The odd and somewhat strange first month of the year 2022. A month of sunsets and colour.

And just like that January 2022 has “been and gone” yes the first month of any new year is slightly “meh” one could say and January as a month has a bit of a reputation for being grey, wet and miserable to say the least — at least that is what I thought, in previous years that is, but what with a pandemic and a different mindset, things have changed and with that is a slower pace of life, as a landscape photographer I now notice the smaller and finer things which prior to the pandemic I would have more than likely ignored completely. That being said though in the past my mind has conjured the wider picture that January should be described as the following,

“A month that is claustrophobic, pointless and could do with an awful lot of improvement. It is a month that is nothing more than a stopgap between winter and the time when nature begins to awaken again — yet it is a month of dull, grey and flat textures.”

Well that much is true, but two years of a pandemic, a slower pace of life and you begin to see things completely differently, in a different way and through a different light. Perspectives change things and that is one thing that I have learnt, also the pandemic has changed the way I capture the landscape. However, this January with the start of a new year, things seemed somewhat different and January was a month that went by rather quickly compared to previous years. It was early one January afternoon when I was on a walk that I noticed something strange and somewhat quite complex, a lack of grey skies, instead I was walking along one a crisp and clear afternoon when I noticed the following.

Purple trees dance so calm.

The skies looked different, instead of grey and dullness, a glow within the skies like nothing else is what I saw, almost like a watercolour painting with hints and hues of both purple and pink, against the fading blue skies, it just looked ethereal and magical; but was that the start of things to come? Yes it was and weather wise January was quite something else — it was almost as if someone had decided to reformat the month of January and get rid of the ugly dull and grey aspects to it. Something that might seem strange, but that is nature doing what nature does, it has the ability to reset things sometimes. But as the month of January progressed along, so did the magic.

I had found myself at a local park, a small urban lung that provides escapism from the more urban areas that surround it, and whilst the daylight hours had slowly started to allow for more light in the evening, the walk around the park that I was on, equated to a strange kind of surrealism, that surreal I had to question myself and asked the following thing in my mind, “is this really January?” for what I had seen was something else.

Glow of January.

The way the sky looked was odd and strange, and it was like nothing else I had ever seen, questioning things I began to wonder about the possibilities of a shift within the weather, on the other side of the world in Tonga, things were taking place that as January progressed would affect things, but at this stage I did not know what was taking place on the other side of the world.

But did the magic stop? Instead the skies continued to give, one afternoon I had decided to visit a local church, a picturesque one overlooking the local area, that is a place of calm and sanctuary and again magic within the skies, they exploded into colour and the photos below are what I captured, needless to say that at this stage within January I knew things felt somewhat different. But the biggest question was, why?

Fire within the January skies.

Well events in Tonga might be the answer as to why. Remember last year when the skies seemed magical and for a number of weeks we kept getting amazing sunsets, well that was down to the “Calima” which bought with it, sands from the Sahara Desert towards mainland Europe and the UK, something that is rarely seen when it is the Canary Islands, which are affected when the Calima happens — however last year the jet stream was bringing sand particles within the upper atmosphere as far north as the UK and other northern European territories.

And yet another incident, the Volcano in Tonga, had a similar effect, only instead of sand particles, ash within the atmosphere. Yes the volcanic eruption in January was perhaps the biggest one ever recorded with it being captured from space, but the seismic activity had started in December, so ash was more than likely already in the atmosphere, the massive eruption that followed on would have spewn more ash into the atmosphere which on winds higher up has meant that Ash from the southern hemisphere (Tonga) is now all across the world.

However after the rather magical beginning to January, things again started to get rather grey with fog, and it was a walk around a local reservoir when things felt that ever so slightly claustrophobic, the fog was akin to “pea soup” but it made for some interesting and soothing photography, my favourite photograph that I captured in the fog was the following,

Reflections of solitude

Eerie was the best way to describe this particular part of January 2022, but even I knew that the fog would not last forever and instead it would begin to change again. Surely enough it did. I had found myself at “Highfields Park” another urban lung just a hypothetical stone’s throw away from Nottingham, one late afternoon and was walking around the picturesque lake when I looked in the distance at the “Wolf Moon” over the silhouette of the trees, it was something that I just had to capture and when you consider this was January, it made things feel different, odd almost and somewhat strange.

Reflections under a wolf moon.

But that particular photograph of the Wolf Moon, is perhaps one of the best images that I have ever taken, unique is what it was and I just loved the orange glow, pastel in looks and was perhaps one of the most interesting artworks that I had ever seen.

By now, the month of January was progressing at a rather rapid pace, and another place that I love to visit, is a Chapel, located on a hill, with views towards Derbyshire, whilst it was not mild it was cold, raw and clear, yet the composition that I found next was the following, still, serene and calm. I mean how could January be that, when usually it is a claustrophobic month of dull and grey weather.

Serenity of the chapel.

Gone are the perceptions of January being dull, grey and horrible, but with the events in Tonga, and the Ash in the upper atmosphere, things felt more magical and one afternoon I was at the glorious “Victoria Park” in Ilkeston, the weather was more mild and the light was just magical, it felt like an early spring day and the bandstand was something else, in the perfect light with the branches of the trees, I just had to capture this stunning piece of architecture.

Bandstand framed.

Not only were the local parks extremely beautiful and photogenic with the colour, but so was the canal, one evening I just had to capture the stunning sunset at the local canal, and below are the surreal and otherworldly colours within perhaps one of the most stunning sunsets that I had ever seen.

Purple breaks over the canal.

Purple was the colour and it was magical, thankfully when I captured the two photographs above of the canal, I had arrived at the best time possible, the skies were changing by the second and to witness this sharp, quick series of events within the sky was just something else. But it did not stop there.

It was the end of the month when things really did get interesting and I suppose it was the month of January saying “goodbye” in a unique way, and the following photographs just summed up the magic of January 2022.

Goodbye from January.

To say that the month of January was different and unique would be stating the obvious, and it was actually the sunniest January recorded in quite a number of years, but it was also a month that proved to me, that January is very much an overlooked month, whilst it provides a stopgap between Christmas and the period in which nature awakens again, it is a month that just needs a little bit of appreciation, and for a landscape photographer it can be magical, that of course is the pandemic element and slower pace of life speaking, but work with January and you find calm amongst the most surprising of places, gone is my conception of January, and after this January that has just gone, my perception of January’s to come has been completely changed for the best. It might have been odd and somewhat strange but it was a month of sunset and colour, something that might or might not be rare, but it is a month that has changed perceptions and maybe January is not that bad afterall.

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