Monday, January 2, 2017

Some favorites from 2016

It is kind of a tradition for photographers to look back on the previous year and pick out their favorite photos.   Often it is their top 12, one for each month.   Other times photographers will share their favorite [insert large number here] photos online.   Their friends will look at the first dozen or so and then move on.

As artists, we want to pick the very best photos for this list of standout images.  The problem is, what criteria do we use?   The photos that make the best use of the "rules of good photography"?  The ones that were technically difficult to make?  Those taken at the most interesting places, or make people say "Wow!" when then see them?  Making this list is not easy.

I've learned that my favorite photos often leave people saying "that's OK".   What people like is very subjective and often the artist has no idea what others will think is a good work of art.   Just this morning I read an article about the song Joy To The World.   No not that one, the one by Three Dog Night that starts out "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine."  The group didn’t think much of this song when they recorded it, tacking it on to the album because they needed one more song to complete it. The song ended up being a massive hit and stayed six weeks at #1 on the US Hot 100.  Those of us who grew up in the 70's can probably recite the lyrics 46 years later. Just like Three Dog Night, I have a hard time knowing what other people will like.  Thus the reason I ask others to pick photos for my annual calendar.

This year I have picked out 21 photos that I personally like for my "Best Of Collection".  I didn't use any of the criteria above.  Instead, I picked photos that represent a broad spectrum of subjects, places, and styles.   I then narrowed down to photos that make me happy when I see them.  I may like the image but often they are picked because they bring back good memories from 2016.   I excluded any photo that is on the 2017 calendar because you have already seen those, over and over again.

Rather than put them on a web page for you to flip through, I'm going to write a few blog pages that tell a bit about each photo and why I picked it.  I hope you enjoy some of these.

I am starting off with a photo that was made close to home.  In fact, it was on our back deck.

Carolina Wren
I have set up a place for birds to come get something to eat, drink and hang out. In this case, I set up my camera and took the shot with a remote control from inside the house.  It was January 16 and was very cold outside. I picked this photo because I love the little songbirds that frequent our back yard and this photo reminds me of hours spent on the deck enjoying the birds that visit.

From home, we travel far away to Iceland for the next five photos in this post.  All of these were taken on a trip with several good friends.   We spent a week together traveling around Iceland in a SUV and pickup truck taking photos.   These photos remind me of that good time.

Ice Lagoon
The Ice Lagoon was taken at sunset.  The orange/pink clouds contrast with the blue ice floating on the dark water.   Color contrast is one of those things that can make a photo pleasing to look at.  The triangular block of ice seems to point the way to the mountains and clouds on the horizon.

Northern Lights
I took dozens and dozens of photos of the Northern Lights while in Iceland.  The first night we saw them we were staying in a small hotel.  June went in to tell the others to come out and shoot.   She also told a French family who was staying there in the hotel about the lights.  A young boy was so excited he came running out to see them for himself, wearing only his underwear!

This Northern Lights photo was taken that same night not far from our hotel.  We found a frozen pond to use to capture reflections of the lights. It was a good thing no one broke through the ice that night.

Moving from bright green, the next photo appears to be black and white.

Ice on Black Sand Beach
If you look closely, you'll see this is actually a color photo.   The ice had floated out of the Ice Lagoon and washed up on the beach.  Unlike most beaches, the sand here was a beautiful black from volcanic rock.   When our group arrived at the beach, some went left and a few of us went right and found this natural ice sculpture.  By the time the others made it down to this area the ice had moved and people had walked around and left footprints in the sand, ruining the composition.   The lesson here is when you see a shot, take it.  It may not be there later.

From ice on the beach, we go inside a blue ice glacier.

Ice Cave
The guy who ran our hotel had a van that could drive across ice and snow covered land, right up to some impressive glaciers and a cave in the glacier.  The cave is created by water that makes it's was into cracks in the ice and melts the ice away to form a cave big enough to walk through.   The blue color is from the sunlight passing through the ice, which filters out all other colors.  This is one of my favorites because going in an ice cave was something I'd read about and wanted to do for some time. It was a great adventure and included many good memories.

The last photo for today was also taken in Iceland.

Good Friends
This was a grab shot I made while we were on the black sand beach.  June and our good friend Lynn were resting on a rock waiting on the rest of us to get our fill of photos.   Besides being a photo of two lovely ladies, this is one of my favorites because of the variety stories contained in the photo.   Anyone who has been on a photo trip with June and I knows that she will grab up my camera bag every time I turn my back, which she has done again in this photo.  For this trip, we had metal grippers called Yak Tracks on the bottoms of our boots so we wouldn't fall and bust something when walking on ice.  These Yak Tracks were constantly falling off, and you can see June and Lynn are missing one each.  You have probably noticed they appear to be dressed like twins girls who's mother has picked out their matching clothes.  Our friend and guide extraordinaire for this trip John "Snake" Barrett had come up with an extensive list of items to bring for a week in Iceland, including jackets, pants, gloves, and boots.   We had several online group video chats before the trip to go over his recommendations.   He even provided custom made caps to keep our heads warm.   As a result, many of us were dressed alike and when bundled up looked like we were there attending a Twin Convention.

The best part of this photo is it reminds me of the friendships we have with others we have met over the years.   The trip to Iceland was fantastic, but the lasting friendships are what counts and what we will remember long after we forget the adventure and photos.

I hope you have enjoyed these photos.  I have certainly enjoyed remembering the experiences behind each one.   I'll post more over the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. I love to hear your 'take' on your pics! Thanks for sharing!