Highlights of 2016

2016 was a busy year for me.

Over the course of the past 12 months, I have photographed 98 Sunday league football matches, 15 cricket matches and 12 rugby matches, as well as white water rafting and canoeing on a couple of occasions.

I haven’t kept track, but I would estimate I have shot close to 100,000 photos during this period, so whittling those down to just 10 pictures was quite a challenge, but here are my choices.

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Bishop’s Stortford were playing Old Albanian, one of several local rivals so there was plenty of historical context to the match. Stortford were trailing for much of the game and Mike Gallagher had just broken away to score a try to close the gap. His reaction, just a moment before being swamped by his team mates, stood out amongst the subsequent frames.

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Whilst most of the photos I took this year were of a sporting nature, I do also shoot other bits and pieces. Early in 2016, we got a pair of kittens and I spent some time trying to capture some good images of them. I chose this shot as one of the kittens is perched on the arm of the sofa, leaning forward, curious to know what is happening, whilst her sister looks on from a safe position way behind her.

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This is probably the best football goal picture I have taken, as all of the elements fell into place at the right time. The goalscorer is prominent to the left of the frame, an opposition player is sliding in to (unsuccessfully) make a tackle, the goalkeeper is at full stretch but can’t reach the ball which is clearly en route to the back of the net. This goal was scored in the last minute of extra time in a cup semi-final, and was immediately followed by the scorer being mobbed by his team mates.

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A key element for a good wicket picture is to capture the ball and bails in the air, as well as the player’s reaction. Often the player does not realise straight away that their wicket is gone, but what I like with this picture is that he immediately knows he is out, and that his vertical body and bat position is countered by the middle stump being slightly askew.

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Goal celebrations can be quite difficult in Sunday League football as there are rarely big crowds of fans for the players to celebrate with, and often the games can be quite high-scoring so some goals pass with virtually no celebration at all. For this match, I had travelled to two other grounds as well that morning and was desperately hoping to arrive in time to capture a few minutes of action. Thankfully when I got there the match was still playing, and was level with just a minute or two left. The Great Northern scored a winner, with the scorer (pictured right) wheeling away with his back to me, until he remembered I was there and then ran straight towards the camera to celebrate, quickly joined by his team mates.

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When I was photographing canoeing at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, venue for the 2012 Olympic Games, I was conscious of trying to get something a bit different to the usual ‘man with paddle’ photos. Near the top of the course there is a mirror, so I positioned myself to capture the paddlers as they were reflected in the glass.

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Despite my best efforts and several hours in the cold, I was unable to capture the supermoon in November as it was incredibly cloudy. However this photo was shot in August at 9.45pm and features some really interesting details of the moon’s surface. I also like the yellow hue as opposed to the brilliant white we usually associate with the moon.

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Since September I have been covering the Welwyn Hatfield Sunday Football League each week. I took this on the first day of the season, and love how the player in yellow is a full stretch to nick the ball away from his opponent.

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Bishop’s Stortford kicked off the 2016-17 season with a convincing victory against Bury St Edmunds, with Tom Banks playing a prominent role. As he dives in to score this try, I really like the range of emotions and expressions from the other protagonists, from his team mates celebrating the try, to the referee about to blow his whistle, through to the opposition player lying on the ground in the background, beaten.

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Fog provides challenging conditions to take photographs in, but it can also deliver nice clean backgrounds. A large proportion of my Sunday League photos are littered with dog walkers, bags, substitutes and seagulls in the background so it was nice to be able to isolate the action. The colours the two players are wearing helps to make them stand out, and the positioning of their arms indicates both a struggle to maintain balance, and a battle to win the ball.

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