Top 9 Photos of 2018

My Favourite Photos for the Year and the Story Behind Them - Plus Some Tips on Capturing Similar Photos!

2018 was a pretty special year with some great memories along my photography journey. In terms of travel, I was lucky enough to have two wonderful trips to Japan. Unfortunately no new countries to the list this year (so expect mostly Japan photos in the countdown!)

For each of the 9 photos I'll be giving a bit more information about the photo itself, the location and a few tips on how to capture a similar photo at these places. Let’s get started!

NUMBER 9

WALKING THE STREETS OF KYOTO

Location: Streets of Gion - Kyoto, Japan

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM lens  ISO 100 | f1.8 | 1/500 sec

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM lens

ISO 100 | f1.8 | 1/500 sec

 

It’s hard to explain why this shot made the list, but here goes... This year I found comfort walking through the streets of Japan and just capturing simple moments like this. Like moments in life sometimes those simple unplanned photos have greater meaning.

Tips for getting this type of photo:

  • Be in it to win it - when looking for any street moments, you need to be in it to win it. The more you shoot, the greater chance you have of finding an interesting scene or moment to capture.

  • Don’t put pressure on getting that one shot though. Just enjoy the moment and take in the scenes around you. Start taking a few frames and enjoy the process.

  • The soft golden light just before sunset or early morning before the sun gets too high are always ideal for me. This can often be the best time to capture interesting scenes as well, such as commuters to / from work or stand alone figures in the early morning.

  • Keep an eye out for interesting weather conditions that may also make a shot more memorable.

  • I mostly use longer lenses when shooting street, either the 135mm Sigma lens used here, because of the amazing depth it produces or a 70-200mm zoom lens. For me, this means you don’t need to get up too close and personal to capture emotive shots - which I really prefer.

NUMBER 8

SYDNEY SUNRISE CLASSICS

Location: Dawes Point Reserve - Sydney, Australia

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens + 10 Stop ND Filter  ISO 320, f/11, 80 sec

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens + 10 Stop ND Filter

ISO 320, f/11, 80 sec

 

This one was captured during early 2018, summer here in Sydney. It was taken at sunrise from Dawes Point Reserve, slightly closer towards the city side. I've shot this location on many occasions and it always brings back strong memories to my early days of photography, coming here on my own to capture this classic sunrise view of the Opera House. Out of all those mornings this one was easily my favourite to date.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Again the more you shoot the higher the chances of getting those ideal conditions, however, it doesn’t hurt to check conditions when planning. There are a number of sites you can check cloud coverage and also where the sun rises at different times of year for the ideal shot. For something like this with plenty of colour you want plenty of high cloud and little to no low cloud.

  • Use an ND filter - this shot I used a 10 Stop ND filter and cranked my shutter up to 80 sec. Without an ND filter I would not be able to get the same effect across the water with this light.

  • Take multiple frames and angles - if you don’t have a graduated filter also think about taking multiple exposures before moving your camera to a new frame - this really helps in post if you want to create a different layer for the sky and the foreground. Not something I did on this shot but can be very useful!

NUMBER 7

PERSEVERANCE

Location: Lake Kawaguchi / Mount Fuji - Fujikawaguchiko, Japan

 
Canon EOS 6D with Sigma f/1.4 DG HSM lens  ISO 100 | f/1.4 | 1/2500 sec

Canon EOS 6D with Sigma f/1.4 DG HSM lens

ISO 100 | f/1.4 | 1/2500 sec

 

This shot was a while in the making. After first visiting this location early in 2018, I was unable to get the shot I was after. Having two opportunities at this time, unfortunately neither were great conditions and I failed to get anything I was happy with. I was lucky enough to get another opportunity later in the year when travelling with my girlfriend, Michelle. After yet another failed attempt with Fuji hiding behind thick cloud for over 24 hours, we were finally greeted with a calm and clear morning on our final chance to capture Mount Fuji across the lake.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Get out of bed! This place is best at sunrise, but can also work well at sunset if you need another chance to see Fuji!

  • If you’re staying in the area give yourself at least a few opportunities to try to capture this shot or see Mount Fuji. Although this is not always possible on a holiday schedule with so many places to see, often it’s the case where people stay 1 night here and may miss seeing Mount Fuji all together.

  • Look for the perfect frame - there is plenty of different angles across the lake to Mount Fuji - spend some time and go for a walk during the day to pick your spot.

  • Look for interesting subjects like these fishermen or some trees to really add to the shot.

NUMBER 6

EXPLORING DEEP INTO NAGANO

Location: Togakushi Shrine - Nagano , Japan

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 lens  ISO 1600 | f/9.0 | 1/50 sec

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 lens

ISO 1600 | f/9.0 | 1/50 sec

 

As photographers you always hope and wish for the perfect conditions, but it’s pretty rare you get lucky like this particular day. After parking the car and beginning the long walk between these epic trees, we were gifted with the perfect amount of snow falling from the sky. This was definitely one of my favourite memories from the year and a wonderful experience.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Shoot wide to show scale.

  • Add a human element to help further show that scale.

  • Remember you only get lucky if you show up.

