This is a photography website, and yet somehow I have managed to go all this time without writing a single blog post actually about photography.
Yes, I’ve typed out my thoughts on GIF art, German food and literary wolf-children before even taking the time to discuss the very thing I would consider to be my main interest. Today I’m going to fix that and present you with ten of my favourite photos that I have taken over the past five or so years.
The list is a fairly personal selection and is presented in no particular order. I’m also loathe to label these photos as my ‘best’ ones because for me photography, like any skill, is all about practice, learning new things, and trying to improve. Photographer / Youtuber Jamie Windsor actually discussed reviewing your old work and learning to move past it in a really articulate way in his recent video. So, I’m going to add on to this by putting together a record of my favourite shots for now, so I can look back on them years down the line and hopefully see what I’ve improved on and what I’ve managed to develop further out of the aspects I like in these photos. Plus there are a few good stories from what was happening around me when I took them.
10. The Edge of the Crown, Lanzarote
The fun you can have at the top of an extinct volcano with a camera, a polarising filter, and half an island on view. La Corona (‘the crown’) in the northern part of Lanzarote, is the second highest point on the island, and because the rim of the caldera towers above so much of the surrounding landscape, it offers plenty of visual trails and vantage points to make arresting photo compositions out of. I chose this perspective, staring down the northern edge of the caldera as I liked to contrast between the steep, shadowy slopes inside the crater, and the gentle rolling vineyards and villages outside it. Not bad from an island with a undeservedly bad reputation (Lanza-grotty no more!).
See more Lanzarote photos here.
9. Twin Peaks, Busteni, Romania
One of the things I love about photography is that every so often, you can take a photo that authentically captures a particular moment or experience forever. For me this photo does that, taking me back to a hiking trip in Romania with my two friends, halfway through our first year of post-graduate, “real” adulthood. The soft, winter sun and exposed brown trees gave the scenery a desaturated almost muted feel, which was something I then tried to bring out whilst editing this photo in Adobe Lightroom.
The result was this ‘vintage postcard’ effect that I feel helps give off that nostalgic tone whilst also zoning in on the main features of the landscape that struck me the most at the point I took the photo. It’s also pretty representative of the main way I think about photo editing – as a way to bring out the qualities of a particular location or feature that made the biggest impression on me at the time I took the photo.
See the rest of the Romania album here
8. Night Monkey Encounter, Peru
The core challenge of wildlife photography is getting close enough to your subject that it takes up more than just a tiny dot in the picture, but not so close that it runs away, or – in the case of slighter bigger, toothier wildlife – goes into attack-mode. However the flip side of this is to photograph an animal within its natural habitat to give some detail or context to the encounter. This is what I focused on with this encounter with a Night Monkey in the Peruvian Amazon.
Night Monkeys, as their name suggests, are the world’s only truly nocturnal monkeys. However, this guy couldn’t help peeking out of the nest it had made in a tree trunk in full day light, to oogle at the humans like myself looking back from below. Photographing animals in rainforests is always tough. The dense foliage, variable light conditions and the acrobatic tendencies of most subjects provide plenty of obstacles to getting a good shot. With this photo though I like how it captures that feeling of being watched by something much more adapted to the surrounding environment than you are. A representation of another being’s life enclosed within a different world to yours – something I would love to try and capture again if I get another chance to lock eyes with an endangered species.
See more photos from Peru here
7. Flam Valley Life, Norway
Norway is probably a contender for the title; ‘earthporn capital of the world’ and out of all the many photos I took there (I got very liberal with my use of the shutter button) this is the one that I hope does the country’s beautiful landscapes justice. I took this photo from the cabin of a train hurtling down the Flam valley towards the shores of the Naeroyfjord. I had just a couple of seconds to capture this view of the valley before the train moved on, but luckily managed to get the town of Flam and its surrounding scenery in full. I like how the pylon cables, usually something I try to block out whilst photographing landscapes, actually guide you through the picture. Also who doesn’t love a bit of red Nordic architecture?
