Saturday 31 December 2011

Top 10 Images of 2011

Well, it's now the end of the year and it seems an appropriate time for me to reflect upon my photography over the past 12 months.

Generally speaking, I'm fairly happy with how things panned out photographically this year. There are a small group of images that I'm very happy with while a few others fill gaps in my collection even if they're nothing special photographically speaking.

A few observations I could make are that I don't think I have ever taken so few non-macro images (e.g. birds and mammals) as I have this year. To some extent this was deliberate but it was also circumstantial as well. For instance, the mild weather this autumn and winter has certainly limited the opportunities for photographing small birds at feeding stations and in my garden. Another observation I could make is that I normally take a greater number of fungi images but, again, the dry autumn meant there was very little fungi around this year compared to previous years. Finally, I think I've had a greater number of images published this year than in previous years though sadly I had no success in the major competitions despite having one or two shortlisted.

So what are my plans for next year? I don't have anything too specific planned but I do intend to continue to experiment and to try different styles. Watch this space for more details....

Having looked back over this year's images I thought I would draw up a list of my favourite 10 images taken in 2011. This is not an easy task as often an image will mean a lot to me for reasons that wouldn't be obvious to anyone else viewing the image. For instance, I may appreciate an image because I had been trying to capture a certain behaviour for some time or because the image was one that I had pre-planned. Nevertheless, the following images, in no particular order, would be those that I'm probably most proud of.

Black Ant (Lasius niger) drinking on a foxglove: I find these tiny black ants (3-5mm in length) very difficult to photograph due to their small size and the fact that they are always on the move. I like the fact that I managed to photograph this one side-on and I also like the striking pink backdrop.

Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly: The reason I like this image is partly the combination of the perch and background colours (it's a field of buttercups) but also because the day before I took this image I was lucky enough to observe this dragonfly emerge from its larval form.

A mating pair of Syrphus ribesii hoverflies: It's always nice to capture insect behaviour and I particularly like the fact that the female is having a drink...!

Glowing Snail: I like this image of sunlight shining through a small snail mainly because it's a little different.

A Large Red Damselfly emerging from its larval stage: The process through which dragonflies and damselflies transform from their aquatic nymphal stage into the adult stage never ceases to amaze me. I like the position of the damselfly in this image as it tries to push its way free of the exuvia.

A Seven-Spot Ladybird feeding on an Aphid: I had been trying to capture this behaviour for a while and was very pleased to capture a series of detailed images showing ladybirds eating aphids.

Black and White Woodlouse: This image was taken back in March but it was only very recently that I decided to have a go at producing a menacing looking black and white version. I'm sure it's not to everyone's tastes but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and I like the fact that it's a fairly unusual image.

Horse Fly (or Cleg Fly): I've been trying to get a decent image of a Horse Fly's eyes for some time but Horse Flies can be very skittish. I was pleased with the composition of this one.

Fly Agaric wideangle: As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a big fan of 'wideangle macro' style images. They're difficult to do well, and this one is far from perfect, but I was still quite pleased with how it came out.

Black Ant trying to 'milk' an aphid: This behaviour is very difficult to capture for the same reasons as I've given for the Black Ant image above. Again, I like the fact that I've managed to capture the ant and aphid side-on in the second or two for which they paused. Ideally a globule of honeydew would be present although the image would then tell a different story to this image which shows an increasingly frustrated ant resorting to clambering onto the aphid in an attempt to get it to secrete some honeydew.

So there you have it, an entirely personal and subjective selection of some of my favourite images of the year. I'm looking forward to next year already...


  1. Well its certainly a top 10 I'd be chuffed with.

    Keep up the good work Matt :)

  2. Very good, text, nice to read this this far in a cold summer morning, there is a lesson at least for me in your report of subject avaliability, coming from 3 years of insect photography I was challenged with very few insects this year. And look for aditional subjects to keep my photography going.

    About the selected images, all of them are very good nature moments, for me the most outstanding are the glowing snail and the emerging damsefly. Hope you a lot of photography luck for you in the next year.

  3. many thanks Neil and Gustavo. Best of luck finding insects Gustavo....

  4. Hi there
    This are ten really great pictures! Love the glowing snail and your drinking black ant!
    Greetings from Switzerland & Happy new year!
    Yvonne & Raphael

  5. A nice selection, showing your versatility! The Four-spotted Chaser is just beautiful - and I love the black and white woodlouse!

    Wishing you all the best for a peaceful and happy 2012.

  6. thanks very much Rachel. Wishing you the best for 2012 as well.

  7. Hi Matt,

    A super series of shots, the drinking Black Ant is my favourite by a country mile.

  8. Thank you for your useful topic