The Highlights of 2015

January 03, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

My photographic journey through 2015 has been a huge success. The image library has once again seen a rapid expansion. In the first half of the year I have worked on the Scottish landscapes project and later in the autumn I travelled across France, Spain and Switzerland. It was very difficult to pick the very best work (in no particular order) from a fairly lengthy shortlist. So here is the créme de la créme:

10. Torren lochan, Glencoe, Scotland, UK

Glencoe is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Scottish highlands. The beautiful landscape offers countless photography opportunities. One of my favourites from 2015 is the view of the An t-SronBidean Nam Bian mountains reflected in the Torren lochan. The contrasty evening light and a light cloud cover provided playful illumination of the hills. The landscape scene was completed by blooming camomiles in the foreground.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod and KOOD graduated filter

GlencoeGlencoe

9. Blue hour at Trakai castle, Lithuania

The finely restored medieval castle is situated on a small island on the Galve lake and is certainly the gemstone architectural monument of the country. The castle is accessible via a wooden footbridge from the historic Trakai town, around 27 km away from the capital Vilnius. I decided to photograph the location at the blue hour. I waited until the brightness of the sky matched the floodlighting and positioned my camera low on the bridge. The image is dominated by its strong symmetry as well as the dominant and complimentary blue and amber hues; the fortress is deservedly the centrepiece of the photograph.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Trakai Castle, LithuaniaTrakai Castle, Lithuania 8. Le Miroir d'eau at the blue hour, Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is a major French city on the West coast. The centre is packed with grandiose historic buildings. Place de la Bourse is the most famous landmark and was built in the 18th century for the King Louis XV. I only had a single day in Bordeaux before continuing my journey to the Pyrenees. The building complex receives the best natural light early in the morning; however the blue hour can be even more dramatic. The royal square provides a great vantage point, but I opted to set up further back in the modern fountain le Miroir d'eau. The palace buildings are very symmetrical; furthermore the still surface of the fountain basin allowed me to get the detailed reflections in the bottom half of the image. As a result there are 2 perpendicular axes of symmetry. The tonal gradation of the sky and the foreground help to frame the golden-lit buildings in the photograph. The atmosphere is very tranquil elevating the feeling of beauty and luxury.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Bordeaux - Le Miroir d'eau, FranceBordeaux - Le Miroir d'eau, France

7. Mont Saint Michel, France

Mont Saint Michel is a world-famous Christian pilgrimage site in the Normandy, France. It is also one of the most beautiful historic landmarks in the country. I dedicated a whole day to photographing the site with pleasing results. My favourite photograph was the very last one I made late in the evening. I set up my tripod in the muddy river banks underneath the causeway. I found a water pool to frame the flood-lit monastery together with its reflections and I used the bridge as lead in lines. The weather was very changeable that day and thankfully the incoming band of clouds helped to fill the sky with nice texture.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Mont Saint-MichelMont Saint-MichelMont Saint-Michel

6. Frozen Glencoe at sunset, Scotland, UK

The winter of 2015 was cold and brought a thick layer of snow to the highlands making it the perfect playground to the climbers and photographers. I witnessed one of the most colourful sunsets in Scotland last February. In daytime the sky was relatively cloudy and the sunlight was subdued; however there were tell tale signs something spectacular was about to unfold. After considering the options I climbed Stob Beinn a' Chrulaiste to get a higher vantage point towards Stob Dearg with the backdrop of the sunset sky. After a tricky ascent via the steep and icy slope I wasn't left disappointed with the view. The snow-covered mountains retained plenty of detail even in a deep shadow; and the clouds were dyed the cloudsthe deep red, pink and purples hues. Filling the foreground was somewhat tricky at first but luckily I came across elaborate wind-sculpted ice and snow structures on the ground. It was really something special to behold.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

The Spectacular Glencoe Winter SunsetThe Spectacular Glencoe Winter Sunset

5. Autumnal Llebreta lake, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, Spain

Personally, this was one of the highlights of my euro trip 2015. Llebreta is a small mountain lake in the Spanish Pyrenees. The location undoubtedly offers pretty views all year round, but it becomes a true autumnal wonderland in late October. The vista decorated with fiery coloured trees really lights up in the golden evening sunlight. The reflections of the lake, the calmness, quietness and the fresh mountain air made it a very special moment.

