The story of the British winter in 2014 was a series of storms and more water in the south of England than The Amazon River would have been able to supply. It certainly wasn’t what you’d call a traditional or classic winter in any respect. We didn’t see any snow last year in the Midlands so this year I think many photographers were pinning their hopes on a higher proliferation of icy opportunities. Sure enough winter finally showed its hand in the north and across higher ground but once again barely a flake south of the Peak District has been seen. I give Jack Frost 3 out of 10 for effort this year…
December started like a winter month really should with a few sharp frosts and low temperatures, though as always the British weather usually has other ideas up its sleeve and this soon turned into a cloudy, wet, dull and windy spell bringing an end to the sort of conditions most landscape photographers revel in. A single and very short-lived small amount of snow in the latter part of the month wasn’t enough to re-create those magical conditions for me either. I’ve since been enjoying the low light/high ISO capability of the Nikon Df and this signals new possibilities for me as we turn towards 2015 but in truth I’d much rather be out in an icy dawn landscape with the Warwickshire countryside for company.
November has been one of those transitional months for me. The best tree colour had departed and the weather was neither cold or mild, wet or dry. A bit hum drum really. The month was broken up for me with a sparkling trip to Paris so landscape wise I don’t seem to have got out quite so much as I might have ordinarily planned.
Only a few weeks ago I featured one of Mark Littlejohn’s wonderful atmospheric photographs on this very blog, with his image Woodland Wanders. I’ve followed Mark’s work for a very long time indeed and so it came as no surprise to me when he was announced as Take-A-View’s choice as Landscape Photographer Of The Year for 2014 with what I think is a quite wonderful photograph, aptly titled A Beginning And An End…
Following up the initial success of last month’s guest photographer feature, I can see a lot of people were interested in what I find as inspirational so I feel sure this will become embedded as a regular feature on this blog. A few hundred people stopped by to give the page a read while some went to the extra length of writing a few paragraphs on what they saw for themselves in the images I selected.
Wow what a month! One of the most enjoyable periods of photography I’ve enjoyed for a long time and picking out a single image from October seems almost impossible. The colour riot of autumn has of course been in full flow and while others might have been waiting for the ‘optimum’ moment (whenever that is meant to be), I know from experience that this time of year is an ever changing conundrum so getting out there as many times as possible through the month would probably pay dividends. A mis-timed storm or prolonged period of rain can soon put pay to any plans you might have to capturing some trees with leaves on and sure enough a single significant storm came along right at the moment when the trees were reaching full colour.
September is one of those months when it’s neither one season or another. This year in the UK, it stayed exceptionally warm, but while summer was still obviously over, autumn really hadn’t entirely begun. I find months like this very frustrating so I chose to use the early part of the month checking out some possible autumnal locations without having the desire of going out with real purpose to shoot, and with that having a low expectation of getting very much.
August turned out to be a surprisingly good month for photography. When I committed to converting my D800 into a full time 720nm infrared option, I envisaged that the long summer days of July and August would provide all of necessary ingredients to produce some great mono opportunities. Indeed, when I decided to head up to the Peak District during the latter part of August it was to take a closer look at Bolehill Quarry and the potential afforded by the Silver Birch woodland there. Birch makes for spectacular black and white subject matter and I was hoping to find a mix of my favourite trees perhaps with some long dry grasses for good measure. But what really started out as nothing more than a autumnal reconnaissance mission turned into an unexpected full colour landscape quest. I was told that there would be ‘some heather’ but what greeted me was an incredible purple display covering every one of the hills in the whole of the Hathersage area, a very special sight, the likes of which I genuinely hadn’t witnessed before.
July turned out to be a month with some new gear. I invested in a Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 because I wanted something lighter for what I call ‘occasional’ shooting. It certainly has its strengths and weaknesses like any other camera and I’ll put together a separate blog post on this soon enough.