Some stats from my photographic look back at the year gone by: 185,000 : 66,000 : 10,029 : 3 : 2 : 1 & 1. And what do they equate to? Website hits, images I looked through as a photo competition judge, feet stood above sea level atop a volcano, countries visited, times on tv, hire cars dented & number of my images entered in to comps by other people! Yep, it’s been an eventful year in some ways, although equally a quite one in others. But what was my favourite image? And what was my worst moment?
Before I started writing this post, I wondered at first what I would put in it. After all, this year has, if you work out the average amount of time I’ve used my camera, been quite slow. But as I started to look back at old blog posts I realised something, it’s not the quantity of my experiences this year that have made it a good one, it’s the quality! So here are some of my favourite images, experiences and videos of 2010. Enjoy…
TRAVEL : FOG, FORTUNE TELLING RABBITS AND EXPLODING BUG BITES
So, 2010 saw a little bit of travel for my camera and I. The year got off to a flying start, well, in theory at least. A week on the Island of Texel, Holland. An island full of everything from waders to birds of prey to hare. Added to that my first time in that part of the world and I was really looking forward to the week ahead. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse the morning after we arrived, the fog rolled in and, well, never rolled out again! At one point we contemplated coming home early as the forecast for the days ahead showed no sign of let up. But despite that, myself and friend and fellow photographer Rene De Heer made the most of it and were rewarded at the end of the trip with a fantastic boxing match between two hare and, the standout moment, the sight and opportunity to photograph a beautiful Peregrine Falcon sitting on a fence post in the pouring rain. A truly unforgettable experience and one that still stands out as a highlight of the year, and was a great reminder that it’s always worth persevering because eventually your patience will pay off…or, if nothing else, you’ll just get insanely lucky! Had we gone home early, two of my favourite images of the year would never have been captured.
You can read more about our encounter with this beautiful raptor, and read more about our week on Texel, here.
The next country on the list was the stunning city of Istanbul. And as regular readers of the blog may remember, came about very last minute after a 4 day trip to Croatia was stopped, the morning we arrived at Gatwick airport to discover the flight had just been cancelled! As our bags were already packed and time from work booked off, upon returning home we did some frantic Googling and hastily booked a flight to Turkey for the following morning. Our time spent there was brief but fun (we encountered everything from a rabbit that could tell our fortune to an old lady selling cold drinks from a very rusty wheel chair, that looked like a prop from a horror film, set in a mental asylum), and as I hadn’t had chance to plan or research much about our new destination, upon arrival I quickly decided to just make this trip a relaxing one and opted to make a simple time lapse video of the visit, based around the stunning Blue Mosque that was just a few minutes walk from our hotel.
You can read more about the visit to Istanbul, here.
The final bit of travel of the year came at the end of summer with a two week trip that involved a week on Maui, Hawaii, sandwiched between 3 day stop overs in San Jose and San Francisco, California. And wow, what an amazing time we had. Let me tell you, whatever anyone says about the beauty of Hawaii, nothing comes as close as actually experiencing it for yourself. From the palm tree littered streets, to the star lit skies to the bug bites it was every bit an experience I won’t soon forget. The highlight of which, was driving to the 10,000ft summit of the Haleakala Volcano crater (actually, 10,029 if you walked to the very top). Driving up, inside the clouds, with visibility down to maybe 8 feet at the most was both a scary and exhilarating experience, but didn’t come close to the feeling of awe when you break through that cloud cover and drive the final 3,000 feet to the summit with clear skies over head and cloud now sitting below you! And once you reach the top nothing can prepare you for just how cold it is! Wow, it may have been 30 degrees at sea level but up here, we are talking 5 degrees with biting cold wind. But neither that, nor the aforementioned bug bites on my leg popping from the pressure at that altitude could put a dent in my complete and utter gobsmackedness (ok ok, I know that’s not a real word, but there are no real words to describe the experience with any justice) of being that high up, with a blanket and cloud beneath us.
You can read more about the image above, and see it in higher resolution, here.
CAMERA EQUIPMENT, SHINY SHINY CAMERA EQUIPMENT
From my high ISO Nikon D7000 test, my 16-35 VR & 14-24 f2.8 wide angles review, using the Naturescapes Groundpod, my ThinkTank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600 rain cover review and more, I’ve used and tested some great equipment this year. But the highlight for me has to be my upgrade from the Nikon D3 to the D3s. Now I’ll be the first to admit this upgrade hadn’t been on the cards. Ever. Since the day the D3s was announced I was a firm believer that it wasn’t ‘that’ much better and would be a waste of money upgrading. But my time spent in Hawaii changed all that. It seems the expense of that trip didn’t stop at flights and hotels, because once I got back to the UK, having rented the ‘S’ to get better Milky Way images, I just knew I wanted to upgrade. I’d been bitten by the ‘S’ bug and the only cure was to have one of my own. So, I set about making the swap and have been delighted ever since. It wasn’t just the high ISO performance that blew me away (read ISO 4000, no noise reduction, no problem) but also the video feature. I’ll be the first to admit I despised the idea of video in a DSLR when it first started to appear, but now, after only playing about with it once so far, I’m converted. You can see my first efforts at DSLR video making below:
And you can read more about it, here.
