My Top Ten Images of 2017

WELCOME to my Top Ten Images of 2017 and a brief review of the year.

AMAZING is the only word that I can use to describe 2017.

My workshops have grown from strength to strength with more people joining me for some memorable trips including a couple of new international ones such as Iceland (twice this year) and Ireland back in September. My 1-2-1 tuition days have never been more popular, and I feel such enjoyment out of helping people in general with their photography but when on a one on one basis as intensive tuition can really develop a person’s photography beyond their expectations. It’s such a thrill to see the improvements in people over time.

I have also seriously enjoyed travelling to so many places both here in the UK and Iceland and Ireland on my own whilst recceing for future workshop locations. My highlights include;

Jan – Outer Hebrides. I spent a week in Lewis with three friends visiting lots of locations on both Lewis and Harris and I fell so much in love with the island, that I am here now for a week over the New Year period. I ran my seven day workshop here in November. I am running a couple of photography workshops in Harris and Lewis again this year, March and November

March – Iceland. I spent eight days on my own travelling from the west coast to Hofn in the east. I was running my first eight day workshop the following week and I wanted to complete a test run on my own first. It was amazing, just amazing. Iceland is breathtaking and not just in the ice and snow of winter, but also during autumn too when the colours are gorgeous. My next Iceland photography workshop is in February and I cannot wait.

May – Ireland. I ventured over to Ireland for the first time and spent a week driving from the north to Dingle in the south-west coast. I absolutely loved it. What an amazing country it is. I meet a couple of local photographers too. Bernard Geraghty from Bernard Geraghty Landscape Tours and Graham Daly who very kindly showed me around. Thanks guys, much appreciated. Bernard incidentally is now my tour guide and driver for my Ireland workshops and he’s so knowledgeable about the locations we visit but he’s such a great guy too. Typically Irish and fun to be around.

July / August – I spent an amazing 26 days traveling over 2,000 miles from Anglesey in North Wales to Norfolk on a huge summer coastal road trip from Preston. I spent 24 days sleeping in the back of my minibus (converted to a temporary campervan complete with mattress, camping stove and electric coolbox). I met so many people, ran a couple of workshops and generally really enjoyed shooting 18 hours a day. It was a  really enjoyable if not terribly tiring experience.

December – I have returned to Harris and Lewis via Glencoe and Skye to spend ten days in total travelling around and enjoying the sights and sounds of some of the UK’s finest scenery. I love, love, LOVE the Outer Hebrides. It is beautifully remote, quiet and above all, stunning to look at and to photograph.

May I also take this opportunity to offer up a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who joined me on a workshop or a 1-2-1 tuition day throughout 2017 and also to those who attended one of my many lecture talks at the various camera clubs across the UK. I seriously appreciate the support and for allowing me to continue to live the kind of life I love to live. Thank you once again.

Anyhow, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Images of 2017. The images that made the list may not surprise you, but I have selected the images that mean something to me. Images that moved me in one way or another when I captured them on camera or those that presented a huge challenge to shoot at the time and I felt a great deal of satisfaction when I eventually nailed the shot.  I hope you enjoy looking through the images and reading the short stories behind them. Please feel free to leave a comment if you wish, I read and reply to every one of them.

Have a wonderful new year and all the very best of health, wealth and happiness to you all for 2018.

 

Number 10: Tree Island, Rydal Water, Lake District, UK – December 2017

I have been photographing the Lake District since 2007 and I have developed an intimate knowledge of what locations work in certain light and weather and on those misty and foggy mornings during late autumn and winter, Rydal Water is the perfect place to visit, especially with high water present as it helps to separate the island from the mainland. But the mist helps to isolate this wonderful tree (sometimes you can see a Heron standing on the island itself) against the busy backdrop. Also during the winter months, the tree is bare and devoid of its summer foliage which to my mind lends an air of graciousness and delicacy to it. I shot this back in December while I was on a 1-2-1 tuition day with a new client. I changed our original intended sunrise location for this one because I knew that it would work better.

