My Best Photographs of 2013 by Neil Alexander

What a year that was eh? A new calendar is on the wall and there are my initials next to the date of every cheque I write for the next few weeks. So it's an ideal opportunity for a little reflection.

 Neist Point lighthouse on the Isle of Skye. One half decent morning of light if memory serves and that was it, but what an amazing place. My first trip proper here in 2013 and there's already a return trip in the diary for later this year. Blog post here.

I made around 20,000 images last year, although about a quarter of those were for timelapses. So it's nearer 15K of which a large proportion as always were filed under Trash. That makes it one of my lowest exposure counts to date. However, looking back over the last few years, an exercise I do every January, reinforced what I already felt to be my best year yet. Not necessarily from a business perspective (my financial year unfortunately ends in the middle of the summer) but certainly from a creative point of view. I feel that my work is of a better standard than ever before, which is extremely pleasing. Reflection over my previous years' work feels like I have the opportunity to take a baseball bat to the little demon that likes to pop up over my shoulder every now and then kindly shouting at me "You are crap and everything you're churning out is dirge". It's a very therapeutic exercise. It also provides me with the ability to see at the most elemental level how my direction as a photographer has changed. 

For your information, here are my previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009


 Click on any of the images for a larger version.

 The Eiffel Tower, Paris. Seems ages ago I was there. It's only actually a couple of months ago. I went partly for the Paris Photo exhibition, which was a little disappointing, but the Parisienne streets and landmarks provided ample inspiration to more than make up for it.

 This was a really fun day out. These guys were headed up catch the ferry to the Isle of Man for a blokes weekend hurtling around the lanes. I joined them as they met up on the M6 and photographed them all the way culminating with this carefully choreographed rolling roadblock so that I could get a photograph of them all together. There's more here.

The finely manicured beach at Deauville in Northern France. This beach is so well maintained it is quite unbelievable. Every morning a team clear up all the debris left from previous day and then two tractors turn over the sand removing any previous sign of human presence whatsoever. Bizarre.


 Blea Tarn. A trip to the Lake District that provided a great deal of wind and rain, and very little else.

Boathouse on Wast Water. This image wasn't made in the best of circumstances. There were 2 Search and Rescue Sea Kings searching the lake going round and round in circles for over an hour whilst I was there. It later transpired that they were searching for a diver who didn't reappear after diving to a sunken wreck in England's deepest lake. 

 The Forth Road and Railway Bridges, Edinburgh. After scouting the shot the previous night, a spur of the moment decision saw me dashing to a different location in the hope of making this photograph. The light performed and it worked a treat. Blog post here.

 Technically, this photograph was actually made towards the end of 2012, but it took me some months to finish the composition that I'd initially had in my mind when making the original photograph. There's more details on the Photoshop work that went into this here.

 Spur of the moment decision one weekend to head up to Snowdonia and make some photographs of my wee car. It was cold, really cold. Blog post here.

Bamford edge in the high peeks at dawn. I've headed up here. I should still here in the half light of predawn hoping for some colour in the sky. When that didn't pan out I don't go out a couple of XP 900s and started playing with some of the camera flash. The full SP is here.


 Finally, many of these images are available as fine art prints from my print shop.

Photographs of Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle by Neil Alexander

This post is the follow up to my post, "Scotland - the best landscape photography in the world?", and I thought I'd share the details of day two of my trip. As I stated in the previous post, the purpose of this trip was two-fold. First of all I wanted to get some great landscape photographs to put into my fine art print sales gallery, and also to do some investigation into possible locations for my forthcoming trip with M&M Photo Tours

After arriving back to Edinburgh from Oban, with a few detours along the way, I tried to head over to a spot I'd picked out using Google Maps to get some night photographs of Edinburgh Castle. Bear in mind here that it's probably the best part of a decade since I was last here and to my horror the entire city centre was in utter chaos. They are in the process of installing a tram system across the city which meant that all over the place roads are closed, diversions are in place, one-way systems now run the opposite way and even with a little knowledge of the road layouts and two sat nav systems, I ended up going round and round in ever increasing circles. Frustrated doesn't even come close. After about 2 hours I had to admit defeat. I returned to my lodgings determined to get the stock images I wanted in the morning.

Funnily enough, even in the darkness before dawn, I arrived exactly where I wanted to be almost straight away. This time though I had another problem. Edinburgh, like any other major British city at 4am on a Sunday morning, can be a rather boisterous and intimidating place to the stone cold sober photographer wandering around with thousands of pounds worth of kit on their back. Whilst I've grown quite attached to my gear over the years, I'm more attached to the prospect of keeping my head on my shoulders, my bones intact and my blood where it belongs, in my veins. I'm well practiced at whipping memory cards out of cameras in a flash (no pun intended) and would have no qualms at surrendering my gear should trouble arise but I simply prefer to try and avoid trouble in the first place. 

So I headed over to some slightly quieter parts of the city up towards the Mound and the Castle only to come very close to being dragged into a huge fracas outside a nightclub. When I find a scene worth making a photograph of, especially at night, it takes me a while. I like to set my tripod and carefully compose my image. Not exactly appropriate for an environment where loitering very quickly attracts unwanted interest.  

Fortunately by the time civil twilight rolled around at 5:30 things had quieted down somewhat. Unfortunately the weather hadn't. All prospect of an inspiring dawn had disappeared as the grey dank drizzle clouds rolled in. I made the most of what was available, but conscious of the length of the journey home and the various other places I wanted to drop in on, my time was limited. 

I'm happy with the photographs of Edinburgh Castle that I made, but I know that had the massive unsightly seating arrangement for the forthcoming Tattoo not been in place and the light better, I could certainly have done better. But you've got to make the best you can with what's available.


Straw Bales near Comrie, West Dunbartonshire

So there you go. That was my trip to Edinburgh and the Trossachs. Many of these images are available as stock images to licence or as fine art prints to purchase here. 

Next week, I'll post full details of the photo tour scheduled for April 2014. 

Incidentally, if you were wondering exactly where all these images were taken, each image has GPS co-ordinates embedded in the Exif data. Use a tool like "Exif Viewer" from the Google Chrome webstore to view embedded data, or work it out from my GPS tags here ;-)

Neil out.