HELLO and welcome to my Top Ten Images of 2019 and a brief explanation of the images and why I took them.
This year, I have found the whole process of trying to decide which ten images make my top ten list so incredibly difficult for a range of reasons. I have visited more amazing places during 2019 including Canada, Venice and Tuscany for the first time and I have returned to some of my favourites, notably Iceland, the Dolomites, Lofoten, Harris and Lewis in Scotland and of course New Zealand and Australia. I guess you can understand my dilemma.
Like 2018, I find myself wanting to feel even more of a connection with the places that I visit and to have the experiences and memories live on far longer than ever before. As my love affair with landscape photography increases, so does my connection with not only the art of photography but also the many wonderful places I am so privileged to visit in the pursuit of capturing them on camera.
To this end, it would be my honour to show you the ten images that moved me in one way or another. I hope you enjoy looking through them and many thanks for your continued support as always. Please feel free to leave a comment below. Now on with the show.
Best wishes Melvin
P.S. All of the following images are available for sale as prints. A3 £100, A2 £150 plus postage, Please contact me if you are interested.
Number 10: Sunset Over the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy – October 2019
One of the most amazing places I visited during 2018 was the Dolomites. It was due to a combination of the hugely impressive 10,000ft mountains that tower over you at every opportunity to the many gorgeous lakes that nestle at the base of those mountains. This place in particular, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo still possesses one of the most awe-inspiring views I have ever seen, and I was seriously looking forward to returning to rediscover it again in October 2019.
This place made my number two of my Top Ten Images of 2018 list and this year it drops down to number ten. Why? It is the testament to the sheer beauty of this place that it has made my top ten images of the year list this year. I have discovered many new places during 2019 that wowed me for the first time, yet this national park blew me away once again. This year however I decided to have my six workshop clients hike the entire loop walk (some 6 miles plus) and I don’t mind saying that it nearly killed most of us. The zig-zag path that led us up to the 8,000ft Rifugio Locatelli hut was very steep and the elevation change much greater than I gave it credit for and while most of us were all puffing and panting by the time we arrived at the hut, the views more than made up for our effort and sheer bloody determination.
The gorgeous purple hues of post sunset filled the sky with the gorgeous light clouds being up-lit pink by the setting sun. It was once again a view that I will never forget. The Dolomites is a place that never fails to impress.
Canon EOS R
Canon 16-35mm @ 24mm
Kase 0.6 Medium ND Grad Filter
Six vertical images stitched in Photoshop CC
Click HERE for details of my Dolomites Workshops
Number 9: Rowan Tree at Sunrise, Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland – February 2019
This image taken in Skye in February is one of three images taken in the UK to feature in my Top Ten Images of 2019. The Isle of Skye is one of the UK’s most impressive places to visit with a camera. I have been doing so since 2008 and it never fails to amaze me. The weather can be challenging at times, the terrain difficult but when the light arrives and lights up the landscape, it really is like nowhere else on earth.
This image I took, is of the hugely iconic Rowan tree that clings to life on the side of a 100ft+ cliff edge. and to capture the tree anywhere near above the skyline in the distance requires nerves of steel as you nestle on the edge of large drop. Thankfully modern technology makes the job of photographing such difficult places much easier and the tilting LCD screen of my Canon EOS R made such a task all even more achievable and a little safer. But how could I not take the shot while the landscape was bathed in the most beautiful morning light. It is scenes like these that has Skye crowned one of the most impressive places in the UK.
Canon EOS R
Canon 16-35mm f4 @16mm
0.6 Medium ND Grad Filter
Number 8: Lightning Storm Over Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK – June 2019
WOW, what a morning I experienced back in June of this year with my good friend Stephen Cheatley. We decided to visit Jodrell Bank in Cheshire (huge telescope) at 1am as a fierce lightning storm was predicted and fast approaching. We met on location and thankfully Stephen owns a large VW transporter van and it provided us with a safe place to sit and shoot from as we took shelter from the heavy rain and lightning strikes, We sat in the van for four hours between 1am and 5am, constantly firing off ten second shots as we simply waited for the huge bolts of lightning to crack and whip as they landed.
The power and intensity of a full blown lightning storm is exhilarating and humbling as everything around you illuminates incredibly brightly. This image was captured at 1.53am at perhaps at the height of the storm. Lightning was flashing in every direction and in quick succession too. It felt amazing to be experiencing it first-hand and it certainly had me feel alive yet small in the presence of something so powerful.
Canon EOS R
Canon 24-70mm f4 @ 24mm
Number 7: ‘Fractured’, Kirkjufell, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland – October 2019
Iceland features only once this year although it is with an image that I am absolutely delighted with and it is in part thanks to one of my workshop clients Phil James.
