The 25 Best Photos I’ve taken this year…

At the start of 2018 I got a brand new camera. I had several years of disinterest in photography after graduating with a Broadcast Journalism degree in 2014 and feeling like I’d be glad to never see an edit suite again. This year, through some prompting and inspiration, I decided to take the plunge and take up a lens again. Camera’s have changed a lot and rather than going down the DSLR route, I opted for a Sony Mirrorless system (the A6000) and a small collection of lovely lenses that I’ve listed with the images. Here’s my favourite photos from the year.

Animals

scottish stag at sunset

This Scottish Stag at sunset was snapped on the Glen Etive road that James Bond drives in the movie Skyfall. I couldn’t believe I caught this moment.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

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This is a Kea, the New Zealand Alpine Parrot. It’s the smartest bird in the world, but also one of the rarest. There may be as few as 3,000 of these left in the wild. I spotted this one at the top of Rob Roy’s Glacier near Wanaka in the South Island. I couldn’t believe my luck. Minutes later, it came right up to me and started undoing my shoelaces with its beak.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

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These migrating geese flew over my head on a cloudy day in East Lothian, Scotland. I’d just finished a several thousand mile journey from New Zealand and they’d just finished a several thousand mile journey from Greenland and we found ourselves all meeting in Scotland for a moment.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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I love taking photos of animals as if they are portraits of humans. The ear tag on this Lake District cow tells us she’s called Machete Marigold. So many questions…

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

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The New Zealand Tui is a beautiful songbird with a tufted white throat. It has two voiceboxes so it can sing a beautiful tune whilst beatboxing at the same time.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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A busy bee in the garden at my parents house. I don’t have a dedicated macro lens so I have to use extension tubes. I also manually focus so shots like this are when having a camera that can shoot 11fps is really handy.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8 + extension tubes)

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This cheery little chappy was chirping away up in the Lost Valley in Glencoe, Scotland. I feel like he must have been very well fed…

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

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This is the worlds rarest penguin, the Yellow Eyed Penguin just returning home after a day of fishing off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

gecko nz

I absolutely bloody love gecko’s. I was so pleased when I discovered they’re kicking around in New Zealand.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

People and Portraits

katie edinburgh

First up, this is the girl that got me interested in photography again. Follow her on instagram at @kitty_travels. Her photography is stunning and her passion and playfulness behind the lens is what inspired me to pick up a camera. This photo was taken the day she quit her job to go and travel the world. It snowed and we went walking up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and used the whole city as a backdrop of bokeh. That cheeky grin is because she knows that adventure is on the horizon.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

Dom in the mist

This is my friend Dom. We used to live together in Leeds and this photo was taken on his birthday halfway up Ben Cruachan in Scotland. The weather was typically Scottish so I just took a tiny little manual prime lens up the mountain, thinking there would be limited scope for photos anyway. We discovered the Cruachan Dam and recognised it as the one that appeared in the fantastic BBC show Stag. Dom walked across it and I snapped this as he disappeared into the mist.

(Lens: 7Artisans 25mm F1.8)

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This is Rhys Williamson, long-time fringe collaborator and my best friend. His girlfriend Michelle looks on in the background as we wander around the Tate Modern in London.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

kaylee qing modern art gallery

I think this is my favourite portrait photo from the whole year. I met Qing in the summer when she was visiting the UK from China and she might just be the most photogenic model you could imagine. I snapped this outside the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

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This is my friend Ben in the background chastising his son Beren for some minor annoyance as we climb Jack’s Rake in the Lake District. Beren is cheeky enough to call bullshit on his dad now, which makes for funny interactions. Two hours after this was taken, I fell on the hill, smashed my head on a rock and had to be airlifted to hospital. I felt calm and well-looked after for the whole journey. Without these two, the other friends I was with and the support of the Mountain Rescue and Air Ambulance, I can imagine it would have felt a lot more unnerving.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

airlifting new zealand chris cook

Speaking of airlifting, here’s one of my favourite action shots from the year. This was in New Zealand on Wharariki Beach. Two swimmers had been stranded on an offshore island in a nasty riptide and couldn’t get off. The air rescue team were fantastic and winched them both to safety.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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This accompanying image shows the pilot and medic walking back to the helicopter after dropping them both on the beach. Could they look any more like heroes?

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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This is Ava Beaux, one of my favourite magicians in the UK and someone I’m so proud to call my friend. She came to visit me in Edinburgh and I snapped this as we went to explore the Christmas markets.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

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The green room. This is my comedian friend Okello Dunkley putting the final touches to his opening set in our little backstage room in Vienna about 15 minutes before we go on stage.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

surfer on piha beach

This is in the stunning Waitakere range, west of Auckland in New Zealand. Whilst everyone else on Piha Beach is looking at Lion rock, I was looking at this lone surfer as he was looking at the tide… deciding if he was braving one last wave.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

Landscapes

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This is Wanaka’s famous willow with wet feet. It’s probably the most photographed tree in the whole of New Zealand. So how do you do it differently? You take 128 separate photos then digitally overlay them all to create this smooth, rippled reflection.

(Lens: Sony 50mm F1.8)

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I flipping love space and how utterly transfixing the Milky Way was from almost anywhere in New Zealand.

(Lens: Samyang 12mm F2)

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Scottish skies do this a lot, but sometimes, if you just go with it, you can get some lovely results.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

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These Scottish themed prayer flags were hanging in the middle of McCaig’s Tower in Oban.

(Lens: Sigma 30mm F1.4)

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This is Ngarahoe in New Zealand, used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films. It was steaming plenty on the scorching hot day I hiked the Tongariro alpine crossing.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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This is the Mueller Hut overlooking Mt Cook/Aoraki. From here, I made the short scramble to the top of Mt Ollivier, the first mountain that Edmund Hilary climbed. He would of course later go on to be the first to summit Everest.

(Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4)

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