My Favourite Images of 2016 (So far :)

I usually look over my Lightroom catalog at the end of each year and pull out my favourite images, as many of us do. I think it is a beneficial part of the creative process to periodically review our work, see where we were and where we are going.

Keeping our annual collections of favourite images as collections in Lightroom then enables us to compare our progress year on year. The changes in the style of our work, our choice of subject matter, improvements in our technical skills (both with the camera and in post processing) as well as our creative vision can be very enlightening.

I usually make it a habit to go through all of my images over the Xmas holiday. I cull the years work, deleting all of the images I know I will never work on. I am ruthless in this. I had almost 12,000 images in my Lightroom catalog from 2016 (and this was after the many I delete soon after import too). By the end of my cull I had just over 2000 left. I know many photographers keep everything ('just in case' - although I am never really sure quite in case of what) and this is fine. However bloated catalogs will gradually slow Lightroom down, they will be harder to manage, especially as regards backing up (and take up resources and bandwidth copying massive amounts of data to our Cloud backup service). I really see little point in keeping 48 images of the same sunrise or 6 bracketed exposures of an image. So I sit for a couple of days at the computer, knuckle down, suck it up and make those difficult decisions and delete away. It is very cathartic.

Another benefit is finding images I have forgotten about. Hidden gems lurking in the catalog. I keep a collection synchronised with Lightroom Mobile which holds all the images I am working on. Following this years review of my images I have over 1000 to select from to process, many from days in the field I had completely overlooked. Last year I didn't have chance to cull my 2015 files so I am doing it now. I am about half way through, but I have already deleted another 6000 images. It feels really good to be rid of this dross.

So this is why I have sub-titled this collection 'My Favourite Images of 2016 So Far'. It may very well be that some I show here will be relegated by ones I still have to process. But for now, these are the 12 I am happiest with, in chronological order

This image was made in the Lake District in January. Like the vast majority of my work these days, it was shot hand held, using a high ISO and wide aperture. I am enjoying the freedom from the constraints of the tripod. It does mean I make more images (hence my deletion rate) but it also means I make images I wouldn't have made before when tied to the tripod, either because they would be too awkward or I would have missed the moment faffing about setting up. Working hand held allows me to experiment with shooting height, angles and positions much more than when using a tripod and suits my love of prime lenses too. In this image I love the unusual colour of the light, the graphic shapes and the high contrast.

This image was made, again hand held, on the glorious North Norfolk coast. A place that is neglected by so many landscape photographers who don't realise just how stunning it is. I'm not sure whether to encourage more to visit, or to keep quiet about it and savour it for myself and the few of us who appreciate it glories. In this image I love the soft muted colour palette, the silvery water channels and the lovely cloud details. Norfolk has the most wonderful skies. Made in the middle of the day it is a demonstration that having to shoot only in the 'golden hours' is a myth.

This image was grabbed unexpectedly. I was feeling very ill indeed and leading a tour for Light and Land. On setting out to lead the tour I didn't realise just how ill I was going to get as the days progressed. had I know, I would, for the first time in my career as a Light and Land leader, called for a replacement leader to go in my place. But once there, the show had to go on. We were shooting in the Peak District and making long exposure images near one of the dams near Bamforth when the clouds and light changed suddenly. It is amazing how stunning light can provide a boost to an ailing photographer with a severe case of 'man-flu'. I just had to use a long lens, hand-held and grab a few frames of this light and the trees silhouetted on the ridge. I have made it even more dramatic in post-processing but this is how I visualised the final image as soon as I saw the light developing as we stood by the lake. As the light faded, my symptoms returned with a vengeance. My tour group were very kind to me that week and I will always be eternally grateful to them for their patience. When I got home I ended up in bed for several days making preparations for my own death. This was an over-reaction. As my wife kept telling me at the time.

This is a creative abstract. I made it using my Canon 5D mk3 and its multiple exposure mode. The images layered up to give this effect are water, glass and steel - it was made in London. Then in Lightroom and Photoshop the creativity continues with some tinkering with colours and contrast and so on. I like the fresh contemporary feel it gives.

