2014 in Photos

Words and photography by Pete Heck

I stepped up my game in 2014.

In January I finally upgraded my gear, trading in my trusty Canon T3i for a Canon 6D. And I dedicated myself to learning more. I watched and read countless tutorials finding ways to improve. I worked hard at taking less photos (only 10,000 this year!) and focused instead on getting the shot right the first time. I even experimented with theme based shoots instead of just aimlessly wandering and shooting whatever caught my eye.

Ask me four years ago if I would have sold my photography for marketing purposes and I would have laughed. But a few sales this year have proven to me that our images are finally worthy.

So my hard work is finally paying off! But I won’t stop there.

I’ve set goals for 2015 and beyond. I want to learn more about light and to understand it better. I want to experiment with long shutter photography. I want to work harder on getting settings in camera right versus having to adjust in post-processing. And I’m hoping to start off the year with a bang by photographing the northern lights (we’re asking the Finland skies to cooperate – planning to spend a whole month there has me optimistic)!

But for now, here’s a glimpse at the photos I loved from this past year.


The big prairie sky coupled with the sunrises and sunsets never get old for us. Every time we come home for a visit we get a reminder.

Alberta Prairie

And of course a trip to the mountains is always a must. We caught this sunrise from the Vermillion Lakes in Banff National Park.

Vermillion Lake Sunrise


A country which holds a pretty special place in our hearts. The food, culture and people and of course the landscapes. This image is from Hierve al Agua, a natural infinity pool in the middle of the Oaxacan countryside.

Hierve el Agua

One of our top moments of 2014 was Dalene and I releasing baby sea turtles.

Sea Turtles


Our time was short on this island but it wasn’t hard to find out why so many call it paradise. This stunning sunset was from (not so) Secret Beach.

Maui Sunset


Life slowed down for us in Romania. We had the opportunity to live with a family and work on their farm. The grandfather, in his late nineties, warmly welcomed us into his home.

Romania Grandfather


I didn’t have high expectations from Budapest, but it really showed me up. The city is a photographer’s dream. The architecture, bridges, Danube, churches, and so much more really kept me busy with the camera. People call it the ‘Paris of the East’ for good reason.



I challenged myself to shoot Paris in another light while we enjoyed our three week stay in August. But capturing the cliche Paris is something I still love to do. The city was practically deserted as everyone was on their summer holidays, so the streets seemed somewhat empty. My good friend Karl joined me and we explored the city by day and night.

Paris Photowalk

This last image was seconds before the lights went out on Notre Dame at 1am. Fortunately we caught it, unfortunately my metro stopped running and I had to walk 6km home.

Notre Dame and the Seine


After Paris we stayed with our good friends from Finding the Universe and road tripped to see the Dunes of Pilat.

Dune du Pilat

Dune Beaches

We stopped in Bordeaux for a few days. One of their top attractions is a mirror pool in front of Place Royale, the stock exchange square.

Bordeaux Mirror


I racked up quite a few photos over our month in Italy. This image is from Florence where we witnessed an incredible sunset over Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio

Captured in the streets of Modena at night. A town that as tourists we felt we had to ourselves.

Modena Nights


We were fortunate to catch the tail end of autumn in Ann Arbor. The leaves just clung on for the first few days we arrived.

Family Walk Ann Arbor

Our Partners

We’ve been so fortunate to partner with some excellent companies in this past year.Vanguard USA – a leading tripod and photo equipment company
SmugMug – where we host our online portfolio.
F-Stop Gear – photography designed bags geared for adventureOur portfolio can be found at photography.hecktictravels.com where it is possible to purchase our photographs. It’s a work in progress and not all of our work can be found on here. If there is an image that you would like to purchase and it’s not in our portfolio please do not hesitate to contact us.

46 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Amazing photos. I’m just getting into photography myself but it is so daunting when you talk about shutter speeds, post production etc
    Paula Through the Looking Glass recently posted..Year in Review: My 2014

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Thanks for your comment Paula. It is daunting at first, but just the process of practicing something new each time you go out will advance you very quickly. If you ever have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Cheers! Pete

  • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer
    December 22 2014

    Wow! You took some AMAZING photographs this year! Looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store 😀

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Thanks Chanel, we have some pretty high expectations for 2015, stay tuned!!

