Every now and then it can be very useful to review your images. Looking back at our photos with a critical eye can help us to understand where improvements could have been made and is crucial to our development as photographers.
As we approach the end of 2018 I have selected my favourite 5 images from the past 12 months and will provide a critique on each of them in order that I may take better photos in 2019.
#5 – The Unnamed Tarn, Haystacks
I am going to start with an image that really isn’t very good at all. This shot of the unnamed tarn at the summit of Haystacks makes the list of my top 5 of 2018 not because to quality of the image but because of the memories that it evokes of a wonderful day climbing Haystacks with James Burns and Mali Davis.
Most of the problems with this image stem from the conditions at the top of Haystacks when the shot was taken. It was blowing an absolute gale and there is a lot of motion blur in the grasses in the foreground.
It was also taken just just after the sun had dipped below the horizon. There was very little light on the scene itself forcing my to push things in Lightroom a little further than I would normally.
It is an image to be admired from a distance. Just don’t get too close! 🙂
#4 – Sunrise Over Glencoyne, Ullswater
If you are a fan of my YouTube videos the chances are you won’t recognize this shot of Glencoyne on Ullswater.
That’s because it featured on a video that was exclusive to IGTV (and as a result seen by far too few people).
Glencoyne on Ullswater is one of my very favourite locations in the Lake District. Normally I use a very simple composition focusing on the hills on either side of the lake. On this occasion however I chose to include some foreground interest.
Many of you might get ‘excited’ about the leading lines; the rocks in the foreground practically from an arrow pointing to where the sun is rising.
For me they are simply too distracting. In future I think I will only include a foreground if it is in fact the main subject of the photograph.
Many of you may disagree with me, arguing that a prominent foreground adds depth to an image and there you have a point.
But my reluctance to include distracting foregrounds is a key feature of my style. It is also something that I intent to continue into 2019 and beyond.
#3 – Haweswater and the Hand of Man
Another of my favourite locations in the Lake District. The view of the Haweswater reservoir from Whiteacre Crag.
I experimented this year with storytelling in my images. This image is supposed to provide visual clues that Haweswater is not a natural feature.
Again this is another image that suffers from a distracting foreground. For me all of the interest is in the shape of the hills on the far side of the reservoir.
However my biggest problem with this image is the conditions on the day of shooting. This is one shot that could do with a little more light. It is just a little bit flat.
I have never managed to get a shot here that I am entirely happy with. I shall just have to keep trying.
#2 – Otterbield Island, Derwent Water
Most of the time I shoot with a standard zoom lens. I do own a telephoto but I am yet to master the art of the long lens landscape.
This shot of Otterbield Island on Derwent Water is my favourite telephoto shot of the year and probably ever!
For me this shot works because the island is set against a dark background creating contrast that draws the eye to the main subject.
I also like the layered effect of the mountains in the background and the strong diagonal lines.
However, I feel that the framing is too tight. In hindsight I would have liked to include a little more space around the island so that a little more of the reflection had been included in the frame.
#1 – Strandshag Bay, Derwent Water
My favourite shot of 2018 is this one of Derwent Water and Catbells taken from Strandshag Bay.
It perfectly illustrates my approach to composition. Simple and uncluttered with nothing to distract from the main subject, namely the reeds in the foreground.
It may be my favourite but it is far from perfect.
In order to smooth out the water I had to use an ND filter to increase the shutter speed causing movement blur in some of the reeds. I would have preferred the shot if all of the reeds were pin sharp.
I should have also set the tripod a little higher to avoid the reeds cutting into the reflections of Catbells in the distance. By doing so I would have been forced to include a little more negative space around the reeds. This would have helped the image to feel a little less claustrophobic.