My Top Ten Images of 2020

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HELLO and welcome to my Top Ten Images of 2020 and a brief explanation of the images and why I took them.

Well, what a year 2020 has been. It has been incredibly challenging for everyone that I know but here’s hoping for a far better 2021.

I have been very fortunate to have been able to visit some amazing countries this year. We started with the Canadian Rockies in January, Iceland, and Lofoten in February, followed by Tuscany in Italy and Slovenia September onwards.

Trying to select ten of the best photos that I am most proud of from 2020 has once again proved very difficult for a range of reasons. I guess you can understand my dilemma.

Like 2019, I find myself wanting to feel even more of a connection with the places that I visited and to have the experiences and memories live on far longer than previously. 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.

Melvin Nicholson - UK based photographer and workshop leader.
Incredible views at 6,000ft on the Vrsic Pass in Slovenia - November 2020

To this end, it would be my privilege 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.

Click any photo for a full screen view.

Best wishes Melvin

Number 10: 6,500ft Up Mangart Pass, Slovenia – November 2020

Canon R5 Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 @ 159mm f/8 1/320 ISO100

Back in early November, I ventured up the incredible Mangart Pass to find that the weather was sublime. I had driven up this amazing pass back in October but this time, I opted to park the car in the layby by the entrance to the final tunnel (there are several tunnels) and spend a couple of hours photographing the scenery ahead and below me. I was above the cloud line with the sight of an inversion below me, the sun was streaming through the mountains and creating some gorgeous light along with some of the finest mountain layers I have ever seen.

The weather was 16°c, sunny, blue skies, and very little wind. It was in other words just perfect. This will be one morning that shall live on in my memory forever.

Click HERE for details of my Slovenia Workshops

Number 9: Abandoned Piano, Vestrahorn, Hofn, Iceland - February 2020

Canon EOS R Canon EF 24-70mm f4 @ 35mm f/11 1/5 ISO100

Well, this is not a scene that you see very often. An abandoned piano dumped on the beach, apparently from a music video that was filmed there days before. It was one of my lovely workshop client’s Marie, who spotted it first as it was positioned at the base of a tall sand dune that was barely visible from almost most angles (thanks Marie).

I thought that it was worth twenty minutes of our time and a shot or two while we were there. Vestrahorn just happens to be one of my favourite places in Iceland for the views are staggeringly beautiful with a million different compositions available. You could spend a week there getting to know the area better although it’ll cost you around a fiver a day per person to gain access by car as the road down to the beach is a private toll road but it’s more than worth it.

Click HERE for details of my South Iceland Workshops

Number 8: Aurora Borealis Over Skagsanden Beach, Lofoten, Norway  – February 2020

Aurora Borealis, Skagsanden Beach, Lofoten
Canon EOS R Sigma 20mm f1.4 ART f/2 5" ISO400
If there was one image that had eluded me from previous years, it was a lovely aurora image in Lofoten and during my workshop back in February 2020, I was delighted to finally capture one.

Me and my six lovely clients went aurora chasing on this particular evening and after a couple of no-shows earlier in the workshop, I was desperately wanting to have them not only witness an aurora (for some of them, their very first time) but also capture it on camera. A kp4 aurora was predicted so we ventured down to a popular local location, Skagsanden Beach. It is a place that allowed us to sit in the minibus in comfort in the car park until the lights showed at which point we dashed out and onto the beach to capture the green stuff while the wonderful beach located rocks reflected in the water.

How I do miss the delights of Norway. It is such a beautiful, peaceful, and calming country with outstanding scenery. How can anyone not fall in love with these views?

Click HERE for details of my Lofoten Workshops

Number 7: Cilantro Café at Dusk, Emerald Lake, Canadian Rockies – January 2020 

Canon EOS R Canon 24-70mm f4 @ 27mm f/8 20" ISO100

If there’s one photo that I was after since stepping foot on Canadian soil back in January, it is this one. The iconic scene of the Cilantro Cafe at dusk in freshly fallen snow in the depths of winter complete with the interior lights on to give that gorgeous warm glow.

On this particular afternoon, I was able to tick this location off my bucket list. Isn’t it just the most serene and perfect view ever? Thankfully temperatures had warmed up a little from the -39°c that I experienced earlier in the week. The temperatures had risen to around -10°c instead which is a lot more manageable and pleasurable. Now that’s something that I never thought I’d say about -10°c temps, ha ha.

