My best of 2009 / by Neil Alexander

Finally, I've managed to go through the thousands of images I shot last year and select my favourite image from each month. I meant to do this last year, but what with one thing and another, I never managed to get round to it, but this year I've forced myself to set aside sufficient time. It's been quite an interesting exercise all in all, and I can really see how my skills have developed over the year. Unfortunately though, there are only 11 images rather than 12 as it appears as though June was a very lean month for me photographically speaking. Don't ask me why! I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, nevermind why my image count for that month is rather low. I haven't applied any particular selection criteria (composition, lighting, technique etc), other than they are my personal favourites. Anyway, I hope you enjoy....For a full slideshow, go here - http://gallery.fillfactorphotography.com

[caption id="attachment_759" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - January - Dawn in the Peak District"]

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The above image was shot on a trip up into the Peak District very early on a January morning. It was very cold, but all in all quite a successful jaunt, apart from my run in with a rather irate bull who wasn't too keen on my disrupting his breakfast! Read more here.

[caption id="attachment_787" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - February - Dawn in Dunham"]

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This was taken again early in the morning, just after sun up as you can see. I'd had a fairly fruitless excursion to this point, seemingly driving around endlessly looking for "that shot". I'd been about to call it a day and head home to the warmth when I rounded a bend and saw this group of trees in front of me. Eventually the sun crested the horizon, and I positioned myself so that it was right behind the middle tree. At the time, I wasn't convinced it was all that great an image, but having since gone back into it and applied some new HDR skills that I've acquired from Trey Ratcliff (the HDR guru), I'm much happier with it now.

[caption id="attachment_763" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - March - Fans leaving Old Trafford"]

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Over the years, I've shot thousands of photographs of football fans for various assorted projects with different cameras and films. It's only recently that I've been using a DSLR for this, as its not guaranteed that you're even going to be allowed to get a camera into Old Trafford these days. So when actually going to watch a game, I still often take a film or a P&S camera with me. However for this game (if memory serves it was the Liverpool game where we got hammered ) I'd decided that bravado was going to get me past security (there was no way I was going to miss the game, or leave my camera at the turnstile), which was just as well as I manged to get a whole bunch of keepers before and after the game. More here.

[caption id="attachment_765" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - April - Sunset over Rostherne Mere"]

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This image was from a trip out to Rostherne Mere near Tatton one spring evening. I had intended on making some images in the graveyard of the church behind me here, but I got chatting to some old dear who was tending to a grave, and she suggested that I go round the other side of the church and look at the view there. I knew that this little lake existed, but I had no idea how you got to it, until she pointed out a path through the undergrowth. So I packed up my gear and wandered off, accompanied by her little dog and discovered this view. It was lovely and peaceful here and I must have stayed for a couple of hours as the sun went down. The whole time I was there,  I had the little pooch for company - it must have been wondering what the hell I was doing, but it didn't mind me rambling away and was actually a really good listener.

[caption id="attachment_817" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - May - Dry Dock, Malta"]

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A family holiday to Malta in May produced this image. It was taken around dawn in the bay of Marsascala. I used the bow of a boat to make the foreground, and the waterline and harbour of Marsascala as the background. For more from this trip, go here.

[caption id="attachment_767" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - July - Bridal Shoot in Wiltshire"]

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In July I took an on-location lighting workshop with the inspirational Terry Hewlett (www.terryhewlett.com). We shot primarily with Terry's Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit, and it proved to be an invaluable learning experience. Read more here.

[caption id="attachment_769" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - August - Sunset over Southport Pier"]

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August saw me paying several dawn & dusk visits to Southport pier with a view to capturing the pier at sunset. More here

[caption id="attachment_771" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - September - Faked sunrise over The Wishing Bridge by Lymm Dam"]

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In September, I was commissioned to produce an image of Lymm Dam. This image was taken on an initial recce to work out what and when to shoot. The light was so grey and drab that I thought I'd have a little play and see if I could re-create a sunrise over this little bridge. More here

[caption id="attachment_773" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - October - Sunset over Lymm Dam"]

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This is one of the final shots I produced for the above commission. Original post here.

[caption id="attachment_775" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - November - Model shoot in Stockport"]

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This image was taken as part of a shoot for the Boundaries project that I'm working on. More here

[caption id="attachment_777" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Neil Alexander's Best of 2009 - December - Car shoot in the Yorskhire snow"]

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Around New Year, I was over in East Yorkshire shooting a little here and there. This image was taken just as the light was beginning to fade, and is one of the first good images I've taken with my new Lensbaby Composer. It was a relatively long exposure as I wanted streaked car lights in the background. As it turned out, I was just about to pack up when a snow plough came around the corner lights blazing. It was going quite slowly, but my exposure time was long enough to produce a nice long blur.

Anyway, there you have it - my personal favourites of 2009. Here's hoping 2010 is even better!