Jeff Harmon, the host of the Photo Taco podcast, recently had a show about photographers selecting their top 10 shots for the year. He noted that it’s a good way to look back at the year and take stock of the shots that you’ve taken and (potentially) see where you’re going. I thought that seemed like a good idea and so I put together my own Top 10. In his show, Jeff noted that it would be very difficult for a photographer to choose only 10 shots, and I certainly found that to be true. On my first pass, I found about forty shots from the past year that I *really* liked. I was able to narrow it down pretty easily at first, but once I got somewhere between fifteen and twenty, it really got hard. Part of it, I suppose, is the emotional attachment that I form to the pictures. As Jeff Harmon put it, they’re my babies… how do I decide which of my babies is the “ugly” one?
However, in the end, I made my choice. I have my Top 10 shots. I also included one additional shot which, while not in my Top 10 shots for the year, is a first step towards a different type of photography that I would like to get into and hopefully, I will expand on that in 2017.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 shots, in order of when they were taken.
I took this shot in February at the New York Botanical Gardens. I love the vibrant color and the detail on the flower (I’m a big sucker for details in pictures). I have no idea what this flower is called (do any of you?). I purposely shot it with a wide aperture, to throw the background out of focus, allowing the main subject to stand out.
You’re going to see a lot of New York City shots in this set, which, I guess, is logical. I live in the city and it is full of wonderful things to photograph.
I took this shot in May, while in Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you’ve never visited the park, I highly recommend it. It offers stunning views of the Broooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, as well as great views of the skyline of the Battery (the southern tip of Manhattan — see below for an example). It’s a great place to take the family and spend the day.
I like this shot for several reasons. One of the things I learned this year is that a great way to add interest to a landscape shot is to make sure that there is something in the foreground. I’ve shot landscapes in the past where there was nothing in the foreground. They’re nice shots, sure, but nothing special. Having something in the foreground, however, as in this shot, helps to give the picture depth. In addition, I like the way the rocks lead your eye right to the bridges.
This shot was taken on the day of Manhattanhenge in July. Manhattenhenge is the term used for the four days a year when the sunrise or sunset line up with the street grid of Manhattan. Here is the sun setting over 42nd Street. It’s not often that us New Yorkers get to see the sun at the horizon — usually there are buildings or other obstacles in the way, so when it does appear at the horizon, we take notice. As you can see from this picture, *lots* of people stopped and took notice of the sun setting that day.
One thing I particularly like about this photo is the color. Normally, the time around sunrise/sunset is called the “golden hour” due to the coloring of the sunlight at this time. I don’t know what it is, exactly (I suppose I’d have to ask a physicist), but something about Manhattanhenge amplifies that effect, so that the sunlight is almost a golden red (does that even make sense?).
This particular photo happened to be my most popular of the last year. After Manhattanhenge, I shared it on Facebook and it took off like no previous photo I had ever taken. It ended up being shared numerous times and was seen by thousands of people.
“Verrazano at Sunset”
I took this shot of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in July. I have an app (The Photographer’s Ephemeris – a great app, by the way), that showed me that the sun would be setting over the bridge and I wanted to grab a shot of it. I set myself up on a hill overlooking the park and bridge and waited for sunset. Using a narrow aperture (f//20), I was able to capture those sun rays in camera.
“Manhattan at Sunset”
I took this shot on September 11. I went down to Brooklyn Bridge Park to take pictures of the Tribute In Light memorial that is put up every year to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks of the day. While I was waiting for the lights to be turned on, I set up and began shooting. The sun setting just beyond the tip of the island and the great cloud formations in the sky made this a scene I had to capture. I had a tough time choosing between this shot and another one shot just a few minutes later when the sun had set and the lights went on (see below), but in the end, this one won out.
“Brooklyn Bridge/Towers of Light”
This shot was taken the same night as the previous shot. After I had taken the shots I wanted, I wandered around the park for a while. Eventually, I found this angle, which showed the Brooklyn Bridge with the Towers of Light behind them. I don’t know if I can articulate why, exactly, I like this shot. I suppose it has to do with the composition, the coloring, the lines and the lights. But I find that I like it a great deal, and so it’s on the list. 🙂
“Pathways of Life”
As I said previously, I am a sucker for details in pictures, and this shot has details. I really like the texture of the leaf and the way the lens captured all those wonderful veins. But there is also another reason I like this picture – it’s one where I tested out a new technique. You see, when I took this picture (September 25), it was still far too early for that sort of fall color here in New York City. The leaf, in actuality, was completely green, the color in the lower left corner. I added the remaining colors in Photoshop, and was rather pleased with the result.
For most of the year, I worked in the Empire State Building. As a result, it was fairly convenient for me to go up to the Observation Deck and take photos. I took this shot just after sunset on a November day. Again, being a sucker for detail, I love this shot – the streets, the buildings and the background all came out beautifully.
“The Reading Bench”
I found this spot up in Wave Hill, in the Bronx. I had been meaning to get there for a long time, but whenever I planned to go, something came up to prevent the visit. Finally, in November, I managed to spend a day there. From the looks of it, it’s a beautiful place to go to any time of the year, but at the height of fall color, it was spectacular.
I found this bench sitting under one of the oldest trees in the park. With the fall color, the view of the Hudson and the Palisades, this looks like just the sort of place where you can spend an afternoon curled up with a good book.
“Red Rose Reversed”
This shot was taken earlier this month. Again, being a detail “junkie,” I could not help but include this shot. This year I bought myself a new flash, as well as a stand and umbrella and I have begun experimenting with off-camera flash. This shot is one of those experiments. I happen to really like the lighting in this picture and how the light falls off from the left side of the photo to the right. I definitely will be experimenting more with this type of photography in the future.
There is one additional shot that I’d like to include. It’s a shot that is not typical of my work, but it represents the type of shot that I’d like to do more of.
One of my favorite photographers is Brooke Shaden. She takes these awesome photographs and composites that are surreal, dark, sometimes creepy and vivid with imagination. While I don’t, in particular, share her dark tastes, it is as plain as day that she is incredibly skilled at telling stories through her photographs. Just looking at her work makes me envious of her amazing skill and talent. While I would not do things as she does them (I’m not that big a fan of the surreal or the dark – despite the shot below), I certainly would like to be able to tell stories of people through my photographs. I did one last year, and hopefully will do more in the coming year.
“Freed From the Pages”
I took this shot for 52 Frames (my weekly photography group) when the theme was “Books.” I don’t often shoot with people in the scene, and so, I wasn’t quite sure how to set up this shot. However, through some creative dodging and burning (and the helpfulness of two of my kids), I was able to capture this shot. While this shot isn’t one of my ten favorite for the year, I still love it, and certainly plan on doing more over the coming year.
And that’s it — that’s the Top 10. What do you think? Are there any shots that you think should have been included? Do you think that any of these should have been omitted? Let me know. In the meantime, he’s towards better photos in 2017!