Best Photos 2014

At this time of year I like to review the previous year to select my favourite (best?) photos and generally reflect on where I’ve been. I also check back on my previous top tens so I can see if I’m making any progress. This year I went to 3 places, which is two more than I was expecting. I was lucky enough to go back underwater in both Raja Ampat and the Red Sea again this year. And by September I was pregnant (so no diving for a while) but very much enjoyed our topside trip to Sardinia to our Friend Alex’s Wedding.

Without further ado (and in no particular order) here is my top ten underwater images from 2014:

I played a bit with backlighting and off camera strobes again this year. Here is one from the Toberlone Tunnel in Raja Ampat. We don’t usually get up that far but we were having fun and games crossing the equator underwater.

In last years top ten I said that this year I wanted to concentrate on trying to get a Manta shot I was happy with. I like this one because its a bit different from the manta images you usually see (often in black and white and from below).

Continuing with the big animals theme, we saw lots of Woebegones (carpet sharks to you and me) when we were in Raja and this year I actually had the wide angle lens on for some of the encounters.

In the same area as the Mantas on one of the many amazing night dives I encountered this lovely little fellow.

One thing I love taking photos of but don’t often get the opportunity to is the night sky. I’m either on a rocky boat or in a city with lots of light pollution.

This year I was introduced to a new critter – the hairy shrimp. So so minuscule I could only just about see him as a spec of fluffy with my naked eye.

I don’t know why I like the image from the Red Sea so much but I do. Its just a simple images of the rusting pillars of the Carnatic. I had to de-fisheye the photo for one of the rare ones underwater where the fisheye lens made the scene look funny.

I like this one because it looks like a film set. Its actually deep inside the engine room of the Ghanis D wreck in the Red Sea.

This year I couldn’t believe how many Anthias there were on the reef. The place was teaming with millions of them.

The great thing about photographs is that they transport you back to a time and place, this one will forever remind me of snorkelling around the mangroves for a good few hours trying to spot the tiny shark baby I occasionally saw swim past and trying to avoid getting sunburnt, just the thing for a cold december night.

We also got our lovely little baby cats. Hard to imagine we’ve had them less than a year now. Leeloo & Dallas…

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And an honourable mention for my forthcoming little baby – although I didn’t take this photo myself ;)

baby scan

I’ve had an amazing 2014, and I hope you all did too. I’m very much looking forward to next year. Exciting times afoot.

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!