  • Katie Gard
    December 22 2014

    I love seeing how far your photography has come! Not that they’ve ever been bad, but it’s cool to see the technical progression as you improve your craft.

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Cheers Katie. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of photography. Every time I think I have something under control I see some amazing photograph on the web and I always am wondering how they shot it, or what settings, or, or, or…. Passion certainly fuels the progression and I’m glad it’s showing results, but I have so much further to go. Thanks again 🙂

  • December 22 2014

    First of all – Great Shots! It’s awesome to see when your work progresses over time, it’s a very gratifying feeling. It’s funny to me that you mentioned your goals and I have some very similar ones. I’m starting to look for more knowledge on lighting and low light photography as well as I’m a novice in that category. It’s also interesting that you mentioned taking less photos and focusing more on composing better the first time. I find myself rushing quite a bit when shooting and traveling so I’ve started dedicating more time to each destination. Kudos to you for selling some pics, and here’s to seeing even better shots from you in 2015!
    Kenin Bassart recently posted..Grand Traverse Resort and Spa – Romance Done Right

  • December 22 2014

    It’s great to see how far you’ve come! Keep it up! I enjoy seeing and reading about your travels.
    Jeff Cruz recently posted..2015 Gallery Schedule / New Print Releases

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Hey Jeff, this means a lot coming from you. You’ve certainly been a mentor along my journey. Hopefully we have the chance to catch up in 2015 🙂

  • December 22 2014

    While I like them all, I think my favourite shot is of the Romanian grandfather – that face has a lot of character!

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      He certainly did have a lot of character, such a kind man he is. Thanks Emily. PS it’s one of my faves of this set as well.

  • Charlie
    December 22 2014

    Fantastic photos! Definitely ones to be proud of.

  • December 22 2014

    Only one word – stunning!

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Thanks Jill, happy holidays and all the best in 2015 🙂

  • December 23 2014

    You really are very talented Pete! I wish my photos looked this good, I only know the basics but now I have got my first DSLR I really want to learn more in manual modes – now if I only knew where to start…
    Katie recently posted..A Chateau dotted land of emerald green: Exploring France’s Dordogne Region

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Thank you Katie. If you ever have any questions, please let me know. I can also steer you to some really good websites/articles that can get you on your way. It’s a little intimidating at first, but the learning curve comes fast.

  • December 23 2014

    Wow! All the work you’ve been putting in shows, Pete. These shots are ALL stunning – I always look forward to your photo posts!
    Amanda recently posted..My Favorite Spots in Wellington

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Greatly appreciated Amanda. Here’s to 2015 and hopefully we cross paths!

  • December 23 2014

    Superb photo collection!
    I like them all, but as a mountain lover I’m partial to the ones of Alberta 🙂
    Simon recently posted..My 7 Favourite Photos of 2014

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Me too Simon, me too. Thank you 🙂

  • Sam
    December 23 2014

    I never knew France had sand dunes – cool! Growing up in south east England, France was always a go-to holiday destination, so it actually doesn’t seem that special to me anymore, but I always enjoy seeing places like that through other people’s eyes.

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      I only knew about the dunes because of Pinterest. I didn’t even know that we would be so close when we booked our trip to Bordeaux. Since we were in the area we had to go and check them out. Pretty surreal that they are there.

      I think a lot of people probably feel the same way Sam. But I’m with you and that I love seeing them through other people’s eyes/lenses :). All the best in 2015!

  • December 27 2014

    Extremely gorgeous photos – your hard work certainly paid off! Like Sam, I also didn’t know France had sand dunes!!
    Charlie recently posted..I Want To Travel, But What If I Run Out of Money?

    • Pete
      December 27 2014

      Thank you Charlie. I’m pretty happy that we had a chance to visit the dunes, I just wish we had more time to explore them as we just went for the afternoon. Next time I’d like to camp nearby and wake up for sunrise and have them all to myself….

  • December 30 2014

    These are all wonderful. I especially love the shot of the building (and Karl?) in Paris. I hope to learn a lot more about photography this year and, like you mentioned, take fewer photos but try to get the right shot first. Looking forward to seeing your photos in 2015!
    Jenna recently posted..The Perfect Pre-Holiday Getaway?

