2019 was a quieter year photographically than the previous one. It began with a short trip to St Petersburg, a city whose history I'm quite familiar with having taught it for the past two years. I thought I'd finished with impressive church ceiling shots after St Peter's in the Vatican, but the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood rivals if not surpasses that, with glorious Russian Orthodox murals adorning every available surface. My second shot shows the grand staircase of the Hermitage/Winter Palace. This was a bit of a labour of love as I had to combine multiple shots (about 9) to remove the various tourists in the scene, however I'm really pleased with the result. The third photograph, of the General Staff Building in the square outside the Winter Palace, was a last minute spot and really shows what you can do with a puddle (the water covered a very small area), getting down low, and a wide angle lens. The final Russia image sums up the wintry atmosphere of Russia, with only a few key elements, and making the most of the dusting of snow on this trip.
The big trip of 2019 was to South America - Peru, Bolivia and Chile. While it didn't quite live up to its billing photographically, it was a fantastic trip in all other aspects and quite unlike anywhere else I've visited. The first shot is obviously Machu Picchu. We didn't have the best weather for this day but I'm fairly pleased with the result, as I managed to find a good foreground and something a bit different. One of the real highlights of the trip was a religious festival in Cusco, Peru, and this next image is one of many I could have chosen from this ninety minutes of frenetic photographic activity. Bolivia had otherworldly landscapes and extreme cold at night. While I didn't get a shot that really summed this up, the early morning hot springs bathed in morning light, and the fantastic skies at night were two memorable scenes from the unique tour we did of the Uyuni salt flats.
The final two photos from 2019 come from a city break to Florence over New Year's. While crowded, Florence is a truly impressive Renaissance city, filled with world class paintings, sculptures and frescoes. The view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo is a must at sunset, while the views from Fiesole are also impressive if you want to escape the city.
While I didn't take as many 5* images in 2019 as I might have liked (it didn't hit the heights of Central Asia and, in particular, Japan, from the year before), it was another fantastic year of travel. South America was something entirely new, and a place I will almost certainly return to in 2020, with a possible visit to Colombia. Add in two weeks in Kerala, India, at Easter, and another trip around Christmas and 2020 promises to be another fantastic year of travel and photography.
Future me: Actually in hindsight I think this was a pretty decent year in terms of photos. I particularly like the ones from St Petersburg. Little was I to know that it would actually be three years until I returned to South America.