One of the things I like to do at this time of year, in common with a lot of people, is to attempt to put the outgoing year in perspective with a short review. I usually do this by selecting up to 12 personal highlights from the past year’s crop of images and this year, for the first time, I thought I’d expand on my selection with a supporting article here.
Rather than go through each picture individually, I’m going to organise things by location and just single out one or two photographs from each place to talk about in a bit more depth (the highlights of the highlights, if you will. :-))
Gole di Breggia. My first trip of 2011 and an unfamiliar place as well. To go there and make two strong compositions from a short stretch of river after only my second visit makes it a very special location for me. Of course, the geology is fascinating and unusual with much potential but it was still highly satisfying to realise at least some of that potential.
Gorges du Doubs. This, of course, is not a new location for me and, fittingly, three images from this spot make it into my pick of the year. Even though I know it well, it’s still very satisfying to return from my visits with portfolio-worthy images. The shot of young beech (although it could be alder or, possibly, hazel – I’m no expert in such things) contrasting with fallen leaves, in particular, makes the cut because it was one of the few occasions when I feel I have created an image with a degree of depth. People have commented on the philosophical contrast between new growth and old, fallen leaves as well as the fresh colours but for me it’s more about shapes and transition: the swirling forms of the new growth overlaying the transition from browns to greens going down the image. Adding extra dimensions to my photographs is something I strive hard to do so it’s particularly gratifying to think I might have succeeded on this occasion.
Cumbria. The pink rock at St. Bees Head was a real find. I went to St. Bees more out of curiosity than from any real desire to find interesting subjects so it was rewarding to encounter this beautiful pink sandstone. I made an initial scouting visit with my small digicam followed up a day later with the big camera. The shapes, texture and colour in such a small area of rock were really quite remarkable.
My trip to the English Lake District also yielded a small number of other portfolio-worthy images, of which my absolute favourite has to be the last sheet of 5×4 film I exposed on the trip. I was feeling at a bit of a loss as nothing I tried seemed to work and, just as I was about to call it a day, I decided to take one more look around. The little scene below all but called out to me from around 100m away. After that, it was just a matter of finding a stable location for the tripod and framing up. The colours were the big attraction but I also liked the way the moss hugged the top of each slab of rock, producing repeating ‘waves’ of vivid green. Sometimes you just need to be at your wits’ end before inspiration has a chance to strike…
So that’s my modest round-up of another year of photographing the landscape. All that remains now is to wish my reader a happy and prosperous new year!