My top four of 2023

Posted on 20th December, 2023

More years than not I try to consider what are my favourite photos from the year, as it's always fun to review - occasionally I get round to blogging about it! As I've just allowed myself one per season this year, that makes it quite quick and easy to write up. They are very much favourites, not necessarily what I'd consider my best - but then it's so subjective and, ask me next week, I may say different.

It wasn't too hard to choose one from winter, the first quarter of the year, though 'Your majesty' came a close second. These delicate birch trees overlook Upper Loch Torridon and I've photographed them a few times before but this was defintely the most favourable conditions I'd encountered there, aside from a little more wind than was ideal. Alex and I were checking out conditions and reminding ourselves of a few locations before our workshop in February and it was one of those rather beautifully dreich days at this point - perfect for intimate landscapes such as this. The lack of context perhaps gives this image a touch of ambiguity, but also it's not too hard to work out roughly what you are looking at - and that tends to be a nice balance for me.

I've also had some lovely comments about this one from photographers I admire. As much as we all say we photograph to please ourselves, and we do - it's still rather nice to get such positive feedback from people whose work you admire. No man is an island and all that...

For spring, I was slightly torn between this and another image from the same morning in my local woodland, taken on a circular walk from the house, with Oscar waiting impatiently as I spent rather a long time enjoying the soft, foggy conditions. In some ways I feel 'Woodland Window' is the more striking image, and certainly more unusual, but there's something about the serenity of this one that made me choose it. It feels so utterly calm and peaceful and has a gentle rhythm to it.

Summer and a crazy number of photographs to consider from our amazing time in British Columbia. In all honesty I've not had time to go through them all properly and it's probably all still too close to be even vaguely objective. However, I had this picture in my head when this group of humpback whales started to serenade us on our last evening in the Great Bear Rainforest - well that's what it felt like ;) and it was lovely to be able to make the picture in my head a reality. Of course I have the whales and our fabulous crew to thank for their part in this - but nonetheless, it's an image I'm really happy with and it just brings back so many fantastic memories.

If you've not already seen my series of blogs on our week in the Great Bear Rainforest, then the previous few write-ups here cover that, with plenty more whales, as well as bears, wolves, sea lions, etc and lots of stunning scenery. What a place!

And finally autumn - in some ways a harder choice, but this one just speaks to me the most. Perhaps these more colourful 'Autumn birches' would have been a better choice for some - it's a more lyrical image; and if you'd asked me a few weeks ago, I'd have said this rather wacky 'Birches and pine' combination. I'm really happy with them both, but I keep coming back to this one, so this one it is. All were from a fantastic and far too short stop over in the Cairngorms on my way back from Harris.

It's always good to look back and see what you've been up to over the year and if you've got a few images you are happy with and that really take you back to that feeling of being there, then that has to be a positive. It's also nice that one of them was from walking distance of my home, and three of them are from the UK!