2014: A Photographic Retrospective

I meant to write this post earlier, but at least I’m still in time for Jim Goldstein’s annual project. Earlier this week I went through the photos I shared on this blog in 2014, ruthlessly trimming down until I was left with my favourite twelve. Or, as close to that as I could get. Once I was down to 25-30, it became much harder to let some of them go, and even after a few days I’m still uncertain. I take that as a good sign. You can also find these photos as an album on flickr.

Dingli Cliffs at Sunset (2956)

Dingli Cliffs at Sunset. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

In many ways, 2014 has been a busy year. We moved back to Malta after several years living in Surrey, and are slowly adjusting to life here. This meant letting go of what had become my weekly walks in the countryside of the south east, with its trees, gentle hills, and medieval churches. Instead I am slowly re-learning what my own country is like, with its sea cliffs, wild herbs in the garrigue, and the ever-present hunters and trappers. One advantage is that everywhere is so close – I drove specifically to Dingli for sunset to get the photo above.

 

Sailing Boat at Twilight (2773)

Sailing Boat at Twilight. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Another aspect of the country that I need to enjoy more is the seaside. It’s too busy and frankly too hot in summer – in fact I wonder why most tourists visiting choose to do so in those months. In late spring and early autumn, however, it’s just magical. I took the photo above on an evening stroll along the promenade in Buġibba.

 

St Michael's Square (2890)

St Michael’s Square. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

In retrospect I also travelled more than in previous years, though perhaps to less far-flung places. I was recently invited to present a talk at a mathematics colloquium in Ghent, Belgium. Travel in Europe is comparatively easy, with most towns and cities well-connected. I took this photo on an evening walk along Sint-Michielsplein. In time I want to share a colour edit of this shot as well.

 

Grand Central Station (2586)

Grand Central Station. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Last year I was also placement tutor for two students working abroad. One was working in New York. I have never travelled so far for a single meeting. Still, it gave me the opportunity to visit places I had missed the last time I was there. One was the beautiful Grand Central Terminal.

 

If you were wondering, the other student was working in Bavaria. Sadly, none of the photos I took there made the cut, though I can safely say that those visits were something I looked forward to.

Hiorne's Tower (2695)

Hiorne’s Tower. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Last year I also continued upgrading my photographic gear, so that now I have everything I feel I really need. Sure, there’s always another lens to covet, etc., but realistically I am not missing any photos for lack of equipment. In 2013 I bought into the Lee filter system, and liked it so much that in 2014 I acquired the remaining filters in my list. One of these was the Lee Big Stopper, specifically for daytime long exposures. The above photo is one example, from a walk in Arundel this summer.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History (1190)

Oxford University Museum of Natural History. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Earlier this year we drove up to Oxford for the day. R is really into cities, while I generally prefer the solitude of the country. Still, this was one city I’d revisit any day. R planned  the day, with a highlight being a visit to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. We felt like kids among all the rocks, fossils, and amazing architecture. We left as the museum was closing, and with the warm glow of the setting sun on the façade I couldn’t resist setting up for a long exposure. We were so tired – R can be seen sitting on the bench on the left.

 

Bluebells (1773)

Bluebells. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

One thing I’ll miss in Malta is the annual display of bluebells in early spring. It became an annual ritual to seek out new pockets of ancient woodland to see the bluebells in those short weeks they bloom. The photo above I think is my favourite, taken in a small pocket of woodland I encountered on a walk in West Sussex. I bought the macro lens the year before, thinking R would be the one using it most, but I found I really liked its field of view and its extreme ability to blur the background.

Morning Coffee (1434)

Morning Coffee. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Last year I also took an opportunity to go camping with my younger brother. We had not done anything remotely similar since travelling with our parents as kids. We also chose a rather cold day to do so, as the temperature dropped below freezing overnight and we woke up to a very frosty morning. Good thing I asked him to get his coffee maker with him, and good thing he insisted on a site that had campfire facilities. Breakfast that day was unbelievably enjoyable.

Foot Bridge at Burbage Brook (2147-2148)

Foot Bridge at Burbage Brook. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Knowing we’d be leaving the UK for good, I also made an effort to find a good time to drive up to the peak district to visit my climbing buddy. Though the weather did not cooperate too well, we managed to go bouldering in Burbage South and shooting a few ends at his archery club near Winnats pass (in the rain, of course). Trad climbing will have to wait for next time. We also went for a walk along Burbage brook, where I took the photo above.

Rainbow (1944)

Rainbow. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Some say there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing (or wrong gear). If I had to avoid walking in England when it rained I think I’d have never walked. Usually it was just a matter of wearing the rain jacket, and moving along. Sometimes you’d have to navigate a flooded area, and sometimes you’d be treated to this, as the sun came out again.

Managed Forest (1151)

Managed Forest. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

If I had to pick a theme for my walks last year, I think ‘trees and forests’ would be it. It’s surprisingly hard to shoot in woodland, and often have to deal with very harsh contrast. This photo I particularly like for its viewpoint and perspective. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing walk.

Among the Sighing Branches (0997)

Among the Sighing Branches. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

This photo kept popping in and out of the list for various reasons. Perhaps it’s more the memories it brings back, or perhaps it’s actually good. There is something dissonant about the beauty of the path and the orderly line of trees on the right hand, and the signs of damage on the left. I went for this walk soon after the storm damage, and in various places was reminded of this. It was a very particular walk, one that felt far removed from civilization even though it was not that far away. Or perhaps that was just a reflection of my feelings on that day.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this selection. I have left links to the original posts above. Click on the photos for larger versions; or click on the links for further details. Comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.

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