2015 has been a great year for me photographically, I’ve ticked lots of species off my target list and experienced some truly amazing conditions for landscape photography. This year I’ve specifically focused on expanding my landscape and wildlife portfolio, spending every free day exploring the beauty of the Peak District National Park.
In 2015 I started entering various photography competitions and I have been thrilled with the responses. I was a finalist in the Guardian Travel competition, a finalist in a PhaseOne macro competition, shortlisted for Landscape Photographer of the Year (LPOTY) and commended in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA), with an image published in the official 2015 book.
When I look back at images from previous years, I can see just how far I’ve progressed and how much my tastes have changed. To express this progression I’ve put together a a selection of my top 10 wildlife photos and top 10 landscapes. The images I’ve chosen are not necessarily the best images technically, but those that I have the strongest personal connections with.
First up are the wildlife images:
This image was a huge achievement for me, I spent weeks trying to photograph these charismatic animals in the Peak District, but up to this point all I had managed was photographs of their fluffy tails disappearing into the distance. It was an incredible experience being so close to such an elusive animal. The only thing I found myself wishing was that I had a wider lens as I actually had to back well away to fit the head in with my 500mm!
The Peak District is actually the only place in the UK they’re found outside of the Scottish Highlands, so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to photograph these beautiful animals so close to home!
The water vole is another subject I put in countless hours trying to locate. I travelled all over Derbyshire and the Peak District with no success only to find a healthy population in a small upland stream just 10 minutes from home!
Weighing around just 25g, wheatears make a round trip of up 18,640 miles to breed in countries such as the UK over summer, before heading back to Sub-Saharan Africa to winter! It never ceases to amaze me the lengths wildlife goes to in order to survive throughout the year.
The curlew is another subject I had wanted to add to my portfolio for some time and when I came across this one perched on a drystone wall in the Derbyshire Peak District I couldn’t believe my luck. Using the car as a hide, I captured this silhouette to emphasise the strong profile of the curlew on the jagged edge of the drystone wall and the warm light coming through the long grass.
This image evokes happy memories of evenings spent on the chalk cliffs of Bempton, watching throngs of circling seabirds and being immersed in the sights and sounds of the colony.
This striking portrait of a swan was taken on a gorgeous spring afternoon in the Peak District. By exposing for the bright whites of the plumage, the background appears black, isolating the subject.
This image of a female red grouse amongst the heather on Derwent Edge really symbolises summer in the Peak District for me. Although it took a while to find the right subject, eventually this one let me get really close for some nice portraits.
Like the majority of the wildlife in this selection, the red fox was another big one to tick off my species list and I was thrilled when I finally managed some images whilst down in London for the BWPA awards.
The Autumn red deer rut is always one of my favourite events of the year and a major event in every wildlife photographers’ calendar. By concentrating almost solely on silhouettes and environmental portraits this year, I’ve really expanded my portfolio of deer images, this being one of my favourites.
The arrival of the seal colonies to our shores is another of my favourite events of the year and although I only managed one proper trip this year, my time spent on the marshes was as special as always.
This year has been a great year for landscape photography for me, I’ve massively expanded my portfolio, making the landscape selection very hard to make.
This is an image I’d failed to capture several times. It’s incredibly rare to have all the elements to come together at once. So I was thrilled to get the plughole in full flow with a decent sky, and some gorgeous evening light shining on Bamford Edge to top it off.
These abandoned millstones below Burbage Edge are another location I had visited many times hoping for the right conditions but never had all the elements come together. I knew that in midwinter the sun sets directly behind the stones, so one winters day I set off in a mixture of hail, sleet, sunshine and gale force gusts of wind, conditions which often provide the most dramatic skies and best light for landscape photography. Although, it was absolutely freezing waiting for the light to reach it’s best in the changeable conditions, it was well worth it to finally get the image I had envisaged.
This view of the gate on Mam Tor is one of the most iconic views of the Peak District and as clichéd as it has become, it is still a must have for any Peak District landscape photographers collection. Upon reaching the summit that morning, I remember being absolutely blown away by the beauty of the Peak district with the heavy ground frost and mist in the valley below, truly an affirmation I was on the right track.
A very photogenic dilapidated barn above Winnats Pass in the Peak District National Park. I came across this barn on my way to Cave Dale and immediately knew it would make a great image. As I haven’t seen any photos of this barn before in any other photographers’ portfolios, it makes the image even more special as it is completely my own rather than being influenced by the compositions of others.
Sunset at Monsal Head in the Peak District National Park. I used a long exposure to streak the gorgeous colours across the sky and create a sense of movement in the foreground vegetation. This image really captures the essence of the lush green dales in spring.
I could hardly believe it was June when I visited the moors for this image, wrapped up in all my layers to shelter from the blisteringly cold winds. After choosing a composition it took two full hours for the sun to make a brief appearance, but when it finally did I was treated to some dramatic skies and great light. It’s always great when things come together, even if you have to wait hours for something that only lasts five minutes, that’s just nature photography; patience really does pay!
The Perseid meteor shower this year was a fantastic event for astrophotography as it coincided with a new moon, meaning the stars appeared extra bright. I had a great night under the stars watching the meteors shooting across, more than worth the lack of sleep.
Bamford Edge is widely regarded to have some of the best views in the Peak District and I can’t find reason to disagree. From this viewpoint, known as Great Tor, you can see right round from Derwent edge, across Bleaklow and the Kinder Plateau, past Win Hill and the Hope Valley, all the way round to Chatsworth House. I’ve been up Bamford Edge several times before but never coincided my trips with the heather bloom and such great conditions, the perfect summer evening.
This colourful fern was positioned perfectly for some foreground interest at Wyming Brook in the Peak District National Park. I even had the place completely to myself for the afternoon, an extremely rare pleasure!
A winter sunrise at the KitKat stones on Higger Tor, looking towards the iron age hill fort of Carl Wark. After weeks of high winds and driving rain it was an incredible feeling to get out for such a gorgeous sunrise at one of my favourite Peak District locations.
I hope you enjoyed taking a look back at my favourite images from the year. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support, it really is appreciated. Now to see what adventures 2016 brings!