Best Photos 2013

As in previous years it is time to review and select my best/favourite photos of 2013. I always really enjoy looking back over all the posts and pictures I’ve made throughout the year and reflecting upon how fortunate I am to go to such great places and have such supportive people in my life. I found it gratifyingly difficult to choose my top ten this year but I can see a few areas where I’d like to improve upon next year (like getting some decent shots of Mantas). With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this years top ten (click each for larger version on pbase):

Top Ten Underwater:

This year, for me, has been the year for schools of fish and photos with movement in them…

Sweepers: This cave in the Red Sea was the first time I truly realised how versatile my new camera set up is. I saw the cave, and thought this could do with some backlighting. Popped off my strobe right there and then and took the shot I wanted. After many years of electronic sync cords, the fibre optic can-get-wet kind are incredibly freeing for my photography.

Under the Jetty: These little schooling fish under Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia were like, as cheesy as it sounds, poetry in motion. Constantly tumbling and swirling into new shapes, beautiful to watch.

Wonderpus: Also from Raja Ampat, at a divesite called the Algae Patch, this cheeky little wonderpus.

Reef top: Another wide angle shot, this time of a reef top in the red sea. Near sunset to low sun hits the water at a good angle for shallow water photos such as this one. Most of the colourful reef fish which inhabit the reef during the day have already gone to bed so I was lucky to get this stream of fish swimming past in the background.

Grumpy Snappers: Its tricky to get a head on shot of the schooling snapper because if you swim at them they disperse (and all your fellow dive buddies groan in frustration as you mess up their shots). They look so adorably grumpy though so I took advantage went I found myself alone with them.

Worried Dad: Human fathers don’t know how lucky they have it. In the sea it’s often the males that give birth, or in the case of this Jaw fish, brood the eggs in his mouth. He occasionally spits them and jiggles them around until they are aerated. Fascinating to watch but don’t get too close or he disappears into his hole.

Underwater Train: Something you don’t usually see underwater – a train. This was blown off the wreckage of the Thistlegorm. This famous world war two ship wreck in the Red Sea has so much cool stuff inside the main wreck (motorbikes, trucks, guns etc) and often strong currents around the exterior that I’d never actually seen the second train which is around 10-15m swim away. On this dive the sea was calm and blessedly free of other divers so we not only got to the train but all the way to the front of the wreck to see the guns. See some of my other photos in this blog post.

Schooling Snappers: I’ve tried to see the impressive schooling fish aggregations at Ras Mohammad on quite a few years and this year I actually got quite a few shots I was please with. I think not having to psh so much weight through the water with my smaller camera allowed me some extra swimming power to keep up with them.

Tiny Cowrie: I found this beautiful cowrie in Indonesia at the beginning of the year while searching this sea fan for pygmy seahorses.

Swirling Barracuda: To round off my underwater choices here are some schooling barracuda from the Red Sea, which reminds me I still need to process the video from this trip, I think I might have some nice footage of these guys.

Favourite Other Photos from 2013:

This year I got married to Mike, I didnt take many photos but I did produce a video I was quite pleased with.

We went on honeymoon to Venice, I liked these two because they are a bit ‘postcardy’

Also, This year I’ve been finishing off the first module of my photography degree course. I’ve really enjoyed some of the lighting techniques such as this spotlighting of Danbo here:

I also enjoyed the trip to Kew Gardens to do one of my assignments on colour:

If you’ve made it this far through the post then well done and I hope you enjoyed :) If you want to see the other photos I enjoyed taking this year I put a whole bunch in a gallery on pbase here. Last years top photos post is here. Stay tuned next year for more underwater fun.

Best Photos 2012

As in previous years it is time to review and select my best/favourite photos of 2012. I always really enjoy looking back over all the posts and pictures I’ve made throughout the year and reflecting upon how fortunate I am to go to such great places and have such supportive people in my life. With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this years top ten (click each for larger version on pbase)….

‘Taj Mahal’ Cenote with Eleo. While we were in Mexico we popped down the coast to see the amazing underwater caves called “Cenotes”. When the sun shines through the holes in the jungle surface these caves are simply magical. I did several blog posts on them because each of them have different characteristics.

Cardinal and friends. I liked this one because even though its taken in the ocean it gives an aquarium vibe. Diving on a tropical reef is so often like being on the inside of a giant aquarium I like that when I capture it in my photos. I got quite a lot I was please with from Bali.

