Posts tagged “best of

Best of 2016

I don’t think I managed to do this last year for whatever reason, but this year I have collected what I think is the best I’ve done this year. Normally I select 12, but added two more because I just couldn’t cull any further. These are my rules, I make ’em up.

Here they are in order of when I shot them and a brief word about why I’m proud of them.

February – I love this stark, minimalist approach to landscape photography. The line of trees and then the exclamation point in the large one is just so striking. A little Lightroom magic and the tone of the image was in keeping with its dramatic presentation.

Keynote

March – Exploring abandoned buildings is something I’d like to do more of, so when I found a log cabin not far from my house, I decided to take a look. I just love this image. It’s colorful, yet the tin isn’t new. In order to emphasize it a little more, I desaturated the colors in the background. I can’t remember if the tilt is in camera or Lightroom, but without it the shot would be too static.

De-caffeinated

April – We have tons of trout lily both in the yard. It comes up in a beautiful yellow blanket, well ahead of the greenery of other plants. When its done blooming, even the leaves disappear until the next spring. With this photo, I wanted a single flower with leaves, an uncluttered background and a relatively emphatic composition. The light could be better, but I still think it’s a strong image.

Taking the Queen

May – Part of what I challenge myself with is to photograph quotidian things in a distinctive way. Yup, this is a ubiquitous flower, but when I saw the light from the window I rushed out with the camera, knowing it would be backlit in just a few minutes. I set up and cleared the shot of debris and distractions and bang – the sun lit them. The fact that they aren’t fully open makes this a little more unusual, but I would have shot them either way.

Have a little mercy

August – I’ve been working on my macro technique a little this year – that is to incorporate natural light in a more visible way. This one was taken in the very early morning and I think the subtlety of the light adds to the shot in a way that flat or artificial light wouldn’t be able to do.

Wee freeloader

August – Every year it seems I photograph more and more mushrooms. I’m improving, but serendipity still plays a big role in what makes an image really stand out. Light, light, light! With this one, I noticed the mushroom itself, because it’s so lovely and fresh, but the light knocked me out so I had to work really fast to get this shot and I’m proud of the results.

Tawny grisette

August – Working quickly to capture light is one thing, a reasonably known quantity with a timed start and stop, but wildlife is another thing altogether. No matter how small, critters are unpredictable. Luckily some will panic and freeze. Instead of getting closer, I decided to use negative space to emphasize the solitary state of this spring peeper. I hadn’t planned on making this monochrome, but when I was working with it, the background competed too much with the tiny frog and so I made the change. I think it adds something emotional and poignant to the image.

Surveyed worlds

September – Photographers never seem to shut up about light and so I’ll join the chorus. Light gives depth, texture and subtlety to a scene that can really draw you in as a viewer. Because it is a 2-dimensional medium and we see so acutely in 3 dimensions, making a successful photograph can be tough and sometimes scenes just don’t translate into 2 dimensions. That’s where knowing a thing or two about light and composition comes in handy. It’s only been about 30 years, but I think I’m catching on.

Let your spirit breathe

September – Not all my wildlife work is with wee creatures. My short 2 summers on the water has given me some new instincts with regard to water fowl. They will tolerate you if they get used to you. So with no blind, I did my best to encourage a pair of trumpeter swans feel that I wasn’t a threat. Soon they were curious about me and why I had so many legs (tripod), lol. With patience, practice and a little reverence I got this shot which is about the best bird photograph I’ve taken –

Power thrusters operational

September – The same day I shot the swan, I saw this storm building in the distance. Lucky for me Wisconsin is pretty flat and I managed to race around and find a decent vantage point before the whole thing blew by. It’s another case of recognizing a potential image and having the luck and experience to take advantage of it. The experience part came in knowing what would (and wouldn’t) make a good composition and the luck was that the field was unharvested. When processing the image, I knew I wanted to emphasize the drama, but not introduce anything that wasn’t already in the file. By changing the white balance a little, I brought out purple instead of blue and then I just slid the black point down a bit. I really like the results.

