the IOTMImage of the Month archive
This is an archive of all the images that have featured as an Image of the Month over the years – sadly not nearly every month! Click the thumbnail images for larger pics and technical details. Rotate your phone to see cropped captions on this page.
Checking his Spitfire. A Second World War pilot checks under his aircraft before setting out on a mission. Taken (obviously) at a re-enactment evening, this one run by Timeline Events at North Weald airfield. I often feel images from these sessions can look too “modern” – maybe too sharp or too much texture – and I worked quite hard in Photoshop to produce a softer, darker image while still keeping some detail. A great model, who kept a perfect serious expression throughout. [posted October 2023, first update for a long while!]
The Pier at Cromer. I spent some time walking this lovely North Norfolk beach, enjoying the strong October midday sun and looking for a suitable base for a long exposure of the sea and of Cromer's iconic pier. I was carrying the Lee Filters 'Super Stopper' and the sturdy but lightweight Manfrotto Befree carbon fibre tripod. I was careful with the Befree on the soft sand, but it held rock solid for the one-and-a-half minute exposure... with the image at 100% there's excellent detail of the structure under the pier... [posted March 2019, first update for a while!]
Cartier in Motion. Photographed across the foyer of the Design Museum in its superb new home in Kensington High Street, London. I liked the sense of movement in the elegant young lady's pose – feet pointing one way, head looking the other – as she stood in front of the exhibition banner: "in motion", as it were. While her upper half is dimly lit, her mauve skirt and part of her blue-green rucksack are emphasised by the bright light running under the handrail... [posted December 2017]
Walking By. I always enjoy overhead views: here I've picked out some architectural detail in a modern building... The lady walking by with her flowing trousers is actually on a pavement to the right of the picture – her reflection in the glass front of the building gives her a slightly distorted and rather ghostly appearance. She's positioned somewhere between one-third of the way across the image and the Golden Mean, in an attempt to keep all the critics happy! [posted October 2017]
Mannequin. A designy shot taken at the 2013 Laura Ashley exhibition at the splendid Bowes Museum, near Barnard Castle in County Durham. Not my normal type of subject matter, but I was in the area and visiting the Bowes Museum, and decided to wander in for a touch of nostalgia. I'm glad I did. The exhibition was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Laura Ashley label, and showing the vision of the romantic heroine that she brought to fashion in the 1960s and '70s... I was pleased with my photo, though I should have taken out the line just visible in the background (maybe I will). But in competition the judge didn't like it, apparently unhappy about a body with no head. [posted 17 April 2014]
Morning Walk. On my 2012 visit to Berlin, a day trip out to Park Sanssouci in nearby Potsdam was on my must-do list. And top of the list of must-get pictures was the head-on view of Schloss Sanssouci, built between 1747 and 1749 as a Summer retreat for Frederick the Great. After walking through the attractive old part of the town I entered the park by the Green Gate entrance and walked along an avenue of trees before turning right for the long straight view towards Schloss Sanssouci. Someone turned on the fountain as I approached at 09:00, and right on cue a lady in red with her dog appeared on the right of the frame. The Schloss faces due south and the strong sun was over my right shoulder – textbook stuff for landscape photography.
Step. Not in fact a step, but another image from the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, taken during my third visit in January 2013. The last time I was here the Memorial was in strong sunshine. Now, fresh snow lay on the tops of the stelae and in the walkways between them, with almost no footprints. The sky was dull and grey, and new snow was blowing in from the east. I've pushed the contrast a bit in Photoshop to give a little more bite to the image, and worked carefully with Levels to pull out some detail in the snow where the walkway shows through. [posted 10 March 2013]
Polished. Taken at the local and very good annual Classic Car Show, where most of the cars on display are very lovingly cared for. Even so I spent quite a long time at 100% in Photoshop making sure there was not a speck of dust on the bit of car in my image. And cleaning out the traces of polish and other stuff from the edges of the chrome strip – the image really does need to be perfectly clean to give the liquid feel of serious waxing! A strong diagonal, obviously, and carefully positioned in shooting to run exactly from corner to corner. I think the car was a TVR. [posted 12 February 2013]
Where Did You Get That Hat? As I waited in line with my timed ticket to see the fabulous interior of Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam – a day out on my 2012 visit to Berlin – a group of Japanese tourists was assembling in the courtyard. One of the ladies arrived late, and I couldn't help noticing her hat and long gloves. There was just time for one grab shot. I think the picture is made by the expression on the face of the man I assume is their German guide. I like that all the significant colours are, by chance, shades of green, apart from the man's jeans. There's more information about my visit to Sanssouci on my Grand Tour blog.
