I have to admit it, when it comes to writing a regular blog I’m hopeless. Looking back, I see that I’ve really let it go this year, despite there being plenty I could have written about.
So, New Year’s resolution No.1 is to make amends and try to write regularly and we all know how long new year’s resolutions normally last………..
Obviously 2020 has been a strange and restricted year for us all. I started the year determined to work harder on my mono portfolio, but being confined to the garden and places I could walk to for a large part of the year soon put paid to that. However, despite the limitations of the year, I have managed to produce a few images that I’m happy with and I wanted to share my thoughts on each individual image.
Three Trees, Kingthorpe
OK a confession to start with, this image wasn’t actually shot in 2020. However, it’s a file that had lain un-processed on my hard drive because it was overshadowed by my Twenty Trees image. I was driving back from a snowy day on the moors in March of 2018, when I spotted the Kingthorpe estate looking magical in its coating of snow and cloaked in mist, so I just had to stop and capture the scene. It was one of those times when the moment an image pops up on the monitor and you just know you have an image in the bag! It’s a great feeling and one that happens all too rarely! And that image is Twenty Trees, which has gone on to be one of my all-time favourites and a very successful image to boot.
However, as I had stopped, I decided to explore the public footpath across the estate and happened on this scene, which subsequently got forgotten about until March of this year. But on reflection, I’m rather pleased with this image too. For me, the simplicity and separation of the trees from the background is always a bonus, but it’s the subtle curvature of the land that really makes the image work for me.
Wain Wath Force
My second favourite image of the year is this one from Wain Wath Force. With the easing of the Corvid restrictions in the summer, we decided to head for Swaledale to shoot the wildflower meadows, but when we arrived the conditions were dull, drizzly and un-inspiring, so we needed a plan B. We stopped off at Wain Wath falls to have a coffee and a think and I decided to try an idea I’d had to shoot a very dark long exposure image of the falls. The first frame looked rather promising, so I spent some time honing both the exposure and the composition until I had an image I was happy with.
I was so taken with the Wain Wath image, I decided that this was a genre of photography I wanted to pursue, so I decided to have another go at one of the local waterfalls. I’d been to Nelly Ayre a couple of years before and decided that it was far too dangerous a descent into the valley to go on my own again, so I roped in a couple of pals and we returned in the autumn.
My previous trip had shown me the lie of the land, so I knew exactly where to head for an interesting composition. And once again, I spent some time honing the composition and it was this image with the falls pointing to the rock in the centre that made the composition for me.
I like the look of this image and the Wain Wath image so much, and these dark images are such a contrast to the “high Key” mono images we normally produce, so I plan to pursue this style and do a “Dark Waters” series.
Now for something completely different. We’d been to the beautiful Isle of Harris a few times before, but I never felt I’d captured the “essence” of the place, so that was something I wanted to remedy this time. We were staying in a cottage near Traigh Mor, so we were handy for both Traigh Mor beach and Bagh Steinigidh bay.
Whilst I generally like to follow my own path photographically, the plethora of imagery we are exposed to on social media means that we are bound to be influenced by the work of other photographers. And so was here on Bagh Steinigidh, I’d recently discovered the work of Jennifer Bunnett, so some of that influence was bound to rub off here. I wasn’t happy with the “Flow” images I created initially, they were too complicated and had too many un-wanted elements in them for my taste. Fortunately, our format of staying put, rather than visiting lots of different locations meant I was able to return several times and refine my compositions, to get the simplicity that I always strive for and this was my favourite of the many images I shot on this beach.
As I mentioned, I was determined to try and capture something of the “essence” of this wild island and we certainly had the weather for that! I’m a big fan of the dark, moody images of Julian Calverley, so once again some influence has rubbed off, but I do feel this image encapsulated the feeling of standing on that beach with the wind in my face and the waves crashing on the rocks.
An image captured closer to home this time and one shot in a more “Classic” landscape style than the others.
We woke to a rare misty morning in early November. The autumn colours were hanging on nicely this year, so we decided to have a walk in our local wood. The conditions were lovely and moody, and we spent a very happy couple of hours capturing a significant number of images. Janet eventually decided she’d had enough, but I had one more image I wanted to try before I packed up for the morning. So knowing that Janet was keen to go and get warm, I hurried off to shoot a couple of rushed frames at this final location. I do find it ironic that my favourite image of the set is the one I rushed, rather than any of the considered compositions I took my time over.
All in all, 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, but despite the limitations on getting about, we’ve enjoyed our photography and it has taught us to look closer at our home patch too.