Under threatening skies

September – Another mushroom in wonderful light, this one spied on the edge of the driveway by my husband. No surprise that I raced in the house for the camera. I knew I wanted to keep the background soft and that the direct sunlight in the leaves would make for some lovely bokeh. If I’d caught it earlier the shade in the immediate foreground would be natural, but I’m not above making my own when I have to. This one makes me smile every time I look at it.

Tippler’s bane

October – Wisconsin seems to be the spider capital of the world. With a head’s up from my eagle-eyed husband, I nearly trod on this lovely girl before I saw her for myself. It was a little cool out, but also near the end of the season, so she stayed fairly still for me. Her colors are lovely and the contrast with the concrete near my garage is pretty excellent even though normally I prefer a more natural setting. In processing I cranked up the clarity and gave it a bit of a vignette. Using the 90mm macro lens and the 25mm extension tube meant I didn’t have to crop. Isn’t she lovely?

Eyes on you

October – This next one is maybe my favorite from the year. The last glacier left pockets of tightly packed hills in certain areas and luckily one is nearby. Last year I decided that I would head there during the peak of foliage season. The trails are lovely and this light was really amazing. I moved around quite a bit before finding just the right foreground element in that log. It points up the trail where it curves up and out of sight. I think it’s inviting and serene and I think I might have it printed and framed one day.

Return to Glory

October – Barns are everywhere in Wisconsin, but hardly any are this picturesque. When I saw it on one road, I doubled back down another hoping for a foreground element. Yay for a drainage ditch! Who knew it could be the perfect thing?

Changes are mere moments

That wraps up my best of 2016 post. I don’t know what next year holds for me, but I’m not planning to change a thing. Outdoors with my camera, mostly in solitude, bringing back what I find. I hope you’ll come with me.


Best of 2014

Wow is this post late, hey at least it’s still Q1. As usual, I had some trouble coming up with what I felt are the best photos I took last year. Strangely it was because a lot of it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself. So that meant I had to really examine each one and separate myself from the emotion of taking it or experiencing that particular time and place. Focusing on the final image as well as cutting down on the number of similar images also helped. Fall is fabulous, but including more than a couple shots just made the collection seem stagnant.

Let’s get to it, shall we? These are in chronological order, btw.

1. It’s hard to take a bad picture in Big Sur. This one made the cut because it’s got terrific color, tones and atmosphere. The touch of fog made the foreground more interesting than it would be without it and the striations in the sky make up for the lack of clouds (at least a little). It’s not stunningly original work, but so what?

Sleep Paralysis

2. I’m not a wildlife photographer so the annual elephant seal invasion at Big Sur was a challenge for me to shoot in a couple of ways. Mostly because even though it doesn’t look like it, the darn things move. Lol. I had to change up my focus style and be patient for little scenes to come about, like these two males having a practice fight. The light isn’t the best, but I love the fact that no other seals are concerned and there’s just the one looking at the camera as if to say, can you believe these guys? Also love the sprays of sand frozen in the air. Just another day at the beach.

Checked Aggression

3. I try to get to The Garden in the Woods every spring for the profusion of wildflowers on display. Especially since many are rare and I’ve never seen them in the wild. These bluebells for example. I absolutely love the arrangement, the light and the bokeh in this shot. It was pure serendipity that I happily took advantage of. There was a slight breeze and the light changed second to second so I had to work fast. Not to mention the hordes of kids going by with their teachers. If I hadn’t known what I wanted and how to get it quickly, I wouldn’t have gotten it.

