The Best Of...

There is a challenge going around the photography community just now - pick your best shots of the year. I like this idea, it provides reflection, jogs the memory and it showcases your work. Here are mine for 2014.

This is the little Grouse Beaters Hut (left). It was an image I had pre-envisioned from a location that is a favourite of mine. I had a 2 hour drive to get to this and as it happened I only had 45 minutes before I had to leave, so I had to work fast. It was also the first shot I took with all the new kit I had invested in this year - the Canon 5D MkIII with the 70-200mm L lens. I was so pleased after spending all that cash (that I really couldn't afford), that the first shot out of the can was a keeper.

Every year I try to get away on at least a couple of trips totally dedicated to photography. 2014 was a bad year though, with only one significant trip, but I made best use of it and travelled the long road to Ardnamurchan in March. I had a ball! Coastal images, emptiness and Highland scenery. My favourites. This was one of those shots you get when , with the main one in the bag you start searching about for more compositions, and actually this turned out to be my favourite of the trip. It involved shimmying over slippery rocks at dawn, waves crashing around me and some experimentation. What could be more fun!

Most fun from the Ardnamurchan trip was this mono image from exactly the same spot as the one above right. It was my first foray in years into the world of film, and using my newly acquired (it was a gift from a retired photographer), medium format Mamiya C330. There's something so cool about film, bellows and back to front ground glass focussing panes - very purist!

My trip to Ardnamurchan also let me continue a small project I am working on - Scottish coastal shots in the "blue hour". Following on from the success of Harris Blue, I grabbed an image I've been very pleased with, standing alone on a deserted beach at the North West of Scotland at sunset (heaven) - Corriskeir Blue. I love this shot - simple composition, simple pallet, and having to jump about to avoid getting wet while I took it. It's about as fun as it gets (I know, I'm a little strange).

And finally, from Ardnamurchan, this is the shot I went for. The one that had me travelling hundreds of miles, and wouldn't you know it, the sun rose to far to the North and I missed the sunrise behind the headland. But the mono treatment lets me use what I got quite well, I think. It was a bit nerve racking, clambering down some substantial rocks towards a crashing sea, and safety made me compromise the shot I wanted a little, but in the end this came out well. A lot of landscape photography is about compromise and adaptation on the spur of the moment - it's what makes it fun!

Isn't it peculiar that although I am a landscape photographer, I take a lot of seascapes and I take them in portrait orientation instead of landscape! Well this next shot fits the "label" a bit better. As I drive around the countryside looking for compositions, I often see something that nags at me. It has something that would make a good photo if only the conditions were better. I often find that I end up waiting years before the weather and light is they way I envisioned the image, and this shot is a prime example. This copse of trees attracts my eye every time I pass it but the background is always too cluttered. then, a few weeks ago, we had a thick fog just before sunset - off I shot in hope more than expectation and there it was - just how I had been wanting it for the 4 or 5 years since I first spotted the trees. I spent over an hour lining this up the way I wanted it. It's a very simple shot, but a lot went into it, it came out as I wanted it and it's therefore a very satisfying photograph.