A year in review

Hello and Happy New Year!
It’s been too long; really it has. What with exams and all, the time has just rushed past. The stress of it all has lead to a massive decrease in my photographic output, but that’s fine. I think it’s a good idea to look back after a year, and see what’s changed – what’s improved, what really hasn’t. What changes did you make in your photography that helped define your style?
Let me start with this blog. WordPress sent me an email a few days ago; a summary of 2010. What does it show? Good question. Apparently, some 6900 people took a look at the blog; that’s 17 full Boeing 747’s worth of people. Most of these came from Stumbleupon, but many came from WordPress.com, where the blog was featured twice. The most popular post was The Colours of Corsica, which fetched 858 views in one day.
2010, for me personally, was a particularly awful year. However, it had some touching and wonderful photographic moments for me: foxes and pheasants in Holyrood Park; up close and extremely personal with gulls on Inchcolm Island; stunning sunsets and curious critters in Corsica. I got to work on techniques I was not (and still am not) very good at, like HDR and panoramas. I know that I improved a great deal in technique and skill over the course of the last year.
The biggest determinant in what and who you become as a photographer is yourself; you have to push yourself to go out again and again. I go out some days, and come back with less than ten pictures, but I still gain something from the experience. It’s a learning game, and the best teacher is not me (though I wish that were true), or some book or website; the best teacher is you. You have to teach yourself. Sure there are some skills you pick up from other photographers, and the jargon is acquired with time, but the only way you can develop your personality into your photography is to make it part of who you are.
I like that when I talk to people I’ve met before some time in the past, they say to me, not “hey, aren’t you that geek who has a blog and likes animals?”, but “hey, aren’t you that photographer? Yeah I’ve seen your photo blog.” or “hey, aren’t you the guy who walked around halls with a huge lens over his shoulder and a giant tripod?”. I am proud to tell people I am a wildlife photographer, because despite being one of many hobbies, it has become much more than a hobby for me. Sure, i’m not earning my keep off of it, but hey, I’m a student. That can come when it needs to. Until then I will love my craft, and continue to work to improve it.
I digress; 2011 is going to be an insane year. To start it off, I am going to be doing some very exciting changes regarding this blog specifically, and in general, so watch this space over the next two weeks. My life is going to be very thinly spread for the forseeable future, but I am sure that, as spring rolls in (see what I did there? spring rolls? oh my), you can expect a great deal of photography from me. I am anxious to get out and shoot some wildlife again.
This summer, all exams passed and applications approved, I will be returning to Madagascar! Not for one month this time, but for nearly three it seems. The primary reason for going is admittedly research, but armed with the skills that I acquired in 2009 and 2010 and some of Nikon’s finest, I will be taking as many awesome photographs as I possibly can. Working in aims of conservation and research, I hope to have some seriously unique opportunities, and bring back some great shots.
I hope your year ahead is an equally exciting prospect, and that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were excellent. If you find the winter draining, as I do, remember, that the it brings the crisp, cold air that makes for wonderful landscapes, and bears from it spring – the best time of the year for the nature photographer. Plan your spring ahead – be ready for the beautiful pictures to unfold.
Keep clicking,

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