This is a new thing for me, choosing my best photos of the year. I’ve done it with books I’ve read and albums I’ve bought, but not things I made myself. It can be hard to subjectively judge your own work, but I think it’s a worthy exercise for anyone who wants to get better at what they do. I wrote a whole long post about my analysis and its criteria, but I’ve decided not to publish that. It’s boring, and who cares really?
On with the winners, in the order I shot them with some reasons why I chose them.
Even if I had planned this shot and spent a lot of time framing and composing, it couldn’t have been done better. As it was it was a grab-shot that took me only seconds to take. The Piscataquog is a very picturesque river and so it’s hard to get a bad image of it, but I like this one particularly because of the strong S curve of snow framing the dark river that leads your eye right through the frame. The white is almost blinding in spots, but the surrounding trees and sky keep your eyes in the shot. Someone commented that she expected to see a group of barbarians on horseback come bursting through and I love that new perspective.
The picture tells a story and the lighting and composition are in harmony. I was with a couple of friends this day and they were yakking it up to my right. I was looking back into the scene we’d just spent an hour in. Some of my best shots come from a last look back and that’s when I saw this. Because we were all cold and ready for coffee, I couldn’t take a lot of time over this and shot only a few frames. Luckily I had been working in this light and setting for a while and could capture it perfectly. I love the softness of the light and the snowed-over footprints and how they lead you into those mysterious trees. The shadows pick out the texture of the snow and add interest to the foreground. It’s hushed and peaceful and reminds me of every beautiful winter morning.
That whirlpool is awesome and I planned this shot pretty meticulously before I actually took it. Having been through this area before I noticed the whirlpools here and there, I knew I wanted to get a photo of one, but had to wait for better lighting. When that day came I scouted locations until I found this one and then got all excited when I saw that Charlie Brown tree in the foreground. It makes for the perfect element to keep your eyes up on the waterfall and the vortex. It also gives the scene some scale and it’s just plain fun. All around pretty damn great if I do say so myself. It also is a major indication that I was really trying to be a more deliberate photographer – one of my resolutions of 2010.
This photo came out looking very poignant and somehow introspective, as if this oinker knows he’ll end up in a sandwich. It was kind of a grab-shot that spoke volumes after I got it home. It is startling not only for the subject, but for the mood. I didn’t intend to make this a serious picture since pigs are not serious subjects – they’re boisterous and curious and don’t stay still for long at this age. I think it’s a testament to my skills as a photographer that I could bring out such a change of emotion in the final shot. A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to.
The title really sums up how this shot of the emerging flower feels. As if it’s shy and reticent about showing itself. I love the light and the slight shadows within the leaves. Just look at those leaves – so graceful and elegant. The fresh color and the focus is pretty damn good, too. I had the camera on my front steps cushioned by a bag of barley. So high tech. This is part of my Lily of the Valley project which I undertook to help hone my macro photography skills and it certainly did. For the most part I use a legacy Olympus lens – the 90mm f2 macro and I really needed practice with it and this project helped with that, too. Oh and gave me some excellent images, too.
The framing, the bg and the color of the flower work remarkably well. I remember hunting around for the best composition while my poor husband stood aside patiently waiting for me to photograph yet another flower. The depth-of-field is also right where it needs to be. I didn’t check it, but relied on my experience and knowledge of the lens to give me what I wanted. Not only is the image good in camera, but my post processing skill was coming along pretty well and I could do it justice and make it sing.
This shot is a testament to my skill as a photographer if that doesn’t sound too big-headed. I’m amazed I got it. About a dozen non-photographers were milling around exploring this tiny family burial ground and so when I noticed how a break in the canopy lit up Hannah’s stone, I had only a few seconds in which to compose, set exposure and shoot. Just after I did some people got into the frame and then the light changed and Hannah was no longer spotlit. When I got this image in Lightroom it was almost perfect out of the camera, but I thought a desaturated look with a slight vignette would really bring out the spooky, which it does. I’m very proud of this shot. Even if it is one of my beloved cemetery images, I think it has enough appeal to stand outside of that realm.
This is pretty fab all around. I was with some of my best photographer friends for the first time in months and we always have a great time together. The early morning light is so warm and soft on the background, but the post shades the rest of the gate and provides a contrasting color temperature. Not to mention those great little shadows the vine throws across the post. I also like the way the grass in the immediate foreground is lit up and the kiss of sun on the gate itself. At first I thought the gate was too prominent, but now I realize it isn’t.
It’s a powerful subject the Merrimack river and I worked for some time on the granite shelf of a bank trying to frame this right – particularly that stripe of rough water that leads your eye to the trees. I must have looked funny shuffling around and peering down into my LCD screen over and over again. Longish shutter speed, but not too much that the trees are totally blurry (there was a light wind) and light that is direct, but not too flat or harsh. Finally, it came together. This part of the river is beautiful and easily accessed, but somehow I’d never explored it until this year. It won’t be the last visit.
This one makes me smile. The sunny yellow color and the way the focus falls off gently speak of peace to me. I was on my back deck when I noticed the sun in this birch and went for the camera. I spent several minutes playing in the leaves, framing and shooting. This composition works the best and I love the overall color palette. Sometimes spontaneity produces the best shots.
Technically this photo rocks. The color and the clarity is terrific and I remember hunting around on the bank looking for just the right foreground elements to frame the shot. I think the composition works well and just look how those birch trunks pop. Even though the color is technically past peak (those bare trees were probably red only a week before) I like the deep golden hues; so rich and harmonious.
I also love this shot because I was able to take it. A few months ago I said I’d have to go on forced hiatus. I was emotionally strung out and couldn’t go into detail because it was cancer. Yeah, the Big C. After months of frustrating doctor visits I had surgery in late August and thought for sure my autumn would be ruined either from recovery or because I’d need chemo or radiation therapy. That thought made a depressing situation even worse. In the end I needed neither and I was actively shooting 4 weeks after my operation. The day I shot this image I’d just come from my first post-op appointment with my oncologist. She said everything looked fine and I was healing perfectly and it took such a weight off my shoulders that I felt I could fly. I’m almost crying writing this and remembering how wonderful I felt at this location on this most perfect day.
This is technically pretty great and I love the horizon line with the fog shrouded trees and those red berry bushes that really define the edge. Crisp foreground and hazy background contrast well and add to the mood of the image itself. it really says November to me. Plus I was with my mom having a great time together. We walked all the way up to the point where the little jog in the walkway is when I said we had to go back so I could shoot it. She ended up taking a shot too.
So that’s it then. The best I could do this year. I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did making them. Here’s to 2011!