Friday, 16 December 2011

My Top 5 Photos of 2011

It was so much easier picking my single favourite from this year, adding only 4 more is no easy feat, but here goes...

Magic Pixie Dust

The obvious starter for me is my fav shot of the year, taken back in the middle of a cold and snowy Bavarian winter (January to be precise).  I was working in a little city called Landshut which is around an hour North East of Munich, and had already exhausted all the local photo opportunities the previous couple of weekends and decided to venture a little further afield.

The Saturday I hit Konigsee and Hintersee which lie right in the very South East corner of Germany where it meets up with Austria (the area is known as Bereschtesgaden), and the on the Sunday it was a trip to the fairytale-esque Neuschwanstein Castle a couple of hours drive away.  I'm a stickler for taking the small "landstrasse" roads when travelling through rural parts of Germany as you find some amazing gems hidden away that the main roads and autobahns whizz you right past, and that particular day was a special one...minus 15c or so, ice particles flying through the air, burning your face as they hit you, but well worth it when standing with this awesome little church sitting out in the middle of snow covered fields and the North face of the alps in the background.

Return of The Magic Pixie Dust (Fullsize Version)

The Emergence

Fast forward to June, and I found myself back out in Oregon with work for what was initially a couple of weeks (and ended up turning into 6 months).  The first couple of weekends I assumed were going to be my only chance to visit some of the places I loved from last years trip as well as a handfull of places that I somehow missed out when scouring maps, photo sites, tourist guides and every other conceivable option.

Nestled in the gloomy pages of a local website I found 2 photographs which the tog had shot almost 20 years ago on film and had scanned in to show on his extremely dated website, the description simply read "John Day".  With no sign of life in the pic I hoped that an internet search would come up with some usable info, and sure enough I discovered "The Painted Hills", which lie deep in the heart of Oregon, hidden away from the eyes of many locals never mind tourists.

The next weekend I was off early doors and after a four and a half hour drive I arrived at the Painted Hills section of the John Day park.  Don't get me wrong, the hills themselves are amazing, every single pic you take with changing light from the sun shows different colours emerging, a truly awesome spectacle...BUT...a short driver further into the hilly landscape let me feast my eyes on the "Painted Cove", a huge mound of vibrant, red clay which has emerged from it's desertlike surroundings due to national erosion over thousands of years (much like their hilly brothers next door).  What made this shot even more special was the awesome cloud formation above, which added to "The Emergence" name I gave the shot.

The Emergence

Desert Sunset

After scoring the shot of the Painted Cove earlier in the day I was sure that it was going to be the shot of the day for me, but Oregon had other plans in store for me that didn't come to light (literally) until the sun began to head for the horizon.

The day was a paricularly clear one as we drove through the "high desert" area, with the clouds beginning to light up with colour, and by clear I mean that from the high vantage point we could clearly make out Mount Hood to the North West, Mount Jefferson almost due West and the Three Sisters to the South West - all huge mountains in the Cascade Range, and more importantly several hundred miles apart which shows how good the visibility was.

Oregon's High Desert is a fickle place, nothing really there at all except for a few farms dotted about, and small roads which wind their way around the hummocks that seem to appear out of nowhere, so finding the right vantage point in time to stop, set up the gear and capture the sunrise was critical.

For around 50 minutes I stood perched on top of a recent rockfall capturing the sunset unfold.  Thankfully the coyotes that I could hear from almost every direction elected to stay at their respective patches and watch the sunset too (Mrs Baz did a runner for the car when they all started howling in sync).

Desert Sunset - 17

Hint Of Light

A month later July was nearing an end and I was still working out in Oregon and getting used to the fact that I would spend the next few months out there too, so I decided to revisit one of my favourite places anywhere on the planet, Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is an amazing spectacle during daylight hours, but having done that twice already it was time to up the ante somewhat.  A full day there, yup, that sounded about right...

For many the shots they remember of Crater Lake are those with a dusting of snow on the rim of the crater, the vivid blue pigments in the water reflecting the suns rays...but for me it's this shot, by a mile and then some.

Standing over 8000ft, on a supervolcano, at the very edge of 6 mile wide caldera with not a single other person around, with the stars glittering away above and absolute silence, and by absolute I mean I could hear my own heart beat...nothing, nada, just me and this huge volcano sitting there waiting, for the sun to rise.

Only word I keep using to describe that feeling I had is "EPIC"!

Crater Lake Trip - 2 - Hint Of Light

Glacier Point

The final shot from my personal top 5 from 2011 is also one that I had in my mind to capture this year, having first stood at the very same spot 9 years earlier, in complete amazement at what lay before me.  My 3.1Mp camera didn't do the place any justice at all, so this time round I went equipped with my 60D and various lenses, my trusty Sony R1 workhorse (for capturing the vivid colours on show), and my GoPro for some timelapse stuff.

