I published more photography blog posts in 2010 than in all the years before, making it extremely difficult to pick out just 10 photographs that I thought were the best. In the end, my choices reflect mostly the shift in my photography; the way I’ve deliberately tried to move from the documentary style of the Merthyr Road project to the more artistic style that I’m seeking for my Desktop Wallpaper project.
For myself, I still think that this is the single best photo that I published in 2010, and is the one of the very best photos I’ve ever taken. I only matched the quality here one other time all year, and that photo has yet to be published.
I love the colours, the framing, the focus, the depth of field … it’s a moment of simple beauty, and just like my shot of Calanais back in 2007, it was a photo that I put no effort into at all … just a random shot towards the end of a long and tiring day’s photography. There’s probably a lesson in there for me.
Coming a close second is this fun shot of miniature Daleks on a shelf in the Doctor Who Exhibition shop down in Cardiff Bay. Not for the first time, I’d gone round the exhibition itself getting more and more frustrated at just how dark, out of date, and difficult to shoot the exhibition contents are, and if the truth be told, I’d almost given up hope of coming away with any pictures to share with you on Flickr and here on my blog. Spotting these little fellows in the full glare of a spotlight on the shelf was a real lifting of the spirits – not an emotion any Dalek would approve of! – and I was very relieved to pull off this shot.
I’m the first to admit that this shot didn’t do so well when I published it back in June as my desktop wallpaper for the day, but it still does something for me. This was taken with the Canon IXUS 200 that Mrs H bought me for my birthday, and I don’t believe that my Nikon rig with all its lenses could have done a better job. This photo looks fantastic on a 24″ monitor. Give it a go; I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
There were other photos I took of the snow in December that were more popular on Flickr, but this is one of those rare moments when I managed to take the exact photo I set out to capture. In November, when the first of the winter snow had arrived, I drove along here on the way up to Ludlow for the day. There wasn’t as much snow at the time, and it was a lot sunnier, but it was still an enchanting scene … and yet I never stopped to take the shot. This time around, I knew exactly what I wanted, and made sure I went out to the end of our street to get it.
I’m sure this one will return in 2011 as a 25×9 framing at some point.
This is another photo where I managed to bag exactly the shot I’d planned in my head … and it also looks stunning on a 24″ monitor. We’d spent the day hiking up from Barmouth on a tourist path, and had finally broken out of the tree canopy to be greeted by this beautiful view of the Mawddach Estuary. I wanted a photo that conveyed the pleasure of this scene, and spotting the bench, decided that the best way to do this was to show people enjoying the view for themselves. It didn’t take long before the bench was occupied, and I really dropped lucky that the woman was wearing such an eye-catching coloured top. I think they make the ideal focal point for this shot.
How on earth do you explore a 100-year old railway line, documenting station after station, and come away with something a little different? When I was growing up, the railways were full of character and local charm, but today’s world is the world of the sterile (even puerile) identikit station with the same lack of seating and the same style of CCTV tower compensating for the total lack of station staff. This dirty public telephone and the red wall that owned it was a godsend, and I made sure to take my time and take full advantage of the D300s’s live view feature to get the phone perfectly in focus.
You can be sure that if I don’t have my Nikon with me, I’ll go past a scene like this and say: I’ll come back for that … only I never do. This is one of the times when I did, and despite its many technical imperfections, I’m pleased that I did. There was just something about this alleyway that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I feel that I captured that mood accurately with this shot. I don’t think I could have done that a year ago.
This is one of the last shots I took with my Nikon 70-300mm lens before the 80-200mm f/2.8 usurped it in my camera bag (actually, I ended up changing camera bags specifically so that the 80-200mm lens could be my default lens …), and I think it’s probably the most underrated shot I took all year. This shot was a happy accident, as although it can be found right in the heart of Cardiff, it’s also very well tucked away down a side street that few people go down. If I’d gone down the street the other way, I would never have spotted it either.
I didn’t think much of this when I first took it, and if it hadn’t been very popular on Flickr thanks to being featured on the Guardian Cardiff website, I don’t think I would have given it a second glance. Looking at it again, though, it’s one of those one-in-a-hundred shots, a happy accident that I couldn’t reproduce if I tried, and the unusual (kooky?) choice of the fence as the focal point combined with the beautiful May light really makes the whole scene pop.
Finally, I want to share with you once more this shot of the beached trawler in Morecambe Bay, taken back in January. I’d only had the Canon IXUS 200 a week, and was fumbling with it out on a cold and inhospitable winter’s morning when the light offered up this marvellous scene. I wasn’t there for photography, but it’s one of those photos that makes a trip worthwhile just in of itself.
Looking Ahead To 2011
There were many other photos I published in 2010 that I really liked, and many more that were popular with my readers. There isn’t room to feature any more of them here, sadly; I must move on to a new year with new photos to share with you.
In 2010, the standard I’ve set myself to go forward is to create (or dig up out of my archives!) some 250 photos to publish … and that’s just for my Desktop Wallpaper project alone. There’ll be more travel photography too, I’m sure, and also more Merthyr Road articles to complete and share.
I’m in danger of being better remembered for my photography than my skills as an engineer, and I’m currently not sure how I feel about that. With photography, there’s just me and the camera, and thanks to the digital age, there’s also near instant results. (It would be instant results if Apple ever fixed Aperture’s appalling performance). I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to complete things quickly, and from being able to publish new works so regularly and in volume. With software, that satisfaction doesn’t come so quickly.
I don’t want to be a professional photographer; I just wish I was a bit better at it.
So, for 2011, I’ve decided to set myself three challenges.
- I’m going to humiliate myself by taking part in the prestigious Amateur Photographer Of The Year competition. In such a rich field, there’s no possibility of me doing well, but it will give me a benchmark of where others see my photography in comparison with other photographers in a way that you just can’t get on Flickr.
- I’m going to join the Royal Photographic Society, and work towards achieving an Associateship Distinction, with my eventual goal to see if I can reach their Fellowship Distinction standard one day.
- I want to reach an average of 500 views a day on Flickr by the end of the year, with my eventual aim being to reach 1,000 views a day on average. I see it requiring a mixture of improving the average quality of my published photos combined with publishing my photos a little smarter and doing a better job of finding an audience for my hobby. The best advice I was given in 2010 was to learn to be utterly ruthless in choosing photos to publish. Looking back at my stats for the year, I can see that if I was publishing more topical photos much more of the time, I could probably pull it off … but the real challenge is to do this whilst still taking the photos that move me first and foremost.
Oh, and it would be nice to get more people commenting on my photos, either here or on Flickr 🙂
What are you going to do with your photography in 2011?