Reichstag People. There are interesting photo opportunities everywhere in the dome of the Berlin Reichstag – home of the Bundestag, the German parliament – which was designed by British architect Norman Foster and completed in 1999. The silhouette of the spiral walkway to the top, set against the ribs of the dome, provides dramatic shapes, and I decided to use this image in monochrome with only a hint of detail in the shadow areas. The walkway is always busy and it can take a while to find a good arrangement of people. There are some details of my 2012 visit to the Reichstag on my Grand Tour blog. [posted 28 October 2012]
Where Can I Find a Bike Shop?. The Orangerie in Frederick the Great's fabulous Park Sanssouci in Potsdam – south-west of Berlin – was built between 1851 and 1864, and this is one of a number of allegorical statues standing in niches at the front of the building. The carving is exquisite. The sun was very strong and I was careful to avoid clipping the highlights on the light stonework. Nevertheless Adobe Camera Raw has allowed me to pull back the texture of the stone in the highlight areas, and to encourage a little more shadow detail in the wheel. Some tweaks to Levels and Gamma to get the balance of the background just right. [posted 27 September 2012]
Tram Stop. Taken from the Hausmannstürme (watchman's tower) of the Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen, the very interesting church with four towers in the huge marketplace in Halle – birthplace of the great composer George Frederic Handel – not far from Leipzig in Germany. Halle had been one of the destinations on my Grand Tour in 2008, and I went back in 2011 for another look. Obviously a strong diagonal composition in the picture, and I like the almost complementary colours of the red tram and the cyan-blue glass shelters, set against a neutral background. I must confess to a fair amount of cleaning up of litter and gum on the cobbles – unusual for Germany – which is time consuming. [posted 9 March 2012]
Dream Office. A shot grabbed in one of the Bauhaus Masters' Houses in Dessau, Germany. Dessau was something of a design pilgrimage for me on my 2011 return visit to the region between Leipzig and Berlin. In the Masters' Houses I had to work quickly to record some of what was there as well as trying to take a few arty pictures. I had already decided to fit the superb Nikon 12-24mm before entering the house, and I liked the strong perspective introduced in this sparse Bauhaus office by getting in close at the 12mm end – the focal length is equivalent to 18mm on 35mm film. I heightened the effect by adding a strong radial blur and pushing the colour saturation... [posted 15 February 2012]
Holocaust Memorial, Berlin. Officially called the 'Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe', this 'field of stelae' – by American architect Peter Eisenman – is set on an undulating site 100 metres south of the Brandenburg Gate in the centre of Berlin. It opened in 2005 after a long and often controversial planning and building process. The 2,711 concrete blocks (stelae) are arranged in a regular grid over an area of nearly five acres. The arrangement appears uniform, but each block is at a slight angle to its neighbour creating a feeling of uncertainty. Walking among the tall blocks at the centre felt disorientating ... I wanted to photograph the memorial without the certainty and comfort and busyness of the modern world around it, so most of my images taken over nearly an hour used a long lens to exclude surrounding streets... [posted 19 January 2012]
Showered. Arriving in London's Trafalgar Square at 6:00pm one evening in early August, I was attracted by the late afternoon sun shining through the spray of the fountains. Under the previous administration photographers could be told off for taking pictures in Trafalgar Square – for reasons that no-one really could understand – but I shot seven or eight pics quite quickly, of which this was the last. The arrangement of the water droplets is a matter of chance of course, especially as there was some gusty wind, but I was pleased with the single drop in focus in front of the statue's chin. Presented as a 20-inch flush-mounted print, just like the old days. [posted 29 December 2011]
Windows. A reflection of the 368-metre high Fernsehturm (the TV tower) in the glass shell of a nearby building close to Alexanderplatz, to the east of Berlin city centre. Obviously I was on the ground, not standing square-on to the centre of the building, so both vertical and horizontal perspective – and lens distortion – have been adjusted so that the grid of windows is absolutely square. In competition the judge liked the print a lot and gave it 20/20 (thanks Ron!). [posted 29 November 2011]
Lovelocked. Travelling in Germany I'd noticed the fashion for modern young people to proclaim their love by marking a padlock and fixing it to a railing somewhere; the engineering equivalent of carving initials on a tree. Some of the names are even machine-engraved. But on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge over the Rhine in Cologne I found a magnificent display, of which this image is only a tiny part. A bit of fill-in from the on-camera flash, to add some saturation in the flat misty lighting. A slight lack of focal point perhaps, although the heart on the lower-left third should be good enough. In competition – despite the title and on a 7-foot screen – the judge thought it was taken in a hardware store... [posted 29 November 2010]
The Colosseum at Night. From my recent 'Grand Tour' in Italy, details of which are in the Grand Tour blog. In Rome I was staying about 20 minutes walk from the Colosseum, and went down there one evening with the camera to arrive at twilight. I wandered up and down the road for a while, waiting for most of the light to fade. Then walked round the Colosseum and took a few photos; one side has a road and traffic lights, so pics are impossible there. It was very dark and the Nikon D300 was working hard: set to ISO3200, -2.0EV compensation, and reporting low exposure. In fact it did 1/6 second at f/6.3. VR of the Nikon 18-200mm lens turned on of course. [posted 24 June 2010]
