2015: A year of achievement

Let’s not bother with the humblebrag and just get straight to it: I’ve had a f**king good year when it comes to photography. And I’m going to relish it!

But let’s not get too carried away here; I’ve undoubtedly had my fair share of good luck this year, combined with some planning. But at some point, lucky shots happen too often to be just flukes. And I have been getting better at taking photos and being critical of my own work. God knows I’m my harshest critic! But this post is my celebration of how well I’ve done this year, and this is my pat on the back to myself.

The year started slowly: it took my over 2 weeks to get out with the camera after New Year. I decided to sign up for a workshop at the start of February with Grant Ritchie at Real Edinburgh to try and get my mojo back. And oof! Did it ever…here’s one of my photos from the night, which made it onto the BBC News website (twice), is currently my most popular photo on Flickr (18,500 views), and was the first photo I sold commercially. You can see Forth Ports using it on their website as one of the carousel of background images.

Forth Rail Bridge Sunset Feb 7th 15

The following day I was inspired to go out and get the sunset again. That resulted in this image, which I liked but didn’t think anything of at the time.

Salisbury Crags sunset

However, I ended up entering the photo into the Ordnance Survey’s OS Photofit competition to have winning images on the covers of all the OS’s refreshed paper maps. Well, turns out I won the competition for the Edinburgh Explorer (1:25,000) map! I couldn’t believe it! So anytime you buy Explorer 350 then you’ll see this photo on the front. Not only that, but the image was chosen to go into the OS’s 2016 calendar, along with 11 other very fine photos. You can buy it here (https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-2016-calendar.html) if you wish. I also see today that OS have used it as their daily Instagram photo to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Then, in July, a rare lightning storm rolled across Edinburgh. Again I have to thank Grant Ritchie for alerting me to this. I was off work, and tracked the lightning strikes all day, until finally at about 1am we had lightning over the southern and eastern parts of the city. I had a great view from the living room window, and captured a whole load of lightning strikes over Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill. I ended up combing around 13 images into a blend to make a truly dramatic photo, and at 3am I posted it to Twitter and went to bed.

The tweet went mental, including a retweet from J.K. Rowling. It’s currently sitting at nearly 60,000 ‘impressions’. Small fry by Twitter standards, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re phone won’t stop buzzing all day! That photo netted me an interview on Boogie in the Morning (a popular local drive time radio show), a TV interview for STV News (watch here), publications in four Scottish newspapers, and thousands of views on social media. It was pretty intense! I ended up selling some prints through Real Edinburgh too, which was nice.

The remainder of the year was much calmer, mostly due to cracking on with writing my PhD thesis. I ended up selling some more photos, including one to Schlumberger for an ad campaign, and various to friends. The cash raised from these and newspaper sales allowed me to upgrade my camera (twice) and so looking forward to making the most of it in 2016.

Amongst all that, I was a finalist in a competition run by Yelp for Edinburgh Festival photos with this picture:

RoyalMileFireworks-26.08.15 And generally have had lots of love on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for my photos through the year. Two things capped off the year: firstly, I had asked friends if anyone was interested in buying a calendar I had put together to help me get a bulk discount. The response was, frankly, amazing! I wanted to sell 15 and sold 60! So thank you to my friends for supporting me at the end of the year (keep an eye out for the 2017 calendar). And secondly, just before Christmas I was contacted by a researcher for National Geographic, who want to use an old photo of mine in one of their books! I will believe it when I see it, but nonetheless, it would be a great honour for me to be published by such a venerated institution. Fingers crossed that this happens next year.

All in all, an amazing year for me photography wise. A Happy New Year to you all, and see you next year!

Britannia Fireworks

A nice surprise

Gosh! It’s been a while since I last wrote anything. I’ve been rather consumed by my PhD writing since the summer and have been neglecting other aspects of my life. Not to say nothing exciting has happened!

Back in May I found out that one of my photographs had been selected to be the front cover image of the Ordnance Survey 1:25000 ‘Explorer’ map for  Edinburgh. It has since been published and I now have a copy of the map courtesy of OS. It looks great (of course!) and I’m so proud to see my photo there.

What I wasn’t expecting, however, was to find that OS also chose the photo to be in their 2016 calendar! How cool is that? It was a surprise since OS didn’t tell me that they were selecting it; I found out on Twitter. I was going to ask for a cheeky free copy, but then a few days later one landed n my doormat. Result! Mine is even the November picture (although the photo was taken in February), meaning it ties in nicely with my November blog entry 🙂

WP

Money raised from the calendar sales will go to the OS’s chosen charity, Holding Little Hands. You can read more about the calendar on the OS blog.

I’m a winner!

And not just according to my mum, either!

I didn’t spot the email at first. Gmail kindly sorts some emails automatically into “Social” and “Promotions” groups, for which you don’t get a new email notification. I generally treat these groups as spam, and ignore them.

But Lo! Today I found an email from Ordnance Survey. I had to read it a couple of times:

Dear Kit
Thank you for entering OS Photofit. I am delighted to tell you that your photo has been selected to feature on the first phase of our newly branded OS Explorer maps. Your photo will feature on Explorer 350 Edinburgh.

The new covers are already going into production and we hope to see the new designs rolled out across our retailers and available on our website from early summer.

As soon as they are available, we will send you a complimentary copy of the map featuring your photo and name credit.

Well…that was unexpected! The OS Photofit competition is basically a clever way of the Ordnance Survey (OS) getting free photos (i.e. they don’t have to cough up a licence) to put on the covers of their maps. Photos are uploaded by area of the UK, and voted on, by the public with a final decision made by OS. This was the photo I submitted for Edinburgh:

image

The final map cover will have the edges heavily cropped, since the map images are in portrait, not landscape, but that should show Salisbury Crags (the rocky bit, if you’re not familiar with Edinburgh) with the Tron (black spire) and Edinburgh Castle in the background.

The viewpoint for the photo is a great spot to be. If you fancy popping up there yourself, it’s easy to find. Just take the steps up the city facing side of Arthur’s Seat and when it levels off a little, you can turn off the path. Here’s a map:

I’ve had a lot of luck this year with photography. There are many, many, many wonderful photos of Edinburgh, so I’m pretty chuffed that one of mine will be on the cover of the 1:25,000 OS map! And, of course, a hearty congratulations to all the other winners!

You can read more about the winners on the OS blog: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2015/05/latest-osphotofit-winners-announced/

And the full selection of winning photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/osmapping/sets/72157649182501294/