I think by now I've written enough shmoo about the shots that have come before, so I'll let this photo do the talking for itself...

Glacier Point

In my eyes 2011 is definitely the year that I finally managed to hone my landscape photography skills, which is a large departure from the 10 years of shooting every weekend for various car mags that I did previously.

Here's hoping 2012 will produce some new gems...

Friday, 5 August 2011

How I See Oregon & Washington

With me now spending my second summer out in the Pacific North West it amazes me the number of sights I've been to visit and photograph during daytrips at the weekends.

Half of the points of interest in this shot are covered by others, in total around 450 POI's are logged for these 2 states alone, a true testament to the stunning landscapes and adventures that can be had out here...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Emergence

The Emergence, originally uploaded by

Taken at the Painted Cove in Oregon, USA where the red clay starts to appear out of the surrounding desert-like ground surface.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lighthouse off Pacific Northwest

Not sure what the name of this lighthouse is, but it sits out in the Pacific Ocean when looking out from the coast just a few miles South of Ruby Beach. Awesome colours in the sky tonight after sunset...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Crater Lake Preview

Crater Lake Preview, originally uploaded by

A quick taster of what is coming tomorrow once I catch up on my sleep, what a day...

Left Friday evening just before midnight, drove 5hrs to get to Crater Lake for 4.35am, caught sunrise just before 6am, spent the day shooting hundreds of pics in sunny 30°C weather and finished it off with a stunning sunset over the cascade mountain range...only downside is the 20+ mosquito bites I acquired :D

After being on the go for the last 28.5hrs it's time for some well earned rest, and stay tuned for more from Crater Lake once I surface on Sunday...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Devastated Valley Floor

Devastated Valley Floor, originally uploaded by

It's not until you're standing over the top of the valley floor that you get a clear picture of just how much power and force the eruption had in 1980, everything you see before you was lush forest area and now 31 years later it's only starting to get patches of green appearing again.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Mount St Helens Panorama (7 Images) (1280px)

A panorama of Mount St Helens volcano today made up of 7 landscape oriented shots.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Pathway Through Mars

Pathway Through Mars, originally uploaded by

The painted cove which is part of the painted hills section of the John Day National Park is located around 10 miles North West of the town of Mitchell in Central Oregon.

If you find yourself in the area it's definitely worth a visit, and not only because it gives you the feeling that you're walking through the surface of somewhere like the planet Mars.

Surreal in many ways, and amazing in others, stunning, stunning place!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mars Decisions

Mars Decisions, originally uploaded by

Since arriving on Mars it soon became clear that there were still choices to be made...

(The landscape at the painted Cove was just screaming for something like this to be done)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

America and Belgium, Henri Chappelle Cemetery, Belgium

Taken today during a daytrip with the Scottish and German mums.

Henri Chappelle Cemetery, Belgium

Taken today during a daytrip with the Scottish and German mums.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Henning Solberg - WRC Sweden 2006 (Post Roll in Peugeot WRC)

Taken back in the Karlstad service area after a spectacular roll, Henning Solberg takes some fun-filled abuse from some of his peers, including Sebastian Loeb as they check out the damage to his WRC spec Peugeot.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Formula BMW - Red Bull - Car #6

Been quite busy this weekend sorting out stuff around the house (I would still use new, but 5 weeks in it's definitely much more homely now), and as such the sharing of some of the older pics from my archive has suffered, so here's a shot of one of Red Bull's Formula BMW cars lifting the inside front wheel on the rumble strip at the exit of the chicane during one of the races back in August 2006 at Snetterton in England.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

View From Neuschwanstein Castle

Taken during my daytrip with John and Andrea to Neuschwanstein Castle and a few other spots in Bavaria, Germany back in January.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

D1 Drift Champioonship UK - Sumo Power Nissan 350Z - Knockhill

Taken during the lone Scottish round held at Knockhill of the 2006 D1 Drift Championship, this features the Sumo Power Nissan 350Z setting itself up for the final corner of the drift course laid out at the Scottish racetrack.

Kinlochbervie, Scotland

Kinlochbervie, Scotland, originally uploaded by

During our road trip around the Coastline of Scotland one of the coolest places we visited was Kinlochbervie, aside the small shipping port that runs there a short run up a single track road will take you up onto one of the surrounding hills for a great view out onto the North Atlantic Ocean.

Monaro on Tour - 19 - Halfway between Durness and John O'Groats

This image was taken as we were approaching the half way point along the Northern coast of Scotland between Durness in the West and John O'Groats in the East. Spectacular views from here of the hills and valleys which have been carved by nature of the centuries. Image 2 of 2 from this location.

