Bye Bye 2020 Photo Challenge

Long haired cow with horns (Highland cattle)

HeyJude has been running a photo challenge throughout 2020. Her last suggestion is that we think back over the year and choose our favourite picture from those submitted. Mine is the very simple picture of a hellebore in this post (the last one). I can well imagine not everyone would be quite so thrilled with it, so instead of repeating it here, I’m sharing this new picture. I’m contending that I could have used it for Identify your subject, or An object that seems interesting because of its volume, or Rough texture (ignoring the instruction to get up as close as you can!)

2020 has been a photo challenge in itself. I’ve travelled less and taken fewer pictures. My main subject matter has been local woods, fields, trees, wildflowers, northern skies. And lots of painted rainbows on walls, windows, rocks, and pavements, although I’ve not been sharing those.

I’ve paced the local streets, sometimes in joy, sometimes in resignation. I moved on from the inclination to make myself feel down by comparing the small gardens I pass on my for-exercise walks unfavourably with major gardens. Name me a flower and there’s a good chance I’ll know where to find it locally: the fact that its surroundings may not be 100% photogenic no longer limits the pleasure I take in seeing it.

I now know four places within a mile of my home where I can hope to see a kestrel sitting on the wind, hunting movement, as I walk. I can think back to the miracle of seeing the first wild daisy of the year flowering as if nothing unusual was happening.

I can take you to a place where a viola was in bloom for months in a crack in the pavement outside a terrace house with no garden, as if determined that the householder should have some garden, no matter how tiny. Passers-by respected it so nobody trod on it – I had very similar pictures from May, June, July and August to choose from.

Viola growing in a crack in the pavement

During the year we’ve had, that pansy flowering on came to mean more than any of the finest, fanciest gardens I saw in 2019. So while the 2020PhotoChallenge and the year in general may not have made me a more considered photographer or a better one, I am a more grateful one.

Although I skipped too many of the weekly exercises, I read them all and enjoyed seeing other bloggers’ submissions in my Reader. Hosting challenges is a commitment to community and I’m joining everyone in thanking HeyJude who achieved her goal of being a thought-provoking host.

Her challenges made me realise that there are things that interest me about photography and things that don’t and that’s OK. I never think of taking black and white pictures, because I love colour, so it was good news to discover that Life In Colour has just been announced as Travel World’s new theme for 2021.

This final 2020 challenge did set me thinking, not for the first time, about why I take pictures. I’ve always liked pressing the shutter: the idea of each picture as a new chance. Often I want to capture something that makes my heart beat faster or makes me smile. I am a joyful photographer, and an optimistic one, taking many pictures when I know they’ve next to no chance of working out well. A deer, a few hundred yards away, late afternoon in the north, in December, with an iPhone? You’ve got to give it a try, haven’t you?

Very distant deer in the snow

And I truly believe my best skill is in knowing which pictures not to share. Usually.

I’m writing as I wait to welcome the new year in. There will be no fireworks around the London Eye and I find myself needing to draw on every vestige of optimism.

Thank you for calling in to see me here in these tricky times. Together you’ve brought me laughter and comfort with your kind, wise, reassuring and witty words. I’m sending my heartfelt wishes that 2021 will be a better, healthier, happier year for us all.

42 Replies to “Bye Bye 2020 Photo Challenge”

  1. I’ve come to enjoy your posts so much over the months. Even though I’m not a gardener, I’ve learned a good bit, and there’s always something beautiful to see. Here’s to a new year filled with good lessons and even more beauty.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this post and others throughout the year. Thanks, and I loved that people left those flowers to bloom right in their path 👌❤️

  3. Although I have absolutely no interest in gardening I do like seeing other peoples’ flowers and gardens so I’ve enjoyed seeing the many lovely photos you’ve put on here. I love the bright little pansy and the Highland cow, they are my favourites of all cattle, usually referred to as ‘woolly moos’ 🙂 I hope you have a peaceful and prosperous New Year and I look forward to see more of your posts during 2021 🙂

  4. Wishing you a happy and hopefully, an optimistic year, filled with joy at the many tiny moments (or subjects) you capture through the lens 🙂

    Love the pansy you captured and its a timely reminder that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places.

    More importantly, we are all unique and have differing views on what makes a memorable photo and to me, it matters little how many shots we take, but that we continue to capture moments in time through our cameras and share them on our blogs to connect those on the other side of the world with our local community and sights.

    1. Thanks so much Vicki and wishing the same for you. It is a blessing to be able to connect with people on the other side of the world. I have been struggling to find your ‘colour’ blog recently. Your avatar only links to the black and white one. Would you send me a link when you have a moment?

      1. I feel for you at the moment, Susan. My best friend is ‘stuck’ in Maidstone, unable to come home to Australia after her daughter (my Goddaughter) first baby. She can’t even see her English husband’s family a few miles away from her BNB.
        I’ve deleted 2 blogs and my new (temporary) blog is located at At the moment, just archival images paired up with my favourite quotes, but here’s hoping I’ll be recovered from hip surgery in time to end out the summer at the nearby nature reserves doing some more photography (finally after 2 years indoors – hip pain & COVID lockdown now over….I hope)

        1. Ah – that explains it! Your poor friend. I’m not sure many people from outside the country understand the full extent of restrictions that have been failing to control the disease in the areas with the most cases. Very chastening. It certainly makes the ‘act early, act hard’ approach seem very prescient. Wishing you a full recovery!

  5. What a great post for looking back and looking ahead! I needed that. Your account of your own story of resignation and discovery is so eloquently told in these photos, both in variety and perspective. I think the violas speak to all of us, and I thank you for featuring them. As for the deer, of course you had to give it a try! I do love the word image of the kestrel “sitting on the wind” and the daisy blooming “as if nothing unusual was happening.” And thus does the gardener-photographer-writer proceed. Thank you so much for taking us with you. A very happy new year, Susan — may it keep you safe and bring you good things!

    1. The journey would not be half so much fun without you. I appreciate your kind words and good wishes. The deer looks much like a llama at such low resolution. The blackness that surrounds the llama-deer is the other side of the fairy bridge path I sometimes mention, although something in the air makes the tree side of that path feel very different to the field side. I really don’t know why I would think that would help you picture it!

      1. I just tried to respond to this but had trouble. Phoo. What I was trying to say was that I’d missed the llama look to the deer, but, yes, there it is. And the bridge — I hadn’t seen that before. I agree about the difference between the airy look of the bare tree and that dark drop-off into the black field. That llama-deer is such a striking figure right there. It just shows what can come of a gotta-try-it moment.

        1. I took one when it has been joined by a friend, but that was even worse! You missed the bridges because they aren’t visible from this side, quite apart from them being concealed in the gloom.

  6. Lovely images of hellebores in your last post. I garden as well, mainly vegetables and annuals. Photography and gardening have both nourished me this year – best wishes to you in 2021.

  7. “And I truly believe my best skill is in knowing which pictures not to share.” Amen. Would that everyone took it to heart.

    Happy 2021, which has already begun for you but is still five-and-a-half hours ahead for central Texas.

  8. I’m with Eliza! I call that kind of photography “living in place,” and I think it is something all photographers should do, even the ones who like to travel. Happy New Year, and I very much look forward to seeing more pictures of your neighborhood.

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