Tree Island, Rydal Water, Lake District
Tree Island, Rydal Water, Lake District

 

Number 9: Fanad Head Lighthouse – May 2017

After wanting to visit Ireland for more years than I care to remember, I finally decided that 2017 would be the year and so with the newly purchased nine-seater Ford Tourneo minibus in my possession, I stripped it out of all its seats, threw a single mattress, a double burner camping stove, an electric coolbox and a computer desk and chair (so that I could edit my images whilst on the road), I set off for Holyhead on Anglesey to take the fast ferry across the water to Dublin.

Bernard Geraghty of Bernard Geraghty Landscape Tours was waiting for me in Dublin and we spent a really, really enjoyable two days together visiting the various locations around both Northern Ireland and Ireland. This location (Fanad Head Lighthouse) was one of my favourites. There were so many different compositions to shoot that I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning.  I love locations that offer up a few variations of shots. This shot was taken using a low position looking up at the lighthouse with a four portrait panorama stitched in Photoshop CC. I could have shot the scene landscape format with a single image at 16mm on a full frame but I would not have quite got all of the rocks in on either side. The sound of the ocean as it crashed in against the rocks below me felt invigorating and the soft glow of the end of daylight gently lit up the rocks just beautifully and delicately. It is wonderful views like these that has me feel like the luckiest man alive in being able to shoot landscapes full time.

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland
Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Number 8: Wooden Groyne, Shoreham, Sussex – August 2017

I took this photo of this beautifully detailed and wonderfully shaped wooden groyne whilst visiting Shoreham for the first time back in early August. I was taken by the colour palette as the sand seemed to compliment the colours and tones of the wood. Everything about the scene stood out for me and yet to most people, they would choose to walk on by. The movement of the water had to be just right for my liking and so I decided upon a 1 second shutter time which would help to soften the water a little whilst retaining the texture and movement. I also loved the sky which offered just about enough detail without it dominating. It was an excellent addition to the image. Overall I just love this image and being a boy from Blackpool, I have to confess to being a sucker for a cracking coastal scene.

Wooden Groyne, Shoreham, Sussex
Wooden Groyne, Shoreham, Sussex

 

Number 7: Golden Autumnal Light, Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland – October 2017

This view and the light that shone down over the landscape is one of the reasons why I chose to become a professional landscape photographer. My very good friend and fellow professional photographer Tony Higginson and I arrived at this location on the afternoon in October when the rain was falling but we could see the potential in the final image. I waited an hour and a half in the hope that the sun would make an appearance. Eventually, once the rain had stopped, the sun dropped between two banks of cloud and illuminated the whole scene beautifully. I knew waiting would provide me with an opportunity to capture the view as I wanted and on seeing the sun kissing the autumnal colours below me, I knew I had been rewarded for my efforts. I will be organising a workshop in Assynt for this autumn shortly.

Golden Autumnal Light, Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland
Golden Autumnal Light, Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland

Number 6: Torrential Rain, Trotternish, Isle of Skye, Scotland – November 2017

Something a little different from me but I simply could not resist photographing this amazing scene as a huge storm raced over us at the Trotternish back in early November whilst leading a workshop. Everybody was desperately trying to keep their camera equipment dry and shielding it away from the rain whereas I decided to embrace it in the pursuit of taking this shot. I quickly positioned myself at the edge of the tall cliff and set up the camera in record time knowing that an almighty amount of water was about to hit and I was right.

The rain drove in diagonally from the right and the light in the background became beautifully defused whilst the harshness of the granite rock in the foreground took centre stage. You can see the rain driving in front of the rock. Quite an amazing time to be shooting at this most wonderful of locations in Skye.

Torrential Rain, Trotternish, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Torrential Rain, Trotternish, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Number 5: Stunning Starburst Sunrise, Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland – November 2017

WOW, what a morning we had down at the mystical and magical Callanish Stones back in November. We arrived pre-dawn to ensure that we were properly set up and ready for the sunrise and what a treat we were in for. Even the heavy hailstone showers did not put us off. Remember, dramatic weather helps create dramatic images. This is a location that I had wanted to visit for a number of years now and boy was I ready to be impressed and I most certainly was. I love the fact that half of the sky is dramatic and menacing and the other half is warm, inviting and welcoming. Such a contrast of fortunes which basically sums up most of Scotland. If you want amazing photographs, you have to come to the most amazing locations to get them. I shall be returning to run another workshop n March.

