Monthly Archives: December 2018

Favourite Images of 2018

This has been a fallow year as far as my photography is concerned.

I ran out of inspiration some time in mid-2017 and didn’t make a serious attempt at creating an image until June of this year, when I spent a fruitful week in the Peak District of England.

Although my muse deserted me for some unknown reason, I know exactly what brought her back – the natural beauty of dramatic landscapes. In June, it was the Peak District of England and, in October, the wilderness of West Virginia. Both had the same effect of inspiring me to take photos again.

It is not surprising, therefore, that images from those two locations feature prominently in this collection of my favorite photos of 2018. Nor is it surprising that barns, waterfalls and sunrises, among my favourite photographic subjects, dominate this collection of images.

All but two of these photos were taken on just two photography outings, which I suppose shows that I didn’t have a prolific year. However, when I did head out with my camera, I tried to focus on creating good-quality images, rather than shooting lots of exposures.

The year now closing has been a year of loss and deep sorrow. Here’s hoping for happier times ahead in 2019.

Roach End Barn on the western edge of the Peak District, Staffordshire, England.

 

The Staden Barns, near the village of Hartington, Derbyshire, England.

 

The Barn on Bonner Mountain, Tucker County, West Virginia.

 

The view from Dolly Sods wilderness, West Virginia, looking northeast at sunrise.

 

The view from Bear Rocks in Dolly Sods wilderness, West Virginia, just before sunrise.

 

Another view of the Staden Barns near Hartington, Derbyshire with the golden light of the rising sun bathing the side of the barns in warm light.

 

The North Forth of the Blackwater River tumbles over Douglas Falls in West Virginia.

 

Sunrise photographed from Bear Rocks, Dolly Sods wilderness, West Virginia.

 

Trees shrouded in early-morning fog on Bonner Mountain, Tucker County, West Virginia.

 

Twenty Trees above the village of Hayfield in the Peak District in Derbyshire, photographed in infrared at 590nm and converted to faux colour.

 

A male Northern Cardinal, photographed in my back garden.

 

The ruins of Ballygawley House in my native County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

 

(click on an image to enlarge it)

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Stone Barns of the Derbyshire Peak District

Limestone and gritstone field barns have been a defining feature of the landscape of the Peak District of Derbyshire for centuries.

Built by farmers using locally sourced stone, they fit naturally into the landscape from which they rose, even enhancing the natural beauty of the Derbyshire countryside.

Field barns explain how the countryside has been managed over the course of hundreds of years.

Such stone barns have served a variety of purposes, including housing cattle, lambing, milking, winter shelter and hay storage. They also serve as valuable wildlife habitats, as many birds build their nests in the barns’ eaves.

But, with recent changes in farming practices, many of these centuries-old buildings have slowly fallen into disrepair. Farmers are understandably reluctant to put money into maintaining them when they no longer serve any agricultural purpose.

Some stone barns have been converted into houses, a particularly regrettable change of use as the owners lay paved driveways, install utilities and park their cars nearby, fundamentally changing the character of the structures in ways incongruous with the surrounding natural landscape.


These two stone barns, called the Staden Barns, named for the family who built them, are among the prettiest of the many barns I photographed in the Peak District. They straddle a narrow country lane about half a mile southeast of the village of Hartington, on the western edge of the Peak District.

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Roach End Barn

During my solo photography tour of the Peak District this past June, one of the locations I was most looking forward to photographing was the famous (among photographers, at least) Roach End barn.

Roach End Barn at sunset

While most of the Peak District lies within the county of Derbyshire, the Roaches, in the southwest corner of the District, lies in Staffordshire, just north of the town of Leek.

The Roaches area is loved by hikers and climbers alike for its steep, rugged gritstone ridge. It groups together two main gritstone outcrops, Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud, both of which offer stunning panoramic views over much of Cheshire and, on a clear day, even as far west as Snowdonia in Wales.

But I came to The Roaches only to photograph this picturesque, tumbledown barn, which stands on a hillside semi-encircled by a clump of trees.

Though I was primarily interested in photographing the barn at sunset, I arrived in mid-afternoon and spent a few hours walking around the site, familiarizing myself with the scene and shooting the barn from different angles. I had seen so many inspirational photographs of the barn in the preceding years that I had to make a conscious effort to clear my mind of those images and seek out my own vision of it.

Finally, I settled on a composition from above the barn, shooting towards the west, looking out over the Cheshire plain. While the light had been flat during the first couple of hours of my visit, just as the sun sank to the west, a spectacular cloud moved across the sky from the southwest and was dramatically illuminated by the warm, pink light of the setting sun, which also lit up the brickwork of the barn with a warm, reddish glow (lead image).

(click on an image to enlarge it)

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