2014 was a year of expanding my business and trying new things, I wanted to work solely as a landscape photographer and time-lapse cinematographer as this is where my passion lies. It was a year where I felt I'd gone to the next level as goals had been reached that I didn't expect like my time-lapse photography being used for an ITV episode of Ray Mears Wilderness Walks and having double-page spread images in both BBC Wildlife and Countryfile magazines. These were both great achievements for me which I'm very proud of so I'm definitely excited to see what 2015 holds! Below are my top 10 images of 2014 that I feel all have a story to tell and showcase my passion for the outdoors. Make sure to click on the images for a larger view and these images are in order of which I took them, starting in January...
This waterfall is a lovely location to get away from the towns and disappear for a bit. It's located not too far from Dalmellington in Ayrshire and I've been visiting this place for the last few years. This shot was taken in January on a cold and wet day where most people would be enjoying the comforts of home and a hot cup of tea but not me. I prefer photographing waterfalls on cloudy days as the contrast is a lot lower and dynamic range of the scene seems to be more evened out. What I love about this shot is the bright greens of the moss and lichen on the trees which really help bring them out and give a bit of colour to a autumnal scene.
Northern Lights In Ayr
The Aurora Borealis is a natural wonder that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, the beauty of the night sky lighting up in all its glory is a true testament to the natural world and how beautiful it really is, especially at night. Getting these images was by sheer luck and determination. I had no idea that the Aurora Borealis was going show that night and even if it did I would have never thought I would be photographing it in Ayr. So how did it all happen I hear you say? Well, I was at home just watching tv and I started reading reports on Twitter of people saying they could see the Aurora Borealis, most of these people were from the North of Scotland so I still believed my chances were a little slim. I had a look outside my window and I couldn’t see any stars at all as there was cloud cover, still my hopes of seeing it were quite slim.
I left it for about 20 minutes and more and more reports were flooding in on Twitter and now people from Northern England were seeing the Northern Lights. I went upstairs to my office, switched all the lights off and looked north. The sky had cleared and there it was! A green glow snaked across the sky above me. I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and drove down to Ayr harbour as I believed this would be best place for me that wouldn’t have that much light pollution due to me looking North into the sea and Arran. Photographing the Aurora Borealis was a huge achievement me, definitely one I can check off my bucket-list! I always thought the first place I would see them would be Iceland, Norway or Sweden but no it was 10 minutes from my home. Unbelievable. I feel truly honoured to have witnessed its beauty and I cannot wait to travel the world on the hunt for the beautiful Aurora Borealis!
Incoming Waves At Prestwick
Prestwick beach has always been the first place I drive to if the weather starts to change near to when the sun is setting. Having the Isle of Arran as a backdrop is always great as it gives the images more detail instead of just finishing with a straight horizon with nothing else. I took this image during a day where there was nothing but bad weather all day and just as the sun was beginning its dip behind the hills of Arran the sun made an appearance adding a large amount of character to the sky and filling it full of detail and colour. I remember getting my feet completely soaked taking this shot as I was in such a rush that I just left my trainers on as I didn't want to waste any precious time putting my boots on. Using an ND filter I was able to slow down the exposure to around 1 second to add a bit of motion to the incoming waves and I think in this shot it worked really well.
Loch An Eilein, Cairngorms
During the summer I visited the Cairngorms for a family holiday, we stayed there for a week and the weather was on our side for the entire trip. One place I really wanted to visit was Loch an Eilein, I heard of it in the past and I also did some research on it before I left. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. Due to it being a bit out of the way of the lochs it doesn't get too busy with tourists so when we went there we had a part of the loch to ourselves where we could just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. We stayed there quite late to watch the sun set and while it was dipping behind us a collection of clouds began to turn orange and they just looked beautiful. To make the image looked a lot more smoother I applied a 10 stop filter to give me a shutter speed of around 30 seconds and I think using this filter really helped in bringing the image together.
