What’s in a top 10? Are they the best of the year? And if so, how do you define best? Everyone has their own set of standards on what justifies a great image and everyone is unique in what visually pleases their eyes. For my year in review, I’m going to honour that title and simply talk about the past 12 months.
Brace yourself, summarizing my year is going to take many more than a selection of 10. The following are surely not all winners but here are my most memorable photographs of 2013. More often than not, the memory is triggered heavily around the story that accompanies it.
Story #1: Mount Rundle, Banff National Park
It took me over 2 months to get away from the desk and creating images this year. The start of 2013 for me was kick started by a planned trip to Alberta to visit with the rest of the oopoomoo contributors. Our first stop with a camera was at Vermilion Lakes – low hanging fruit for some – but overwhelming for me. It took some time to ignore the iconic mountains but eventually, I found myself focused on the patterns in the snow.
Story #2: Abraham Lake Bubbles
It’s late in the season for crystal clear bubbles but Darwin, Sam, Catherine and I traveled up to Aurum Lodge at Abraham Lake. It was my first visit to this popular place and glimpse into the home base of oopoomoo workshops. The scratches and cracks in the ice looks like some type of deep space warp speed.
Story #3: Castle Mountain
Is Castle Mountain too easy? Maybe, but as I traveled up and down the highway alone in my rental car, I really had no idea of where I should be. Castle Junction is where I stopped the car, squeezed through the frozen fence and walked along the ice cold water. I live on a sand bar with no true wilderness. The feeling of being so small and surrounded is hard to explain.
Story #4: Missing Tulips at Parliament Hill
This is more of a lesson than anything else. I was in Ottawa during the tulip festival and on my first day, I made the decision to travel light and scout tulip patches. Walking from Ottawa to Gatineau is no quick stroll but I found this great full-of-colour tulip garden with Parliament Hill as the backdrop. It was in the shade and the range of brightness was just too much for a handheld photo. I made a note to return the next day but obviously an opportunity passed, is an opportunity lost. After swearing a bit, I made the image anyway.
Story #5: Stanhope Beach, Prince Edward Island
This was my only black and white image of 2013. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often because I do fall in love with the results. The deep blacks work much better than the dull blues of the day. I’m working on seeing past the colours.
Story #6: Misty Morning Sunrays
Chasing mist and fog early in the morning on side country roads can require a bit of luck. Completely soaked from the tall unmaintained grass, my focus was on a field of buttercup flowers with patches of lupins. This image was created as I was packing up for the morning and about to call it quits.
Story #7: Prince Edward Island Erosion
Thundercover beach is a popular location. Both for photographers because of the unique sea stacks and for teenagers and their beach parties. I have visited this location – codenamed teacup rock – many many times, but it was this time that I found these recently fallen sandstones that I feel really shows the effects of erosion. They were gone on my next visit. We lose an average of 0.5 metres (1.6 feet) on the south shore and 1.5 metres (5 feet) on the north shore per year.
Story #8: A Bee in Flight
At the end of 2012, I said I wanted to capture a bee in flight. It was a challenge that felt both impossible but achievable. I was completely shutout this year for island wildlife but am fairly satisfied with my first attempts at insects in flight.
Story #9: Rotting Abandoned Pier
PEI has many piers that most would consider an eye sore. Actually, everyone should. Photographically speaking, they can be quite interesting.
Story #10: Northern Lights, PEI National Park
The further north you live, the less impressive the aurora borealis may be but for PEI, it’s a very rare occurrence. During a very active season, you might be lucky enough to see them off the north shore once or twice. If you happened to be there on one of those special nights, it’s a real treat.
Story #11: Victoria Range Light
This range light visible from the highway is not accessible to the public. It’s at the edge of a farmers field and surrounded by residential properties that I’m not willing to trespass across. I was full of excitement when I learned that one of those properties was a relative of a relative by marriage. Permission granted and a checkmark on the bucket list.
Story #12: Turbine Power
Prince Edward Island is covered with power generating turbines on both ends of the island. There are just shy of 100 turbines across 6 wind farms and as of 2013, 20% of our energy is generated by the wind. A local developer created this cool little tool that compares live current wind speeds against energy generated. I have seen it as high as 80%.
