Best of 2017

Ever since I got my first DSLR in 2014 I’ve been trying to grow my photography skills. I quickly realized that there are so many facets to the art that you can only focus on learning one or two new skills at a time. There is much more that I have to learn but I still like taking a minute to go through my work and pick out those images that really had an impact on me, whether it was due to their technical prowess, because they captured a moment in time that held great meaning for me, or just due to the fact that those around me enjoyed it.

In my first year of serious photography I came across this quote by Ansel Adams,

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

While I don’t begin make a direct comparison between myself and Ansel Adams I still appreciate the quote. It resonates with me because even someone as skilled as Ansel Adams recognized that he only captured a handful of really great photos each year.

I recognize that I am extremely critical of my work but I try not to regard that as one of my faults. Hopefully, by striving for perfection I will come as close as I can to achieving a truly great photograph. So each year I try and go through my photos and pick the ones that I think are my best. In the past I haven’t had a chance to share them but now with this blog I do. Here are the images I’ve selected.

 

#1 – Tree at Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs, CO

A good friend was in town and I decided to take her first to Garden of the Gods and then here for a little taste of the Colorado beauty. There were some interesting clouds and lighting as the sun was dropping low behind the Rockies. I like this because of the strong colors and contrast between the sky and the rock.

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f/5.6, 1/640 sec, 150mm, ISO 400, loc: 38°50’52.9″N 104°52’52.7″W

 

#2 – Crosswalk in the Castro, San Francisco, CA

I joined my partner for a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco. The last time I visited the city was long before I restarted my photography hobby. We made every minute of our visit count and took photos all over the city and the surrounding areas. I had never been to the Castro but we decided to make a quick stop for dinner. Before heading back to our hotel we checked out a few blocks. I took this photo simply to capture the unique crosswalk however, when I got back to the hotel I saw the two guys walking. I couldn’t believe that perfectly captured their shadows and interestingly cut off the upper half of their bodies. This is probably my favorite photo I’ve taken to date.

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f/1.8, 1/50 sec, 50mm, ISO 1600, loc: 37°45’39.0″N 122°26’06.1″W

 

#3 – Rincon Park, San Francisco, CA

Photo #2 above was shot on a whim. This photo, however, was the culmination of planning, preparation, testing, math and finally, execution. I had come across this scene online and knew that when I was in San Francisco I wanted to try my turn at capturing the bay bridge. Luckily our hotel was only a few blocks from the park.
On our first of two nights in town we stopped down at the park. The setting was quite different than what I expected. I took some test shots, moved around a bit, made some adjustments, took some final shots and then headed back to the room. When I pulled them up I realized that I hadn’t gotten the shot I wanted so we returned the following night. Ultimately I walked away happy and very satisfied.

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f/18, 120 sec, 50mm, ISO 100, loc: 37°47’31.3″N 122°23’24.7″W

 

#4 My son at Ellis Island, New York, NY

In my previous post I discussed the technical aspects of this photo and how I processed it in Lightroom, but that isn’t why I like it so much. To me it has a very important memory associated with it, an even more important subject, and then a bit of humorous reality mixed in. My son had been over-the-top excited during our visit to NYC but for a few minutes, while we were at Ellis Island, he needed a little break.

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f/5, 1/30 sec, 28mm, ISO 720, loc: 40°41’56.5″N 74°02’23.3″W

 

#5 Fearless Girl, New York, NY

Later during our visit to NYC we stopped by the recently installed Fearless Girl statue. I was overwhelmed by the number of people waiting to have a selfie taken with the statue. It made it extremely difficult to get the clean shot I wanted. However, one of the shots I walked away with captured more than just the statue. It captured the energy of the city.

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f/8, 1/8 sec, 28mm, ISO 100, loc: 40°42’20.1″N 74°00’48.3″W

 

#6 Rattlesnake Canyon, Page, AZ

This shot in Rattlesnake Canyon has beautiful colors, wonderful lines, lights and darks and just captures an enchanting location in nature. I took dozens of photos in this canyon but this one has always been my favorite.

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f/11, 1.6 sec, 19mm, ISO 100, loc: 36°52’14.7″N 111°23’04.5″W

 

#7 Indian Beach blue hour, Oregon

There are lots of things about this photo that I can critique. But I’m trying to turn off the engineering side of my brain and just enjoy the image that I got. It could be sharper and the lines could be more pronounced. The things I do like about it is the beautiful light from the recently setting sun, the wonderful clouds and the way the long exposure brings your eye to the Tillamook Rock lighthouse off in the distance.

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f/22, 2 sec, 34mm, ISO 100, loc: 45°55’42.1″N 123°58’39.5″W

 

#8 Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek, BC

This is another photo that was the subject in a previous post. I learned a lot processing this photo but I really love it just because of how beautiful the location is. It’s photos like this one where I feel my patience and thoughtfulness is starting to show. I only took a few shots here but I took my time, composed my shots, and set my camera settings appropriately with the end shot in mind.

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f/14, 3 sec, 28mm, ISO 800, loc: 49°25’47.2″N 123°38’30.4″W

 

#9 Eclipse, nowhere, NE

I think this one goes without saying. Seeing a full solar eclipse was an unbelievable experience. I look forward to seeing another one. Next time I hope to capture some wide angle shots.

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f/8, 0.8 sec, 300mm, ISO 100, loc: 41°40’58.7″N 100°57’37.9″W

 

#10 mass ascension Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, NM

We were so lucky to have such perfect conditions for my first time and first morning at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The whole morning was filled with excitement starting with the drive to the fairgrounds. Prior to this event I had only seen a dozen or so balloons lift off. The insanely blue skies of New Mexico only add to the photo.

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f/7.1, 1/1000 sec, 34mm, ISO 200, loc: 35°11’49.7″N 106°35’48.2″W

 

#11 Portrait, Denver, CO

My son’s mom asked me to take some photos of them for their Holiday card. While I have some nice camera gear and a growing understanding of the exposure triangle and composition, portraits are not more forte. However, I made the best of it, chose a nice location at Cherry Creek State Park and planned the shoot during the golden hour. I was really happy with how they came out and I love this shot (although it was not selected for their Holiday card – boooo).

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f/5, 1/100 sec, 85mm, ISO 800, loc: 39°37’42.9″N 104°50’30.2″W

 

#12 Buck at Cherry Creek State Park, CO

This one was a late addition, taken on Christmas day. The park really comes to life during the golden hour. I posted this one of Facebook and it got a lot of likes so it was added to this list. I do agree that it’s a nice shot but it took a lot of post-processing due to the low lighting.

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f/5.6, 1/640 sec, 250mm, ISO 400, loc: 39°37’44.1″N 104°50’03.8″W

 

Here they are again as a slideshow:

 

Something struck a chord with me during a recent interview of Ken Van Sickle. He talked about the difference between a great photograph and a great photographer. Anyone has the potential of taking a great photograph but a great photographer has the ability to consistently deliver images that resonate with the viewer. Right now I still think I’m more towards the end of the spectrum where I’m able to take a great photograph. In time I hope to continue to move towards the end where I’m considered a great photographer.