See more of Norway here
6. Glacial Mirror, Czarny Staw pod Rysami, Poland
Reflections are fun to play with, especially when they create trippy patterns like these. I took this photo in the middle of the Polish Tatra mountains by a glacial lake, having spent a couple of hours scrambling up a slope to it with a bunch of other hikers. And also a wedding bride. Yes to this day I still have tremendous respect for that woman I saw hiking up a mountain slope in a wedding dress and sneakers in order to get the perfect set of outdoor, lakeside wedding photos. Oddly enough this isnt the only photo on this list I took in the company of a high-altitude bride. I guess wedding couples in the Tatras love a scenic photo op as much as I do…
See other glacial lakes and landscapes from the Tatras here
5. The Forest Seat, Plas Brondanw, Wales
The most-recently taken photo on this list and also one of the most personal. I took this while travelling round Snowdonia and visiting my family there for the first time in nearly 10 years. It’s also part of my growing interest in architecture / portraiture photography, something I’ve been exploring more and more in the last year as I find myself jumping between different cities of late. With this photo though I was able to bring this new interest of mine to a more rural setting and give an urbanite gaze to the North Welsh landscape.
See the rest of the Snowdonia gallery here
4. On the Wing in the Alps
Of all the ways to beat the January blues, taking a 6am flight from the UK to Munich, and then one day later boarding a train up to a mountain top in the Bavarian alps, will probably go down as my most drastic. Luckily though it afforded me the chance to photograph the views from Mt. Wendelstein in all their wintery glory, and then play around with some new editing techniques after returning home. A little bit of exposure blending here and there and suddenly, with some alpine shots to pour over and post here, January seemed survivable.
3. Nunbird in the Jungle, Peru
Photography, like any art form, has its fair share of trends and motifs that get repeated widely. Stair trails, pastel backgrounds, Boyfriends of Instagram – the list goes on. So, sometimes you’ve got to acknowledge when you jump on the bandwagon for something, as I did with Bokeh. Remember Bokeh? That aesthetic quality produced when a camera lens renders an out-of-focus light source? It not exactly a dead trend but I think it definitely had a ‘moment’ in mid 2000s photography and media. Tumblr posts, wedding photos, that terrible student art film I made about ‘urban wonderland’ when I was 17 – all part of the great 2007 – 2012 Bokeh-fest. The photo above is no exception to this fad, taken in Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon. However it’s probably my favourite black and white photo that I’ve taken, and five years down the line, I still like how it nicely encapsulates the sunspots and tree shadows you can play with when doing photography under a forest canopy – a nice distraction from the usual high humidity and ever present mosquitoes…
2. Sun in the Tatras, Slovakia
Yep, I saw a bride here too, this time whilst on a fairly suspect chairlift coming down from Lomicke Sedlo (the mountain slope in the top left of this photo). The bride-to-be and the groom where on the up-slope chairlift, with their mountain-savvy photographer perched on the lift in front of them, snapping away as both he and the happy couple ascended into the Tatras. I still don’t know if these marital mountain climbers were part of a great competition for the best outdoor wedding photo that Poland and Slovakia are bitterly fighting each other over, or just hiking addicts like me. Either way they have really raised the bar for if ever go into wedding photography.
Anyway on to the photo. Whenever I’m photographing landscapes, I sometimes try and focus in on a particularly vivid detail in my immediate surroundings, and use a wide angle lens to show that feature in the context of its environment. This is the photo where I feel like I did that best, zoning in on the rocks and reeds underneath the clear waters of Skalnate pleso in the shadow of some of the highest peaks in the Tatras.
1. Morning in Malaysia, Sabah, Malaysia
I’m honestly a little bit sad that I don’t wake up every morning being sassed by a hornbill stretching its wing out towards me. I guess I’ll always have the photo…(and these ones too…)
Finally, to make this a little less about me and my experiments with a camera, here’s are some photographers and photography blogs that have been keeping me inspired lately:
- This is Colossal (www.thisiscolossal.com) Cool stuff for visual art lovers.
- Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) Part of The Everyday Projects, with daily snapshots from photographers living and working across one of the world’s most diverse (and misunderstood) regions.
- Keith Ladzinski (@ladzinski)
- Sorelle Amore (www.sorelleamore.com/portfolio-1/)
- Philipp Heigel (@philippheigel)
- Felix Finger (@felixfinger)
- Ivan Kashinsky (www.ivankphoto.com/)
- Xavier Portela (www.xavierportela.com/)