January 04th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
You have reached the archive of articles posted on my personal blog. This blog is no longer updated, but you can read my latest articles at my new website The Creative Photographer and find my photography ebooks at my new store.
Thanks for reading! Andrew.
2011 was an eventful year for me – it started off in New Zealand and finished in China. It was also my first full year working as a freelance writer. January is a natural time to reflect on the achievements and disappointments of the previous 12 months; to celebrate successes, learn from mistakes and make plans for the year to come. Part of that process is evaluating how I’ve developed as a writer and photographer. At the end of last year I chose my ten favourite photos. This year I’ve done it again. Comparing the two sets of images shows how my focus has changed; and hints at future projects and images to come.
I created a lot of black and white images in 2011, yet when it came to selecting my favourites only one black and white photo made the list. Maybe it’s a case of colour images being strongest when seen on a computer monitor, and that black and white photos are best viewed as prints. Whatever the reason, I’ve felt that my vision has shifted somewhat from favouring black and white to colour these last few months.
My ten favourite images from 2011
Here, in the approximate order that they were created, are my favourite photos from 2011:
Abbey, Fairy Falls
I saw the potential of Fairy Falls on a previous visit. This is the shot I visualised creating before we arrived; Abbey standing in front of the waterfall with a slow shutter speed (1/2 second) to blur the motion of the water. I asked her to keep still during the exposure so that she would stay sharp.
Chandee, Karekare Beach
I photographed Chandee walking along Karekare Beach at sunset. There’s a distinctive rocky outcrop in the sea and I wanted to include that in the background to make the location recognisable to people who are familiar with it. The sunlight in New Zealand in the summer is extremely strong, and I had to use a silver reflector to fill in Chandee’s right side, which would otherwise have been in deep shadow.
Auckland Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival celebrates the Chinese New Year. We went at night, and I used a prime lens at wide aperture to create photos with a blurred background. This one ended up on the cover of Beyond Thirds.
Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens
The head of this metal sculpture is only a few centimetres high, and getting this close to photograph it created an image with the background thrown completely out of focus. I was drawn to the bizarre, alienesque shape of the face.
More experiments with wide apertures, which is something I’ve been playing around with ever since I bought my 85mm prime lens nearly two years ago. The depth of field at f1.8, the maximum aperture of the lens, is extraordinarily narrow.
Here, I was playing around with slow shutter speeds. I panned the camera sideways during a two second exposure to create this blurred effect. The photo was taken at twilight, after sunset, and I pushed the colour temperature slider in Lightroom around until I got the deep blue colours I wanted.
Another photo created during twilight with a long exposure, this time three seconds. I held the camera in my hand and jiggled it a little to get the shaky effect.
Abbey, Herne Bay
A simple portrait, enhanced by running through Instagram on my iPad to get this effect. Originally taken with the intent of converting to black and white, I found the image was quite strong in colour too.
Dongtai Road antiques market, Shanghai
A chinese chess set photographed at Shanghai’s most well known outdoor antiques market. I like the monkeys.
Hong Kong at night
I wanted to create a photo of the Hong Kong skyline, but to get something a little different from the 20 or so other photographers that had set up on the waterfront with their tripods (admittedly, most of them were probably there for the lunar eclipse later that night). I made this near abstract image by focusing on the edge of building (a fast food outlet, from memory) on our side of the water and using a wide aperture to defocus the background.