A Girl This Beautiful

4. Sometimes one of your best shots happens while you’re waiting for another. This is Indian Cucumber which I’d shot once before, but this image stands out for me because I was able to get down well below the plant which gave me quite a bit of distance between the camera and the flower. It’s that distance that renders the background so smooth and uniform. The smooth uniformity creates negative space, something I don’t use as often as I probably should. It’s dramatic and focuses your attention more than a busy picture. When I shot it I thought I’d leave it in color since it is quite vivid, but when I started to process it, the graceful shape and wide color tones was a natural for monochrome.

Unbroken Solitude

5. This image has been in my head for a while and it was the shot I was waiting for when I took the one just above. When I headed out I thought the cloud cover would persist. It didn’t. I took a few test shots from different vantage points, just to get an idea of the best compositions. Then I decided to find other things of interest, no need to abandon the location just yet. I did not wander far. While photographing the flower above I noticed a couple of raindrops on my screen and pretty much ran back to the waterfall to set up for this shot. The light lasted about 8 minutes. One. Tiny. Cloud. I set up, shot and got what I wanted in that short period of time. I love the balance in this image and the greenery. It seems to glow with life and vitality. Persistence, patience and experience made the most of a sliver of good luck. Thank you tiny cloud.

Pulpit Falls

6. Another shot that took quick thinking and a bit of luck. I scared this little garter snake off the path and there it froze in the undergrowth. I watched it for a bit, thinking it would slither off. When it didn’t, I decided to try to get a shot of it standing up as tall as it could. That meant changing lenses and a few settings on the camera. Amazing that it stood there while I did that and let me get one shot. One. Like the cloud. I got the focus, the DOF and the exposure in one go. Then it was off, dissolving into invisibility.

Freeze!

7. Autumn is a no-brainer for photography, but I love this shot because I took it from my kayak. It was a perfect day and I’d had a couple seasons’ worth of practice for this kind of landscape work. Anchoring to compose is a bit tough when there’s enough current in the water so aligning this image took a bit of work, but I got it. I really like the balance and the colors are so vivid. It’s so inviting. And clouds! Bonus!

Campton Bog

8. Not many of my macro photos are this visually striking so even though it’s a common ladybug (with lunch victim) I think it stands out. The focus is darn good and that bokeh (thanks to the Olympus 90mm legacy macro) is just dreamy. I only noticed the little guy sheltering under a leaf after I’d been shooting something else, but when I did I knew I had to give it a go. It’s the singularity of the line that draws the eye, then recognition of the subject, which is cute so appealing. The negative space provided by the smooth background makes that work and the raindrops are a final touch that adds a sense intimacy and a bit of sympathy. The little hunter is just trying to get out of the rain and have a nice meal. Not many of my images are as emotional as this one and so I think it stands out.

Lunch Date

9. This one is in here for a couple of reasons, first because I’ve been searching for this flower for YEARS and second because I think the photo works on multiple levels. Artistically and stylistically it works well; the colors are complimentary and the angle of view unusual. The focus is encompassing enough, but the bokeh helps the texture stand out even more. From a purely documentary approach I think it showcases the flower specimen quite well. I could see this in a guide book. Plus check out that little guy upside down in the center blossom. Don’t know what it is, but it wasn’t shy. Ah pinesap, how you made my day!

I can almost hear you sigh

10. Recently there’s been a stir in some photography circles about over-photographing certain places (like Delicate Arch or Half Dome). To some extent I agree and sometimes I wonder if the world needs another shot of something done hundreds of times. There aren’t many places in New Hampshire that qualify, but Beard Brook in Hillsborough is one. It has a beautiful stone arch bridge that is lovely, but very popular with photographers. I went there anyway and took this image downstream from the bridge. I kept one eye on the light and the other on my footing and pretty much raced to get set up on a huge boulder. Managing the polarizer to minimize glare off the leaves, but maximize reflection in the water took a bit of finagling, but I got it. The sun lights the trees from top to bottom, but stays out of the water. I hadn’t planned to get this shot, but when presented with the perfect set up, I took it.

