Best photos from 2016

31st December 2016
The year 2016 may be remembered for political turmoil, but it was also a year full of interesting weather and memorable photographic moments. Here I present a selection of my personal favourite adventures from 2016:

Dartmoor Pony.
I had just missed some stunning light. Warm, saturated and dramatic, but clouds had shifted and blocked out the sun just as I reached Staple Tor. I was very dispirited, however this pony seemed to sense malaise, and trotted over to cheer me up! He (she?) posed for several shots, right up close so I could use the wide angle lens before letting off a nice big yawn (was I so boring?). The first time I messed it up – my shutter speed too slow to freeze the motion of the yawn, so I opened up the aperture and hoped for a second go.. After a couple of minutes of exaggerated pretend yawning, Mr Pony finally caught on and provided a repeat performance. This time I was ready!

Widemouth Beach
I headed up to Widemouth (near Bude) in the hope of a good sunset – and wow, what a stunner! The clouds ‘pinked up’ with some dramatic , warm colours. I used the wet sand as a big mirror, with some handily placed rocks to break up the symmetry. Natures watercolours at their finest.

Great Staple Tor

Its interesting how I sometimes find myself drawn back to the same location again and again until I feel satisfied with the light. In early 2016, Great Staple Tor was just such a project, and after several failed visits, I finally found some really good light - even caught a cheeky little sunburst from the neighbouring rocks.

Constantine Bay
I found some interesting sand ripples in a large rockpool. The ripples are formed by the waves washing up and down the beach, in the same way that wind shapes sand dunes (the ripples are in effect, miniature dunes). However these small and intricate patterns are indicative of a very fine, soft sand. It was a really tough shoot that day!

The magnificent Crowns Engine Houses at Botallack - I love this place, the view never fails to inspire. I didn’t think I was going to get a shot on the way over though – the thick cloud cover seemed set in for the evening. However as I reached the site, a tiny gap in the clouds opened up over the horizon, allowing the sun to just about peak through and setup a shot which had looked rather improbable just 30 min earlier.
The gap was too small for the clouds to pink up, so I shot from behind the engine houses - and really loved the way the light is shimmering off the waves!

Chinkwell Tor

I was on a shoot on a cold September morning, photographing the small moorland village of Widecome. My main focus, was (supposed to have been) the soft tendrils of mist shrouding village, however I was distracted by these horses as I climbed Chinkwell. The horses are not 'proper wild', but they are allowed to roam freely, and occasionally get themselves into photogenic locations. I did get another shot when the horse lifted his head, but he gave me the eyeball a bit before wondering off, so I prefer this shot with him calmly eating.

Chasing the mist on mornings like this a tricky business. Conditions can change so fast. As I climbed to the summit of Sharpitor I was not exactly sure what to expect – would the sun break through the misty gloom, or would my trip be in vain? I setup and waited it out.. and gradually the sun started to break through. The valley below me filled up with amazing golden light, and with just a little more waiting, the light also crept across the rocks in front of me to complete the shot.

This was a sunset which didn’t promise much. The forecast for sunrise looked really good, so planed it out, up early, and up onto Dartmoor - came back with... not much. Mostly ideas for future mornings. But in the afternoon, the weather looked cloudy and rubbish. We popped down to a local beach on the ‘off chance' and Boom! One of those days I guess! This was taken with a long exposure as the waves were washing around these dramatic sharp rocks – recording the movement of the water in the ghostly white patterns.


Photo comment By Phil Starkey: Lovely set of shots Matt.

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