However, making the desired image was anything but easy. The lake is connected to the main highway via a narrow paved road, as seen on the Google maps. Sadly, the road is private and only accessible on foot which takes well over an hour or longer. Despite great effort I couldn't reach the lake on time before the sunset. Beaten but not defeated I spent the next day travelling in the national park and came back to the same spot much earlier in the afternoon. The weather had started to fail: the wind roughened the surface of the water and a think band of clouds moved in. My perseverance however paid off in the end. There was a break in the weather front just before the sunset which allowed photographing the location in near perfect conditions. There was little time to cover all angles as the sun was rapidly inching towards the horizon. After a very busy quarter of an hour my memory cards were filled lots of RAW files. While I personally think this photograph is one of the best of that day, there are several more I am going to share shortly in my future blog posts.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, KOOD graduated filter, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Autumnal Llebreta lake, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici NAutumnal Llebreta lake, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici N

4. Dawn at Kilchurn castle, Loch Awe, Scotland, UK

The sunrise at Kilchurn castle proved to be very challenging to photograph. After numerous failed attempts I finally got lucky with the weather last summer travelling back to Glasgow after climbing Ben Nevis. Initially the conditions looked familiarly unfavourable: there were heavy, thick clouds rolling over the hills. Pleasingly, shortly after the sunrise there was a break in the sky and the water stayed still, which created perfect conditions for photographing the stormy scene in the warm morning's light.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II lens, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Kilchurn castleKilchurn castle

3. A82 light trails at dusk, Glencoe, Scotland, UK

This was another photograph made on the same spectacular February evening in Glencoe. The afterglow lasted for almost an hour giving plenty of opportunities to try out many different compositions and explore various vantage points. As the sky light faded, the cars travelling on A82 highway painted a snaking headlight trail across the valley. Long exposure was instrumental for recording enough traffic flow and making a well exposed and detailed image.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, KOOD graduated filter, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

The snaking Glencoe passThe snaking Glencoe passA82 car light trails at dusk, Scottish highlands, UK

2. The Old Man of Storr at dawn, Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

The weather patterns in the far north of the UK, including the Isle of Skye present unique challenges as well as unpredictable opportunities. The stormy sunrise at the Old Man of Storr illustrates this particularly well. I have already discussed the several previous failed attempts as well as the development of the weather in my previous blog post; however when it all finally came together the view was simply breathtaking. This image with a double rainbow against the backdrop of heavy rain clouds and golden sun light illuminating the rock formation is unsurprisingly my favourite from that day.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, KOOD graduated filter, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

The Old Man of StorrThe Old Man of Storr

1. Flégère lake, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

Finally, I would like to finish the TOP 10 with this image from the Chamonix region of the French Alps. Initially, I planned to hike all the way to Lac Blanc for the sunset. However, I first came across this mountain lake near Flegere cable car station in the late afternoon. I was immediately drawn there by the view of the snow-capped, jagged mountain ridges and their crystal clear reflection in the water. The autumnal trees at the edge of the lake were back-illuminated by the sun and completed the contrasty colour palette of the vista. In my view, it was the best I could hope for. I had to spend hours cleaning up the image from 'foreign' objects including a fence, but it was certainly worth the time.

There was still some time left before the sunset to explore the upper lakes. Lac de la Flegere offered exciting views framed by the surrounding rock formations, however the lack of vegetation left me craving for more. I decided to come back to the lower lake for the sunset and the blue hour. I intend to share further photographs and discuss the challenges in the new blog post. Lac Blanc will be the focus of my attention next time, probably next summer when the cable car is in service.

Image info: Canon EOS 5D mark III with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II lens, CPL, Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod

Flegere lake reflections, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, FranceFlegere lake reflections, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

Happy 2016 and stay tuned!


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