Top 20 from 2,000

Having reached 2,000 days of this blog on 14th February 2017, let me present the top 20 — or 1% — of photos from that period. I have tried to rank them as well as select them, so in reverse order:

#20: ‘White Christmas?’ (25th December 2014)

Xmas shower, 25/12/14

It’s not actually snow, but it is Christmas Day so the mind plays tricks and wants it to be snow. I like it because this was not an easy photo to get, and like others in this top selection, it was one of the very few that was complex but still played out like I wanted it to.

#19: University Place and Oxford Road (25th November 2013)

Oxford Road, 25/11/13

Thanks to the changes in the traffic flow it has become a lot more possible to capture Oxford Road in this state, but as recently as late 2013 it was still pretty rare. What with the light and the shadows as well, this is my favourite photo of those taken on the University of Manchester campus.

#18: Storm, Stradbroke Island (3rd April 2013)

Storm, Stradbroke Island, 3/4/13

The photo was of the incoming storm (which in fact never hit us on the day); the crashing, but also rather small and isolated, wave was just a bonus. And a fine spot, to which I may never return.

#17: Clare in the snow (21st January 2015)

Clare in snow, 21/1/15

Had to pick one of the wife in the top 20 or she’d never forgive me… But seriously, this is my favourite of the 70 or so Clare shots that have so far graced this site. (See also the equivalent one of Joe, below.)

#16: Sheep and Yewbarrow, Lake District (20th August 2012)

Sheep and Yewbarrow, 20/8/12

Had to pick at least one Lake District shot to appear in the top 20. This one got a lot of likes and it has grown on me down the years. Spontaneous anyway — the sheep just poked their heads over the rise, but they didn’t hang around until I got the shot right.

#15: View from Mount Fløyen, Bergen (4th February 2015)

Mount Fløyen, 4/2/15

The basic ingredients (that view!) are very strong — the near-monochrome of the city plus the red of the sun is the fine detail — and the sign is just an added bonus. I think this shot does justice to this very fine city.

#14: Garden visitor (30th June 2016)

Allotment visitor, 30/6/16

I think it was the sheer tolerance of this frog that impressed me — here I had the camera literally not more than two inches from its nose, and this was not the only pose I tried with it. It’s so nice when it works out with nature photography (and there are some more examples of this below).

#13: Flash flood (9th July 2012)

Rescue, 9/7/12

This one doesn’t get into the top 20 for photographic quality and it certainly doesn’t make it because of good memories. But this day was the nearest I have been so far to active reportage, as Hebden Bridge was deluged by the worst rain I have ever been under. Up until 1.15pm it had been a boring day — then it started raining, and this was taken across the road from my house two hours later.

#12: Wood cranesbill (21st June 2014)

Violet, 21/6/14

The insect certainly doesn’t harm the picture but it also risks being a distraction from what I really like about this — the detail of the buds and particularly the petals, with this amazing veined, translucent ultraviolet vibe.

#11: Spindrift, Heron Pike (15th January 2016)

Spindrift, 15/1/16

Kilimanjaro included (see below), I think these might be the toughest conditions I have ever walked in; but at least I got a photo that captured the harshness of it, and had Windermere in the background and four clearly visible, but miniature walkers battling their way through the drifts.

#10: Joe in Brighton (25th July 2015)

Joe, hotel window, 25/7/13

At the time of writing Joe has appeared on this blog nearly 90 times, thus getting on for one picture out of every 22 taken. One of them had a good chance of making the top 20 therefore — and this is definitely the one. It’s not easy to capture him candidly, but this is totally him.

#9: Robin in the allotment (4th January 2017)

Robin, 4/1/17

The most recent of these 20 shots. If birds can have a personality, I think this shot nails it in this robin’s case. Getting the light and the focus just right, these are just bonuses.

#8: Sometimes I just walk outside and gaze at the sun (15th September 2014)

Sungazing, 15/9/14

My best ‘played for and got’ moment: walked past, looked up, saw the scene, and captured it in the one chance I had before the guy walked back inside through the opening to his left. It is just a random juxtaposition of elements: but it all comes together for me, a ‘decisive moment’ if you like. And it’ll never happen again.

#7: Cassowary (28th March 2013)

Cassowary, 28/3/13

It’s in a zoo, yes (in Brisbane), but to capture this baby just right took me a good 15-20 minutes of stalking and seduction. But of the dozens of photos I tried in this sitting, this was the last one. I knew straight away that I had got it.

#6: Cable car, San Francisco (30th March 2015)

Cable car trio, 30/3/15

These three are lined up perfectly anyway, but the girl busting the photographer as she turns to look at me is just the cherry on the top. And the cable cars are brilliant anyway, so this is a good summing up of a very fine city, and that’s what you always try to capture.

#5: Evangelist (4th October 2011)

Words, 4/10/11

Can’t quite believe it’s over five years since I took this shot — the earliest one on here to still make the top 20. I still wish the guy behind him wasn’t there but perhaps it’s just the added contrast the shot needs. Let me add I do not rank this so highly because I condone this perspective — indeed, it’s because this guy looks so dead-eyed and scary that I think I have captured it just as I wanted to.

#4: Valley of Lights parade (29th November 2012)

Valley of Lights, 29/11/12

My favourite bit of street photography. I took many pictures of this event but almost none of them turned out interesting or usable — except this one, when everything magically came together. I would still like to find this family and give them this photo, and it is a shame I have no idea who they are.

#3: Cave spider (9th June 2012)

Spider in shed, 9/6/12

My favourite nature shot. If I try to give the impression of spontaneity on this blog, well, often that is a valid perspective — but this shot I really worked at it. But the effort was justified. Whatever you think of this species, this is a beautiful creature, and the focus is just right. And all taken ten feet from my front door.

#2: Rock Ferry (5th December 2014)

December street, 5/12/14

Christ, I had a terrible hangover when I took this shot, possibly the worst of all the last 2,000 days in fact (yes, it was that memorably bad). And I hope never, realistically, to end up in Rock Ferry, Merseyside, again — it’s not the most salubrious place. But goddamn, I like this picture: exactly what I wanted to take at the time, and somehow true to how my head was at this point. I don’t need to go back there.

#1: The summit of Kilimanjaro (2nd August 2015)

Roof of Africa, 2/8/15

I’m sorry, I had to make this Number One. I have never expended so much physical effort to reach a particular part of the world in my life, and probably will never do so again. And you know what…. despite everything else I got out of doing this, all the feelings of satisfaction and companionship and achievement: my main source of pride after reaching the top of Kili was that after all that effort, at least I did it justice with a BLOODY GOOD PHOTO.

And as that’s all I try to do with each of these days of my life: so let it take top spot.


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