Inside this issue
Review of ‘22
A good crop
T-shirt winning landscape photographer, one time carpenter, full-time workshop leader and occasional author who does all his own decorating.
My photographic modus operandi isn’t quite fire & forget, but I’m generally more concerned with the next photograph than my last. In the vast majority of cases, I’m more interested with the process of making an image rather than the finished product. The latter is rarely more than an incomplete, imperfect witness to a very enjoyable experience outdoors. Even the chore of fighting gravity, dragging my slightly overweight frame and 20kgs of camera gear up a hill, seems worth it. More still, I love the challenge of working out how to squeeze some recalcitrant portion of reality into a frame, hopefully resulting in an attractive and intriguing photo. Whilst I quite often feel an initial satisfaction with the products of those exertions, few of the photographs still move me 30 days later, let alone after 365.
This review of my best twelve images of 2022, therefore, feels like a slightly strange exercise. However, I can see that it’s quite the rage; at this time of year, there are dozens of dozens in my social media feed. Ansel Adams famously wrote that twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. Significant is obviously the key word here. I am the kind of person who feels Eeyore is dangerously over optimistic. So, hoping that I will make twelve notable images seems very ambitious.
Obviously, some images that I have made over four decades have a deeper significance for me, and I have returned to a few of these again and again. (There must be some reward, or I wouldn’t keep doing it!) Realistically, few of the images here will ever make it into the list of my career best. Does that matter? Not really, we can never know when that wonderful mix of opportunity and resonance with a subject will result in a truly great image. Nor is it up to us to say which images are genuinely significant. Other eyes and the lens of time must determine that. I am content that last year’s crop has provided some likely candidates for my (almost mythical!) third book.
Footnote: I didn’t make a photograph I liked in every month last year, so the images are only “more or less” arranged in month order…
I love a chance discovery. Wandering across open moorland in Iceland, I came across this pebble. Sunlight through the ice had warmed the darker pebble enough for it to melt a little opening, like a present unwrapping itself.
After the Rain
Retreating rain clouds provided the intensity of colour and the soft sheen on the slate wall in this image from Dinorwic.
I am fascinated by the systems that work behind the scenes to generate surface appearance. In this case, the patterns in the sky and on the beach arise from different kinds of flow. The similarities are more than coincidental. Self-similarity is visually satisfying, so that helps to hook the viewer.
The way the colours and quartz veins flow through the rock is the product of unimaginable pressure over millions of years. The sea has then eroded the surface into softly complementary forms, revealing a beauty that was born from deep time.
Intriguing forms can arise from finding the right balance between time and light. In this instance, I wanted to compare the straight reeds with their oscillating reflections. The key here was finding the right shutter speed.
Earthquakes in 2016 devastated several villages and towns on the border of Umbria and Marche in Italy. Many of these are still awaiting help for rebuilding. This graffiti covered door is in a ruined building in Castellucio.
A freeform poem in light and colour, with a nod towards Monet. (I hope!).
Alexander Fleming said that “chance favoured the prepared mind”. It also favours those who’ve already set up to make a photo when the sun unexpectedly peeps through the clouds. It looks like a serene experience, but there was some frantic resetting of shutter speeds!
Panning for gold
The golden birch leaves gathered in this dark, algae coated bowl in the rocks looked like bright treasures to me. The title was suggested by a friend, Dave Mead, and it’s much better than my original. A good title should ideally be poetic and enrich the image. Mine was sadly pedestrian.
Standing in a goatherder’s barn in the Picos de Europa, I was drawn to the molten orange light that spilled around the pantiles on the roof above. It looked as if they were being consumed by a furnace. The cool shades of the roof timbers also contrasted beautifully.
It’s perhaps an indelicate subject, but I have often found compositions whilst obeying a call of nature. On this occasion, this recently fractured slate caught my eye. I was drawn by the combination of geometry and colour. It reminded me of abstract paintings from the early 20th Century. I also liked how fresh it seemed; the colours were very vibrant and broken piece close to its original position.
Spoil from the nearby slate mine at Ballachulish has been scattered across the beach. I noticed that, serendipitously, time and tide had rearranged these few stones into a shape reminiscent of a vase with seaweed growing in just the right position. All it took was forty minutes of searching through the chaos before I recognised the pattern within.