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Best 5 Photos of 2013

The stories and techniques behind my top 5 nature photos from this past year.

1. Sunset Over Canna

This view marked a fitting end not only to a memorable visit to the Isle of Canna, but also to 4 years of studying in Edinburgh and of my association (at least as a student) with the Edinburgh University Photographic Society. On our last evening we photographed this spectacular sunset, looking towards the land-bridge that connects Canna with the less inhabited island of Sanday. It was a vibrant sunset unlike any we'd ever seen, with sherbet pink clouds and yellow skies reflected nicely in the bay. This photo was later highly commended in the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards.

The Isle Of Canna @ Canna, Inner Hebrides, Scotland (UK)

2. The Mountaineer One warm spring morning my friend Charlie invited me round to his house to check the results of his overnight moth trap. This common quaker moth had been attracted to the light, but must have found the wooden slats of the outdoor table a more preferable place to rest. Getting down low with my macro lens, I was struck first by the shallow depth of field and dewy light, and then by how much the moth looked like a rock-climber scaling a dangerous precipice. I have yet to see a similar photo that shows a moth emerging from its slumber, so for me it is a unique experience.

Common Quaker @ London (UK)

3. Study Of Kittiwake At Nest

The island of Sanday is the most remote and secluded part of the Inner Hebrides. Linked by a bridge to neighbouring Canna, its rock stacks make an ideal if somewhat wind-buffeted home for puffins and kittiwakes. Leaning over the cliff edge for a better view, I was drawn to this kittiwake's nest, adorned artfully with guano (bird droppings). Kittiwakes are a small species of gull and are striking with their yellow beaks and patterned tail feathers.

Black-Legged Kittiwake @ Sanday, Inner Hebrides, Scotland (UK)

4. Seaweed Siren

We began our week-long tour of the Inner Hebrides on the Isle of Eigg, renowned for its volcanic beaches and fractal sands. In fact Laig Beach, its biggest, has some pretty remarkable rock pools too, and everywhere we looked gave a treasure trove of appealing shapes and patterns. Keenly scanning the sands for patterns created by the incoming tide I came across this delicate piece of seaweed, which to my eye looks like a mermaid perched on a sandy wave. This was a recipient of the "Creative Visions" award in the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards.

Seaweed @ Isle Of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland (UK)

5. Below The Bridge

During an urban nature photography workshop with Iain Green, I was drawn to the heron standing below this wrought-iron bridge - a juxtaposition of natural and man-made worlds, light and dark, above and below. It also shows a move towards a more daring composition for me, with the bird small but prominent in the frame.

Grey Heron @ London (UK)

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

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