2018 was a year when I came back to nature photography with a vengeance. This wasn’t specifically a goal I had, but an outgrowth of other good habits like walking every day. As a retrospective I’d like to share my favourite photo from each of the months since the productivity started in May.
I don’t like to take my digital single-lens reflex camera every day. When I focus too much on getting the best image, I see things differently. Sometimes I miss the bigger picture. I pay less attention to sounds and other sensations. On no-camera days, I allow myself to use the camera on my phone as a way of note-taking, or to remember things I’d like to revisit with the DSLR. I take less time to compose these shots and the resolution isn’t as good, but sometimes the improv approach provides great results.
Two camera phone shots appear in this collection. This photo of a peony blooming beside the path into Twin Oaks Woods is a stunning example.
Macro photography takes us up close and personal with the wonders of nature. Insects, such as this Canadian tiger swallowtail, are one of my favourite things to photograph. Getting close enough and waiting for the right pose is a test of patience, but so rewarding.
See my album of macro photography.
The garden is an excellent supplier of beauty and imagery. We have only a small garden and several barrels outside our suburban home. Previously it was dedicated to vegetables, but given an easy supply of local summer produce, in 2018 I decided to dedicate it to herbs and flowers. My favourite rose is Abraham Darby. We planted one in memory of my mom, and it lost no time in beautifying the space.
The common green darner may be one of North America’s most common dragonflies, but I don’t recall ever seeing one this close. An expert told me its colouration and perfect condition indicate this adult had recently emerged and was probably still resting, explaining why it let me observe it for several minutes. With a wingspan of 8 cm (3.1 inches) it’s one of the largest living dragonflies. Dragonflies fascinate me with their predatory skill and intelligence. Showing so much exquisite, machine-like detail, this is one of favourite macro shots of all time.
See my album of insects and a few other invertebrates.
Having grown up on the shore of Lake Erie, I often miss the beach. Even though we’re surrounded by Great Lakes, it isn’t easy to make time to visit them especially in summer when the cottage draws us to Central Ontario. In September I needed a Great Lakes fix, so one quiet weekday my partner and I drove to Bayfield on Lake Huron.
Canada geese are among my least favourite birds. When I was a child they were uncommon, but now they are so abundant and adaptable they’re becoming a nuisance, invading the habitats of less aggressive waterfowl. Nevertheless this image captures the distinct atmosphere of the Great Lakes on a splendid summer day. I also like this photo because it’s reminiscent of my favourite art movement, French Impressionism, in this case specifically the famous Neo-Impressionist painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by George-Pierre Seurat.
See my album of Great Lakes photos.
Summer extended into October here in Ontario. Dandelions bloomed in the balmy weather and the playing field behind our house was a-flutter with the likes of this smoky sulphur. I lay on the ground and waited for it to crawl to the top of the flower for this portrait. It was exciting to see the details of its eye, and individual scales on its wings.
November can be profoundly dreary. In the past I’ve used that as an excuse not to go outside, exercise, or bother with photography. However, this year I have been deliberately getting to know Twin Oaks Woods, a piece of surprisingly mature deciduous forest less than a one-minute stroll from my front door. The woods drops its leaves and guard in the fall, opening secret spaces to those who pay attention.
I’ve been getting to know a particular dead tree stump, which I’ve named the Ancestral Tree. Without wildflowers and much foliage around to catch my eye, I’ve discovered many magical things about this one elder being. The stump seems to be especially conducive to camera phone shots like this one.
See my album devoted to the Ancestral Tree.
I’ll never blow off the November woods again.
December’s image is also part of the Ancestral Tree. Fungi are another one of my favourite things to photograph. Practicing several days a week has brought increasing satisfaction in working with a macro lens. This purple jelly drop fungus is smaller than my baby fingernail. This charming woodland sprite appeared during a thaw on the shortest day of the year.
See my album devoted to fungi and lichen.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective of images from 2018. Here’s to peace, beauty and light in 2019.