NUMBER 5

PERFECT WINTER CALMNESS

Location: Matsumoto Castle - Matsumoto, Japan

 
Canon EOS 6D with Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 lens  ISO 100 | f/9.0 | 1/125 sec

Canon EOS 6D with Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 lens

ISO 100 | f/9.0 | 1/125 sec

 

After traveling for over a week on a pretty heavy schedule, consisting of long days of shooting and consecutive early morning sunrise missions, it would be easy to miss a sunrise and stay in bed, especially when it’s 0 degrees outside. Lucky for us, we braved the cold and the early start to capture Matsumoto Castle on a perfectly calm Winter’s morning. Another morning well spent in 2018.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Again, get yourself out of bed! Best at sunrise.

  • Shoot reasonably wide to fit the entire stunning reflection.

  • Look for a calm day if possible to capture the clearest reflection.

  • Many swans swimming and birds flying overhead make a great frame, don’t worry there are plenty to capture!

NUMBER 4

TOKYO BURN

Location: Tokyo Skytree - Tokyo, Japan

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF f/2.8L II USM Lens  ISO 100 | f/4.5 | 1/100 sec

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF f/2.8L II USM Lens

ISO 100 | f/4.5 | 1/100 sec

 

Again I was quite lucky with these conditions, I’ve only ventured up the Skytree on this one occasion. I have shot Tokyo from numerous other high vantage points across the city, but this day was the best sunset I’ve witnessed. The Skytree is definitely an amazing place to see the full scale and crazy density that is Tokyo. I definitely recommend checking it out if you don’t mind fighting the crowds!

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • If you plan on shooting sunset (which I recommend), give yourself plenty of time to get up there before sunset. There is often a wait, as a foreigner you can purchase an express ticket which I also recommend. Once up there you want time to check out the view before sunrise and pick your spot - it will get busy.

  • Shoot wide for scale, but take a few different lenses for some different angles.

NUMBER 3

WINTER SUNRISE VIEWS

Location: Chureito Pagoda - Fujiyoshida, Japan

 
Canon EOS 6D with EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens  ISO 100, f/11, 30 sec

Canon EOS 6D with EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

ISO 100, f/11, 30 sec

 

I’ve climbed up these steps to the Chureito Pagoda 4 times this year and it’s safe to say I’ve got a few shots here. This Winter morning was a stunning one though. Although we had hoped for a little more colour, sunrise was still pretty special, as the sunlight began to hit the snow capped Mount Fuji, I began to take several different frames including this one. This location would definitely be in my top 5 views / places ever visited and I’m sure I’ll likely see it again one day.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Shoot a range of perspectives, this one is using a 24-70mm lens but you can go much wider or even more tight to get a totally different shot.

  • Give yourself a couple of opportunities if possible. I’ve climbed these steps in the dark only to be greeted with thick cloud in front of Mount Fuji during sunrise.

  • No doubt beautiful in all seasons but remember the amount of snow on Fuji will vary and so will the likelihood of seeing Mount Fuji due to cloud.

NUMBER 2

GEISHA MOMENTS IN KYOTO

Location: Streets of Gion - Kyoto, Japan

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM lens  ISO 1600 | f/1.8 | 1/160 sec

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM lens

ISO 1600 | f/1.8 | 1/160 sec

 

There’s something pretty special about seeing the traditional Geishas of Kyoto still walking to old narrow streets of the old town. A commitment to their art that continues in this modern day is a special sight to see. This one made the list as it was my favourite street shot of the year.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Very similar to Number 9 in terms of my street photography tips.

  • In addition here, stay as respectful as possible. Although many tourists will follow with cameras, I like to keep my distance and use a longer lens when getting these type of shots.

NUMBER 1

CHASE YOUR DREAMS

Location: Somewhere near Shirato Falls - Fujinomiya, Japan

 
Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM lens  ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/4000 sec

Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM lens

ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/4000 sec

 

This particular shot makes number 1 for a few reasons. Although I really love the result, it also made top spot due to wonderful memories I have of this entire day. It started with Michelle and I waking up nice and early to view sunrise at Lake Kawaguichi before hitting the road and driving to Shirato Falls. We drove through some beautiful scenery along the way with our music pumping out of our little Japanese cube. After visiting the stunning Shirato Falls we went for a bit of an explore of the area, looking for an interesting view of Mount Fuji, since it was a nice clear day. When I saw this long straight road leading towards Mount Fuji, I knew exactly the shot I wanted to get.

Sometimes the best photos are those moments and places you stumble on by chance, this was definitely one of those. When I say chance its not all luck, we specifically went for a drive trying to find a unique view of Mount Fuji. We had no idea what we would find though and if we didn’t give ourselves the chance to look then we would have missed out. That in mind, sometimes you’ll explore and find nothing, as is life. You can still enjoy the process though.

Tips for getting a similar shot:

  • Explore the area and take the chances you have!

  • Again this shot without the human element would be a lot less interesting. Always think how you can improve a shot.

  • Experiment with a few different frames and ideas if it’s a location you really like.

 
 

Thank you for following along with me and I hope you have enjoyed my favourite photos for the year. Please hit me up if you have any questions on these photos or locations and I’d be happy to share more!

And… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

BRING ON 2019