For the first time in ages I’ve been able to put together a ‘best of’ collection at the start of the new year. Part of the reason is that there are not that many of them to choose from. I’ve some up with a dozen ‘worthy’ images which makes up the collage you see here. To kick off my new Instagram account I’m posting my best twelve images of 2014 which fit the square format of this social network.
Compared to previous years, 2014 was a very low output in absolute numbers of portfolio worthy images. The previous year on the other hand was huge by comparison, drawing from a wide range of subjects including landscapes, Carnevale in Venice and even dance photography.
I didn’t get many shooting days this year however it’s always a good sign to be able to leave out certain photos which initially were assumed to make the cut. The locations which make up the twelve differ markedly different from previous years : 6 from the Czech Republic, 3 from the Canadian Rockies, 1 from Paris, 1 from Tasmania and 1 from New Zealand.
Despite all this, I’m very satisfied. To use an Apple analogy, 2014 was a ‘Snow Leopard’ year, where I refined and built on my landscape photography skills. An image I shot early in the year, “What Dreams Are Made Of”, depicting Cradle Mountain with the Milky Way took out 1st prize in the Australian Geographic ANZANG competition for landscapes, a category I have most desired success in since I started entering 8 years ago.
I am also very proud of the portfolio I made in the Czech Republic. One aspect of travel and landscape photography where I very much want to be a leader and not a follower is regarding locations and capturing fresh images. That’s the reason why I so often choose places where nobody else is interested in shooting. There was New Zealand in 2008-2010, Brittany in 2012 and now the Czech Republic in 2014. I never ask anybody for guidance for shooting locations as I prefer to discover them on my own. I believe this is an important step in the creative process. There are photographers’ who work you see an immediately know that the images are borne out of a desire to get a photo out of the location no matter what. Nothing wrong with the trophy hunting style; it’s a great way to build up a portfolio. But personally I tend to prefer photos where it is clear that the subject and/or light has inspired the photographer to pick up the camera rather than because of a primary need to make a shot. To mention just a few names who I think fit this style there’s Guy Tal, Valerie Millett and Theo Bosboom.
It is this style of photography which I adopted while making my forest scenes in Czech. I felt that I was letting the landscape come to me rather than scouting them out. I have already been asked about locations, (even from Czech people!) and the fact is that many were simply random stops where I’ve seen something beautiful or where the beauty of light and conditions gave me pause. In any case I am really pleased to finally be able to add some good forest landscapes to my portfolio. I can’t ever recall seeing a Czech landscape from a non-central European photographer so I’m doubly proud of being able to show the natural beauty of this country.
In addition to forest landscapes, I had the opportunity to improve my mountain photography at the end of the year with a winter trip to the Canadian Rockies. When the opportunity to take a workshop with Marc Adamus presented itself, I quickly took it with the intention of seeing how the world’s best mountain landscape photographer approached his subjects. The other aspect I wanted a refresher in was post-capture processing. As a result of the workshop, I believe that I have taken both my mountain landscapes and digital workflow to the next level.
The question of photo workshops was brought up in a forum and I’m going to quote my own reply there.
“I see a lot of photographers who are in ruts who don’t know it – expanding their portfolio but not making any actual improvement in their actual photography in my opinion. I believe that a workshop with the right leader would make the world of difference to them and the money would be better spent than on gear or more travel. I will enrol in a photography workshop from time to time, just to open my mind to see how other people approach photography, work flow, etc.”
Which seems to be a great segue into a plug for the workshop I’m co-leading with Lofoten Tours very soon with a couple of spots still open. This is a grand tour of the location which I’ve placed at #1 on my bucket list for ages and presents the opportunity to photograph aurora in a fantastic location.