Every year I choose twelve photos published on this blog that year, as a retrospective, prompted by Jim Goldstein’s annual project. Ideally I’d like to do this after the year is finished, to make sure I consider every photo up to the end of the year. But the submission is usually open from mid-December to just after the new year starts, which means the selection has to happen now, so here we are. You can also see my earlier selections for 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.
If you just want to see the photos, skip down to the bottom of this post for a gallery. Otherwise I’ll start with a summary of this year and then will say a few things about each of my chosen photos.
This year seems to have followed the last one in theme. Once again I haven’t done much photography, only slightly more than last year. I haven’t been walking much (or at all), and my earlier reliance on exploring new places to take photos had to give way to something else. Happily, it seems my efficiency has improved, and I have more photos I’m happy with. As with last year, my main outdoor pursuit has been rock climbing. I have been climbing about as often, with already 113 climbing days so far. Even in this, my efficiency has improved, with more ascents than last year, already over 300 clean leads. While my climbing grade hasn’t improved (to be honest, I haven’t really tried) I still managed to widen my experience. I started trad climbing a few months ago, and I must say I’m really enjoying the feeling of climbing something where no-one has prepared anything for you in advance. I used to think that our local limestone is just rubbish for trad climbing, but I must say that at the lower grades there’s fun to be had. I’m still on the committee of the Malta Climbing Club, and a highlight this year has been our successful application to join the International Federation of Mountaineering Associations (UIAA).
Seeing that climbing was my best excuse to be out, I had to admit that I could use a more compact camera. Something I wouldn’t mind taking with me up a route, small enough to not get in the way. Fortuitously, Roberta also missed having something smaller, to fit in a handbag say. So after much deliberation we got ourselves a Canon EOS M5, which is small enough to make a difference, while still having the optics of a crop-sensor DSLR.
As for last year, travel was relatively limited, with a handful of work visits (Heidelberg, Heraklion, and CERN) and a short holiday in the Lake District. I took my camera gear when we went to the lakes, of course, but this time I also took it to Heraklion, where Roberta joined me for a few days. Two photos from each visit made it into this list; the rest are from Malta.
Sadly, none of the photos are film, because for whatever reason I haven’t done much of that. I did get my granddad’s old Agfa Isolette II to work again, and cross-processed a roll of 120 film in B&W chemicals. I keep telling myself I should shoot more film. And frankly I have no excuse not to, except that I’m not planning enough photography outings to begin with.
Thematically, I have done the same as previous years. I have not tried to figure out which were my best photos, and instead I went with the easier choice of twelve photos that are meaningful to me, while also being representative of my work.
Now that we’re done with all that preamble, allow me to present the chosen photos in a sort-of thematic order below.
I’ll start with the Lake District. First photo is from the latter part of a walk up Catbells near Keswick. This year again we were blessed with a week of sunshine, which is not what I recall Cumbrian weather to be. While that might not be the best for photography, it definitely made it easier to walk up and down hills and feel free to explore places I had not visited before.
On one of the walks I visited Aira Force, starting there and walking upstream and then around Gowbarrow park. This was a very enjoyable walk, with great views over Ullswater. I also met a group of youngsters (with their adult leaders) walking in the opposite direction, and remember thinking how great it is to expose kids to the outdoors.
Work once again took me to Crete, but this time in high summer. Being from one myself, visiting a Mediterranean island in summer is not really my favourite thing. And while it was too hot, I must make an exception for Crete. Heraklion is a lovely city, and the food is out of this world. And we could always hide in an air-conditioned museum for the warmest hours of the day. I took this photo just after visiting a Christian art museum, whose door is visible on the left.
Now this photo, while also from Heraklion, I had taken in my previous visit at the end of last year. However, I only shared this photo this year. I find architecture both challenging and enjoyable to shoot. And who can resist a Venetian loggia (that functions nicely as government offices)?
This photo brings back really good memories, of the kind of photo outing that any landscape photographer must enjoy. It was cool, the sky was fabulous, and the location I chose to go is perhaps my favourite on this island. This memorial can be found near the popular stone-age temples, and near it is a path that leads down to the rocky shore. After taking this, I walked down and took some photos of the coastline. One of those can be found below.
This year I also bought myself a super-telephoto lens – the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary, with a matched 1.4x teleconverter. I had tried out this lens before, well one that belongs to a friend of mine, when we took it out for a spin. Surprisingly I found this long lens to be really suitable for landscape work, so eventually got one for myself. The long reach allows, in this case, the moon to appear much larger than it normally would in a photo.
This is one of the photos of the coastline at Ras il-Ħamrija, just below the Congreve memorial whose photo is shown above. It was very windy that day, and I was happy I had my down sleeveless jacket on. The tricky thing was sheltering the tripod-mounted camera from the wind, to be able to shoot these long exposures.
On another windy day I headed over to Il-Majjistral park, with the super-telephoto. This is where I realised I should take my larger tripod with me any time I take that lens, so most of my shooting ended up handheld.
Again with the super-telephoto, this time in Gozo on a walk with my brother at the Citadel. This followed a morning’s worth of climbing at Mġarr ix-Xini and lunch at the now-ritual bakery. A great day out, in other words.
Climbing takes us to some special places, so I try to take my camera with me as a matter of habit. Often enough, the timing is such that we’re there for the sunset, which means we get to see these places in evening light rather often. This photo is from one such occasion, while out climbing in Għargħur.
When I take my camera with me on a climbing outing, I want to pack light, so it’s generally just the body and a single lens. Often enough I find myself taking the 100mm macro, for its field of view (which I really like), its aperture, and also its ability to focus up close. This particular photo is also from Għargħur, while waiting for my climbing partner to arrive.
And for a final photo, another plant photo taken with the 100mm macro. This has a rather long story to go with it, but here I must be brief. I had no idea what plant this was, and after talking with my climbing partner about it he said it’s a rather particular plant, as it flowers right after the first rains of autumn, before the leaves emerge. He couldn’t remember offhand what it was called, but we eventually found it was the Sea Squill.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this selection. You can also see the selection as a gallery below; click on the gallery to navigate through the images.