Story #13: Rough Coastal Surf
Most island days are windy and wind can create violent surf conditions. If you’re willing to get wet, anchor yourself down in knee deep high tide water, some interesting illustrations of erosion can be made. I could do this for hours and hours. No two waves are the same and it’s hard not to think the next one will be ‘the one’. It takes real effort for me to leave a location like this.
Story #14: Island Fishing
I hired a fisherman to take me out so I can view the island from their perspective. I didn’t really know what to expect but while we were there – he asked if I would be bothered by him doing a little bit of fishing. Sure, why not, it’s an experience, how bad can it be? Well, it turns out those mackerel jigger’s are brutal.
Story #15: Hay Bale Sunset
PEI is small and getting lost is an accomplishment in and of itself. With no set goal in mind, I was chasing a particular cloud and the fading light up and down back dirt roads of farmers’ fields. It’s not too often I need a gps to figure out where I am.
Story #16: Storm over Covehead
Chasing storm clouds requires a bit of luck. You can see them developing but it’s hard to predict where they will be. Weather moves very quickly across the island and after originally driving in the wrong direction, by the time I got ahead of this one, I only managed to frame 5 shots before it was all over. I love the cotton candy sky. The speed boat coming back in to port is just a bonus.
Story #17: North Shore Tides
Playing at the edge of a moving tide is so much fun with so much potential. Angles, directions, different shutter speeds and the unpredictable crashing waves has so much excitement and anticipation of what will the camera record next.
Story #18: Aerial of Confederation Bridge
I have had the opportunity to fly several times this year. A mix of personal work, tourism work and commercial work has kept me in the sky. I love flying and looking at the geography from above. What’s difficult, is predicting good flying days for photography. Some days, the visibility is pure awful. On this particular day, visibility was not ideal. It actually kind of sucked but even though you can’t see the buildings and landscape, the fog and shapes were attractive. I was frustrated at the time but this one is growing on me.
Story #19: Aerial of Fishing Boat
Intimate details from the air is a rush. Hanging out an opened window and zipping over a fishing boat at low altitudes is wild. Having a pilot that is well experienced with photographers is a bonus and can get you in the correct position before you even have the thought to ask for it. Did I already mention how much fun it is to fly?
Story #20: Linking PEI to New Brunswick
The Island’s Tourism Commission had given me an open assignment for the summer to photograph a wide variety of subjects that highlighted touristy type things. New bridge images was on that list. It’s just a bridge and although it’s something I see on a very regular basis, it is still a structure that impresses me every time I see it, 16 years after it first opened. Walking along the rocky beach below never gets boring.
Story #21: Battling the Crowds at Covehead
This is an image all about the story. I can plan for a full moon. I can plan for sunset. I can scout a location. But I can not predict a tour bus full of people. Having the full moon rise while the sun is still setting only happens once per month and in late September, the tour buses should be long gone. Not today. After arriving and setting up a tripod, I looked behind me and saw a bus load of American tourists walking up the beach behind me. I wish I had a photo of me standing there behind a tripod with a large crowd of iphone shooters on both sides.
Story #22: Charlottetown’s Busiest Cruise Ship Season
With 69 calls to port and 139,476 crew members and passengers, 2013 was our busiest season for cruise ships. On this particular morning, 3 ships were arriving between 7:30 and 8:30am. It was a good morning to have a backup plan if for some reason, you mess up the first arrival. It’s hard to believe that from the cool morning fog coming off the water, I couldn’t even see the first two ships. I could hear them but there was a white blanket between us. It cleared up quickly.
Story #23: Island Rolling Hills
Strathgartney provincial park has a parking lot that looks over the rolling hills in central PEI. It’s a great view of the west river on any clear day but add some fog, fall colours and some morning light, and the level of excitement rises.
Story #24: Fall Heritage Roads
2013 had a dark shadow of a new but very controversial highway at the expense of some of the few remaining old growth wood lots. It’s a mess but has created a new access point to a single lane dirt road I had not previously traveled. I still don’t have a fall heritage road that I’m completely happy with but I now have a new and closer to home road to explore.