2016 Review - Steven Martin

2016 Photography Review

2016 turned out to be a productive year for travel and photography, despite my initial suspicions that this wouldn't be the case. In the summer of 2015, trips to Greece and Indonesia marked a break between my life in publishing in London and my life in teaching in Birmingham. 2016 looked like it would be much more sedate, at least at first. Yet I managed a short break to Copenhagen at Easter, two trips in the summer and a short break at the very end of the year. In the summer I visited Andalucia (Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla) and the Algarve for two weeks, then came home for a week before heading off on a backpacking trip to Georgia and Armenia. I also went on a school trip to Devon that allowed me to photograph the beautiful English countryside for the first time, and I developed an interest in still life and food photography that has helped me expand my stock photography portfolio in new directions (with first sales coming this month!). Finally, in late December I visited Venice for a few days over New Year's.

A short break to Copenhagen in early April

A few days staying in the Norrebro district of Copenhagen, exploring the city and the nearby Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund, across the Bridge. Norrebro had a great vibe, with plenty of hipster pubs and eateries. Highly recommended!

School trip to Devon in late May

A photo walk one evening during a school trip with some students during my training year yielded an impressive haul of 'sunset over field' photos. There was also the rugged beauty of the windswept beach at Slapton Sands. It's a beautiful part of England that I wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to visit.

Summer trip one - Andalucia (Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla), the Algarve

Andalucia is a vibrant, diverse part of Spain, with some outstanding food and four of the greatest buildings I have ever seen - the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Cordoba, and Seville Cathedral and the Alcazar in Seville. We decided to combine a week in this area with a week of relaxation in the Algarve. Despite being dominated by families and resorts, our stay at Casa Meranka, based in the small village of Figueira, proved perfect.

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    The Alhambra, Granada - I have sunny versions of this image too, but the grey clouds add to the imposing feel of this astonishing fortress

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    Two women in the centre of Granada

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    Woman at Mezquita, Cordoba: I like the composition of this image, in the courtyard outside the impressive Mezquita

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    Plaza Espana, Sevilla

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    Skateboarding under Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

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    Fisherman on Salema Beach, Algarve: this fisherman conjures up a romantic image of what I think of as the simple life of a seaside town like this

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    Woman standing on the beach at Sagres, Algarve

Summer trip two - Georgia and Armenia

I have written elsewhere about this trip, but the highlight was definitely the stunning mountain scenery of the Upper Caucasus in the Svaneti region, and I would encourage people to spend time in both Mestia and Ushguli if you visit. The monasteries and churches of Georgia and Armenia were another highlight. Plus you get the benefits of visiting two countries that have relatively few tourists, meaning that if you're lucky, you'll have some of these wonderful sights all to yourself!

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    Clouds gather in the valley from Ushguli to Shkhara Glacier: I had this incredible view pretty much entirely to myself

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    Watchtower between two buildings in Ushguli, Svaneti

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    View towards Shkhara Glacier from Ushguli, Svaneti: quite a sight to wake up to

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    Sapara Monastery, Georgia: beautiful remote monastery with stunning interior to the main church

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    Man in Geghard Monastery, Armenia: this image isn't as sharp as I'd like, but I certainly managed to get the moment I was looking for

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    Khor Virap, Armenia: with Mount Ararat in the background, the 'traditional resting place of Noah's Ark'

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    Akhtala Monastery, Armenia: highly recommended alongside the much more touristed nearby Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries

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    Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia: this iconic church overlooks the Georgian Military Highway and the town of Kazbegi

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    Sunset over Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi: the church silhouetted at sunset was a dramatic sight

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    Ananuri Fortress, Georgia

Food and still life: cactus on blue background

My photography has always been led by travel, so I've enjoyed branching out this year into more still life and food photos. This is one of my favourites - an 'ultra sharp' cactus on a nice blue background, taken with my 50mm 1.8 lens. 

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Winter trip to Venice

After a long first term of teaching between my summer trip to Georgia and Armenia and the Christmas holidays, I got the chance to go away again over New Year's. This proved to be one of my most productive trips photographically ever. I was delighted with the overall quality of my work from this visit to both the main island of Venice and the incredibly picturesque island of Burano. This was the first trip in which I really used my tripod extensively - as well as trying out an ND1000 filter.

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    Milano Centrale train station; I like the sun streaming in from the outside

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    Venice is the perfect place for long exposure photography - to get the starbursts here I used a small aperture.

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    Too HDR-ey? I'm not a massive fan of obvious HDR processing, but here I think it makes the Grand Canal look like a painting

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    To smooth the water on the Grand Canal in the middle of the day, I used an ND filter at f8 for 20 seconds.

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    Another ND filter shot from the island of Burano.

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    There is a lot going on here, but the colours make this a winner for me, as the sun sets behind the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

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    I like the colours and composition of this simple night shot of a Venice canal.

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    I woke up for sunrise on New Year's Day to be presented with this sight in front of the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore

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    The usually busy St Mark's Square was fairly quiet, save for a few eager morning runners, a few partygoers returning home - and the odd keen photographer!

I've narrowed down these top thirty-one images to a top ten - go here to see the final selection.