Stunning Starburst Sunrise, Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Stunning Starburst Sunrise, Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Number 4: kp5 Aurora Borealis, 200ft Skogafoss, Iceland – October 2017

I have been so incredibly lucky to have seen amazing aurora displays every time I have visited Iceland (join me on my next workshop in February and maybe my lucky streak will continue). On this occasion, I was stunned. I have been wanting to capture the aurora over the 200ft Skogafoss waterfall (foss means waterfall by the way) for a couple of years now and that amazing night back in mid-October, my dream became a reality.

I took my clients out to one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls around 10pm and for two hours we waited until the show built up into what you see here. The waterfall was lit by two head torches over a 30 second period by one of my clients who did not mind getting wet and in truth, it really allows the waterfall to be seen from the much darker rock and foliage around it. It was just one of those nights and experiences that will remain with me forever.

kp5 Aurora Borealis over the 200ft Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland
kp5 Aurora Borealis over the 200ft Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland

Number 3: Kirkjufellfoss and Kirkjufell, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland – March 2017

The day I captured this image, I was on day two of me leading my eight-day workshop. We started the day off at Arnarstapi sea rock arch before heading off to the black and white Budir Church but the afternoon was spent at the utterly spellbinding Kirkjufell (nicknamed the Witch’s Hat because of its shape).

The weather conditions were absolutely perfect and it was pretty quiet of photographers. The snow had banked up much more since I visited the previous week and this allowed me and my clients to get very close to the waterfall. I love the overhanging snow that allows the water to flow freely underneath it. You can see why it is one of the most iconic images of Iceland. Of course David Clapp managed to take a photograph of this waterfall and mountain way back when Iceland was not even on the radar for most people. His capture of the aurora haloing around the peak of the mountain is legendary. I have no doubt whatsoever it is that image that set the pulses racing of many a landscape photographer.

Here is David’s image.

 

Kirkjufellfoss and Kirkjufell, Iceland
Kirkjufellfoss and Kirkjufell, Iceland

Number 2: Dusk at Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland – December 2017 

I have been after this particular photograph since time began. I have waited years to capture the glorious glow of the gorgeous 13th century fortified castle set against the backdrop of snow with a blue hue sky and with enough water to surround the castle properly and provide perfect mirror reflections. Yet this photo was almost not to be. You see I drove past the castle slowly to see if there was any light or colour from the sky and there was not so I decided to drive on towards Skye and to shoot it another day but something kept niggling at me to turn the minibus around and head back. So five miles down the road that is what I decided and I am so thankful that I did because it has since become one of my very favourite images of 2017. I hope it turns out to be one of yours too.

Dusk at Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland
Dusk at Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

And finally my number 1: Kp5 Aurora Borealis, Búdir Church, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland – March 2017

WOW, WOW, WOW.

I arrived on location 10.30pm on that wonderful Wednesday evening way back in March only to find a couple of other photographers shooting but they soon went on my arrival which left me all alone for a while until a group of cracking Irish fellas and a girl arrived along with a lady who flew in from New York for just one day with her photography guide before jetting off again (isn’t that mental?).

Where this photograph was concerned, I had to be a little creative with regards to lighting because on arrival you notice a powerful white spotlight in the corner of the cemetery which lit up the church far too harshly and bright. So I wrapped a towel around it to block out the light which allowed me to light up the church using nothing more than three seconds of my LED Lenser headtorch. This allowed me to shoot the scene for 30 seconds while not burning out the church, especially those white door and windows.

The aurora came and went but this was towards the end of the evening for me as it came out for a final showing and boy did it finish in style. People around me were mesmorised as was I and it truly is the eighth wonder of the world and until you see them for yourself, words and photos cannot do it justice. This image has beaten all of the others to become my favourite image taken during 2017 and it was a close run race indeed. I have been so blessed to have travelled to some simply amazing places around the world during 2017 and I can only hope that 2018 proves to be just as exciting, rewarding and enjoyable.

Kp5 Aurora Borealis, Búdir Church, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland
Kp5 Aurora Borealis, Búdir Church, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my images and reading the stories behind them. If you have, may I ask you to support me in liking/following/subscribing my relevant social media pages please and if you wish to be added to my Newsletter, feel free to sign up HERE. It’s FREE and takes only thirty seconds.

Many thanks for reading and have a wonderful 2018.

Best wishes Melvin

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