My Top Ten Images in 2019

My Photography Journey in 2019 Including My Top 10 Images

2019 has proved to be an exciting year and is the first year I have collated my best images created during the previous 12 month’s. In previous years I have edited images as they have been made, or as close to the shooting date as possible depending on the time I have available to edit and process the images. Sometimes where images have stood out or I considered them to be great shots I shared them to either my Instagram or Facebook page. I don’t really consider myself an active promoter of my work so hopefully 2020 will prove different, more on this in a future post.

Where were images made?

This year I decided to focus mainly on local nature and landscape scenes from around the West Midlands. Most of my images were shot no more than a 30 minutes drive from my home which really was a bonus. This allowed me to go out at very short notice and shoot something without really having to plan a route, look at tide times or arrange overnight accommodation etc.. I also made a series of travel images from my 2 week cruising adventures around the Mediterranean in August.

Autumn 2019 also saw me venturing into woodland photography for the first time. Woodland is a very difficult category to get right and is way out of my comfort zone. Practice is the only way to get better, so I hope to capture more woodland images in 2020. Bring on the magical mist and fog!

The below image is one of my woodland photographs taken during Autumn in 2019. Captured in the Black Country not too far from home. I love the way the light is cast on the foreground leaves. The shot didn’t quite make it into my final 10 but was a close outsider.

1/13 Sec at f/5.6 ISO100 @ 66mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

How I catalogue my images

Every year I create a “year” folder in Lightroom in which I create an additional folder for each individual shoot or outing, I also created a collection called “2019 candidates” where I planned to add anything I considered to be my best work in 2019. As the year progressed images were added and removed from the collection based on what I liked and how I felt. Sometimes an image will look an absolute cracker, the best shot you have ever taken yet when you look back in a few weeks time you hate it. Anyway this formed a body of work which could be easily reviewed at any stage of the year without having to look through several hundred different images.

I would love to say I came up with this idea myself however I actually found this tip on the Irish Photography Podcast. I have been an avid listener of this podcast throughout the year and have learnt a lot from the guy’s. If you are into photography and haven’t listened it’s well worth a once over.

If you would like to know more about my cataloguing workflow leave a comment below or drop me a private message.

My photography metrics from 2019

Everyone has ways to self measure success or even just review how progress is being made. In addition to looking back on my my body of work from last year I have decided to list a few metrics which will allow me to compare some numbers at the end of 2020. I need to be careful here though, it is quite easy to get side tracked and shoot a mass of bright, colourful and oversaturated images just because they are a magnet for likes and followers. Don’t get me wrong likes and followers do provide plenty of motivation to share great images however this can be a trap some photographers easily fall into.

Anyway here are the numbers….

  • 45 Outings have been recorded throughout the year and following the initial cull of out of focus and poor compositions a total of 1700 images remained.
  • 27 Images made it into the 2019 candidates collection at the end of the year
  • 51 Images were posted to Instagram (not all from 2019) and I ended the year with 171 Followers
  • 2 of my instagram posts were shared 1 by the BBC and 1 by Express and Star Newspaper
  • I started the year with 32 Facebook followers and ended the year with 72
  • 1 Image was printed in the Express and Star Newspaper for an article which ran on winter scenes in the Black Country.
  • Finally my blog saw a very disappointing 3 posts. (That shouldn’t be too hard to beat in 2020.

As far as the blog goes I already have a series of posts planned including my mid year 2020 progress review and an upcoming post on my aspirations for the coming year. To stay up to date with my blog feel free to subscribe for future updates. There is a little form at the bottom of this post for sign up and the bonus is it doesn’t cost a penny!

My Top 10 Images

It has been very hard to whittle down the 27 images that made it into the 2019 candidates Lightroom collection down to a top 10. Trying to put them into any order would cause way too much brain ache, stress and would most likely cause my head to self destruct. I have therefore decided to take the easy option and show my top 10 in ascending order of date they were shot.

Highgate Sunset

Sunset at Highgate Common
1/15 Sec at f/4.0 ISO400 @ 26mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

This image was created during my second outing of the year. The image made the final 10 as I like both the composition and colours in the sky. I also like the background story of how the image became to be shot. Why not have a read of this blog post detailing how I captured this last minute sunset.

Fire & Ice at Bumble Hole

Early morning sunrise at Bumble Hole
1/160 Sec at f/14 ISO100 @ 40mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

If you ever look at other photographers work, read books or magazines you will always find the best light for photographs is described to be around sunrise or sunset. In previous years most of my images were made outside these times and often in mid day harsh light. This year I decided to make the effort and try harder to wake up, get out of my stink pit and go out rather than staying in bed wasting the day away. Don’t get me wrong I am still a bit of a fare weather photographer and if it’s raining I will still stay in bed!

The above image was made on a very cold February morning. When I arrived at Bumble Hole it was -3 Celsius and the sun was about to break the horizon. This bench is perched on top of a small hill at Warrens Hall Nature Reserve. The reserve is more commonly known as Bumble Hole by locals. I also visited this location several times in the past and even wrote a blog post in earlier in the year where I shot reflections of the cast iron bridges spanning the Dudley No. 2 Canal.

Cascading Water

Cascading water at Himley Hall
6.0 Sec at f/11 ISO100 @ 66mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

This little cascade was my first experience of using a neutral density filter. Shot in March at Himley Hall, Dudley. As part of my shot planning I have started to use Instagram to search for images of the local area and found this cascade at Himley Hall. I visited this location with my friend Ian around 16:30 and shot the cascade on the way back to the car around 18:00 after a short walk around the woodland hillside.

