Friday 28 December 2018

Top ten not bird images from 2018

I am still finding that it is not always about birds. I take a camera almost everywhere I go, despite the weight and effort, and the fact that my phone actually does a pretty decent job for internet-only images. I like the variety, and the skills required are very different. Harder! I consider myself far better at taking photographs of birds, but that is not to say that there is no satisfaction to be had from a nice landscape photo, or a candid street shot. Again, these may not be the best ten photos I've taken this year, nor do I think they're as good as those I took i 2017, but they're the ones that tell the story of the year, and remind me what a lovely time I have had. I am very lucky, long may that continue.

I took this photo in Barbados in April, and the small dot right in the middle is my youngest daughter. It was a magical few days – like me she is a natural aficionado of the Caribbean, instantly attuning to the slow rhythm and relaxed vibe of this part of the world. I gain so much from travel, and I want my kids to understand that the world is an incredible place that extends far beyond their regular boundaries. As such I try and take each of them away for some one-on-one time in a stunning location as often as time and funds allow. We based our short holiday around the beach at Payne’s Bay, and Charlotte spent many happy hours playing with some local kids who were also enjoying the golden sand and warm water.

 Mrs L and I had a mere 24 hours in Tokyo, part of a complicated return journey from Malaysia. Despite the short stay we packed in an incredible amount. In pure landscape terms I think my favourite one is this one of Mount Fuji, taken from our room at the Park Hyatt hotel just before we went for a swim to recover from a frenetic day, an incredible Japanese meal, and then post-dinner drinks and jazz on the very top floor.

This next photo is also from Tokyo. I took a number of photos on the day, and subsequently decided that they worked a lot better in black and white. I have a number of favourites, but this one of the roofs and signs along one of the traditional shopping streets near the Sensoji Shrine is the one that to me brings back the memories of a great day out.

This year marked 20 years since I graduated from university. Makes me feel old. To celebrate and commiserate some of my best friends from back then spent a few days in the ski resort of Zermatt in Switzerland. It was high summer, and each day was spent hiking in totally magnificent scenery. I saw my first Lammergeier, a punch the air moment, but everything was dominated by *the* mountain. The Matterhorn. Epic in scale and grandeur. If ever you want to feel small, this is somewhere you could go.

In October I surprised my Mum on her 70th birthday in Venice (it is not just my generation that travels in my extended family). Her reaction when I appeared was to burst into tears, but after that initial shock we had a lovely day walking around this most photogenic of cities. I finished the day on the bridge at Academica trying to take a photo of one of Venice’s most famous views. I had none of gear but a not much of an idea, but a bit of trial and error later and I managed this in the blue hour.

Taken from my hotel on Funchal, the capital of Madeira, I find the sky mesmerising. This Atlantic jewel of an island is a favourite destination for a bit of winter sun and a profusion of sub-tropical plants. You can see an Araucaria in this photo, a tree I simply adore for its structure and form, but it is the sky I keep coming back to.
This is the Ghubrah bowl in Oman, a vast plain fully encircled by the Al Hajar mountains. Remote viillages dot the edges and it is reached through a narrow canyon on the northern side. The intent was to take photographs of birds but it took so long getting there that  the day had almost run out when we arrived. We took a few hasty photos of the empty solitude of it and then retraced our steps back to the coast.

I travel a lot, but I also spend a lot of time out on Wanstead Flats. It is one of my favourite places in the world. There are many things wrong with how it is managed and how it is used, but at the end of the day it remains a special place. Although the land owner decimated a lot of breeding habitat, and then a large grass fire finished the job, it still has the capacity to enchant and to have it on my doorstep is a huge bonus.

I took this looking towards Mam Tor in the Peak District. I was on a raptor-shooting trip to the Peak district, sorry I meant a family walking holiday in the Peak District, and this is one of my children being awed by the landscape

A late addition to my selection this year, this was taken only a few days ago at Glencoe. The steep hill behind this cottage is the famous Buachaille Etive Mor, one of the standout munros in Scotland. I was there for a two day photographic adventure with my son, and whilst the weather was very much against us nearly all the time, we still had a fun time, including wading out into the rivers to try and get images of rapids with the mountain in the background. This cottage just along the road to the foot of the ski centre I think shows the moody nature of the glen.

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