanic Museum image in some way. Although the subjects are quite different, I liked the way the angles here looked like the angles in the Titanic Museum image.
Olympus EM-1 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 12mm. 3.2sec at f/8, ISO 400.
"We all go into the dark". I took this on the Southbank in London in February. It's a composite of 4 different photographs. I took about 75 pictures on a tripod and these seemed to work best. It was taken about 8am when people were commuting to work. Perhaps if I went back in the evening I'd be able to capture them coming down the steps, which might better suit the title.
Olympus EM-5 Mark II with Olympus M.12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 40mm. 1/200s at f/4, ISO 1000.