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Thursday
Dec182008

My Own 12 Favourite Photographs of 2008

IOUThe end of the year is fast approaching, so now's a good time for all Photographers to look back, review their work over the last 12 months, maybe pick out some favourites, consider any learning's and think about the road ahead.

So, 4800 photographs taken, 646 public photo's on Flickr, but which (in no particular order) are my favourite photographs that I shot in 2008?





IOU
IOU

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First I'd like to say that I found this whole process very difficult. I set myself the challenge of picking out 12 images that I'd taken this year, and to be honest struggled to pick any to start with.

Maybe it's because I'm too close to them - taking the photo, editing it, uploading it, sharing it, etc, so after awhile it's only the new photographs I've taken that really catch my eye, until I get bored / disillusioned with them too.

Also, I don't really want to confuse (although I have) "Favourite" with "Best". I understand that many of these images have technical flaws - and there are "better" photographs on my Flickr stream, but now, at the time of writing, these are my favourites.

Pour HCB.
Pour HCB

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Its funny to think that this time last year I was sitting at home, my arm in a metal cast, recovering from a smashed elbow, reading photography magazines and thinking about taking up Photography as a hobby.

Now I've got this Blog, a Podcast with hundreds of listeners, I've met some great people in the Photography community, and I'm looking forward to expanding my Photography skills and achievements in 2009.

Priddys Hard
Priddys Hard

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Back to the Photographs. The main tool I've used this year is the Photowalk. It would be really interesting to work out the number of miles I've walked taking these 6,000 images - but the act of going out specifically to spend some time concentrating on my Photography I think has benefited my images enormously.

Looking at these images there are some surprises. The dominance of Black and White, the absence of flower / plant macro, and the lack of brickwork!

Viewing Platform
Viewing Platform

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I guess another influence in how I've tried to develop my Photography is through trying to look at as many Photographs as possible. I trawl the Flickr groups, the shots from my contacts, and I have really been pleased with how easy it is to order excellent classic and contemporary Photography Books from my local library.

Listen
Listen

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I have to admit that people have not been a strong part of my photography this year, but I've forced myself on a few occasions to approach strangers, start a conversation and ask to take their photograph. All of these experiences have been good - if you're thinking about doing the same thing, go for it, they can only say no!

Say Cheese.
Say "Cheese"

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This shot of a dragon-fly is my tribute to the excellent Fujifilm Finepix S5700 / S700. Apart from a few frames with my old Kodak point and Shoot, and a roll of film in my Minolta SRT 101 (which is an excellent exercise for anybody), all year I've shot with this superb camera.

The S5700 / S700 may be cheap, but it's got a fantastic focal range and it's sensor can produce lovely results if you treat it with respect.

Check out the dragon-fly big. The lens was almost touching the little fellas nose - yet two minutes later I could be shooting a landscape, some video, or zooming in on some larger wildlife.

Thanks Fujifilm!

Ship Graveyard
Ship Graveyard

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HDR. I've had a bit of a love / hate relationship with High Dynamic Range Photography this year. It's enabled me to pull off some fantastic images, with loads of detail, but too often I've taken the colour too far, or created really unrealistic images.

When my main PC blew up earlier in the year I also reduced the number of HDR's I was doing - it would take me too long to process the images. Over the last few months I've actually started taking a lot less images on each photowalk, but there's more "keepers", so I spend a less time processing photographs shots that I end up rejecting anyway, so HDR has crept back into my work-flow too.

I'm leaning towards using HDR, tone mapped images as the basis for black and white conversions - the detail can be amazing, and you don't encounter the problems of unnatural colours.

Look Out Fareham.
Look Out Fareham!

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There's been challenges this year. I've struggled trying to define my style, what I actually take photographs of. I've decided that it's anything that catches my eye. Full stop.

I've also struggled technically. Too often I've shot hand-held at a high ISO instead of taking the time to get out my tripod for a really noise-free, sharp, low-ISO photograph. I've been too lazy - resulting in shots that are too soft or noisy.

A New Year Resolution for 2009? To make my photographs technically better - to really think about the sharpness and quality of my images instead of rushing too much. I must be more like Ansel Adams!

My Patch
My Patch

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My attempts to crack the stock photo market have stalled a little recently - too many of my submissions are rejected because of technical problems in the camera. I'll be submitting more, but I don't expect my success rate to increase much until I get a Digital SLR.

Fort Brockhurst Moat View To Keep
Fort Brockhurst Moat View To Keep

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What has surprised me is the sheer amount of different images I've pulled out of visiting the same place over and over.

