January 2021
January 2021 - New Year Challenges

As we enter 2021, one can be forgiven for thinking that little has changed as the month begins with yet another lockdown. Travel prohibitions restrict the scope for nature photographers - for example, my hope to photograph mountain hares this month is now 'on hold' - and we are forced to explore our own doorstep more closely. Nevertheless, I have found this quite refreshing as it has forced me to consider new subjects, opportunities and techniques. Being a photographer with an interest in landscape, wildlife, flowers and abstract patterns of nature, there is always something to capture or experiment with.

My 'go to' location for photography has always been Edinburgh's Water of Leith which virtually passes my doorstep. I have been frequenting one stretch in hope of seeing otters and kingfishers but, of course, they rarely appear to order. While I have seen a kingfisher, the otters remain elusive but in the downtime during each visit there is so much more to photograph and I have been working on capturing dead and withering leaves and flower-heads against the river. A male goosander has now also appeared along this particular stretch and providing some further photographic opportunities. However, my pursuit of the kingfisher and otter will continue throughout January.

I also spent a sunny afternoon on the Firth of Forth photographing sea birds. Teal were in abundance but an eider and a curlew came close enough to grab some images. A flock of lapwings took off and circled back and forth, while white egrets explored the vicinity.

The results of Holland's Nature Photographer of the Year competition are usually announced at their annual weekend conference. Covid forced last month's event to be cancelled but the organisers staged a virtual conference instead with over 20 talks given by a variety of respected presenters on all aspects of wildlife, landscape and environmental photography. Some of the presentations were fascinating while others were inspiring and the insights into the techniques used were extremely valuable. It was a true festival of photography and the organisers deserve credit for their innovation.

So... what are my New Year resolutions for 2021? Given the restrictions that Covid has imposed upon us, I think I shall keep it simple this year: to photograph more creatively. I shall look to experiment more extensively with high and low key imagery, slower shutter speeds and intentional camera movement. Experimentation will be the key and many images will be deleted but, with luck and increasing experience, innovation and creativity may hopefully emerge...