In Review: 2021

2021 was a tough year for us all, what with the continued pandemic and accompanying lockdowns & ever changing restrictions. Personally, I feel that 2021 was just an extension of 2020. Thankfully, we saw less lockdowns in 2021 compared to 2020 as we all tried get back into “normal” routines. Although a part of me misses the extra spare time that the lockdowns gave us. For me, the time to connect with nature more, as well as more time spent with my wife so we could do activities together. I’m sure I spent more time out with my camera during the lockdowns of 2020 (making the most of any outdoor exercise time we had, to go on photo walks).

As some routines returned to a variant of pre-COVID “normal” last year (such as work commitments) I tried to get out with my camera as much as possible in my free time. But I definitely struggled with motivation this time around (especially during the colder months). Days off spent not wanting to leave the comfort of our house. I can’t imagine how anyone who lives alone has coped with the last 2 years.

My Favourite Shots of 2021

I am grateful that we managed travel a little further afield (within the UK) when restrictions eased. Allowing me some opportunities to go exploring with my camera & capture some great photographs during last Spring/Summer. Some of which I have showcased below.

Photo Posts of 2021:

I managed to find some motivation/time to write a few blog posts last year (not as many compared to 2020), to share a collection of the photos that I captured during the year. Below are just a few of the posts of my favourite photo expeditions of last year. The writing part of my blog/website does not come easy to me, I try to write something (hopefully semi-interesting) with each of my photo posts so that I’m not just photo-blogging.

Hopefully in 2022 I will be able to venture out more with my camera and be more motivated. The last 2 years I have focused on nature & wildlife photography. I keep toying with the idea of working on other projects/subjects as well, I shall see where the year takes me.

Prints Available

I have played with the idea of selling my work several times over the years, but I have never found a platform that suits me. My love of photography is my way of expressing myself and sometimes a little bit of escapism. In part my decision to start selling some of my work is to hopefully fund the upkeep of my website so that I can continue to share my love of photography with the world (yes, making a little bit of extra income would be nice). So here we are, a New Year, starting a new endeavour (wish me luck).

After careful consideration of different platforms I have decided to launch my Print Store using the SmugMug, which will allow my followers and visitors to my website to purchase photographic prints of my work by visiting: https://ryangardenphotography.smugmug.com/ (you will also be able to access the store from links on my website/blog). I had initially wanted to my Print Store to be fully integrated with my website, so that clients would not need to visit a 3rd party site. Currently that is not a viable option, but I will review this in the future should my Print Store become successful.

Periodically I plan to upload more of my work to my Print Store, so please keep popping back for the chance to purchase my latest products & prints. If there is any of my work that you would be interested in that is not currently on the store please get in touch and I shall make it available.

I would like to thank everyone who follows my photography, your support is very much appreciated.

Drumstick Primula

Memories of Spring…taken earlier this year while exploring a local woodland garden. These Drumstick Primula’s (Primula denticulata) caught my eye, their delicate white flowers highlighted by the Spring sunshine through the trees.

Two of my favourite seasons are Spring and Summer. Seeing nature spring back into life and burst with colour again as the weather begins to warm up after the colder Winter months always lightens my mood.

As we now slowly move in to Autumn I thought I would look back at some of the photos that I had taken earlier in the year, that I’ve not had the chance to share until now.

Lockdown & Me

The tenth instalment of my #LivingInLockdown series, which I have debated for some time over publishing this particular post. I have written & rewritten it countless times in my head. This entry is more personal than my previous #LivingInLockdown posts, I wanted to document how lockdown has directly affected me, hopefully this series of photos does that to some extent. I much prefer being behind the camera than in front of it, so this self-portraiture instalment feels unnatural for me.

#LivingInLockdown

Back in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 lockdown was imposed upon us I decided I wanted to record the pandemic & subsequent lockdown somehow. It was always going to be a photographic project let’s face it.

Initially I considered a daily self portrait as a way of recording my experience of lockdown. That didn’t last long as 1) I’m not fan of always being in front of the camera, and 2) I’d basically forget to take daily photos. The above photos are my attempt at daily self-portraits. I later decided that recording particular themes during lockdown was more effective way of recording my experience of lockdown.

I proceeded to still take the occasional self portrait as lockdown has progressed to try to capture my mood at that particular moment, some of which I have shared in this entry of #LivingInLockdown.

Social Isolating vs Socially Awkward

Being someone who is socially awkward & a bit of a social introvert the thought of social isolating I have to admit did not fill me with dread like it may have done for some others. It was more like “I can do this”, in some ways I was quite looking forward to being able to work more from home.

Working From Home

Both my wife & I have been able to work from home, which was pretty easy going as our employers adapted to new ways of working. This wasn’t a completely new concept to me as I had worked from home partially prior to the pandemic. I enjoyed the freedom of home working & our own little home office that we created so we each had our own dedicated workspace.

Back to Nature

The first lockdown being during Spring & Summer definitely helped us stay positive. We used our allocated daily outdoor exercise to go on nature walks, which became photo-nature walks. This definitely gave me lots of inspiration for my regular photo posts.

Winter Lockdown

The 2nd & 3rd lockdowns have definitely been harder to stay motivated. Being during Winter has made us reluctant to venture outside for our daily outdoor exercise. I’m definitely not a fan of Winter or being cold. As a result I did not venture out much with my camera.

Furloughed = Demotivated

The last 2 months of our 3rd and most recent lockdown I have spent furloughed, which I have found the hardest. Having 2 months off with nothing to do & no where to go during Winter has completely demotivated me, even when it comes to activities that I enjoy. The novelty of having time off with no work quickly wore off after about 2 weeks. As my wife was still working from home I tried to stay out of our office as to not distract her from work. The highlights of my days have been when she finishes work or weekends so that we can do things together. I’m fairly independent but when it’s Winter and your extremely limited to where your allowed to go, being on your own is now fun. I can’t begin to imagine what this pandemic & lockdowns have been like for anyone who lives on their own. These times have been trying on us all, although I do feel that we have been quite lucky compared to some.

Looking to the Future

As we are now slowly starting to move out of lockdown (again) in the UK and more people get vaccinated, here’s hoping that we are heading towards brighter more normal times.

#StaySafe

Flower of Scotland

I’m sure that I am being stereotypically Scottish by saying that Thistles are one of my favourite flowers, but it’s true they are. These in particular are quite special as they are home grown. We have been growing Thistles in our garden for a few years now and they never fail to disappoint. Apart from being beautiful flowers to photograph they attract insects such as bees and butterflies (doing our bit for the pollinators), I’m not one to waste a photographic opportunity when these insect visitors come calling.

I love the colour of these Thistles, the radiant purple spikey flower heads that always look bright come rain or shine. As well as helping bring wildlife into our garden and giving me another source of photographic inspiration, growing these Thistles is like having a little bit of Scotland in our Yorkshire garden.

Dark Frost

As we say goodbye to Winter and welcome back Spring I thought I would share a last glimpse of Winter for another year. Dark Frost is a set that I actually created last Winter (2019). After these photographs sat dormant in my archive it felt the right time to share them now.

I wanted to try something a little different with these shots, which resulted in a more heavily edited set than my usual work. I normally prefer to apply soft editing techniques such as tweaking histogram levels, saturation, etc. Trying to leave the captured image as natural as possible. This time though I felt the urge to be a little more creative, a little more artistic. So after playing around creating various different effects I finally came up with “Dark Frost”, which in my opinion really brings out the feeling of how cold it was when I first took these shots. I wanted to create something darker than my normal work, which I think it’s safe to say I have achieved that. Sometimes it’s good to go dark, as long as you come back to the light.