Cycle Path. I guess this image would be labelled a pattern picture. Certainly a mix of textures, from the hatched lines of the terraced planting to the intersecting circles of the red paving. A strong diagonal from bottom right to top left, crossing a 'curved diagonal' from the cyclist round the top of the image to the top right corner. The photo was taken from a footpath beside a railway bridge over the river, near the huge cathedral in Cologne [Köln], Germany, as I set out on my Grand Tour in 2008. I think the two people in the background are important in blocking off that corner of the image. A small but careful crop. [posted 6 February 2010]
Berlin: Remains of the Wall. Not all of the Wall came down, 20 years ago. Preserving a section of it as a reminder of man's inhumanity to man is so important. I took this photo on my first visit to Berlin, in 2008, from the 'Western' side. An exhibition below it here, Topography of Terror, documents the course of 'official terrorism' from the 30s till the fall of the wall; it's very moving and thought provoking. Along the road is the Checkpoint Charlie Haus; nearby are boards with many quotes and comments and photos, including the well-known picture [attributed to Reuters: I can't find the photographer's name] of the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich – 'Slava' – playing Bach cello suites at a breach in the wall a day or so after it fell. [posted 9 November 2009]
Cornered. Placing the head quite tight in the corner of the image – behind the silhouettes of the bars – gives it a feeling of being imprisoned. Which, in a sense, it is. The sculpted head is let into the wall of the Heldendenkmal [the Heroes' Monument] in Vienna. It overlooks a stairway to the roofless 'hall of honour' on top of the memorial, and this image is shot through the gates at the bottom of the stairway. It's essentially a straight shot, with not much adjustment apart from the normal fine tuning; and there was some strong sun on the wall, so the top-left needed to be brought under control. The monument was designed by Rudolf Wondracek, a student of Otto Wagner. [posted October 2009]
The Japanese Camera Dance. A wet day in Vienna, in front of the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg palace. A small group of Japanese tourists were taking photos of each other with the Neue Burg in the background, and here in front of the statue of Archduke Karl on his prancing horse (out of the picture to the left). Like me they were fighting with umbrellas in the strong wind, and probably feeling as fed up with the weather as I was. This couple had a practiced routine and were clearly looking for perfection. I liked their co-ordinated colours. Just time for a couple of grab shots. [taken on my Grand Tour, and posted March 2009]
The New World Trade Center. In May 1972 I travelled with a colleague to visit a customer in Connecticut, USA. In a moment of uncharacteristic generosity our boss had agreed that we could fly into New York and stay a couple of nights before moving on to New England. So after arriving late we awoke to a dull Sunday morning to go sightseeing. But by the end of the morning the sun was shining. Late in the afternoon we took the ferry to Liberty Island. On the journey back to Manhatten everyone was excited by the view of the New York skyline, and the two huge towers that were just being completed... For obvious reasons I've steered clear of using these images on the Web in recent years. [posted April 2008]
Highly Strung. Looking up at the supporting wires of the Hungerford footbridge, crossing the river Thames from Charing Cross station to the Royal Festival Hall, in London. Just a pattern picture, with the clouds conveniently behind the fan of the lower wires. Sky darkened a bit and the saturation somewhat increased. [posted March 2008]
Walking Away. This tall, elegant young man appears to be striding purposefully away, clasping his book, from the tittle-tattle of the wedding guests, and their interesting assortment of legs, footwear, stockings and kilts. A grab-shot outside the Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the end of a very chilly mid-September afternoon. The young man is Robert Fergusson, called "Scotia's Poet" by Robert Burns, who erected the statue in Fergusson's memory in 1787. The inscription is from Fergusson's poem Auld Reikie.
[posted February 2008]
December Mist. Taken just before 3:00pm on 23 December, in the fields near my home in north-east Herts. The mist had been down all day – the only time for ages that I can remember it like this – and the sun was trying hard to burn through. Great conditions for walking, and for photography! The task was to preserve a range of tonal planes, from the virtually black silhouetted grasses in the foreground to the almost burnt-out sun, while conveying the feeling of peace and silence that was there at the time. [posted January 2008]
National Galleries. Another image from my Edinburgh trip in September, this time isolating two pillars of the splendid National Gallery of Scotland, the building set back from Prince's Street, behind the Royal Scottish Academy building. It had been raining most of the day – this was taken mid afternoon – and I was making the most of a very welcome break in the clouds and some brighter and warmer light. The water lying on the paving has darkened it nicely, and the contrast in the stonework of the walls and pillars is somewhat enhanced. On the face if it a straightforward shot, with a medium wideangle and a slowish shutter speed, aided by some convenient railings. [posted November 2007]
Light on the Bridge. Some pretty heavy saturation in the image this month, with almost a quarter of the picture solid black. The subject is the North Bridge in Edinburgh, at the east end of Prince's Street, in some very welcome September evening sun at the end of a wet and miserable day. With the sun about to set, the light is burning hard onto the side of the bridge. Not much processing, other than adjusting levels in Photoshop. And a small adjustment to even up the brightness left to right. And a slight rotation. [posted October 2007]
Albert Hall. A photo of the wonderful Royal Albert Hall, in London, seems appropriate as we reach the end of the 2007 Proms season. Actually taken last year, towards the end on a perfect Summer's day, from the steps of the Albert Memorial on the other side of Kensington Gore. The evening sun has really brought out the colour in the red brick of the Hall and the surrounding buildings. The lucky moment, of course, was when the two tourists obligingly paused to admire the building. [posted September 2007]
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