Beard Brook

11. This was an “OMG honey, pull over!” shot. We were heading back to the hotel from the Bridger-Teton National Forest when I noticed the light. Specifically I noticed the aspens against the dark backdrop of the hill. Grand Teton was just a bonus. As the light was changing fast, I shot out of the car window, handheld. A minute later, the trees were in shadow. A little cropping and monochrome treatment in post and I think it’s a dramatic image that isn’t like every other shot of Grand Teton.

Dominance

12. Ok, Grand Teton is irresistible. We didn’t have too many days of sun during our November trip and on our last day we decided to check out the Snake River using the only access we had since the main park road was closed. Who knew it would be a perfect day for reflections of those great peaks and that blue sky? I love this image for its balance and symmetry. Also for the semi-hidden grasses that are only partially lit by the low-angled sun. You can see a few ducks in there, too, if you look closely. We spent a few hours chasing them up river.

Teton Reflections

I hope you liked revisiting the highlights of my year. I’ve got a trip to Belgium later on, so maybe there will be some 2015 winners from across the pond!


Best of 2012

Hello and welcome to my…what is this…the second or is it third? Well, whatever, welcome to my Best Images of the Year post. It was hell.

Either I’m getting worse as a photographer or I’m just more picky about my images, but damn if it wasn’t hard to compile my best shots this year. The fact that I didn’t get anything decent until May is a pretty good indication of my mediocrity. Whenever I edit a batch of photos in Lightroom, I make a point to rate them with the 5-star system. Sometimes my ratings change over time, but mostly they stay the same. I think I had one 5-star image, but downgraded it later leaving none. Overall I think I did a better job with light this year, but my narrowness of subject began to bore me. Still, I did manage to generate images that I like and without further whining, here’s what I’ve got. As always they are in the order taken during the year.

This waterfall is in Pulpit Rock Conservation Area in Bedford, NH. I shot it from this angle for the first time this year and was amazed at my stupidity at not finding this view before. While steep and off the main trail, it isn’t hard to get to. The composition is very strong and came together naturally. The light was kind and the balance and heft the trees contribute adds a lovely symmetry, vigor and depth. Even the rocks cleaned up for me.

My eternal gratitude (May)

 

Next is a shot of High Bridge over the Piscataquog river in New Boston, NH. It is now repaired, but when I shot this the deck still had some holes and the I-beams were pretty rusty. I did not set foot on it. I love this shot because it’s powerful. I chose and set up carefully to emphasize the amount of water while also showing the gorge itself and of course the bridge. A fair amount of planning went into this shot and I picked my moment pretty well for maximum white water. I also managed the post-processing to bring up the new leaves on the trees and I like the effect.

 

High Bridge over the Piscataquog (May)

I love this shot for a lot of reasons. First is that it is a relatively rare Luna Moth and only the second I’ve ever seen. Second because I did see it, which was an amazing piece of luck. I was on the last leg of an afternoon hike, coming pretty fast down the trail at the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, NH. Somehow I noticed a difference in the green or the shape in the undergrowth and stopped to check it out. I was flabbergasted to see this gorgeous creature just emerged from its chrysalis and pumping up those glorious wings. The light was perfect and I shot and shot and shot. What a fantastic experience it was and I’m so glad to have been a witness to this insect’s very short, but intriguing life.

Luna Waxing (May)

The next one just happens to be an insect shot, too, although it didn’t start out that way. I went to shoot the sundew which are tiny, carnivorous plants. They secrete minute droplets of basically sugar to attract bugs which are then trapped and are gradually subsumed and digested by the plant. This one is one of millions in the Ponemah Bog Conservation Area in Amherst, NH and at first I didn’t notice the tiny whitefly, but I’m glad it’s there, even if it was probably doomed. The clarity (thanks to the OM 90mm macro), the complexity and the strangeness of the shot just make it for me (not to mention the light which is pretty fab). Next year I hope to work more with these little wonders and photograph them in bloom.

