It is another new year and time for the annual round-up of my favourite images of the previous year. Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photography project. It's a year-in-review project, and photographers are encouraged to choose their top "10(ish)" images, publish them to a website, and submit the link to Brent for inclusion in a photography blogroll. You can review all the Best of the Year submissions or just the 2019, 2020 and 2021. I think it's a fun way to review the year in pictures with far away (and near) photography enthusiasts, and each year I discover interesting photography blogs to add to my RSS reader.
Of course, making a selection of just ten images is almost impossible. I seem to remember writing the same thing this time last year. I have made many more images on 35mm film this year, but my "keeper" rate is still quite low.
The first image in the post header reminds me of one of those old film photographs of gas stations. In fact, this image used a white balance and film simulation recipe designed to mimic CineStill 800T film.
We spent a lot of time at Flounder Brewing in 2022. It's become our second home.
The photograph of Bhavna was captured in early January on Eastman Kodak Double-X 5222 35mm film. We were at our second home, the taproom at Flounder Brewing. The lighting was challenging, and the photograph has a bit more shadow than I would have liked, but I love the smile on her face. She seems so happy and contented.
I took this while attending the Night Forms light show at the Grounds for Sculpture. I pointed my camera straight up as the light display changed colour. The lines remind me of the lines in the human iris.
I love taking photographs of Alphonso Mango.
Some mornings, I awoke in a mood. I tried to reflect that in light and shadow.
I didn't get out to do as much bird photography as I wanted. But I did get out. Photographing this black-throated green warbler was a test of my patience.
I loved how the light fell through the leaves. Bhavna bathed in it.
Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photography project
It is another new year and time for the annual round-up of my favourite previous year’s images. Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photography project. It's a year-in-review project, and photographers are encouraged to choose their top "10(ish)" images, publish them to a website, and submit the link to Brent for inclusion in a photography blogroll. You can review all the Best of the Year submissions or just the 2019 and the 2020. It's a fun way to review the year in pictures with far away (and near) photography enthusiasts, and each year I discover interesting photography blogs to add to my RSS reader.
Selecting just ten photographs from the thousands I made this year is challenging and even more so by the ongoing global pandemic, limiting travel and public experiences. I spent even less time outdoors in 2021 than I did in 2020. Most of these photographs are not to my usual standards as you would expect. As a friend used to say, these photographs are the cream of the “crap”. My choices below are based on my emotional connection to each image.
At the end of 2020, my contract with my last client ended. In June of 2021, I continued to work remotely but for a different client. I had much time to explore the waves of emotions crashing over me. The future continued to feel “unsettled”.
Winter brought a lot of snow, much more than I have experienced in recent memory. I was still unemployed, there was no vaccine, and I was challenged to assemble the words to express my feelings.
This year, Bhavna and I celebrated 25 years of marriage, a bright spot in a year that would continue to be the “new normal”.
After the “new normal” school year that these kids have had, it was great to see the return of some “normal” activities. Given how long I went without employment, I was still feeling out of sorts, but I was happy that I had finally signed a contract. I was still feeling blue but happy for the green.
Our cat Sir Alphonso Mango is now almost two years old. My youngest daughter, Kiran, is attempting to complete her studies at Oberlin College sooner. She will be away for all semesters this year and the next. I have set up an office with Alphie as my daytime companion in her room. He enjoys listening in on the Teams conference calls.
With little else to do, Bhavna and I spent the summer outdoors at some of our “safe spaces”, including the Brick Farm Tavern, Flounder Brewing and Sourland Mountain Spirits. These spaces are our "away” from home spaces. I just loved the colour of this cocktail, Ray’s Reserve, named for the distillery’s founder, Ray Disch.
The best thing about being vaccinated is that we could finally hug each other and regain some of the intimacy denied during the lockdown. I had so missed these summer BBQs with family. My nephews were sporting new haircuts, and I had to capture the smiles. When adapted to my Fuji X-T2, the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 is an excellent portrait lens. Look at that bokeh!
In 2019, I started getting into bird photography, photographing warblers with a rented XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. I was smitten and planned to buy this lens to use in 2020. Inspired by Stephen Gingold and local photographer David Mathre, I rented this lens again and went out chasing dragons. I want this lens but struggle with the $1800 price tag.
I continued to relearn 35mm film photography. I had more keepers in 2021. I grew weary of the increasing cost of 35mm film, film developing and scanning. I bought an Epson V600 film scanner and learned how to scan and colour-balance the film myself. I am saving about $8-$10 per roll of film. I have also limited myself to using 35m film stock priced under $10 per 36 exposure roll. My current favourite is Kodak Pro Image 100.
Some old spaces moved to new locations. After years in a tiny industrial garage, Flounder Brewing finally completed the restoration of the 150-year-old farmhouse at Carriage Farm. The new site in the farm country in Hillsborough is fantastic. The taproom only has a few ales, but Bhavna and I invited our friend Ed Velez as our “plus one” when the brewery had a soft opening weekend for Delta House members only. Having a beer at Flounder Brewing became an almost weekly habit.
This is my favourite image of the year. On a drizzly autumn day in October, I went on a quest. I had read about and heard about an abandoned freight car on some railroad tracks in Lambertville. The freight car has seen better days but has inspired multiple graffiti artists.
