2018 Photography Review

This is my fifth year of reviewing my photos like this - see also 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014.

2018 was a fantastic year for travel. It began with a return to Japan - ten years after I had left - for two weeks at Easter. I revisited sights in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, and added to them by travelling to Kanazawa and Kamakura. Japan has so much going for it, and the unique culture and delicious food mean that it remains my favourite country to travel to. Even though I was revisiting some sights for the fifth or sixth time, the fact that I hadn't been back for ten years meant I really enjoyed it. Particularly memorable was meeting up with some colleagues from ten years ago in Okayama. And, of course, there was the photography. Japan was where I bought my first DSLR - a Nikon D40 - but I was much more prepared this time.

In the summer I spent a month in the Central Asian Republics of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Each had its own unique draws: Kyrgyzstan the beautiful landscapes and nomad culture, Uzbekistan the Silk Road cities and tiled mosques, and Kazakhstan the city life of Almaty. Highlights included the triumphant trek to 3369m at Song Kol, staying in a yurt near Peak Lenin, the minarets of Khiva and Bukhara and the Registan of Samarkand.

The year ended with a minibreak to Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne in the south of France. Delicious duck, red wine and a cosy Airbnb were a lovely way to see in the New Year.

2019 promises to be another exciting year - a trip to Helsinki and St Petersburg at Easter, two cities I've visited before, but 14 years ago, and then a month-long jaunt to Peru, Bolivia and the north of Chile in the summer. I can't wait!

Notes

1 - One of my favourite shots from this trip, processed in an unusual way that emphasises the neon, otherwordly blue tones of Tokyo at night which contrasts with the traditional red lanterns and cherry blossoms.

2 - I took a number of long exposures on this trip, and the almost entirely deserted Higashi Chayagai in Kanazawa was perfect for experimentation. I took lots of shots without people, but the suggestion of the salaryman who walked through this frame makes the road feel very ghostly.

3 - Frantic, energetic dancing meant I had to fire off a number of shots to get this image - the dancer held this pose for half a second, and I was fortunate to capture it.

4 - What was taken as a snapshot turned into one of my favourite pictures from Tokyo. The high ISO doesn't detract from the image I don't think, while the range of transport - the cyclist, taxi, cars and train, along with the backdrop of west Shinjuku, presents something of a complete picture of the city at night.

5 - Trekking over the mountains to 3369m and reaching Song Kul lake was an exhausting but rewarding journey. Here I was being led by the son of a yurt owner to stay in their yurt for the night.

6 - I arrived in this town after a beautiful marshrutka ride from Osh. It's a sleepy village in a striking location, sandwiched between mountain ranges near the Tajikistan border.

7 - After visiting Peak Lenin base camp I walked back down to Tulpar Kul where I was staying. There was virtually nobody else around and the lakes were still and peaceful.

8 - The distinctive Kalta Minor is the highlight of a visit to Khiva, looming over this square at night.

9 - The framed Mir-i-Arab Madrassa is beautiful at sunset when hit by golden light.

10 - Samarkand is the triumphant highlight of the Silk Road cities, beautiful during the day but even more special at night.