Operatic Nemo. This little guy looked like he was singing an aria for me (in deep baritone). I also love him because he won me the end of trip competition in Bali.

Fish are friends not food. The amazing thing about whalesharks is what they eat. The largest fish in the sea eats the smallest thing, plankton. I liked this photo above the other more traditional mouth open whaleshark feeding shots because of the little remora fish swimming for all his worth to try and get out of the whalesharks mouth. Remora fish usually hook onto other sea creatures for a free ride so this scene amused me even though the little fish is in no danger.

London Triangles. This year I started a new photography degree course (and a new blog to go with it). I’ve had great fun trying to bend the exercises into my photographic areas of interest. This one was from an exercise on triangles and patterns. Its taken looking up into a building on the south bank.

Singapore skyline. We stopped over in Singapore for a few nights on our way to Cambodia and I indulged in my joy of panoramas with this one at night take from Marina Bay.

Duomo. We went on a city break with a friend of ours to Florence. Its long been on my ‘must see’ list of places to go and it didn’t disappoint. As with many beautiful cities, florence has been photographed millions of times. I really liked this view of the Duomo in the early morning. Its one of the only times to get near it when there are no people but as you can see there are still cars zipping by. For me it infuses old and new.

Contrasts Assignment. I had a lot of fun creating the lighting for this assignment with some desk lamps and tracing paper. You can see the whole assignment here.

Decorator crab. This little crab knows a thing or two about camouflage. He’s actually got live corals living on his shell to enable him to blend in more easily with the reef. I found him while searching for triangles for my second assignment.

Giant spotty fish. I like this whaleshark photo as it shows off his spots. As tradition dictated we could only refer to them as ‘giant spotty fish’ until we’d seen one in case we jinxed the trip.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Since choosing just ten is very hard its became tradition for me to briefly mention the spill over … (click for larger):

I hope you enjoyed reviewing my images of the year with me. If you’d like to see more I’ve put my fav 100 of 2012 here. Merry Christmas & Happy new year everyone!

Best Photos 2011

Its reflection time again and my top ten best/favourite photos from 2011 were so much harder to pick than last year (I’m please to say). With no further ado here they are, in no particular order (click each for larger version on pbase):

Jazz Hands.  I was mucking about on a dull dive in Cayman with my buddy and I love this one. For me it all comes together, the silly pose that made me laugh so hard my mask filled up, the outrageous lighting on the sides of the hands making them look massive in the forced perspective. A nice lit up mask (sometimes the masks can cause nasty shadows). The fact that you can see his fin and the dark edge of the reef are nice touches to add depth. And of course what a handsome model ;)


Kittewake squid.  This little battalion of squid seem to live up in the shallows by the mast of the Kittiwake wreck in Grand Cayman. I wanted to capture the sense that they were guarding the ship. I have another shot of them splaying out under the sunrays but I think this one tells the story I wanted to capture a little better.

Inside the tug boat.  Tiny fish stream around inside a shipwrecked tug boat in the south Red Sea. I like the sense of movement in this one and the blue cast from the windows in the background setting the context.


Blenny in a hole.  Blog post here for more blennies. The blennies expression makes this one for me.

Ray close up.  I like this shot of a Cayman Stingray better than some of the other more graceful ones I took. Its unusual and I love the texture on him and his expression as he presses against my glass dome port. The rays here were expecting food and I was glad to capture the in-your-face nature of our encounter with them.

Manatee in the sunshine.  I loved the manatees so much this one had to be in my top ten.

Blue room.  I very much enjoyed our land-based trip this year to Namibia (despite no diving *gasp*). My favourite part was the abandoned mining village. It was the major reason for us going there and I’d have liked one more day wandering around. I prefer this view of the blue room over the more usual symmetrical view because I like the slightly off-kilter through-many-doors-and-windows feeling. With this view you see a way in (or out) of the room (and the frame) via the window and then your eyes are lead through the rooms and tantalised with a hint of a fourth room (one last edge of a doorway) which you don’t get to see if you are straight on and symmetrical.

Milkyway.  I loved Deadvlei (in Namibia). During the day it’s amazing and surreal orange and blue. Landscape straight out of a Dali painting. At night something the stars are brighter than I’ve ever seen in my life. My first foray into night photography and stars. I enjoyed playing around with the star trails shots (even though they didn’t come out right) but I still prefer the straight up majesty of the static star shots.

Dune sunset.  A special treat in Namibia was my first trip up in a microlight. I like this moody aerial shot of the last of the sunlight just catching the edge of a massive sand dune.

