2014 has been an exciting year for me photographically, from many viewpoints, including the geographic and chronological. When I am not suffering from temporal displacement syndrome (otherwise known as jet lag), being lost in time and space has its virtues for a photographer—since so much of photography is about time and geographic locale, and feeling disconnected from each allows for much fruitful meditation, as well as consideration of the differences between cultures.
Compiling my annual best list of photos is a difficult exercise, but it helps me put the year in perspective, and last year’s Best of 2013 has remained one of the most popular stories on my blog throughout the subsequent year.
You are welcome to comment at the end of this story; also, please feel free to add a link in your comment to your own Best of 2014 photos. Editing is one of the most important aspects of the craft of photography, and compiling your own annual best list is a great way to exercise your editing skills.
This is my year in pictures. I am going to start with some flowers because, at home or abroad, I always enjoy creating botanical imagery. Here are some of my personal favorite flowers from the year, with other subject matter and places following the botanicals:
Related stories: Flowers Category on the blog; White Poppy; We Happy Flower Few; Trio of Tulips at Giverny; Harold Davis posters from Editions Limited; Photographing Flowers for Transparency; Flowering Quince; What Flowers Are These?
There’s a natural progression from photographing flowers to Paris in the spring. Rainbows seem a good place to start. I was lucky enough to be out on the Pont Solferino footbridge as a spring rainstorm was coming to an end, and to capture this double rainbow over Paris and the Seine River.
Underneath the Pont Solferino there was action as well. I thought it looked like a stairway to heaven:
On this trip to Paris my group stayed near the Seine, so photographing along the banks of the river and under the bridges was natural—generally using an exposure that played on time and motion. This one is a long exposure from Under the Pont de la Concorde:
Worth noting: for the first time, iPhone captures are creeping into my personal bests! I captured this image of Les Deux Magots, the famous St Germaine-des-Pres haunt of Hemingway and other literati back when one could afford to be bohemian in Paris, using my iPhone camera, and gleefully processed it using the latest apps to look old-fashioned to match the traditional costume of the waiter.
Back to the banks of the Seine River, in Behind the Wall I played with camera motion (rather than subject motion).
Any way you slice it, Paris is a great city for night photography. I enjoyed the chance to shoot the skyline at dusk again from the Tour Montparnasse in Paris Sunset.
Of course, the Pyramide in the central court of the Louvre is a wonderful subject for night photography, even if photographing Night at the Louvre does involve an occasional cat-and-mouse game with the tripod gendarmerie.
You can see more of my Paris photography in the Paris category on my blog. I do also love to photograph the gardens that are a short excursion from Paris. An iPhone capture, and a more formal version, of one of the famous green bridges in Monet’s glorious garden at Giverny are shown below.
The Parc de Sceaux is accessible from Paris via the RER (suburban railway). To understand the title of this image, Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden, you’ll need to look at it carefully!
It was a great pleasure in May to begin to explore the southwest of France. This is a region I enjoyed immensely, for the scenery and history—and, no surprise, the food. I hope to be back. Here’s the Pont Valentre in Cahors photographed conventionally, and captured via my iPhone and processed using the iPhone Waterlogue app :
Making my way to an overlook above a Bend in the Dordogne River on a misty day, I carefully shot the multiples needed to create a panorama.
Visiting Bourges, I was impressed with the still-unfinished grand cathedral, a World Heritage site and one of the most impressive examples of 13th century high Gothic style—but more impressed with the light on the cathedral as seen through my Window in Bourges!
Related story: France category on my blog.
Back home, I photographed the sacred and the profane; namely, San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, a restored temple to Henry Ford’s assembly line, and models in motion. I particularly enjoyed choreographing in-camera multiple exposure techniques with models to create striking, painterly effects.
Over the summer I taught flower photography and digital black & white in Heidelberg, Germany. I had a great group of students, and a wonderful time getting to know Heidelberg and exploring the area.
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg was the first bridge across the Neckar River, and is still in much use today. It’s a great subject for black and white.
In contrast, the Great Hall at the old campus in Heidelberg is not much used except ceremonially; I was lucky to be able to take my time photographing in this historic place.
My hosts made sure I visited many local attractions, including Speyer cathedral in a city along the Rhine River not far from Heidelberg.
While I was in Germany, Germany won the World Cup. This iPhone still life composition of refracted wine glasses shows just a small bit of the celebrating that went on.
My next trip was to New York for some meetings and appearances related to a photography trade show. I’m of the general opinion that life in New York City has some resemblance to a stage show. At the very least, New Yorkers are definitely into appearances—so when I was able to sneak away from business and practice my craft of photography in Central Park at night it was fitting that New York seemed to me to be a stage.
In Barcelona, I shot straight up at the amazing ceiling of Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, and captured an almost endless internal spiral staircase in black and white.
Traffic and the lighting of a fountain on the Gran Via gave me a chance to practice photographing car trails at night in Barcelona, while the odd positioning of my hotel room gave a peculiar perspective for my 15mm lens in the crooked, old streets of the Gothic Quarter.
In Morocco, I enjoyed photographing the great outdoor marketplace, the Jemaa-al-Fna, in Marrakech at night and the sand Kasbahs on the far side of the Atlas Mountains. When it rained in Rabat, my iPhone was ready to help me capture the view through the bus window.
Related stories: Jemaa-al-Fna; Market in Marrakech; Castle Made of Sand. After delays at Casablanca airport, I snapped an iPhone shot of leaving Morocco both lyrical and indicative of some travel fatigue.
Back home, I settled in to prove that one can make photos of the mundane as well as the marvelous; hence this image of a Venetian blind in my kitchen, drawn to allow bright sunlight to creep through.
Giving a Waves workshop on Point Reyes, California in December I was lucky to find a break in relentless rains and a stunning day for photography along the open Pacific Ocean.
Related story: Photographing Waves.
Coming a full circle, as almost befits a spiral, my last photo is of a Nautilus Shell, shot in my studio. Apart from the iPhone images, my photography has greatly benefited from a high-resolution full frame DSLR sensor paired with some excellent glass from my sponsor Zeiss. In the case of this Nautilus, I used the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.
Related link: Monochrome category on my blog.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, please feel free to comment. Please also consider creating your own best-of list, it is a great way to learn more about your work, and to practice your editing skills!