It turns out February was the best month for me for as long as I can remember, photographically speaking. So much so, it’s incredibly difficult to pick out just one photograph – I have at least six in mind which deliver so I’m going have to go with the one which tells the most story. Stark comparison to a year ago where February was utterly flat – I remember feeling like I’d been shrouded in a dark cloak of depression, waiting for winter to lift. Not this time.
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.
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.
Spring got into full swing during April and I could finally put to good use my 720nm Infrared converted Nikon D800, which I refer to as my D800IR. Infrared light reacts with Chlorophyll, the agent found naturally occurring in foliage, and Spring is a wonderful time of year for a creative difference when the leaves start to show themselves again.
After the photographically challenging period through February where I seemed to really struggle to find something I liked for weeks, March turned into an immense month photography wise. There is no doubt that come the end of the year I would probably be able to pick half of my favourite images from the sessions I had in this month – and sometimes you only need a few hours to fill a card with a whole set of images which have impact or poise, the right drama or subtlety. I enjoyed a number of mornings where conditions just played into my hands. Being in the right place at the right time is critical to get the best images but when the weather helps you deliver then things get a little easier.
A month like February can be pretty challenging. It’s very much a winter month of course, isn’t altogether a lot of fun and finding any real colour at all in the landscape isn’t that easy. Photographically it was pretty flat for me but it didn’t stop me getting out just to breath anyway.