Seeing other photographers' blog posts with their best shots of 2012 prompted me to consider the same, and in some ways it was a bit disappointing, as it wasn't as difficult a choice as I'd hoped - this year I need to get out more on my own! Of the ten photos here, five were taken when I was out for a walk on my own, just two when I was giving tuition, another was at the Essex Wildlife Trust AGM, and two were on family walks.
This first shot was taken at Thorndon Park in mid-January, whilst out with my wife and daughter. The dead Beech leaves were nicely back-lit by the sun, and I used a wide aperture to blur the background as much as possible. It's the only photo here taken with my 50mm lens, the one I will usually pop on the camera if I'm out for a family walk, as it saves me spending too much time on photos...
Pentax K-5, Pentax FA50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, 1/1000s, ISO400, handheld.
Taken in my local park (Hutton Country Park), during the snows of February, I was drawn to the abstract nature of this composition. I tried others, with the background tree trunk shown in its entirety for instance, but I preferred the more abstract version with the three black stripes. Converting it to monochrome enhanced this, I feel.
Pentax K-5, Sigma EX 105mm f/2.8 macro lens @ f/9.5, 1/20s, ISO80, tripod.
Taken from a hide overlooking the reservoir at Hanningfield, I was originally taking shots of the shadow patterns on the snow on the shore, when this crow arrived. This is a fairly heavy crop of the original frame, a consequence of only having a 300mm lens as my longest focal length.
Pentax K-5, Pentax DA*300mm f/4 lens @ f/6.7, 1/750s, +0.5EV, ISO200, handheld.
Taken again at Hutton Country Park, with my old K10D when my K-5 was away to have its pop-up flash repaired. Unfortunately, I didn't realise I was shooting in jpeg format until after I'd taken this, as a RAW file would have given me more control over the black and white conversion, and the sharpening and noise reduction applied.
Pentax K10D, Pentax DA16-45mm f/4 lens @ 24mm, f/8, 1/15s, +1.0EV, ISO100, handheld.
Taken at Swan Wood in Stock, I found three bees (presumably honey bees, but I've not checked) wandering around on a mossy tree stump. I don't know what they were after, maybe a drink, but it gave me a shot that was a little different from the normal bee picture. Shooting into the sun, with a little fill-flash, helped to pick out the hairs.
Pentax K-5, Sigma EX 105mm f/2.8 macro lens @ f/8, 1/10s, -1.0EV, ISO80, handheld, fill flash.
At the Essex Wildlife Trust AGM in June, Michaela Strachan was the guest speaker, and she did a great job. My job was to take photos of the day for the Trust, and it was a pleasure as always. This one was taken just after Michaela had sat down to await her turn at the lectern, and it was the first photo I took of her on the day, but she still immediately flashed her wonderful smile, which was evident all afternoon. She really was a joy to work with.
Pentax K-5, Sigma EX 105mm f/2.8 macro lens @ f/4.5, 1/250s, +0.5EV, ISO800, handheld
On holiday in Wales in July, we were blessed with great weather for waterfalls. The cottage we stayed in had Spotted Flycatchers nesting on the outside wall, and they would regularly sit on this post near the lounge window, so I positioned the camera outside on the tripod, pre-focusing on the post, then used the remote release from the comfort of the lounge to get lots of photos. This is a crop of a landscape format image.
Pentax K-5, Pentax DA*300mm f/4 lens @ f/6.7, 1/350s, -0.5EV, ISO800, tripod, remote release.
Still in Wales, a walk along the canal near Llanymynech resulted in this shot of some reeds reflected in the water. I'd originally intended taking a photo of the red clover on the nearside bank, but the camera missed focus on this, and focused instead on the reflections, and I realised I much preferred that!
Pentax K-5, Pentax DA*300mm f/4 lens @ f/4.5, 1/500s, ISO400, handheld.
During a workshop at Bedfords Park, I noticed these flowers down by the lake, and saw that they were very popular with hoverflies, so pre-focused my lens on the flower, and took shots when anything arrived. Getting down low and shooting across the flower meant that the background was thrown well out of focus, allowing the subject to stand out well.
Pentax K-5, Pentax DA*300mm f/4 lens @ f/8, 1/350s, ISO400, tripod.
My only trip out alone to shoot toadstools last year, I went to Hanningfield Reservoir to see what I could find. This was one of the last photos I took that day, and I used my diffused flashgun to light the fungi from behind, simulating sunlight, which helped to pick out the gills of the cap.
Pentax K-5, Sigma EX 105mm f/2.8 macro lens @ f/6.7, 10s, ISO80, tripod, contre-jour flash.
I'll finish off with a video from the autumn, the Red Deer rut at Bedfords Park. I don't often shoot video, but it seemed like the obvious thing to do here, and I was very pleased with the result.
Well I hope you enjoyed at least some of those (I realise many of them had appeared on my blog before, but I suppose that's the way of favourite photos). I definitely need to get out more on my own this year, as it's the only way to spend the necessary time in getting the photos right, and exploring new subjects. Having said that, my two favourites from 2011 were both taken whilst carrying out some 1-2-1 tuition, so it does just depend on what presents itself when you're out and about.
For another photographer's 'best of' list, see Neil Phillip's blog post here. If you know of any others, please do let me know. There was a landscape photographer's one that I looked at last week, following a twitter link, but I can't remember whose it was now.
Have a great 2013!