On approaching the waterfalls on location, Phil veered off in the direction of a fellow photographer who was shooting this scene. I was inquisitive and so I followed him only to find Phil eyeing up this particular viewpoint. On this occasion and after all my clients had taken their shot, I opted to frame the scene to include the rocks under the ice as it gave the image depth, interest and some idea as to how thick the ice was.
To my mind, the shape of the gap in the ice at the base of the image mirrors the shape of the mountain above it and while there was no lovely light present in the scene, it suited me to have it neutral for a change plus it is generally easier to photograph ice when there’s no sun around to burn out the highlights. Within thirty minutes or so, the incoming tide had returned, filling in this section of river and washing away this scene. That reminded me of the transient nature of well……..mother nature.
Canon EOS R
Canon 16-35mm f4 @ 17mm
Kase 0.6 Medium ND Grad Filter
Four images focus stacked in Photoshop CC
Click HERE for details of my Iceland Workshops
Number 6: Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle River, Isle of Skye, Scotland – February 2019
The Isle of Skye makes it into my Top Ten Images of 2019 for the second time and for an image that I am proud to say I took. This is the Fairy Pools, perhaps the most visited locations on Skye and certainly one of the most popular. I have visited this place on several occasions before, having led workshops on Skye for some time now and one of the main challenges that I face and that of other photographers, is to find a fresh shot at a place that you know very, very well. It is difficult to see a familiar place with fresh eyes but that is the challenge that I love and there are many factors that help you or hinder you, such as the light, weather, time of day/year and in this instance, the river levels.
I always advise my clients to walk around, often without a camera in hand and allow themselves to ‘feel the location’, to immerse themselves in their environment. I feel that this is an important part of the process in finding a scene that works well and, on this occasion, I did just that. I wanted to include more of the scene than just the waterfall and the dominant Black Cuillins behind and after a few minutes, this little stretch of river complete with its little flow of water excited me enough to set up my camera and tripod. Minutes later, I was delighted with my efforts and with some subtle post-pressing editing, I have an image that I would happily print and hang on my wall. I hope you like it too.
Canon EOS R
Canon 16-35mm f4 @18mm
8 Stop ND Filter
Number 5: Pre-Dawn at Morant’s Curve, Alberta, Canadian Rockies – September 2019
I visited Canada for the first time back in September and WOW, what a place it is. One of the most iconic scenes is Morant’s Curve, not ten minutes from my hotel in Lake Louise. This place is famous as it once featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill but for photographers, it is the sights and sounds of the Canadian Pacific Railway train that trundles through at a snail’s pace that has us reaching for our cameras. These trains often pull up to three hundred carriages with an engine at either end and in the middle too. The distinctive sound of the horn fills me with happiness for it symbolises the essence of rural Canada to me.
I wanted to capture this scene a little differently to others that I had seen online and so an hour before sunrise, I parked up in the small car park opposite the viewing location and set up my camera. Now these trains are commercial, not passenger and so there is no timetable to go on. As such, you have no idea when and from which direction a train is going to come from so imagine my delight when after just twenty minutes of waiting, this one rolled by from the direction of Banff, lighting up the trees as she rounded the left handed curve. I was absolutely delighted to have captured the train at this time of the morning, especially as the sky was so blue pre-dawn. This is one morning that I shall not forget in a hurry.
Canon EOS R
Sigma 20mm f1.4 Art @ 20mm
Click HERE for details of my Canadian Rockies Workshops
Number 4: Under the Stars, Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, Tuscany, Italy – September 2019
Tuscany. WOW, WOW AND WOW. If there was one place that I would have to rank above everywhere else that I visited this year, Tuscany would be it. Admittedly it was my first time in Tuscany but the whole experience of visiting this truly stunning region of Italy was exceptional. From the choice of hotel (Casanova Hotel & Spa, which just happens to be our base on my Tuscany workshop in Sept 2020), which nestles in the heart of Tuscany in San Quirico d’Orcia, to the weather which was perfect. The friendliness of the Italian people (not to mention their passion and vest for life) to the wonderful food and drink. Tuscany had it all but above all else, it was the scenery that completely blew me away.
I have heard it many times before from those who had visited Tuscany, that I must go and experience it for myself. I held off for no particular reason until this year when I found myself a small window of opportunity to go before running my Dolomites workshop in October. I am so thankful that I made the decision to go. If you had a completely free reign to design and create the world’s most perfect landscape for photographers, I doubt that you could improve on Tuscany. From the lush rolling hills to the gorgeous tall, slender Cyprus trees, from the stunning farmhouses that grace the landscape to the wonderful roads that thread their way through such beautiful views, I think you can tell how excited I am to return September 2020.
One of the most intriguing places I visited during the day was this gorgeous little chapel called the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta. It is a short ten minute wander from the car park and of course during the day from sunrise to sunset, they are people milling around taking in the wonderful elevated views from the top of the hill but once the sun sets and the moon rises, all is quiet, still and peaceful. That’s the time I decided to head back for a closer look. I was not to be disappointed. It took a little time to set up the camera and position me exactly where I wanted myself to stand but the shot was captured within half an hour or so. Tuscany. What a place to discover.