The Milky Way
In the UK, the summer months are the best time of year to photograph the Milky Way, it's when it will be more visible in the night sky making it a lot easier to photograph. On this clear evening I decided to go down to Dunure castle to see what shots I could get and whether I could include the castle in the shots. It turned out to be a great evening and I got a lot more shots of the milky way than I was hoping for which was really nice. Due to the village being so close to where I was shooting, light pollution from the street lights started to flood the foreground with an orange glow but I felt in this shot it brought more detail out of the grass blowing in the wind. The lights on the far right on the Isle of Arran and you can also just make out the small of Ailsa Craig and its lighthouse just by the cliffs.
Autumn Is Here
During the Autumn moves I made the drastic move away from Canon DSLR's and I got myself the amazing Sony A7R. It was a decision I've mulling over ever since the A7R came out and I eventually made the plunge and I must say it was the best decision I've ever made. Great bit of kit! So during the Autumn months I wanted to make my work a bit more subtle, look for the finer details in the landscape instead of shooting super-wide and trying to get everything in the frame. I love photographing trees with character and this birch tree was ideal for what I was after, the colours just jump out at you!
Again, looking for the finer details in a scene I wanted to do the same along the Ayrshire coast at some of my favourite spots like the beach at Dunure. This shot was taken on a very windy and wet day which added a lot of dark and moody feelings to my images something I like to incorporate in most of my shots. The waves were crashing hard against the rocks as the tide was making its way up the shore and I wanted to try to document the motion of water as it elegantly moves around. So I attached an ND to the front of my lens and started to play with different shutter speeds to see what worked and what didn't. Out of the 20 shots of the water I took, this was my favourite.
Sunset At Prestwick Beach
Like i said earlier, the beach at Prestwick is always the first place I go for dramatic weather, 9 out of 10 tens I'll get a shot from here that I'll just love and there's nothing better than working locally. I went down to the beach that day to test out my new Samyang 14mm lens for the A7r, I had wanted this lens for long time and was looking forward to testing it properly. The sun was setting in the distance and I wanted to incorporate foreground details in my shot and while walking around the beach I found this small rock sitting there on its on and it stood out really well. So I spent a little while trying out different compositions to see which worked best and in the end this was my favourite.
Another Place, Crosby
While down near Merseyside visiting family, I made sure one day we went and visited Antony Gormley's "Another Place" statues that are located all across the beach in Crosby. I've been there several times before when I used live there but I never got any shots I liked as I was still a bit new to photography. I went there with the shot I wanted in my head and new exactly what I needed to do to make it happen which involved my A7R, 50mm lens and a 10 Stop filter to create some long exposures. The tide was on my side as I wanted the statues to be partially submerged in the water making it look they're standing still in time watching the days go by. The collection of images turned out exactly the way I wanted and I was very pleased with the final result.
The Concrete Blocks At Troon
So back to Scotland and I started to look into new locations as I was beginning to feel like I was exhausting my current spots and wanted to see what else was out there. Troon is a small town on the Ayrshire coast i decided to scout the location one day and see what I could find. Towards the harbour area I found these concrete blocks that must have held in pipes that went out to sea many years ago and now there were just the blocks remaining which I thought looked really interesting. I spent a good few days trying different ways of photographing them. Seeing how they looked when the tide was in or when the tide was out. I find going at different times of the day can really show a difference in the landscape that you may easily miss.
2014 was a really good year for me not just for my photography but also personally as I asked my beautiful partner Rachael if she would marry me and she said yes! It was a great way to finish the year and I cannot wait for her to be my wife. I wouldn't be the photographer and person I am today if it weren't for her! 2015 feels like it's going to be my year, I've got big plans already and I cannot wait to get my teeth into them. First off my list will be going to the Canary Islands to work for a tourism company in January and then as soon as I get back I'll be putting the finishing touches to my latest time-lapse film. Thanks for everything and make sure to see what I'm up to in 2015! :)