Giraffe Greeting.  Giraffe love as two giraffe greet each other nearby the waterhole where we were parked in Etosha. I’d never seen giraffes outside of a zoo before so this was a rare treat for me.

Honourable mentions: As with previous years choosing ten was very hard. Here are a few others that I’ve liked and a whole bunch more in my best 2011 gallery on pbase .



I was very lucky in 2011 to visit so many wonderful places that I have not even been able to go through all my photographs so I’ve choose these from the selection of photographs that were taken, processed & put on my pbase site in 2011. I hope you enjoyed this look back with me.

I’m very much looking forward to 2012, Happy New Year everyone!

Best Photos 2010

Once again its that time of year when I look back and reflect on my photography throughout the year. I’ve put them into a gallery on pbase here:

http://www.pbase.com/suzy_walker/best2010

I’ve only managed to pick just under 80 this year which isnt a great sign dispite having some great opportunites. This year we’ve been underwater in Grand Cayman Island and the North Red Sea (Egypt). Around the UK we’ve tripped to Dorset , Essex and been out in London down by the Eye at night. I tried my hand at photographing Shirleys Garden (for which she won Silver in the local council garden awards). And as per normal I’ve been playing with macro around the house and garden. The one thing I’ve really enjoyed this year is getting to grips with my iphone 4, although I think it makes me lazy because I dont want to lug my huge DSLR out now but more creative because I take more photos than I used to. That being said cheated this year and added a new category – top 10 iphone photos.

I had to go back in time to read this post I wrote over a year ago about choosing your best photos because I did a post as recently as September for my favourite shots of the year so I wanted this post to reflect my best (if at all possible).

Top 10 photos:

#- In Cayman at the sandbar we found this shell and I love how it brings colour against the bland sand

#- I got to help with Alex when he was playing with his off camera strobe inside the Ghannis D wreck in the Red Sea and enjoyed it so much I got one of my very own made. I’m looking forward to trying this technique out more next year.

#- I think Sally here (Sally the Sailfin) was a highlight of our Cayman trip, we didnt get to do much macro but all my personal favs were macro as they usually are ;)

#- I found this little tiny crab under the boat in a tiny piece of dead looking coral. One of his brothers actually atached himself to my lanyard (which was resting on the seabed) and ended up back on the dive deck. I rescued him though and put him back in the sea.

#- Mike & I dont often see sharks so to see this grey reef shark in Cayman was a treat for us. I had a 60mm lens on because the sharks dont come too close. I like the graphic almost pencil drawn feel to my post processing of this one.

#- Cardinal fish males brood their fertilized eggs in their mouths to protect them while they incubate. It was facinating watching him, every moment or so he would open his mouth to allow fresh water to oxygenate the eggs.

#- Stingray sandbar was my fav dive in Cayman and it isnt even a dive. Its a hold breath & sink sort of affair in waist high water :)

#- Secretary blennys are just too cute. They hole up in the coral and peek out.

#- When we go to the Red Sea I love the anthias, they bring so much colour to the reef and look great orange against blue

#- In Cayman there were some little caves with glass fish in them that would swirl around in the beams of sunlight coming though the ceilings.

Top 10 iphone photos:

Alexs leaving do (panorama stitched on the iphone):

Dorset fields on a summers day:

Cheddar Gorge:

Butterflies in my nans garden:

Q models some excellent 3D specs in the car:

my first snowman:

C & Q in leaky hamster balls:

Nans flowers:

Dorset mobile phone HDR (before HDR was on the iphone4 automatically):

Snowy garden:

Honorable Mentions:

land photos: click them for larger versions:

#- Theres a famous quote (I forget who by but you can google it) about painting with light. Thats what attracts me to the london eye photo. And I enjoyed testing out HDR at the henge

#- this year I really enjoyed playing with the macro lens in the garden

#- ever wondered what its like to live in a dandelion? Or to see a toadstool upclose?

Choosing your Best or Favourite photos?

The end of the year is a time for reflection. It’s a time I like to go through all my images from the past year and choose a few to represent my photography from the year. Here is the rub though, am I choosing my best photos or merely my favourites – and is that the same thing? I don’t think so. You can have a favourite photo that’s rubbish technically but means something very special to you or a technically amazing photo that you don’t like as much. I’m hoping by writing this blog post I’ll clear my mind as to which I’m doing this year and perhaps give you all something to think about while you reflect on your year.

