As we have entered the New Year over the past three years, I've posted some of my favourite photos from the previous twelve months. I've usually chosen one per month, but this year my photography hasn't been so evenly spread out, so I've just picked a selection of photos that are my personal favourites, regardless of the time of year I took them.
For earlier collections, see 2011, 2010 and 2009
As always, feel free to click on any of them for larger versions. And comments are always appreciated, so do let me know if you have any particular favourites.
Sean Taylor is an amazing blues guitarist and singer. In 2011 I photographed him before his gig at The Mill Sessions. That photo ended up on the over of his latest album, Love Against Death. He came back for another gig in 2012 and I photographed him in the afternoon before the gig. I did a few set up shots, but he was most relaxed when he was just playing his guitar, so I told him to just start playing. The shots where you can see the backdrop and lights in the background ended up with a more authentic feel to them. And it felt like I was being treated to my own personal gig.
I returned to the Scottish Tattoo Convention in 2012, only this time I had a stall to take photos of people with their tattoos. Unfortunately it wasn't as successful as I'd hoped and much of my time was spent twiddling my thumbs. Although it was frustrating financially, what was worse, was there were all these amazingly decorated people moving about I couldn't photograph. This one, however, I took from my stall as she walked past.
Bellevue Rendezvous are a trio of musicians who play the most amazing music. Ruth's Nickelharpa has to be heard to be believed - it has a rich resonant sound that conjures up other worlds (for a couple of videos of them playing live, see my post Bellevue Rendezvous at The Mill Sessions). I took this photo of them in the afternoon before they played at The Mill Sessions
I had a photo shoot lined up with a former model during a trip down to the South-West of England in the summer. We'd been discussing themes and had settled on the idea of doing a Hollywood style shot. I was really excited about doing the shoot with this amazing woman, and didn't want to mess it up. This meant I had to start learning how to do the lighting and post-processing to get that classic Hollywood feel - and get some practice in. My daughter, Meg, was my guinea pig, and I was rather pleased with this one.
The former model I was practising for was of course the wonderful blogger, Pat, from Past Imperfect. I wrote more about the experience in my post, Photographing a Legend.
As well as Pat, England's South-West corner also contains Dartmoor, with its granite tors jutting out of the landscape. The day my son, Rogan, and I went to Haytor and climbed up, it was particularly windy. Rogan decided to have fun leaning back into the wind and "surfing".
One of the most fun things of 2012 for me has been playing the bouzouki in the band, Scruffy Buzzards. It's the closest I've ever come to being the rock guitar god I knew I was destined to be back when I was a teenager. Of course, as a photographer, it's down to me to create the promo shots for the band, which can be particularly tricky when you have to not only set up the shot, but be in it yourself. This one I called "Musical Harmony..."
Eleanor McEvoy is probably one of the biggest names we've had play at The Mill Sessions. Her album, A Woman's Heart, was the best selling Irish album in Irish history. I did a photo session with her in the afternoon before her gig and was really pleased with this one. I wasn't entirely sure what she would think of it though, as it is less flattering and more characterful than nearly every other photo you will ever see of her. However, she seemed happy with it and even used it as her Facebook profile pic for a few weeks - which is about as big an endorsement as you can hope for.
Holy Island is on the Northumbrian coast in the North-East of England, and is separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway. Every month at least one car doesn't check the tide times and ends up being washed off the road. The causeway does have a couple of "refuge huts" for walkers who find themselves caught by the tide, where they can wait for a few hours until it is safe to continue the journey. Maggie and I weren't in any such danger when we visited, but I couldn't resist taking this photo when the sun was getting lower and the cloud formations were quite spectacular.
John Hegley as Keats
John Hegley is a poet and comedian and signed up for a series of photos I was doing for Wigtown Book Festival of authors as characters. He decided to he wanted to be photographed as the early 19th century poet, John Keats. More of that experience can be found in my post - John Hegley, John Keats and a Stick of Celery.
Debi Gliori - The Cat and The Fiddle
Debi Gliori is a children's author and illustrator who also got involved with the authors as characters project. She wanted a reference to The Cat and The Fiddle to tie in with her latest book. More can be found on that tale/tail in my post - Debi Gliori, Tobermory, Cats, Controversy and Photography.
Sara Sheridan - Miss Scarlet in the Library with the Candlestick
Another of my favourites from the same series is the author Sara Sheridan. The reference here is to the game "Cluedo". More will be written about this photo shoot in a future blog.
Sunset at Pittenweem
During the October break, we had a family holiday in the Fife coastal town of Pittenweem. One evening I went wandering down to the breakwater to take some photos of the glorious sunset, looking back along the coast towards St Monans. But it was the bird next to the harbour light that kept grabbing my attention.
A twig, a droplet of water and a few strands of spiders web. With a wide aperture on a zoom lens, the background became so blurred it was possible to isolate this little universe. It gives me a welcome sense of peace when looking at it.
A little over a month ago, Jupiter was in the sky close to the moon. I took a few photos with my 200mm zoom lens, but it was only when I was able to blow the images up large on my computer screen did I notice the couple of tiny dots next to Jupiter, which are its own moons. It's difficult to say why exactly, but this thrilled me no end - the idea that I was able to see the sun reflecting off the moons of a planet over a billion miles away was one of those slightly mind-blowing moments.
Out for a walk in Dalbeattie woods with my daughter we rounded a corner and saw the low winter sun reflecting off a patch of birch trees all standing upright. I decided to experiment with a technique where you create a deliberate motion blur by moving the camera at the point you click the shutter. If you do it in the same direction as some existing strong lines you can get some quite interesting effects. I've been trying it without much success all year. This was the first one I took where I really liked the results.
I hope you've liked some of these images. Do you have a favourite?