Sweet Temptation (July)

This is kind of a strange one for me even though I fly a few times a year. I just happened to look out the window as we arced over the American west. The color just knocked me out and when I saw the big bend coming up in that ribbon of river, I hauled out the camera (and lost my eyecup in the bargain, doh!). Luckily the window wasn’t too filthy and I managed a relatively clean image. A square crop gives it some tension and balance to my eye and I like how bold it is.

Desert abstract (September)

If you’ve been following along this year, you’re no doubt aware I caught a mega-dose of Mushroom Madness and even though there were a lot of good shots, I think you’ll agree this one takes the prize. While out to do some waterfall work, I found a huge swath of these coppery beauties. After a few failed attempts at shooting little groups of them, I spied this loner. With the soft light and the contrasting color of the moss it really pops. I love it and the OM 90mm shines as usual.

Take another little piece of my heart (October)

Funny how many of my abstract shots involve water. On a meetup to do a waterfall shoot at Garwin Falls in Wilton, NH, I ended up at this pool below a small cascade. The ripples and the reflection of the sky and leaves overhead was mesmerizing and I followed this little leaf around until I had it where I wanted it. Who am I kidding…I was totally at its mercy! I used the OM 90mm which is also a pretty terrific medium-telephoto and it sure was challenging to manage the focus and track the leaf. It’s on the list because it is a bit different for me and I was glad that I saw the image even before I shot it. Plus it’s just fascinating to look at…soft and ripply and the colors are so vivid.

I feel like Andy Warhol (October)

Ok. You caught me. Another mushroom shot, but damn, just look at it! That light just knocks me out! Plus it’s a microscape which is something I’ve been working on for a while now. These little slices of the forest floor are so magical to me and mostly I shoot them as I find them. This one though got a little clean up on top of the log. The leaves though were artfully arranged by nature in the Henderson Swasey Town Forest, Exeter, NH. I like it because it’s playful and has good composition, focus and light.

Scouting Party (October)

 

Another waterfall shot, but very different from Pulpit Rock falls. This one was an unexpected treat and I raced the sun clearing up debris that really ruined the shot. With tripod precariously placed I managed not only to have great light in the trees, but also in the stream itself. No direct sun on the falls meant no blown highlights, but it just skims the rocks and I really like the added zip. I think this represents my ability to see and compose quickly enough to take advantage of excellent light that doesn’t last, something I have improved over the last couple years.

Minge Brook (October)

 

And now for something completely different…well kinda. Yeah it’s another waterfall, but the whole feeling is altered. The drama is more stark and austere and I love the deep contrast between the dark gorge walls and the water itself. I have shot these falls before, but the mood is so different that it might be another place altogether. The camera was so low and close to the flow that the lens kept getting splashed and I had a lot of do-overs. The results are strong for composition, interest and exposure, so it goes on the list. I dig how that closest rock seems to float. Oh this is Upper Purgatory Falls in Mont Vernon, NH.

Echoes in my head (November)

This next one is from a group of images that I haven’t shared on this blog before, but will soon. Earlier this year I found a dead crow on my lawn. Being the person I am, I left it there because I had a feeling it would yield excellent photographic possibilities and I wasn’t wrong. The morning of our first hard frost I went out to see and wow, it was pretty awesome. Check out the detail in the feathers – such fantastic texture (thanks again to my old OM 90mm). The sun went to work melting the tiny crystals, but I got there first. Yes, it’s a dead creature, but I did not kill it and I think if you look hard enough you can find beauty in almost anything nature brings, even death.

Nevermore (November)

Last is another shot I haven’t shared here yet and another one involving death. Frequent readers will not be surprised at my inclusion of a cemetery image in my top picks. Even without the fog, this would be a pretty intense shot, but the fog just wraps everything close and confines your view, if not your imagination. While I was driving to this location, which is Old Hill Cemetery in Londonderry, NH, I knew I’d include the wall in the shot because of the scrim of snow and because stone walls are so typical of old cemeteries around here. I like how the big branch balances the wall and frames the scene. I think I had to stand in the road for this one, but it was worth the risk.