Shooting Himley Hall was another first for me. Although I had been here several times before with my wife to walk our dog I had never really explored the grounds. Compositions can be quite varied as there is a woodland, boating lake, fishing pools, water cascades and general parkland to name a few. This location has proved to be very successful in 2019 with four of my top images being shot from around the park grounds.

My cascading water image was also featured in this post on the BBC Midlands Instagram feed and proved to be very popular amongst their audience.

The Eagle Has Landed

Portrait of a Bald Eagle
1/1600 Sec at f/3.2 ISO100 @ 200mm (70-200mm f/2.8)

The Eagle has landed is the first of two birds of prey images to make my top 10 of 2019. Both images were shot during a photography experience day where birds were posed in natural settings. I did a similar shoot in 2018 with my kit lens and managed to get some good images on that shoot but it doesn’t really have the same effect as my Tamron 70-200 f/ 2.8 lens. I purchased this lens with the shoot in mind and only two weeks before the day. This lens produces a lovely bokeh so I am looking forward to using it more in 2020. It is a heavy lens and is definitely my favourite lens going into 2020.

Barn owl

Beautiful Barn owl in a natural setting
1/800 Sec at f/3.5 ISO400 @ 190mm (70-200mm f/2.8)

This Barn Owl shot is from the same session as the bald eagle shot above. This beautiful Barn Owl is sitting in the window of a barn. Some would say the negative space on the right hand side of the photo adds nothing to the image however I think it adds depth. It would have been easy for me to place the owl on the right hand third however I feel this would then make the image a common choice where I am always looking to break rules and look for something different.

Ponte Vecchio “Old Bridge”

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is located in Florence, Italy and spans across the River Arno
1/640 Sec at f/8 ISO200 @ 25mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is located in Florence, Italy and spans across the River Arno. The bridge dates back to Roman times and was the only bridge in Florence not destroyed during world war 2. The surrounding area is a tourist hotspot and is extremely busy especially in August when this image was made. Finding a composition is difficult with so many tourists fighting to get the best spot for their ultimate selfie. As we were only in Florence for the day I was extremely lucky to be presented with these conditions and love the colour and reflections of the bridge in the river. The original photo included a man sitting on the grass who was reading a book. As he offered no signs of moving I decided he needed to be cloned out! Sorry mate you’re not famous this time.

Florence Cityscape from Piazzale Michelangelo

The view of Florence from view point Piazzale Michelangelo
1/640 Sec at f/8 ISO200 @ 58mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

Florence is an amazing place to visit with stunning architecture and the magnificent cathedral (Duomo di Firenze). It is certainly a place I want to return to in the future as there is so much to take in and do. This shot was taken handheld during a coach stop of around 15 minutes. Piazzale Michelangelo gets very busy as most trips stop here on the way out of Florence and provides a spectacular view of the city. Just out of shot to the left is the famous Porte Vecchio bridge which crosses the river Arno and featured in my previous image.

Colours of Autumn

The late colours of Autumn at Himley Hall
1/6 Sec at f/11 ISO100 @ 200mm (70-200mm f/2.8)

My next image Jumps forward to November and late Autumn. During September my motivation levels considerably dropped and I didn’t go out togging at all. As Autumn arrived and trees started to change colour my motivation returned. I have missed Autumn every year for one reason or another and was determined to get out and shoot in 2019. Unfortunately I ended up in hospital for planned surgery in October which meant I couldn’t go out for a few weeks. Luckily the tail end of the Autumn was still visible in November and this image was made just before bonfire night at Himley Hall.

For those of you paying attention and still with me you will note this is my second image from Himley Hall. I framed this central tree with the surrounding trees on the adjacent hillside by using the gap between trees. With my camera perched securely on my tripod and the 70-200 telephoto mounted to the camera I was able to record this wonderful scene. The gentle breeze combined with a slower shutter speed allowed me to capture movement in the canopy of the trees whilst capturing the colours of Autumn. I have printed this image on a personal calendar and also as a photographic print. I must say the digital image does’t really do the final image justice.

Winter is Coming…

December sunrise at Himley Hall
1/13 Sec at f/5.6 ISO100 @ 105mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

My last two images are also from Himley Hall. The first being shot on 7th December. This Winter sunrise is one of the first of 2019 and has proved to be quite popular. First it was featured on the Express and Star Instagram Feed and subsequently printed on 28th December (Page 63) in the Dudley & Wyre forest editions of the Express and Star newspaper. The newspaper article focused on winter images from the local area.

Sunrise Over Great Pool – Himley Hall

Beautiful sunrise over the pool at Himley Hall
0.6 Sec at f/11 ISO100 @ 25mm (18-105mm f/3.5-5.6)

The final image to make it into my top 10 images in 2019 is this fantastic sunrise at Himley Hall. This image was made on the same day as my “Winter is Coming” image above. I always thought photographers were mad for going out at silly O’clock in cold conditions however those fishermen you can see on the far bank were there well before me and may have even been there all night. Now that’s madness!

This image is also one of my most successful images posted on my own Instagram feed.

Which Image Is Your Favorite?

So that my top 10 images of 2019. I hope you like them as much as I do. Let me know your favourite below in the comments section. Finally if you think one of my other images should have made it into the final 10 I would be interested to hear which one and why.

Thank you to everyone for all your support comments and kindness in 2019. I have a feeling 2020 is going to be an excellent year for my photography and I am looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

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Until next time…

Ta-ra a bit

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Matt Boxley
Matt Boxley is a photographer from the West Midlands, Great Britain who specialises in landscape, nature and travel photography. He purchased his first DSLR in April of 2014 and soon caught the photography bug. Matt now continually fight's the battle within himself to create the perfect picture.

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