I’ve always been an average photographer. I took okay photos, had a decent enough camera and knew a bit about composition and exposure. I always absolutely longed to take better photos, mostly because I read so many other blogs that have such gorgeous photos on them. One of my biggest inspirations to be a better photographer was my friend Heather’s blog (#bestie).
Heather’s blog, 2Summers, is inspirational to me for two reasons. Firstly, we have been on a few trips together over the past year and the photos she was taking of the same places as me were amazing in comparison to my own. Secondly, her photos have a very personal feel to them that brings a story to life, a photojournalist rather than just a photographer.
So my goal in 2015 that I actually met (I’m still carrying an extra 5kg that I thought I’d lose somewhere this year), was to improve my photography. It started with a trip to Tanzania in February where my wildlife shots taken on an old DSLR were already a remarkably better than I’d been taking with my Canon G15.
I stumbled along getting no better or worse until two things happened in May: My parents gave me a Canon 700D for my 30th birthday (I don’t know if it had something to do with this meltdown, On turning 30), and I decided to actually learn how to shoot in manual and went on a four-hour course with Tyme Photography (These guys are flipping’ brilliant btw).
Both of these things completely changed my photography in a matter of weeks. Suddenly I knew how to control aperture and shutter speed and I was taking everything in full manual. And as soon as I had those controls under ‘control’, I finally felt like I could start to be creative with what I was shooting. I could choose to make things moodier or darker, I could lighten everything up too, and feel confident about it!
Last year, I longed to put up my top travel photos from 2014 after seeing other bloggers’ posts with the same theme, but didn’t feel proud enough to do it. This year, that’s completely different. Below are my top travel photos from 2015. Please enjoy.
Simba of Nakuru
Lake Nakuru isn’t known for it’s lions, it’s known for its flamingos, which is why it was a complete surprise to come across this lioness lazing on this fallen trunk. Taken in November 2015 at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.
The startled pygmy
This tiny African pygmy kingfisher flew into the bar area at Shikwari, managed to fly into a wall with fright and then took a few minutes to recover on a rock outside while I grabbed this photo before he had the chance to fly off! Taken in October 2015 at Shikwari Game Reserve, Limpopo, South Africa.
Busking in the bustle
The main road of Saint Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt, is alive at night with street artists and musicians. This human statue waits patiently for passers-by near the Church of The Saviour on Blood. Taken in November 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Read this: 10 reasons to love Saint Petersburg, Russia
Near The Bluff, this aerial shot was taken from a helicopter flight over Durban’s Golden Mile. Taken in October 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
Catch of the day
Catching a nap in a capenta net, this stray pooch snoozes during daylight hours at Litare Fishing Village on Rusinga Island. The community spends their nights fishing for the tiny sardine-like fish, they dry them and sell them off for animal feed or fertilizer on mainland Kenya. Taken in November 2015 on Rusinga Island, Kenya.
Bubbles at midnight
A busker blows bubbles to delight the passing children for a few Rubles on Nevsky Prospekt. Taken in August 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Baskets for sale
The Masai Market in Nairobi moves to a new location each day, with traders dragging their wares from place to place. These woven baskets stood out from the typical carvings and beadwork. Taken in November 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Just outside Nairobi lies the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. It’s an orphanage for baby elephants and rhinos that are released back into the wild when they’re ready. Just like any other orphanage, there are lots of blankets to be washed and hung up to dry. Taken in November 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Colour on the streets
The Durban Street Food Festival was one of my foodie highlights for 2015. Taken in September 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
This blissful jackal was caught off-guard by our safari vehicle in Tarangire National Park while he sniffed the air. Taken in February 2015 in Tarangire, Tanzania.
Read this: My top wildlife photos from Tanzania
I left my heart in Soweto
I was lucky enough to be invited to spend 72 hours in Soweto this year. The people were magical and the it was honestly one of the best weekends of my life! Taken in September 2015 in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Read this: The beautiful people of Soweto
As an aside, I will likely put something together on my kit and tips for shooting better travel photos when I get around to it. I live simply and don’t have super expensive gear, and now that I’ve learnt the joy of better photos and a nice kit, I feel like I should share it.