"It's for you", Bhavna yelled from the kitchen. I opened the package, saw the [Fujinon MCEX-16]] macro extension tube, and was upset and excited. I was upset because had I checked the mail sooner, I could have used the extension tube to photograph the fall berries and wildflowers I saw during the previous day’s hike. But I was excited because, with winter arriving, I had the means to transform ordinary things into extraordinary photographs. I experimented on some autumn leaves.
Before the pandemic, before taking to a nearby trail for a hike., I had a semi-regular habit of breakfast at Aunt Chubby’s. The restaurant re-opened for indoor dining earlier in the year, but Bhavna and I did not feel comfortable dining indoors until after our Pfizer vaccine booster. We started to feel almost normal.
Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participated in his yearly “Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community” project.
Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photograph project. It's a year in review project, and photographers are encouraged to choose their top "10(ish)" images, publish them to a website, and submit the link to Brent for inclusion in a photography blogroll. You can see the submissions for 2018 and the submissions for 2019. I think it's a fun way to review the year in pictures with far away (and near) photography enthusiasts, and each year I discover interesting photography blogs to add to my RSS reader.
Each year Jim Goldstein hosts a similar project. This year would have marked my fifth year of participation, but it seems that Brent and Jim's calendars did not match up, or perhaps Jim has decided not to host this year. If Jim does host, I will update this post with a link.
Selecting just ten photographs from the thousands I made each year is always challenging, and a challenge made even more so by the advent of COVID-19. The office where I worked is located right across the street from Pier 11. The office has a break room with an excellent view of Governor's Island, a helicopter pad and the water traffic on the lower Hudson River. Up until March 10 of 2020, I rode the very crowded New Jersey Transit and PATH trains to Exchange Place in Jersey City to catch the NY Waterway Ferry to Wall Street. I don't usually pay much attention to the news, but I started to hear something about a new, highly contagious virus spreading throughout the city. That night, Bhavna suggested that I work from home.
Everything changed when the New York governor issued "stay at home" executive orders. I knew New Jersey's governor would follow that lead and by the following Monday, all of us were "sheltered in place". The world had changed. Our travel plans were on indefinite hold. I cried. I had struggled with my health in 2019 so much that I didn't even attend my father's funeral. After my last surgery in December 2019, Bhavna and I looked forward to travelling and entertaining. The kids would be off to college and university—the kitchen renovation project would be complete. I had wanted to host craft beer tasting parties with my close friends for the longest time. At the same time, I was dealing with my health challenges, I had stocked the beer fridge with ales from some of the best craft micro-breweries from around the United States. I had also started to get into street photography and wanted to do more of that. We talked about returning to the finger lakes and visiting my family in Bequia for the first time since 1998. I had plans to go out of state for some wildlife photography.
But that's not how things worked out.
Just weeks after COVID-19 had a name, it savaged the nursing homes in our area. Bhavna lost her dad to COVID in April, just a year and a few days after my dad passed away. Then a few weeks after that, a close friend called to tell me her mother had also passed away from COVID. We helped our children pack their things and find desks for "remote college”, another disaster in the making. We would spend the rest of the year living in fear of other people.
The shelter-in-place orders allowed us to leave our homes for essentials-food, medicine, and exercise. The neighbourhood streets became full of people looking to escape their home offices. Work from home isn’t much fun if you can’t get out with friends for lunch or dinner or a pint of ale.
For a while, every other day, I escaped to the woods of Hunterdon County and Mercer County with Bhavna. The virus continued to ravage New York and New Jersey. The executive orders became more stringent, and all state, county and township parks were closed. I am thankful that the local conservation societies kept their open spaces open. The woods provide a change of scenery, a place to contemplate the "new normal", and a place to sit alone and cry. The woods and the forests helped me survive the summer.
Several northeastern states formed a COVID coalition, restricting the movement and setting quarantine rules for out-of-state visitors. Travelling had potential health risks and additional consequences. We had to adapt.
While many were protesting bad policing or systemic racism and inequality, the streets, restaurants and shops in the local area were empty. We were all in this together, except unequally.
We added to our family. Bhavna adopted a rescue cat, Sir Alphonso Mango, Alfie, from Kiran's adopted Camilla last year. Alfie is gentle and loving but mischievous.
We learned that dining outdoors was less risky when the tables (and other guests) were socially distanced and our waitstaff masked up. We developed a weekly habit of dining at the Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell; every week since May. Except for this week when the outdoor temperatures dropped below 0ºC.
To keep me from boredom, I bought a few 1970's and 1980's 35mm film cameras and lenses, bought several rolls of film and rediscovered the joys and agony of film photography. My favourite film camera is my Minolta X-700. I bought adapters and adapted some of the long lenses to my Fuji X-T2, and photographed the wildlife in my backyard.
All of that is a backdrop to the challenges in choosing images for this year. What criteria should I use to determine which images are posted below, technical or emotional? Should my best images also tell the story of the year? How do I choose? I think the photos below are selected for a combination of reasons that I may not even know, but they are a mixture of both. And it's more than ten.
I wish all of you a Happy Healthy New Year.