This image was also made with the Canon in multiple exposure mode - using bright mode and about three exposures. It was made on a very brief break in what turned out to be almost continuous rain for seven days in North Wales. The brief respite gave us a chance to give our dog, Stan, a walk on the beach and me an opportunity to make some images. The sky and sea was grey and heavy with rain. I like the ethereal results and the lone gull flying through (It occurred naturally, I haven't placed it there).

This image was made in a London hotel we were staying in for a Light and Land tour I run along with Terry Gibbins who drives for us. It is a stunning staircase and I use it to demonstrate working indoors with the camera without a tripod as during the tour we work inside several buildings in London where photography is permitted by tripods are not. I was very fortunate that one of the guests had a very wide Fuji lens, wider than my widest and she very kindly leant it to me to make this image. I love the light on the wood and the warm glow it gives and, like most photographers I am a sucker for a spiral staircase. The fancy globe light fittings at the top make a nice finale to the image for me.

This simple image was made on the same tour, again hand held. I love it for its pure neutral colours, soft light and texture. I was aiming for simplicity in composition, using just a few basic lines and shapes to keep the image as minimal as possible.

This image was made in November in the Cairngorms. It was a morning of sublime conditions. Amazing light and glorious hoar frost. I was in heaven. I loved this wee stunted Silver Birch surrounded by frosted grasses that give it so much texture. This is another image, again made hand held, that I love for it's soft colour palette.

Another from the Cairngorms, this a multiple exposure image made in an ancient forest. For me it captures the colours, textures and tangle of Caledonian woodlands dripping with moss and lichen, sprinkled with gold of autumn Silver Birch leaves. One of my favourite places to be in the World.

A third image from the Cairngorms. This made using intentional camera movement after the sun had set over Loch Morlich. This is one of the images I discovered on culling my catalog, so a happy find. I love the softness (as many of you know, I think sharpness is over-rated), the deep colours and glowing light. For me it is atmospheric and makes me feel just like I'm there on a Scottish night as the snow falls over the hills.

This is one of those images that as soon as I had fired their shutter and seen it on the rear screen I knew it was special to me. Another hand held image and taken from the side of the road in beautiful Snowdonia. Right at autumns peak, the leaves were a cloud of stunning colours. Shooting with a wide aperture helped to keep a soft gentle feel to the image which I wanted. I just love the gentle profusion of colours.

This, too, was from Snowdonia, from one of the fabulous quarries which are open to photographers. It amazes me how many photographers neglect North Wales (in the same way they neglect North Norfolk) instead dashing north for the Lakes or Scotland. There are whole areas of Snowdonia rarely photographed and compared to the other places further north, it is barley touched by most landscapers. It baffles me. I love ferreting about in the quarries looking for these intimate landscapes. This time I behaved, used a tripod and my beautiful 100mm Canon L macro lens. This kind of work calls for absolute precision.

My final image, made in early December on a brief trip to the Lakes (yes, I go there too:) is from a wonderfully still morning at Derwent. Made long before sunrise on a cloudy, misty morning the light was gloriously blue and the lake amazingly mirror calm. The gentle haze of mist gave everything a gentle softness which I love.

And thus ends my selection for the year. I may swap some of these out as I catch up on processing but this is how it stands for now. My goal is always to make one image a month that I am happy with. I have made more than that this year, which makes it a good year. As always for me, an eclectic mix of styles and techniques. I continue to be style-less and varied in my choice of subject. I am unable to specialise. I have long given up trying and feel no need to. It does mean my portfolio is a mess, but so be it. I just feel the need to make pictures of lots of different things using lots of different techniques. I can't see that changing, to be honest.

If you would like to learn these techniques or visit the places in these images then please visit www.dougchinnery.com/workshops where you will find all my workshops and the ways to book. I will be revisiting all of these places this year and would love the chance to introduce them to you.

Thank you for ploughing through my selection- it is very much appreciated. And yes, I know there are 13 images. I couldn't get it down to 12 ;)

You can follow me on Twitter - @dougchinnery You can follow me on Instagram @doug_chinnery and you can find me on Facebook as Doug Chinnery Photography Workshops

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Doug Chinnery
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