BEING ON TV & PHOTO COMPETITION JUDGING
2010 saw my photography related activities getting me on tv twice, the first time back in January when a photo I took during the snow was featured on Sky News. But the big one was towards the end of summer. It was also my third appearance on the BBC Countryfile programme, and my second time as a pre (or long list) judge for their photographic competition. As with the previous year we had a great time looking through the 65,000 images submitted, before selecting just 3,000 to make it through to the final round of judging for the TV shows presenters to pick the final 12. You can read a more detailed report of the day here, or just check out the behind the scenes video I made below:
WRITING FOR THE OFFICIAL NIKON EUROPE BLOG
Towards the end of the year, as well as writing for my own site, I was also asked to write the occasional content for the Official Nikon Europe blog. My first few contributions came in the form of being on the judging panel for their own I AM NIKON photo competition, as well as writing tips on shooting the Milky Way, spurred on by my previous article, and also featured in their In Focus Nikon Pro e-newsletter. You can check out all my involvement to date on the Nikon blog here, and I really look forward to contributing more in the year ahead.
MY BLOG, GIVEAWAYS & SOCIAL NETWORKING
Finally, as far as my own blog goes, I’ve got quite a lot done. 65 blog posts this year to date (including this one) which averages out at 5.4 posts a month. And whilst that may not seem like a lot, I’ve always tried my best to post quality entries that I’ve taken time over or put thought in to, rather than just dishing out loads of less thought out ones on a regular basis. I’ve never been able to commit as much time to photography as I’d like, but I do try my best to give you all something interesting to read as often as I can and I’d like to thank those of you that made up the 185,000 or so visits the site has had over the year (that’s a fantastic improvement over last years 70,000!). All of your comments, emails and feedback is appreciated, and it’s also been great to see some familiar faces posting comments to the blog on a regular basis. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know some of you through Facebook and (more so) Twitter this year, as I’ve put more time in to chatting with other photographers, swapping stories, exchanging ideas and generally talking all things photography. It’s been a great pleasure and I look forward to more of the same.
To go some way towards thanking you all, this year I had five giveaways on the blog, with three big ones during the run up to Christmas. So I’d like to thank Warehouse Express, B&H Photo and last, but not least, ThinkTank Photo who all donated gift vouchers and equipment to me, to give away to you, during my big three Christmas giveaways. We had David from Illinois win a ThinkTank Photo airport addicted V2.0 bag, Siul from California won a $100 B&H Photo gift card and Tom from the UK was the lucky winner of £30 Warehouse Express gift voucher.
So, again, thank you everyone who has visited the site, been in touch or contributed prizes to the the blog this year. It’s all been appreciated big time!
SPECIAL MENTION, THINGS THAT WENT WRONG & IMAGE THEFT!
So it’s been a good year in many ways, but things don’t always go to plan do. So a quick special mention to some of the things that made me express some slightly more colourful language during the year…
1) Having one of my images entered in to competition, passed off as someone elses
2) Getting to Gatwick airport for 4 day break in Croatia, to discover flight cancelled
3) Reversing in to someones car in Hawaii, the day before leaving
4) My blog getting hacked three times!
5) Spending 2 hours doing a time lapse shot in California before realising autofocus was on!
The top three spots here were all VERY annoying. Reversing a car in to another in a Kentucky Fried Chicken car park in Hawaii, having only stopped to use the bathroom on my way back to dropping off the D3s I had rented…you can imagine my mood for the rest of that day. But that only takes third place, with second going to the previously mentioned cancellation of our flight to Croatia once we were at the airport. Which leaves the number one most annoying thing of 2010 as…
…the person who had the nerve to enter an image of mine in to a photo competition in Holland, but by passing it off as their own! Shocking behaviour and I only found out about it because someone else who had entered and lived out there, recognised the image and contacted me to warn me. I was not impressed, and after several emails to the people running the competition, sent from not only myself but also those that had warned me about it, the image was removed. You can read a bit more about the whole thing in my article Image theft, are your photos being missused.
MY IMAGE OF THE YEAR
So back to the happy stuff, and here it is, my personal favourite memory from 2010. The image that I look back at with the fondest memories and am most grateful to have had the chance to capture. And it has to be…
…the Milky Way with the shoreline and waves crashing over the rocks in the foreground. I’d wanted an decent starry sky image for many years, ever since my first attempt at doing star trails with an F80 film camera on Crete, 10 years previous, and so was delighted to have not only the opportunity but the right gear (it was my desire to get an image like this that led me to rent a D3s whilst I was on Maui, sure the D3 high ISO is good, but I wanted the better, after all it’s not every day you fly half way round the world) for the job! Seeing the Milky Way reach out across the sky was incredible, and was by far my stand out experience of the year. There is such little light pollution on Maui that the night sky, when it’s clear, is one of the best places on earth to view the natural wonder of our galaxy, and is without doubt a very humbling experience! But that’s not to say it wasn’t without it’s troubles, and if you haven’t already checked it out, you can read al about my attempts at capturing the Maui night sky, here.
Well that’s it, I hope you’ve enjoyed my look back at 2010. Roll on 2011, of got some changes planned for the blog and just hope to carry on doing what I love doing, and that’s taking, writing and talking about photography. It’s all kicking off with an amazing two week trip at the end of January to Yellowstone National Park where we will be on the hunt for the winter wolves! I hope that’s just the start of many more great adventures and I get to speak to more of you through Twitter, Facebook and the blog. And, who knows, maybe even meet up for a shoot or two with some of you…yes, that’s especially aimed at those of you who live in warmer parts of the world…lol 😉
Happy New Year everyone 🙂