Four images focus stacked in Photoshop CC

Number 6: Mist Inversion at St Thomas Church, nr Skofja Loka, Slovenia – October 2020

Canon R5 Canon RF 100-500 f/4.5-7.1 @ 100mm f/8 1/100 ISO100

One of the most iconic images of Slovenia is a mist inversion at St Thomas Church near Skofja Loka. I have visited this location on several occasions throughout my time spent in this amazing country, but on this particular morning in early October, I was to be in for a real treat.

Recent rain and cooler night temperatures often generate misty conditions in the valleys and on arriving 30 minutes before sunrise at 7am, the whole valley below me was completely filled with the most wonderful and mesmerising mist which ebbed and flowed like the ocean up and down the valley. This morning is ranked as one of my most memorable from my three months spent in Slovenia and with views like these, little wonder really. 

I filmed a 90 minute timelapse on my Canon EOS R of how sunrise unfolded. You can see it HERE on my Flickr profile if you wish.

Click HERE for details of my Slovenia Workshops

Number 5: Stunning Sunrise, Lake Bled, Slovenia - October 2020

Canon R5 Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm f/8 30" ISO160
Kase 10 Stop ND Filter

I have photographed Lake Bled at sunrise more times than I can remember but there’s a reason for that, it is because it is one of the most stunning locations I have had the privilege to photograph anywhere in the world.

If you are wanting to capture on camera, a true fairytale scene, I challenge you to find a better one than the church on the island on Lake Bled. On this particular morning mid-October, I ventured down to the lake in the hope of a lovely sunrise and ten minutes after sunrise, the sun uplighted the clouds above and transformed them into a bundle of colour that was so vibrant and colourful all at the same time.

I love the formation of the clouds and the patterns looked spectacular. The reflections were beautiful too as there was no wind to speak of. I will forever miss not being able to pop down and photograph such a gorgeous place whenever I wish but through my images, I can be reminded of the enchanting views.  

Click HERE for details of my Slovenia Workshops

Number 4: Sunset Mist at Jamnik Church, Slovenia – November 2020

Canon R5 Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 50mm f/8 1/20 ISO100

WOW! WOW! WOW!

I finally managed to capture Jamink Church in heavy mist during a spectacular sunset. I had been waiting six weeks to get an opportunity to experience this amazing location in these conditions and late afternoon in mid-November, just by chance as I was passing en-route home from another location, the conditions were absolutely perfect. Rolling heavy mist, a gorgeous subtle orange sunset, and a church on the end of a high ridge. It really does not get any better than that for me.

I was in raptures and so excited to see what I had captured on the memory card. Isn’t that just the best feeling? Knowing that you should have captured something really special on your memory cards and not being able to wait until you return home to see exactly what you have got. I really felt like a child on Christmas morning and Santa definitely delivered. So here is the image of Jamnik Church surrounded by rolling mist with huge mountains providing the dramatic backdrop. Slovenia is a very special place indeed. 

Click HERE for details of my Slovenia Workshops

Number 3: NEOWISE Comet Over Solomon's Temple, Buxton, UK - July 2020

Canon EOS R Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 @ 28mm f/4 10" ISO800

So, we’re finally onto my final favourite three photographs of 2020 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 as well as the quality of the images captured. 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.

It was 9.30pm during the night of the 12th July 2020, despite feeling all cosy and sleepy while sitting at home in my super comfortable lounge reclining chair. I opted to drag myself off out with a good friend of mine and astrophotographer Stephen Cheatley (separate cars). The destination was Grin Low Hill, a reasonable 90-minute drive from Preston where I live and the subject that I wanted to photograph was this wonderful 124-year-old Victorian folly called Solomon’s Temple.

This folly is built on a raised neolithic burial mound and affords 360 degree views from the upper floor. The reason for my visit was to capture the NEOWISE Comet alongside it but on arrival at 11pm, the cloud had already started rolling in. I did not have long to find a decent composition, set up my Canon EOS R and my tripod and fire off some shots before the cloud completely enveloped the comet.
 
A handful of minutes later, the shutter release cable button clicked and the view on the LCD screen had me feel elated for the scene looked absolutely stunning. I used my headtorch to subtly light paint the folly. For those interested, this is just one single exposure. The NEOWISE Comet will not be returning past Earth for around another 7,000 years.

