Every year I find it rewarding to look through my photos taken over the past 12 months. I recommend this to every photographer as it's a great way to evaluate your work and come up with new ideas to keep the creative process moving. With a new decade approaching, whittling down my 2019 archive to a shortlist of just 10 favourites has felt like more of a challenge than ever and it's been a surprise to see which ones have come out top.
With many of these taken in the Arctic and on my London home-turf, there's a mix of crowdpleasers as well as some more experimental images which I'm fond of because they're unlike anything I've ever photographed before - which for me is the whole point of this exercise. For me the strongest photos are the ones that I never saw coming - moments of pure surprise which I probably, almost certainly, won't photograph or see that same way again.
From cute animal portraits and fast action shots to fine art abstracts and studies of light, taken from dawn to dusk and under the midnight sun, in mist, snow, mud and sunshine - here are my Top 10 Photos Of 2019. I hope you enjoy and share your favourite!
A stag beetle raises its mini antlers towards the orb of the setting sun. This was voted by my social media followers as their favourite photo of 2019, and it's one of my favourites from 20 years of visiting Normandy as it transports me back to a warm midsummer night in Normandy when the meadows were alive with bugs and birdsong.
The male ptarmigan is a master of camouflage in the snowy mountains of Svalbard. At a distance and with his back turned, he looked like a bowling pin! Only his red eyebrow wattles gave his presence away. I was drawn to his cryptic posture and the sparse colour palette of this landscape.
Having visited the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire (UK) every year since I was a child, I couldn't believe my luck when I finally came across a family of wild boar this autumn. They were much bolder than I expected, sometimes too close for my camera to focus - so I was pleased when this sow lifted up her head from foraging and presented her big muddy nose.
This Arctic fox is hot on the trail of dinner. She holds her nose close to the damp tundra like a metal detector, sweeping as she goes to pick up any scents. Foxes have an excellent sense of smell and are able to sniff out a carcass from up to 40km away. For this I used a slow shutter speed and panned to convey a sense of determined movement.
The same fox - but a different take. As she ran along the beach one evening, I just had to show the whole scene with the waves lapping on the shingle shore. She really stands out in her white coat, but in a couple of weeks her summer brown coat will give her the camouflage needed for hunting.
Spring was in the air as I showed my friend Mattia around some prime wildlife sites in London. The ring-necked parakeet is one iconic city species which I knew Mattia hadn't seen before, and we were in luck as many pairs were building nests. Standing below this tree gave us a comical view of the female emerging from her nest hole as the male flies off to get more nest material.
With only an hour visit to the walrus colony last summer and many classic portraits of these huge beasts "in the bag", this year I pushed myself to get a different view of the colony. From our boat, I decided that a tight zoomed-in portrait of their slumbering forms against an overcast sky would transform these walruses into a living landscape of flesh, wrinkles and battle scars.
After midnight, new kinds of images become possible on the Arctic tundra, stimulated by new sounds and shifts in light. As this red-necked phalarope frantically spins for food, it makes concentric whirlpools to stir up shrimps to eat. I wanted to focus on this motion, so pointed towards the sun and used a fast shutter to freeze the arc of droplets and capture golden lines on the water.
An adorable Egyptian goose gosling takes its first steps in Regents Park, London. This was on one of my first Urban Wildlife Photo Workshops of the spring and it was a moment of pure warm delight that put a smile on everyone's face.
This was taken moments after I spotted the male ptarmigan. As a mist closed in on the mountain top, I noticed this female lying close by. She was quite conspicuous and doing her best to lie low. I shiver even now when I look at this photo and remember how cold it was! But that's the aim of this photo - to show how cold and unforgiving that landscape can be for many animals.
In 2020 I set off on old and new adventures - to the Arctic and Japan!
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