Find that soul (December)

So that’s the lot, the best images I made in 2012.

2013 is going to be a VERY different year, that much I can tell you. See, I got a job. Full time. I haven’t worked for a few years now and have been able to devote a lot of time to photography. It’s been an incredible opportunity to rekindle my old love affair with it and to develop my skills so that I’m a pretty passable art-teest these days. But it’s time for me to go back to work and the absolute perfect situation landed in my lap over the Thanksgiving holiday. Earlier this month I completed all my meetings with the decision makers (one of which I had to fly to Atlanta for), got an offer, finished negotiations and should begin work on January 7 (pending a bg check). I’m really excited about it and I know it’s the right next step for the career I’ve ignored for too long.

So where does this leave me, my photography and this blog? Hopefully with new possibilities. No, I won’t have my days to myself anymore and will no doubt turn into a weekend warrior. I will be traveling a bit more though, and while I probably won’t be toting my big rig around much, I will have an iPhone and boy won’t that be something different? Yeah, old hat to most of you, but not to me and I’m pretty psyched to be able to have a camera in other situations besides hiking. I’m looking forward to exercising my photographer’s eye outside of the woods and nature. To take more slices of life I guess. I promise not to take pictures of my lunch.

Anyway…that wraps up 2012. Thanks to all my readers and followers who enjoy the blog give me feedback. If you haven’t, don’t by shy. I don’t bite.

Much.

Happy New Year!

 

 


The Best of 2011

OMG am I a lazy blogger or what?  Nothing like waiting until the end of January to post about my best work of the previous year.  I guess I picked a bad time to disconnect from the photography world for a bit huh?

When I began sorting images into a best of collection in Lightroom, I noticed that I had exactly 8600 raw files for the year.  Weird.  It is a smaller number than for 2011, but still represents a lot of shooting.

Not every photo was difficult to choose, some are stand-outs even if I do say so myself. In a conversation with fellow photographer Tricia McDonald Ward we agreed that we can be hard on ourselves and have difficulty recognizing our own excellence. To do so is not arrogance or pride in the sense of hubris, but pride in the sense of accomplishment and growth. She also said that while we need to learn to recognize areas that need improvement, we should not view them as failures but as opportunities. That makes perfect sense to me.

So here are what I think are the best images I took all year and an explanation as to why I chose them. My criteria were pretty basic and I think a lot of other photographers use the same ones –

1. Do I like it?

Well duh, what?

2. Does it have technical merit?

As much as we sometimes don’t like rules, they are there for a reason and I try not to break them without a purpose. So a good photo has to be well composed, not be under or over exposed, be taken in lickable light etc.

3. Does it move me toward a goal?

Sometimes I have specific projects that I want to work on or specific things I want to improve and if a photo gets me closer to one of these, I count it as a success.

4. Do I have fond memories of when, where and with whom I took it?

While most of my photography is done solo, sometimes I have people with me and if we’re having a good time it makes the image more special.

Not every criterion was given equal weight for every photo, but they all were factors in the decision.  Here they are in the order they were taken –

Frozen Menace

Included in top 12 because it’s arresting and weird and slightly menacing. And that I had to work to create it both in the field and in post processing. Also I was with two of my favorite photographer buddies and we had a great time together as usual.

Out of Chaos

Included in the top 12 because it is a shot that I not only had vision for when I took it, but I also envisioned the post processing I would use to make it fulfill that vision. And for the memories; I was in a terrific place with my terrific husband.

Luminance

Included because damn, it’s good. Look at that light would ya??? : ) Seriously, I showed up mega early for a sunrise shoot and only one of my buddies was there. We hit the jackpot for light though since the gorge has a bend in it and the sun probably only hits it like this for a few days a year. Makes getting up in the dark worth it.

