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Year in review and 2011 highlights

Well it’s been an eventful year, in more ways than one. From spending almost two weeks in Yellowstone, to getting married to appearing on TV. Here’s a look at several of my favourite images and experiences from 2011.

I got very cold and windswept in Yellowstone

I literally wrote this today, talk about close to the wire. I wanted to get this post out before the end of 2011 and I’ve just done it. Talk about cutting it fine. It’s been a busy month so I just haven’t had the time, so I apologise if this all feels a little rushed. But as I was trying to think about what I had been up to this year, I began to chuckle at all these wonderful memories flooding back of various things that have happened throughout duration. Apart from the main points listed below, and the articles they refer too, I’ve had some fantastic adventures and some great laughs. This year saw my third consecutive year appearing on the BBC1 tv show Countryfile as a short list judge for their annual photo competition, plus I had the delight of being picked by Hotpoint to be one of the UK judges for their European wide photo competition, which was run in association with legendary National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. But, apart from passing my eye over other peoples images I have of course had the most fun taking my own, and spent a lot of time this year driving all over the country, getting up at insanely early times of day and of course getting myself good and dirty all in the name of getting the photo. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes it didn’t. But whatever the outcome, I’ve had a great times regardless, and shared many of those experiences with people I’ve met on twitter who have then gone on to become great friends. So thank you to all my partners in crime, you know who you are 😉

But let’s get down to business, here are, in chronological order, some of my 2011 highlights. And for those wondering, all of the wildlife images were taken with the D7000 and not the D3s, so it’s fair to say I’ve had great fun using the best Nikon DX camera on the market this past year.

JANUARY: YELLOWSTONE

It really was an incredible start to 2011, visiting Yellowstone National Park to photograph the winter wildlife there with my friend and fellow wildlife photographer Rene de Heer. A truly amazing experience which saw us shooting in temperatures as cold as -39 at times. I took a couple of images that stood out on this trip, one of which was ‘Call of the Coyote’. It depicts a lone coyote sitting on a snow covered hill, with it’s tracks leading the viewers eye up from the bottom of the frame. I had to make a made dash back down an ice covered road to get the side on view of this scene, and it was worth it because just as I got myself in position, the coyote started to howl. A true ‘magic of Yellowstone’ image for me!

A coyote sits atop a snow covered rock, howling out for it's mate in Yellowstone National Park, during winter.

Howling Coyote, Nikon D7000 with 600 f4

Another great outcome of that trip was my recently blogged about mousing fox images. I had work printed in several magazines throughout the year, including the new Nikon only magazine N-Photo, but nothing could compare to the incredible reception of the fox which was featured both in the national and international press, plus briefly on the TV.

My mousing fox sequence of images that hit the national and international press in a big way in December 2011

My mousing fox sequence of images

Read more about the Curious Case of the Mousing Fox and the coverage it received, here.

MAY: NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT

In May my girlfriend and I had our first visit to New York, and although I did take a fair bit of camera gear, I ended up spending most of the trip just taking snaps on the iPhone. I always feel a little guilty letting my camera take over trips that are not specifically photography related. Although I did manage to get a nice panoramic shot from the top of the Rock one evening.

Mid and downtown Manhattan, as seen from the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller (30 Rock). The view includes almost all of the most iconic New York symbols, from The Empire State, to the Varrazano & Brooklyn Bridge's, to the Statue of Liberty to the bright lights of Times Square illuminating up between the buildings to the lower right and more.

Click for 900 pixels wide version

For those with high res monitors, you can see an 1800px wide version here.

But the trip has more meaning to me than any image I could ever take as it is also on this trip I proposed to my girlfriend. I’ll admit it wasn’t entirely planned before we flew out there, but once there I decided it was time to pop the question! And rather than do it the usual way (over dinner, from the top of a tall building etc) I figured the best way to surprise her would be to write it on the mirror of the hotel rooms bathroom, in the steam after I showered, on the day we were flying home! Needless to say, it did the job and was a great surprise to her and secured a ‘yes’!

JUNE: THE FARNE ISLANDS

Amazingly, I only got round to my first ever trip to the Farne Islands during 2011. It’s been somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time and so it was great to get together with photographers Austin Thomas and Alan Hewitt, to form ‘Project Puffin. We spent two days on the islands and one of my favourite images from the trip (and the year) was this head on puffin portrait. I know it’s a relatively common image, a portrait of a puffin, but I wanted to try and get a real nice close up intimate shot, and my chance came right at the end of the two days. This was quite literally the last image of a puffin I took before getting on the boat back to the mainland for the final time!

My favourite image from my 2011 Farne Island trip. A puffin looking straight at the camera with a beak full of sand eels.

D7000, 600 VR + 1.4x TC

You can read the full trip report from the Farne Islands and Project Puffin here.

SEPTEMBER: WEDDING

So, just four months after our New York engagement, I found myself in the Sculpture Gallery at the stunning Woburn Abbey, exchanging vows. I’ve got a blog post coming in the new year about the wedding, as the photographer was a fellow Nikon shooter and all round incredibly talented Guy Collier.

Guy Collier did an amazing job on my wedding photos

Guy Collier did an amazing job on my wedding photos

The images deserve a good blog post, but for now, here is my favourite from the day. My stunning wife and I outside the Abbey itself with the incredible Aston martin I hired for the weeding weekend as a surprise (knowing she was a fan of nice cars, my chat up line when we first met was to ask what her dream car to be picked up in would be – Aston Martin was the answer).

WPG

September also saw the official launch of my Facebook group, WPG (Wildlife Photographers Group) which I decided to start up just as an experiment, but I’m delighted with the way it has picked up and in just a few short months already has over 600 active members and a real nice sense of community, which is all down to those great members. There’s a fantastic mix of skill levels from Pro down to beginner, and I’m delighted with the reception it’s received.

DECEMBER: SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

Regular readers of the blog will no doubt have read all about this already. It was only a brief 30 second encounter, but just having the opportunity of a one to one with nobody else in the room with such an important figure in the world of natural history and documentary making was just amazing. It may have been brief, and I may have found myself star struck for pretty much the first time ever but wow, I still can’t quite believe I met Sir David Attenborough, at at least I managed to string together enough words to ask him to sign my Frozen Planet book. I already wrote about it very recently so I won’t repeat myself here, you can just read my previous post.

Frozen Planet, signed by Sir David Attenborough. Now my most prized book.

Frozen Planet. Now my most prized book.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to not only 2011 and also my year in review! So there is nothing left to do other that thank you for all your continued comments, emails and tweets. I look forward to more of the same in the months to come.

Happy New Year and happy shooting for 2012 everyone 🙂

About the author

Richard Peters is a Surrey based professional wildlife photographer, Nikon Ambassador, and one of the few British photographers to receive the accolade of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is known for a style that often favours dramatic use of light, runs wildlife photography workshops and, from camera clubs to big industry events, holds talks about his work.

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