Number 2: White Christmas at St Thomas Church, nr Škofja Loka, Slovenia - December 2020

Canon R5 Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 @ 500mm f/8 1/13 ISO100

This image I captured during an incredibly cold morning in December. I rose out of bed at 5am and drove an hour to reach the top of an elevated, partially icy hillside road that overlooks the gorgeous St Thomas Church in the background.

I have been here on three occasions before and I always look forward to visiting. I arrived 20 minutes before sunrise but in truth, there was no sun to rise, only low lying cloud that was rolling by. Still, it was worth setting up the camera and two hours later, I left feeling very content with myself.

I watched the low cloud roll through the scenery in front of me and it was glorious. There was a gorgeous blue hue offering up as a backdrop to the white church and snow and a seriously fierce hoar frost overnight had all the trees turn white. I was in landscape photography heaven I can tell you.

Click HERE for details of my Slovenia Workshops

Number 1: Morant's Curve, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies - January 2020

Canon EOS R Canon 24-70mm f4 @ 61mm f/8 6" ISO125
Kase 10 Stop ND Filter

And my favourite image of 2020 goes to……….The Canadian Rockies.

I have visited The Canadian Rockies on two occasions recently. My first visit was in the autumn of September 2019 and my second was in the depths of a brutal winter in January 2020.

The two seasons were so far apart in the temperatures present, that it literally took my breath away. While the autumn months were bathes in gorgeous light and the golden autumnal colours, winter was absolutely brutal in a way that I have never ever experienced before and in truth, hope never to again. 

The temperatures dropped to -39°c but on this particular morning, it was a positively tropical -20°c which was enough to have my feet freeze regardless of the Sorel snowboots that I was wearing.

One of my most favourite locations to shoot was Morant’s Curve, a wonderful section of railway track that curved its way not far from Lake Louise where I was based. This section of line is famous for being photographed and more often than not, I was not alone in photographing the train. The thing was, only goods trains passed by, the Canadian Pacific Railway Train to be precise and because it was a goods train, no schedule was viewable to see when and if and from what direction the train would be coming from. 

I had waited at this location by the roadside on numerous occasions only to find that a train did not arrive and that’s pretty disheartening when you have endured such cold temperatures. However, when a train does arrive and you capture the shot that you had in mind (long exposure), the feeling of elation is almost overwhelming and when I looked at the back of the screen on the camera, I could have cried, except my tears would have froze. I was so overjoyed to have finally captured on camera the shot I was after. This is one image that shall be printed large and hung on my wall at home. I’m thinking at least four feet wide. 

What an experience to photograph The Canadian Rockies in the depths of winter. It was great to have done it once, but it will only be the once. I’m thinking of New Zealand again next year. It’s a tad warmer in the autumn there.

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22 thoughts on “My Top Ten Images of 2020”

  1. Beautiful images I can resonate with. Slovenia is the only country I have returned to more than once, but snowy Canada is my favourite. So many fond memories….Emerald Lake is unbelievably photogenic.

    All the best for 2021, Melvin (apologies for being so familiar but Mr Nicholson sounded a bit toooo formal)

    Dave Feaster

    Reply
    • Hi Dave. Melvin is just fine. Mr Nicholson is far too formal, lol.

      Slovenia caught me somewhat off guard I don’t mind saying. What was supposed to be a six-day trip turned into three months and what a glorious three months it has been. It is a staggeringly beautiful country matched by the friendliness of the locals. I very much look forward to returning in the autumn. As for Canada, well what a country. The Rockies is a stunning place, although too cold for me in the winter, or at least it was last January when the temps dropped to around -40°c. However, the beauty is undeniable and for me, Emerald Lake was my favourite place too. That gorgeous little cafe all lit up is a peach of a place and located in one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Maybe I’ll return one day, who knows.

      Have a great 2021 Dave and maybe our paths will cross in person one day. Take care.

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  2. Absolutely brilliant Melvin! I always enjoy looking at your photos! Have missed the calendar this year!

    Best wishes for the New Year and enjoy the rest of your time in beautiful Slovenia!
    Hazel. H

    Reply
    • Thank you Hazel. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the images considering 2020 has been such a challenging year but photography has helped keep me sane.

      Have a wonderful 2021 and here’s looking forward to better times ahead.

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply
    • Thank you Roslyn. That piano shot just had to be in my top ten. It’s so random but quite typical of the Icelandic way of life. I dearly love the country and cannot wait to return. Have a fantastic 2021 and thanks for all your support in 2020.

      best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  3. I live in NZ which has the most amazing scenery but we can’t match ancient buildings and freezing temperatures that your locations have. Slovenia would be my pick for a trip if we ever have a chance again. Thanks for sharing your breath-taking images, Melvin.