Speed of Life

Included in the top 12 because it’s pretty fab even if I do say so myself. This is a VERY popular waterfall and has been shot thousands of times. The pressure to TRY to create something distinctive was in my mind the whole time I was here and I think I hit close to the mark. Also my mom was with me and this was her first time seeing the falls. She’s a big part of why I love nature; because she does and she taught me to as well.

Fringed Polygala

Included in the top 12 because I love the playful nature of the the composition. It’s a lot less static than many of my wildflower shots. Also I nearly didn’t take it at all. It was buggy as hell and I was hot, sweaty and tired. But I’d been hunting for fringed polygala that day and when I saw this little group of them, I knew I had what I was looking for. Expanding and improving my microscape work was a goal for the year and this definitely hits it square. And that light…can you beat it?

Crown Jewels

Included in the top 12 because I love it. It’s bold, crisp, colorful and striking. Plus it’s a fern and if you know me, you know I love ferns. Also my photographic vision for this image succeeds for what I did in the field and what I did in post processing. Getting these two things to gel isn’t easy sometimes and I often stumble over one or both. Not this time though.

Below Black Point

Included in the top 12 because I love the textures and the tonality. Black and white needs to include both of those and not just middling grays. Even though the light wasn’t perfect, I like the balance, structure and the play of focus in this shot. Plus I was on vacation with my favorite human being (husband) and we’d just had the most awesome hike and just enjoyed being alive and together.

The Indifference of Heaven

Included in the top 12 because damn, it’s fab. The texture and the light are amazing. I can practically feel the silkiness of those broadly delicate petals. Also this one took a lot of return trips and an amazing stroke of luck to produce. I’d missed the blooming the year before and was determined to get it in 2011. I went to this location, one of the very few giant rhododendron groves in the state, many times to check the progress. Finally it was close and when I had to drop my husband off at the airport for a 6am flight I decided to head over and see if they had blossomed. They did and it was an amazing time to be in this forest of giants.

Determination

Included because I like the story it tells. Normally I’d want to see the eyes of any creature I photograph, but the position, angle and light on this little one is pretty fab. They’re harder to photograph than you’d think and I spent a lot of time in the woods trying to find them and not step on them when I did. They’re one of the many tiny lives that make up the ecosystem I love most.

Past the Sound of Whispers

Included in the top 12 because it’s the culmination of a project that I decided to take on the year before. I’d tried to take photos of this mysterious little flower before and they all sucked. So I made a mini-project of their study. I learned why they’re white, what pollinates them and what they need to grow. After that it seemed they were my ghostly companions every time I went into the woods. This shot was at once carefully orchestrated and also a lucky break. Making the most of it affirms that I’m getting better at this photography thing. There are still shots of this flower I want to get, but I am so proud of this one.

Incandescent

Included in the top 12 because it incorporates two of my silent goals for the year; to improve and expand upon my microscapes and to incorporate more dappled sunlight into my forest images. The shifting light of the forest is one reason the place is so magical, but it’s hard to depict well and so I worked at it. All the right elements came together for this shot and I can hardly believe I took it. I did clean up and manage the scene, but also left nature’s decor in place. I like the combination, what can I say?

Of Earth and Smoke

Included in the top 12 because it’s kind of unusual for me; I’m not a hardcore landscape photographer and so I think the structure and light in this one shows that I am improving. Plus Adams pond is in my town and I love going there and I think this shows the potential awesomeness of even the most quotidian.


The Best of 2010

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.

Piscataquog in the Morning - January

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.

 

Stepping Softly - January

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.

 

 

Whirlpool - March

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.

 

 

Hope - April

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.

 

 

Stagefright - April

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.

 

 

Allium crispum - May

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.

 

 

Haunting the Obscure - August

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.

 

 

Daybreak - October

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.

 

 

Warrior of Life - October

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.

 

 

A Shaman's Whisper - October

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.

 

 

Post Peak – October

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.

 

 

November palette

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!