Inspired by a recent podcast by photographer Martin Bailey I was inspired this week to review my output of photos from 2014 and select what I consider to be my ten best images from the year.
2014 was a significant year for me, photographically speaking. Our relocation from Sussex to Essex in August 2013 brought about a lot of changes in my working routines. With a big reduction in my music teaching work I've had more time for photography and I feel I've made some big leaps forward as a result.
The ten photos here are just a small fraction of the pictures published on my daily photoblog through the year but they are all images I'm genuinely proud of, for many reasons.
Back in April I visited the Barbican in London for the first time in many years and for the first time since my interest in photography really took off. I found lots of photographic inspiration there but this building, with its strong lines and the sculptural light falling on it stood out to me the most.
For several years I've wanted to visit the red kite feeding centre at Gigrin Farm near Rhyader in Wales. I finally got there in June and I wasn't disappointed. During the afternoon feed there must have been some 200 kites soaring and swooping around so it was difficult to choose which one to photograph at times. Needless to say I took masses of photos that day but this one stood out for me with that direct eye contact.
The same day I caught my red kite in flight I went to stay at one of my all time favourite places, Llanerchindda Farm near Llandovery. This is the view from the farm's terrace, looking down towards the Cynghordy Viaduct. I struck lucky with the light and dramatic sky and I was lucky enough to have this picture published in the 130th anniversary edition of Amateur Photographer Magazine.
This shot of St. Paul's Cathedral in London proves that you don't need a big, flashy camera to catch a winning image. This was taken on my little Panasonic point and shoot camera and I immediately knew I'd got something special with the way the narrow passageway between the buildings leads your eye to this iconic landmark.
Sometimes you have landmark days which you just know will have a long term impact on your work. This photo was taken on such a day. In July I attended a workshop with wildlife photographer Andy Rouse on the subject of autofocus. We all learnt a huge amount on the course but the highlight was putting our new skills into practice on the animals at the British Wildlife Centre. We were allowed inside the enclosures, giving us fantastic access to the animals. The second I took this shot of Frodo, one of the centre's foxes, I just knew I'd caught a keeper - there something so magical about that stare!
As I type this post, this photo of Frodo has been shortlisted for the British Wildlie Centre 2014 photo competition in the animal portrait category. Needless to say I'm keeping everything crossed until the final competition result is revealed!
Sometimes my music work coincides with my photography and this was one of those occasions. During a free period at the Recorder Summer School I headed for the college gardens with my camera and was rewarded with this bee who was quietly foraging for nectar.
I've spent a lot of time this year focusing on architecture photography as I've visited lots of National Trust properties during my travels. Middle Littleton Tithe Barn in Worcestershire, built in the 13th century, has to be one of the most awe inspiring buildings I've ever seen. One can only begin to imagine the challenges the builders must have faced when constructing a barn of this size with limited tools and technology. I included my other half, Kevin, in the photo to give the viewer a sense of the enormity of this magnificent building.
I've focused much more this year on aviation photography, largely because I'm now within striking distance of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. During the autumn airshow at Duxford I was lucky enough to photograph the last remaining airworthy Vulcan bomber as it was escorted by two Gnats. The combination of a fleeting moment of magical light and that smoke trail made for a photo I'm really proud of.
A walk along a sunny Southend Pier in November brought me into close contact with this Turnstone. Having followed it as it hopped across the pier it sat on the edge for several minutes just looking at me, apparently trying to decide what on earth I was doing!
What a contrast with my penultimate photo! This was taken on a bitterly cold and incredibly windy day from Cromer Pier. Needless to say I didn't hang around for long after I took this but it was worth the effort for such drama!