A big challenge for any budding photographer is finding subjects to shoot. I've visited quite a few locations around where I live, but my favourite walk has to be around Fort Brockhurst, through Monks Walk and onto the back of the Harbour at Priddys Hard, ending up at the Forton Lake Bridge.

I've probably done this walk dozens of times, and each time I've found different, hopefully interesting subjects to shoot. The light or season changes all the time, so if you're struggling to find areas to shoot, why not revisit places you've shot before, you may be pleased with what you'll find.

Shadows.
Shadows

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Another tool I've found useful this year has been entering competitions and photo assignments.

There's nothing better for sharpening your skills than having to come up with a photograph on a specific theme, just remember it's about the learning experience, not winning! (As I have found out!)

Local Butchers
Local Butchers

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So, am I happy with my photographs from 2008? Overall, yes, but there's so much more room for improvement. I want to make my images technically better - sharper, less noise, better post-processing. I want to improve my colour photograph editing technique. I'll be taking more photographs of people.

I'll be taking more advantage of the "Golden Hours", shooting early morning and late evening.

I'll be using "pre-visualisation" more. That means I'll have a clearer idea of the type, style and editing I'll be doing to the photograph I want to capture before I even press the shutter release.

I'd like to continue growing the Blog and Podcast, and probably look into taking the plunge into the world of dSLR's, finances allowing (which may be 2010!).

Overall I want to look at more photographs, order more great photography books to look at, and take more photographs too, with a better "keeper" rate.

I'd like to end this post with some thank-yous.

Thanks to everybody for visiting the site, participating in the Flickr Forum, downloading the Podcast and commenting on both.

Thanks to all the Ladies and Gents on the various Photography groups I participate in on Flickr (and other websites), especially the participants in the excellent S5700 Flickr Group.

A big thank-you goes out to Damien Franco and the encouragement he's given me. Thanks to all the authors / writers behind the numerous blogs / sites / podcast I visit - check out the Photography Links on the right-hand side of the screen.

Thanks to everyone for looking at, commenting on, and favouriting my photographs on Flickr and Deviantart.

Thanks to all the wonderful photographers out there who have inspired me with their images.

Thanks to Mary Ann Fox for buying me a Flickr Pro account way back in May - who knows if I would have taken this so seriously (and taken so many photographs) if she hadn't done that kind and generous act?

Thanks to Andreas Overland, with his wonderful photography, helpful comments, editing skills and getting me off my backside to photograph in bad weather.

Thanks to The Laddie and Victor on Flickr, two great guys (and photographers) who have given me excellent advice, encouragement, friendship and motivation.

Most of all though, thanks to Suzanne, my beautiful (and understanding!) Wife, and my great kids, Oliver, Jane, Paul and Mel, for putting up with this obsessive hobby of mine.

Here's to 2009!

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (4)

Hi Rob,

Fantastic reading yet again!

Throughly enjoyed your review of the last year and had a brilliant time following your photographic journey in 2008. Looking forward to more in 2009!!
(Maybe with smaller podcast files for us non-broadband users? Hint, hint.)
Don't think I could've honestly shaved my favourite selection of your images down to 12!

Cheers for the 'blush' on the Thank you - haven't been that red in a while!
I'd like to extend my thanks back to you again for everything you've done in 2008.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and here's to a fabulous 2009!!

All my very best mate,

Victor

December 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hi Victor,

Thanks for the comments, really appreciated!

Starting with the next podcast I'll do a low-bandwidth version too, then work my way back through the old episodes (where I still have the Audacity Project Files) and convert them for low-bandwidth as well.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the Victor Household!

Cheers, Rob.

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

your galery full with so many beautiful picture, i wish i can take a picture as good as yours with my s700. my pic still flat and dull even with s700

December 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commentershade

Hi Shade,

Glad you like the photographs, its nice to get comments like that.

You're shooting with the same camera as I, so yes, you can take a photo as good as any of mine, or even better. In fact the quality of the photo is not governed by your choice of camera, rather the way you use it and how you process it afterwards.

To put it bluntly, all photographs can benefit from an increase in contrast over the original, whether it came out of a film camera, point and shoot or dSLR. Choosing your subject, composition, exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO, then pressing the shutter release, is only the first step in creating a photograph.

So it's essential that you learn how to use some sort of Photo Editing Software. It could be the free tools with Flickr, the excellent Free Picasa Image Editor from Google, the powerful (and again free) GIMP programme, or a paid solution like Photoshop Elements.

To give you an idea of what's possible, email me a photo that you've taken, where you like the subject and composition, but aren't happy with the overall "look" and I'll work on it.

Cheers, Rob.

December 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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