OK, so the photo itself may have a blown sky, but in my defence I was too impressed with the fact that my Monaro had made it all this way along tiny little single track roads and moreover the simply stunning view that lay to the side of the road where we pulled over.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Me with a random dude in Stockholm

While in Stockholm for the WRC in February 2006 I found this little dude outside one of the shops in the Swedish capital. He didn't seem to mind the -20-25°C temperatures that the shop owner subjected him too, in my case I had vests, t-shirt, polo shirt, jumper and jacket on...and it still felt damn cold!!!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Waiting For The Ferry to Barra, Isle of Eriskay

There's something magical about Scotlands Western Isles, something so magical that it did it's level best to make itself invisible for this shot, so magical indeed that it left absolutely zero, nil, nada, diddly squat of itself to infact be glanced at here, now, or then, or whenever.

The colour in the sea (or should I say Atlantic Ocean) around the islands which make up the Western Isles are simply stunning, so much so that when you show someone just how it looks in good, sunny weather you are almost instantly accused of photoshopping the colours in, of tampering with the saturation in the image etc.

But, and yes there is a but, is that even here in this wet, dreek, grey, drookit outlout from the South tip of the Isle of Eriskay as myself, Mireille and the Monaro waited patiently for our ferry to arrive for the short sailing over to Barra you can just about get a hint of the colours lurking beneath the surface.

What colour you may chortle with jest, but believe me the colours are there in abundance and are just waiting on the right moment to dazzle you with all their brilliance.

Barbados, nope, the Dominican Republic, nope, Hawaii, nope.....Scotland, damn right, every single time...!!!

Race Of Champions - Track Laid & Empty Stadium

One of the cool things about covering the motorsport events and shows for so long was the fact that it gets you known at the various venues and racetracks around the UK, Europe and beyond, and that can normally bring in a few cool shots that aren't so run of the mill.

Take this shot of the Stad de France as it prepared itself for the Race of Champions event back in December 2005, somewhat of an eerie silence when you find yourself in such a large stadium and only a small handfull of people milling around, making sure all of the last minute touches are in place before the event starts in earnest a few days later...

Spring Daffodills

Spring Daffodills, originally uploaded by

Some daffodils to remind everyone spring is here ;)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Formula BMW Championship UK - Knockhill - Red Bull Racing #6

Taken at Knockhill Racetrack in Scotland, the Formula BMW Championship UK was always one of the support races to the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) which I covered for several years.

Terry Grant - Stunt Show - Santa Pod - TVR

One of the main people followed during the time shooting images for UK, Irish and European car magazines was Terry Grant who would tour around the world performing his stunt shows using various cars and some crazy antics.

This shot was taken during Ultimate Street Car 2006 which took place at Santa Pod in England, and sees Terry climbing up onto the side of the car while it continues to spin in circles in front of the crowd who had gathered at the start end of the quarter mile drag strip.

Ullapool, Scotland - 3

Ullapool, Scotland - 3, originally uploaded by

Taken in 2008 during out 2 week summer holiday following the coastline of Scotland from Glasgow, up the West coast (with a quick couple of nights stop on our favourite Isle of Skye), via Ullapool (harbour pictured here), all the way to Kinlochbervie on the North West corner and then along the North Coast to John O'Groats before coming down the East coast via Aberdeen and ending in Edinburgh.

Absolutely stunning views one after another and even more fun as the tiny little single track roads we encountered were all easily eaten up by the Monaro...

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Snow on Hintersee Jetty

Snow on Hintersee Jetty, originally uploaded by

Taken during a daytrip in January to explore the South East corner of Germany (right on the border with Austria), this is one of the jettys leading out into the frozen waters of Hintersee in Bereschtesgaden National Park.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Karneval Drunken Scots-Bavarian Madness

Plenty photos from the parade in Aachen to share later, for now it's just yours truly :D

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Colour Framed

Colour Framed, originally uploaded by

Finally managing to get round to editing the photos from my daytrip wandering around Munich with my ever friendly tour guide Andrea.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

1st Place - DCM - Light Painting

After seeing Paula's Shot taken for her 365 where she was reading a photo mag that had an article in it about her awesome dancing paint photographs I decided to put myself in front of the camera for a change too since I have an image featured in the March issue of Digital Camera Magazine.

Each month they have a "your mission" competition which for last month was light painting, something you all know I have great fun doing - and amazingly I took top spot with my photograph :)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Magic Pixie Dust

Magic Pixie Dust, originally uploaded by

Finally getting round to editing some of the shots taken during January's travels.

This small church is located just a short drive from the fairytale German castle, Neuschwanstein, so it seemed only fitting that whilst the topic of fairies was active that the snow and ice particles flying through the air should be referred to magic pixie dust.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Landshut At Night

Landshut At Night, originally uploaded by

Thankfully this week there was one night which it didn't rain, allowing me to get out with the camera and snap a couple of shots in the snow and icy cold wind of the Bavarian city of Landshut.