Year in Review 2017 (part 1)

It's that time of the year when I reflect, have a look back at last year and try make some sort of sense of the photos I shot and what my favourites are. It took me a couple of weeks to go through, picking and choosing. Taking some images away and adding different ones. Some of these choices have surprised me, so there is some emotional connection clearly.

This week - the first half of my favourite 12 images with a short description about why I like the shot, or composed it the way I have and hopefully I can share some of what goes through my mind when photographing.

In no particular order ...

Coniston Water in the Mist - V (aka Reaching Out), Lake District UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 16-25mm f/4.0 @ f/11 23mm 6.0sec ISO 64 | Manfrotto tripod and ball head, no filters.

Coniston Water in the Mist - V (aka Reaching Out), Lake District UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 16-25mm f/4.0 @ f/11 23mm 6.0sec ISO 64 | Manfrotto tripod and ball head, no filters.

It was raining hard, it was getting dark - I'd just arrived in the Lake District after a few hours drive and wanted to stretch my legs, artistically and well, my actual legs.
I love the way the mist has made all the distant distractions disappear or fade, making the whole scene minimal. It's peaceful and tranquil - I wanted to convey that message in the colour toning I had chosen, simply shooting intentionally at the wrong white balance. I started shooting this set with a tilt-shift lens, but rain was threatening to leak inside, so I switched to a weather sealed lens. I framed the pier with these outreaching branches, lining up the composition carefully so no twigs were overlapping onto the wooden structure.
This is part 5 of a 6-shot series.


Under the Bridge, UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-e tilt shift lens @ 8mm upward shift | 15sec at f/11 ISO 64 Lee Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter | Manfrotto Tripod and ball head

Under the Bridge, UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-e tilt shift lens @ 8mm upward shift | 15sec at f/11 ISO 64 Lee Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter | Manfrotto Tripod and ball head

Isle of Sheppey Bridge on a cold Winter's day. There was snow about, although you can't see it in the shot. The water was moving quite fast and I wanted to show some bleakness to the scene. This cold, concrete, clinical construction lent itself to the miserable bitter cold day. I wanted just straight lines, no organic detail; just man made coldness. To achieve the straight lines I needed to use a tilt shift lens to avoid converging parallels on the pillars. To remove any texture in the water I used a 10 stop ND filter to smooth out the water. (No texture in the sky, nature had that covered). Processed in Lightroom and Silver FX.


Valais Reflection, Switzerland - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 | 1/50 at f/9 at 70mm ISO 64 | 3 shot panoramic handheld

Valais Reflection, Switzerland - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 | 1/50 at f/9 at 70mm ISO 64 | 3 shot panoramic handheld

It's beautiful when you reach an alpine lake, high above the rest of the world after a few hours hike. It's stunning when the distant mountains reflect into the lake's nearly mirror surface. I wanted to catch the beauty of the surroundings before the wind destroyed it all by kicking up the stillness of the water.
I have processed this has a hard and contrasty B&W, such as my style, but also to try emphasise the hard backdrop with all its rocky textures. The water, a little less contrasty to try show a bit of peace in the image. Processed in Lightroom and Silver FX.


The Bell, Lake District UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 @58mm f/11 1/125 ISO 140

The Bell, Lake District UK - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 @58mm f/11 1/125 ISO 140

This is a peak called 'The Bell' near Coniston Old Man in the Lake District. A gale force wind was blowing and heavy cloud moving fast across the mountain tops - sunlight poking through and moving across the valleys and mountain tops; the steep rock faces only lighting up for seconds at a time. 
I had to brace myself against the wind to get a steady shot; and wait for the right moment so the sunlight lit up the area I wanted. I wanted the top of the peak lit up, as this would be brilliant in contrast with the stormy and moody day. The wall in the foreground leads the eye through the image, past the green pasture and other spotlit areas before settling on the rock formation above.


Meltwaters, Switzerland - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24mm PC-e Tilt Shift lens shifted 7 degress | 24mm f/8.0 0.4 sec ISO 64 | Manfrotto Tripod, 3 stop Formatt Hitech filter | B+W Circular Polariser

Meltwaters, Switzerland - Nikon D810 | Nikon 24mm PC-e Tilt Shift lens shifted 7 degress | 24mm f/8.0 0.4 sec ISO 64 | Manfrotto Tripod, 3 stop Formatt Hitech filter | B+W Circular Polariser

La Fouly, Switzerland - Mid-summer and the glaciers far up above are melting and feeding into the rivers and streams, boulders are dislodged and sent down the rivers over the millennia, then smoothed out with a thousand years of meltwater. I wanted sharp foreground through to background focus so I opted to use a tilt shift lens. It was already quite bright so I used a 3 stop ND filter and also a polariser to cut through any water reflections.


Cold Tree, South East England - Nikon D810 | Nikon 16-35 f/4 @ f/8 1/125 19mm ISO 64 | Gitzo GT3532 Mountaineer Series 3 Tripod, Manfrotto Hydrostatic ball head

Cold Tree, South East England - Nikon D810 | Nikon 16-35 f/4 @ f/8 1/125 19mm ISO 64 | Gitzo GT3532 Mountaineer Series 3 Tripod, Manfrotto Hydrostatic ball head

Blacks Park, Greater London - It doesn't snow much where I live, so when it does unexpectedly, I have to hit some favourite spots early morning before it all turns to ugly sludge. Lone trees - we photographers all love them. I picked this one as it was by itself and had a little distance to the background tree line. Shooting this with a longer focal length, I wouldn't have been able to isolate this single tree from the messy background, so by fitting an ultra wide and shooting from a low position and getting in real close (like 2 meters away) I change the perspective and can isolate the tree. The consequence of this is converging verticals as you can see with the distant trees to the frame far left and right. But it works because it looks like these other trees are bowing to revere this solitary master. In my mind anyways, maybe I had a frozen brain after all.


That's my first 6 - Check out my next post next week for the second 6 of my favorites for 2017.

More to come / JF