Canon EOS R
Sigma 20mm f1.4 Art
Click HERE for details of my Tuscany Workshops
Number 3: Winter Winds, Cemetery Hut, Flakstad, Lofoten, Norway – February 2019
So, we’re finally onto my final favourite three photographs of 2019 and I cannot tell you how difficult it has been to finally settle on these three images, but I have done so because of how I felt when I captured them on camera. If I feel a positive, emotional response and one that has me eager to see the image on my main monitor, then that image is likely to remain close to my heart for some considerable time.
I took this photo back in February 2019 while on a winter reconnaissance for my Lofoten winter workshop in February 2020 and what a week I enjoyed. Lofoten had experienced near record snowfall levels a couple of weeks before I arrived and by the time I stepped foot on Norwegian snow, the landscape looked absolutely stunning. Driving from our base near Ramberg, I eyed up this scene every time I drove past it and as the light started to fall on this particular afternoon, I pulled up the car and spent a glorious hour shooting as daylight dimmed and the lights started to illuminate the hut.
This hut houses the tools needed for the ground keeper to keep the cemetery looking at its best although it is only in use for half of the year for obvious reasons. As I was setting up this scene, the Norwegian winter wind started whipping up the loose snow which created a truly stunning ethereal atmosphere, especially as it swirled around the headstones of those who had sadly gone before. Despite my desire to photograph the scene as best as I could, I was mindful in respecting such a place when walking around with my camera.
Lofoten in the depths of winter is genuinely a winter wonderland and I know from the locals that early 2019 saw a tremendous amount of snow which contributed to some stunning scenes. I cannot wait to return in February 2020 to see what delights await me and my clients.
Canon EOS R
Canon EF 24-70mm f4 @ 41mm
Click HERE for details of my Lofoten Workshops
Number 2: Hopetoun Falls, Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia – May 2019
Australia, the land Down Under, first saw me visit way back in 2003 when I opted to take a break from regular life to spend a year backpacking around this magnificent country and New Zealand also. I spent nearly six months living in the very heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) and I held down three jobs at the same time, one of them for a local car rental car company. The boss would grant me permission to take one of the cars once a week and on a Sunday, I would drive out to the various parts of Victoria including several journeys down the Great Ocean Road.
This part of the world means a lot to me. The Great Ocean Road is truly one of the world’s most beautiful coastal drives. I remember I once stopped off at the Great Otway National Park back in 2003 to have a wander among its lush green ferns on the wooden boardwalks that lead through the temperate rainforest. It is an amazing place and I wanted to return to discover it a little more. A quick bit of research had me learn of this waterfall and within minutes I was walking down the wooden boardwalk only to witness this incredible place. The whole place looked like it had come straight out of an advert for Timotei hair shampoo.
I spent a little bit of time walking back and forth trying to come up with a composition that I was really happy with and after a few minutes, I settled on this. I used a Kase polarising filter to get rid of the white reflected light on the wooden tree logs and the green ferns and it made a huge difference. You can see the difference the Kase Polarising filter made in helping me to capture this image HERE.
Canon EOS R
Canon 24-70mm f4 @ 70mm
Kase Polariser Filter
Kase 3 Stop ND Filter
Number 1: Morning Mist, Belverdere Farmhouse, San Quirico d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy – September 2019
And my favourite image of 2019 goes to……….Tuscany of course. I spent eight glorious days in September 2019 travelling around this most beautiful region of Italy for the first time and I was completely blown away. An extra spark of excitement twinkled in my eyes the entire time I was there. It almost felt like I was discovering the pure joy of landscape photography all over again and that was the one thing that I was not prepared for.
After I did a considerable amount of research before I went (as I always do), I decided to base myself at the wonderful Casanova Hotel & Spa which nestles in the very heart of Tuscany, San Quirico d’Orcia. This particular region is where the early morning mist rolls through the valley revealing the famous iconic Belverdere Farmhouse while the various layers of the landscape play a supporting role in the background. To be stood alongside an olive grove looking down over such beauty and seeing the mist dance over and around the gorgeous scene below you is a real privilege.
I got goosebumps just watching the views unfold before me. Add into the mix a stunning sunrise in which the warmth of the sun cast a golden glow over the landscape and well, I genuinely believe life just does not get any better than this. Tuscany stole a piece of my heart when I left but safe in the knowledge that I will be reunited with it when I return in September. Poetic words maybe, a cliché most definitely but it is the truth no less. I urge you to discover Tuscany for yourself, either with me or by any other means but do discover it and revel in the experience. It might well just be the most amazing thing you do all year.
Canon EOS R
Sigma 100-400mm @ 176mm
Click HERE for details of my Tuscany Workshops