    • Pete
      December 31 2014

      Thanks Jenna, and yes that was Karl as he was capturing an image. All the best in 2015 and taking fewer photos 😉

  • December 31 2014

    Great eye for photography! Loved the pictures. Kristen and I started using the Sony a7 this year. What a difference having a full frame sensor. I look forward to your travel pictures of 2015!

    • Pete
      January 5 2015

      Thanks Siya, yes full frame makes a big difference for sure. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the A7, as there will come a time where I’m heading towards the mirrorless (but not yet…) 🙂

  • December 31 2014

    Awesome photos, Pete! I feel like I need some more photo lessons from you! Can’t wait to see how your photos change in 2015 with all the new practices you’re putting into place! 🙂
    Megan recently posted..A Look Back at 2014

    • Pete
      January 5 2015

      Thanks Megan! Let’s meet up and go shoot somewhere 🙂

  • December 31 2014

    You have gone places and I have enjoyed my journey with you as much as you have! Love your photography!! Happy Travels for 2015 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Dear Melbourne, I got a lil crush on you.

    • Pete
      January 5 2015

      Thanks Arti, and all the best to you in 2015 as well my friend 🙂

  • La Cuisine d'Helene
    January 2 2015

    Love your pics. I learn photography by myself. I take a lot of pics on vacation with my Rebel T4i. I want to upgrade in 2015 but don’t like that the more expensive cameras are so heavy. When I travel I often spend 7-8 hrs walking in cities a day taking pictures. It becomes heavy at one point.

    What do you like about the 6D compared to the T3i?

    • Pete
      January 5 2015

      Hi Helene, and thank you 🙂

      Firstly, the 6D is a full frame compared to a crop sensor on the T3i. A good article explaining the differences is here – http://www.slrlounge.com/school/cropped-sensor-vs-full-frame-sensor-tips-in-2/

      Also, the quality of noise reduction is very good on the 6D in comparison. I can shoot at 3200ISO at night and have very limited noise. The T3i was very noisy at this ISO.

      But you’re right, weight is definitely an issue. If you are considering going full frame and want to lessen your load, you might want to consider the Sony A7 series. I’ve heard nothing but good things 🙂

      If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.


  • January 5 2015

    Amazing images! And you had a lot of travel last year. Good for you! Curious, how do you like smugmug so far? Thinking about using them instead of fineartgallery. Thanks, and Happy New Year.

    • Pete
      January 5 2015

      Thanks Kemkem. I really like Smugmug so far. The platform is so easy to use and everything is taken care of in terms of selling prints etc. They have four different printers to choose from and their cost is set, so you just set your price for the images and pocket the profit. Their support is great and I’m in progress to mirror my gallery to that of our website. It’s a work in progress, but I like what I have seen so far.

      If you have any other questions, please let me know 🙂

      Happy 2015!

  • Looks like you weren’t busy at all in 2014 😉
    I can’t even pick my favorite photo because they are all pretty darn amazing! Looking forward to seeing what 2015 will bring for you.
    Annette | Bucket List Journey recently posted..22 Bucket List Things to Do in Tokyo

  • January 6 2015

    My 6D came in the mail yesterday! Can’t wait to put it to use; thanks again for your input =)
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Road Rules: Driving to Sicily

  • January 8 2015

    excellent pictures! I’m a huge fan of your photography Pete and I’m already excited to see how you will capture my part of the world in 2015 🙂 also, I’ve been considering making a gallery on Smugmug so good to know it’s worth the effort!
    kami recently posted..Surprising, beautiful and challenging Bilbao

  • January 9 2015

    Loved the introduction of this post! Since I am also a photographer (call me amateur or whatever), I keep seeking inspiration and information to improve my photography. And today, I have learnt a big lesson – to work hard on the technicalities, do less of photoshop and have a theme in mind. Of course, your pictures are brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Renuka recently posted..Postcards From GOA

  • January 12 2015

    You guys always have the coolest photos. I love how they keep improving with time.
    Fabiana recently posted..Fort Myers: The Perfect Winter Escape

  • January 12 2015

    I’m having a hard time picking even one favorite! Beautiful shots, one and all.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..MADAGASCAR: Conserving Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve

  • I always love the photography on HeckticTravels, and the fact that you have evolved by practice over the years is inspiring. That photo from Banff is amazing.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Tips for driving in Jamaica (and why you may not want to)

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