    Reply
    • Hi Carolyn

      Having visited New Zealand on four occasions, my first being way back in 2003 while backpacking and my last visit in 2019, I can only sit here somewhat envious of you. New Zealand is my favourite country in the world and its beauty is matched by the kindness and friendliness of the people who live there. I cannot wait to return someday soon. Have yourself a wonderful 2021 and lets hope that it is a little kinder to us than 2020 was.

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  4. Wow! a superb set of images Melvin – truly to be proud of.
    I would love to join one of your Workshops and have every intention of doing so once this ‘expletives!’ had done one!

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year with every success for 2021!

    Ali xx

    Reply
    • HI Alison

      Thank you very much for your very kind words. I am delighted that you enjoyed the images featured. In truth, I have so many more on my hard drive to process but these were my stand out ones and images I would be more than happy to have printed, framed, and hung on my wall at home and having just completely redecorated my home recently, that’s exactly what I shall be doing.

      I hope to see you at some point this year and have a wonderful 2021.

      best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  5. Really enjoyed seeing these great images this morning, although slightly disappointed that there weren’t any from our Tuscany trip, but perhaps the weather wasn’t as favourable as previous years. You have obviously really enjoyed Slovenia and the images that you have put on Facebook have been fantastic and cheered us up in these crazy times. I will put the trip on my list for the future. Best wihes for a more travelled 2021.

    Reply
    • Hi Jill

      Yes Tuscany was lovely and a couple of the images did make the shortlist but there were more replications that I had taken the year before and so new images of new locations appealed to me more for the blog at the end of 2020. Also having spent three months in Slovenia, I had a lot of images to choose from, and believe me when I say that all ten images could easily have been from just that one country but ultimately, I had to restrict it to just a few. It’s a lovely problem to have though, lol.

      Here’s looking forward to 2021 and where life will take me/us all this year. All the best for the year ahead Karen and look forward to catching up with you soon on a workshop 🙂

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  6. Cracking set Melvin – and so pleased you were able to see the year out on a high in Slovenia with some stunning images.
    Glad our night on the beach in Lofoten made it in – was magical indeed.
    All the best for lots of tripod action in ‘21 !

    Reply
    • Thanks Neale

      How could I leave out the aurora shot from our time in Norway back in Feb 2020. It was a great couple of hours standing on the busy beach with dozens of other photographers and keen aurora spotters. I remember those evenings with fond memories. Here’s hoping we can get back to those days again soon.

      Keep safe, sane, and shooting in 2021 Neale 🙂

      Melvin

      Reply
  7. Fantastic selection, Melvin – I can only imagine how hard it is to narrow down.
    Your #2 is my personal #1, depicting everything I love about winter (and everything I am missing time and time again in my neck of the woods). My #2 is your #4 and my #3 your #8. XD
    Here’s to a fantastic 2021 with many more gorgeous pictures and locations to shoot!

    Reply
    • Hi Nina

      That’s the beauty of photography. We all have our favourite images and differing opinions. I cherish the views that other people offer as it often presents some clarity during the times when it is needed. It was a close call between my top two images (as you can imagine). Both hold a special place in my heart but ultimately, The Canadian Rockies won over Slovenia if only due to the tenacity and determination required to capture a good image from Morant’s Curve drove me on to visit that roadside location on numerous occasions and in frighteningly cold conditions too.

      Have as best you can, a wonderful 2021 and here’s to things improving as the year rolls on.

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply
  8. Love, love, love your Slovenia captures – beautiful country! I loved it because it is so small and has such a diverse range of landscape from the mountains of the national park in the north, through the karst scenery with its castles and caves to the typical Mediterranean coast (Pirran on the coast, though busy in tourist season is gorgeous!). Your images brought back some happy memories!

    Reply
    • Hi Jayne

      I think you have hit the nail on the head perfectly. Slovenia, with its two million residents, is a perfectly sized country to navigate around fairly easily while offering up a huge diversity of locations and subjects to photograph. I have extremely fond memories of all the places I visited, some more so than others obviously but it is such a remarkable country that completely caught me off guard. I fell in love with it almost immediately, which is unusual for me. I cannot wait to return and I am delighted that my images brought back many wonderful memories for you.

      Have a lovely 2021 and fingers crossed for brighter days ahead.

      Best wishes Melvin

      Reply

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