Assuming the photo is basically correct (not hideously blown out or completely out of focus – unless I meant it that way) when I look at my photos I ask myself these questions:

  • Is the composition pleasing? Or could it be better? Is the light pleasing?

Are you making a statement with your composition or just playing it safe? Do it look balanced and feel right when you look at it? Does your eye want to take everything in?

  • Does the photo speak to me? How does it make me feel?

Everyone likes photos that make them feel something – anything, personally I like to feel happy rather than sad though ;)

  • Is there a story behind the photo? Is the memory of taking the photo clouding your judgement?

Did you set up a little scene with a funny back story? Is the story better than the finished photo? Is this one of those – “you just had to be there moments” where the photo doesn’t do it justice?

  • Was the photo challenging to take?

Did you have to trek 50miles for this photo? No one will know or care when they look at it but you. I’m guilty of this one. I often like photos of tiny things so small I couldnt see them in real life. Not sure that makes them good photos though!

  • Was this part of an experiment?

Playing with HDR or some other technique and really happy with how it turned out? Does it actually make it a good photo or just impressive to you because you know it was your first go at that technique?

  • Did I rise to a challenge?

Was this photo part of a themed challenge? Does it only make a great photo within that context or can it stand alone?

Well writing this post certainly cleared my mind as I’m am probably guilty of choosing all my photos for the wrong reasons. At the end of the day though it comes down to two questions?

1) Who is your audience? If you are only trying to please yourself you can do whatever you want! :) And everyone else it entitled to a different opinion.

and 2) Do your photos stand alone? Out of context (with no titles, back stories & explanations etc) when you see your photos do you think, wow, thats a great photo?

Now looking forward to the New Year and my blog post of best/fav 10 photos to follow shortly

Happy New Year everyone!

Best Photos 2008?

What a year 2008 was, and fashionably late (as usual) I’ve finally got around to selecting my fav photos taken in 2008.

Here’s the gallery (39 pics) but I’ve refined it down to ten. Probably not the best technically but I enjoyed taking them and they are favs for a variety of reasons.

http://www.pbase.com/suzy_walker/best2008

top ten:
#10: Elastic band from my macro mystery series. I loved doing this series. The challenge was to find a new mystery to photograph everyday and to upload the answer to the previous days mystery.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘macro mystery’ gallery.

#9: Also from my macro mystery series, 13 inches.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘macro mystery’ gallery.

#8: Plastic Flower, from my swimming pool sessions with Martin Edge. This was the first time I’d used an SLR underwater (Martin lent me his for this session) and the first time I’d dived in a swimming pool. I like seeing something so obviously fake made beautiful just by adding water.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Swimming Pool’ gallery.

#7: Schooling Jacks & diver, taken in Bali. I wasn’t all that happy with the photos from Bali as a whole, I’d not been practicing with my camera before we went away and I think it showed in the images I got my the trip. I did like this one however, who can resist swirly fish and a diver in the background ;)

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Bali underwater’ gallery.

#6: Blue, from my Venice carnival photos. This photo seems to get the most hits on my Venice gallery and was one of my favs from the trip.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Venice Carnival’ gallery.

#5: Panoramic view from the Empire State building in New York, I loved New York so much more than I thought I would! I stitched together 11 massive RAW files and almost broke my boyfriends new pc (oops). Best when viewed at the larger size (I didnt even try and upload the massive original), even he was impressed.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Panoramas’ gallery and click here to see the rest of my ‘New York’ gallery.

#4: Nemo! I’ve found you! Again! You can’t usually go into tropical waters without passing these little guys, usually very cross with you for being there so close to their homes but darn it if they are not just so cute in photos!

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Cebu, Philippines’ gallery.

#3: This very obliging octopus sat for his portrait in Egypt on our trip to the brothers. I love his texture.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘brothers liveaboard’ gallery.

#2: Tassled hawkfish kissing? Well, maybe just snuggled up together for a few seconds to peer at me. Its unusual for these guys to sit like this together, they seemed to like me though because they both kept coming back to the same branch. Unfortunately this bush was at about 26m so I had to make 3 or 4 dives to catch this one.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Cebu, Philippines’ gallery.

and finally #1: Scad fish, taken in Egypt. The first time I’ve tried to take schooling fish with a macro lens. I love the blue and silver colours and the burst of bubbles behind all their grumpy little faces.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘brothers liveaboard’ gallery.

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 :)

Suzy