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…

Having said this, it’s fair to say that temperatures have remained low and at one stage fog was a possibility almost every other day. With fog comes some dazzling opportunities if you know where to position yourself and mixed with weak morning light it’s like someone has thrown a massive soft box over the sun. Awesome, I absolutely love it.

Not surprisingly I’ve selected a shot from one such morning, right at the start of the year on 4th January, taken in the Cotswolds. Once again my brand of telephoto vision came into its own and I bagged what I consider to be a bit of a cracker with Eye Of The Needles. I’m so happy with it, it’s a photograph I’ve selected to appear in the Connected Exhibition this year, more about that in another blog piece very soon…

Eye Of The Needles

Eye Of The Needles

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

Some might consider this scene to be a little chaotic, but all I see is great balance and poise between the trees, they do seem to exist here as a family group and the overall subdued low key feel delivered the mood of the morning exactly as I experienced it.

Here’s why Eye Of The Needles is image of the month for January:

  • Many people’s initial reaction is that this is a monochromatic image. It isn’t. It’s actually full colour – this is the landscape in all its natural beauty for me. Thick mist has the habit of sucking the colour out of everything but if you look carefully there are still plenty of greens and pale yellows in the spectrum from the light. The point is that anything worthy of double-take makes the viewer look harder into the frame.
  • The light reflecting off the the trunks of the trees to the left is actually the thing that caught my eye in the first place. There’s almost only a sliver of light on that bark, but it’s enough to pull the eye in the gloom and create a highlight and focal point.
  • My imagination was getting the better of me again – I see two large sewing needles from the trees in the frame. It made me feel like there was a play on scale here somewhere, like I was lost in some giant kingdom. It might be the stuff of fairytales but it definitely helped me to focus on what I really wanted in this scene.
  • I feel the light absolutely speaks for itself. I’ve already talked about the softbox effect you get from fog, but boy does it transform an image.
  • Lastly, I think there is a feeling of real depth here too, something which I try and build whenever I can. The mist really helps with that by adding strong elements of separation between objects but the background drops away so nicely.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with the Nikon D800E
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/4 at 75mm
  • f/8, ISO100, 1/40 in weak sunlight at 11:28hrs
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CC
  • No sharpening

A great image to start the year with I thought, 2015 is looking good already. See you next month!