2017 was a very interesting and enjoyable year. My goal was to scout and shoot more often, but take less pictures per location and cull harder. And the year has gone by really, really fast. So before I started collecting images for this post, my feeling was that it might be a “down” year for my favorites. But that wasn’t the case at all as some of my favorite images to date came from this year’s efforts.
The’re a common saying among photographers that the camera doesn’t matter, and my gear choices this year were pretty darn diverse. Everything from my low end iPhone SE, to my high end Sony A7Rii and my 35mm & medium format film cameras. For me gear is about the right tool for the job and finding a system that “fits”.
Whenever I make these year end lists, I struggle, and cheat by adding some runner-ups. So here, in no particular order, are the ones I couldn’t quite leave off.
#8 – Lake Ann Panorama
I spent last year working out ways to get me and my load of camera gear further from home and this year was the reward for that effort. And in spite of carrying a pretty full load of gear on my backpacking trip to Lake Ann, one of my favorite images from the trip was an in-camera panorama from my iPhone SE.
iPhone Se – 28mm – In Camera Panorama
#7 – Mt Baker Moonrise from Iceberg Pt
The conditions need to be pretty darn perfect in order to view Mt Baker from the south end of Lopez Island. Combine that with a perfect twilight moonrise, well that’s kind of a photographer’s lotto. I’d spent years photographing at Iceberg Pt before I happened on conditions that let me photograph Mt Baker. And then it happened twice withing a couple of months. That’s one of the reasons that I like to revisit locations, they often reveal thier beauty a little at a time.
Sony A7Rii – 300mm
#6 – Palouse Falls
For me, Palouse Falls is a bit of an enigma. It’s a stunning and iconic waterfall pretty much perched in the middle of nowhere. I stop at the falls, on the way or the way back, each time I visit the rolling hills of the Palouse and I’ve never once been tempted to drive past and avoid the long detour. On this year’s trip I decided to spend the night which really allowed me more time to get to know the place. And It was a good thing as multiple photography workshop groups had arrived and by golden hour were set up at the spot I had scouted out during the afternoon. So I had to go to plan “B” and photograph a view I hadn’t shot before but had scouted earlier in the day. It’s a composition that I don’t usually see of the falls and it has become one of my favorites.
Sony A7Rii – 25mm
#5 – Kaanapali Beach Canoes
One of the most instructive and inspiration changes to my photography this year has been a return to shooting film. And this was one of my first film “keepers” shot during a trip to Maui. There’s something about traditional Hawaiian Canoes that just pulls me in and I just can’t photograph them enough. One of the challenges, for me, of shooting film is deciding what type to use base on the scene and the light. But this high contrast sunset composition was perfect for Kodak Ektar, a color negative film that handled this scene very well.
Hasselblad 500CM – 50mm – Kodak Ektar 100 Film
#4 – Golden Light
There’s a belief among photographers who shoot film that every landscape photographer “needs” to view a slide on a light table. And it sounded a bit like hyperbole to me, well until I actually did it. And this was my first Fujichrome Velvia slide “keeper” and the view through the loupe totally knocked me over and I suddenly became a believer in the hyperbole. I never shot much slide film in my younger days and as digital became better and better I sort of assumed it had surpassed the qualities and capabilities of film. And perhaps that’s true to some extent, but there’s a subtly of color and hues that I don’t experience with digital. It’s a bit hard to explain but pretty dang easy to see on the light table.
Hasselblad 500CM – 50mm – Fuji Velvia 50 Film
#3 – Shapes & Shadows of the Palouse
I, like so many other photographers, have a bit of a love affair with the stunning rolling hills of the Palouse region of Eastern Washington. My goal for this trip was to get to know the region a lot better and scout, scout, scout. So I joined one of Jack Lien’s Palouse Photo Tours and spent 4+ days exploring the nooks and crannies of this beautiful land. It’s safe to say that I have enough location ideas to last me many years.
Sony A7Rii – 300mm
#2 – Lake Ann
Well number 2 is a repeat of sorts. It’s my favorite shot taken with my “real” camera during my summer backpack trip to Lake Ann. And although I was pretty blown away by the iPhone SE panorama, there’s still really no comparing a small phone sensor with the quality produced by my Sony A7Rii. Well at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I lug my gear around.
Sony A7Rii – 18mm
#1 – Wreck of the Peter Iredale
Choosing a B&W image for my favorite of the year is certainly no strategy for social media fame and fortune, but I’ve been stalking this type of image and the emotion it conveys for a very, very long time. And this photograph became my favorite of the year for a number of reasons. First off, this shot boosts my confidence that I can create images that inspire me using film. And secondly, and maybe more importantly, this shot was capture almost entirely in camera with very minimal processing. And as a bonus, this image was very “hands on” since I developed and scanned the film myself.
Hasselblad Flexbody – 50mm – Ilford Pan F Plus 50 Film
Well that’s it for another year. And a very enjoyable year it was. I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my sincere gratitude to everyone who followed along and supported me in my efforts. Thank you all so very much and best wishes for a grand 2018.