Can you believe it’s that time of year again?
This year choosing was not so hard. Either these really stand out or I’m getting better at discerning. I also know that this isn’t the most important decision ever and not having a shot on the list won’t make it disappear.
I’ve put them in (roughly) the order they were taken so like other best of posts, this one starts and ends with a snowy scene. I find this one especially peaceful. The composition is good. The light was lovely and it was fun taking the shot, too. I laughed the whole time. You can read about it here.
I am not a wildlife photographer, but I get lucky sometimes. We have neighborhood deer, mostly just does unless one of them has a little buck in the spring. Twins are pretty common with white tailed deer and so there are usually at least two youngsters following the moms around. Now I have a longer lens I can stay far enough away that they act naturally. This is a sweet little moment I captured from the deck. They could hear the shutter, but it didn’t worry them.
For more pictures of these little cuties, click here!
In August I went back to NH to see my parents and some other folks. One of the things I wanted to do was to see a rather large nature preserve in my hometown of Bedford. In the last couple of decades Bedford has become a popular place to live and the development is getting out of control. As I drove through it I saw houses and other buildings that were not there the last time I was. Crazy. It’s especially disturbing since now I live in the sticks and am not used to this kind of dense human occupation. Luckily, but not for the developers, Florence Tarr left a lot of her land to nature. For years it was under private funding and management, but now has been turned over to the Piscataquog Land Conservancy and I’m so glad. There are extensive trails, varied terrain and several mini ecosystems to explore. I loved it.
Anyway, about the picture. It was the laurels that knocked me out. Northern Wisconsin doesn’t have any and I miss them. I wanted a way to showcase them, but nothing jumped out at me until this little section of trail. It’s handheld and lovingly processed to bring out the amazing feeling being in a laurel grove gives me. Plus I was with my mom.
For more images from my visit back to NH, click here for the blog post.
Another thing I wanted to do in NH was revisit a favorite nature preserve that I only discovered just before moving to WI. Bradford Bog and Cedar Swamp. I had never seen it in high summer with the lush ferns and other plants that cover the forest floor. Plus it’s an easy hike for my mom who tires a little easily these days. We both loved it and of course there were mushrooms.
This shot is special because of the colors and the light. Handheld because I didn’t bring the tripod. Braced my hand on the edge of the stump and shot nearly wide open so the mushrooms would really stand out. The moss, the focus. It’s just a favorite.
Since I do shoot so many mushrooms, it’s getting harder and harder for me to choose. This one is special because I was with my oldest friend who I hadn’t seen for over a decade. Life took us in different directions, but we still love each other and when we are together it’s like no time has passed at all.
The shot itself is one of the best for a couple of reasons. First the isolation of the fungi – they are in such sharp relief against that blurry background. Second is the exposure. It’s dead on. and I love the cut out in the log they are on. It adds just a little unexpected reality. I don’t even mind that they are past their prime.
This next one was just serendipity. I happened to go out into the garden when this bug was on the flowers. Like happens so often, I went back in for the camera and luckily it didn’t fly away. Using a manual macro lens with a moving subject can be tricky, but I’ve worked with this lens so long I have a natural ease with it that I didn’t have when I first started. The bug was cooperative and this composition and relatively wide open aperture keeps it from being lost. It looks at once relaxed and ready to move.
On my way by in the car, I saw the potential in this scene, but was in a hurry and had no camera besides. When did have both time and a camera and the fog came, I remembered how terrific it could be and I’m so glad I did. No coffee or anything, just hit the road. Luckily it’s only like 5 minutes from the house.
Lots of foggy scenes are bleak and kind of grim by their very nature, but this one isn’t and that’s one of the things I like about it. It’s uplifting and happy. Of course the light, too. It was just at sunrise before the light came over the tree line. And when it did…poof…the fog was gone.
These next few are from a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. I like them because they represent a hard lesson I had to learn. To let go of my expectations for images that I can’t get because the light is wrong. Perfect light on vacation is a rare thing. Most of the time you just have to take what you can get and often it’s bright sunshine. Great for enjoying the outdoors, but not for photography. Unless you open your mind and make it work for you instead of crying about the harsh shadows.
This first one is on the rim of the Cinder Cone and is so geometric and minimal that any other light would have obscured those two qualities. It’s almost like a graphic image instead of a photo. The little tree fits perfectly in the triangle and I love the texture of the sand.
Dramatic light needs dramatic compositions and framing. This next one was on the climb up the Cinder Cone. That’s Lassen peak in the distance. The interleaving shapes frame it beautifully. Each is different enough from the other to give extra drama. The colors and the textures, they stand up to the direct sun and emphasize the geometric shape of the sections. Simple, but effective.
And this one before the climb – simple lines and bold lighting make it work. I walked around and around this area looking for just the right proportions and interconnections. The shadow of the tree itself is important to underline the scene and it points to the small tree. I didn’t crank the polarizer too much and so the sky is subtle and not overwhelming.
I love the atmosphere in this one and the scale my husband brings to the scene. Something largely missing from my landscape photography. Mostly that’s because I hike alone, but I also just don’t include people when they are there. I should do it more often. It’s not a perfect shot, but I like the steam and the backlight. More from The Devil’s Kitchen here.
More fungi fun! This one surprised me when I got it into the computer. I was so focused on the cap that I didn’t notice how animated and fun the sporophytes are. I remember taking several shots to get the light I wanted. There were some clouds and leaves playing with the light. It was beautiful and changing every second.
Juxtaposition can make a shot, too. The cheery colors in the foliage and the sinister gloom of the clouds. Very dramatic and interesting. Different from a lot of the usual fall shots I go for. Learning to find beauty in any light is the challenge for us photographers. Peak color happens when it happens and the light you get is the light you get. So when it was peak I went out to Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area and it was pretty great. I found this scene while following some coyote tracks off trail. Fabulous!
Sometimes the light is perfect for what you want to shoot. Overcast? Hit the falls! I love this next little scene for the scrim of snow and the ice that is there, but not too heavy to obscure a lot of the water. Finally I have a neutral density filter that doesn’t create much of a color cast and makes shots like this possible. Check out more waterfalls from that same day here!
Those are my choices. The best I did this year. Two I’ve printed and have hanging in the living room. 14 images that came from lessons learned, luck and experience. Share your best pictures in comments!