Favorite Photos From 2015

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Well it’s that time of year for Jim Goldstein’s annual “Your Best Photos” blog project again. This is a fun exercise in reviewing the past year and looking back at previous years to see how our work has evolved. In case you’re curious, here are my entries from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

In 2015, I did much less “local photography” around the San Francisco Bay Area in favor of saving my time and money for travels. The truth is this type of photography is arguably one the most expensive genres of photography there is and I have a limited amount of time these days so I’m more selective in picking my spots these days in favor of experiencing life. There’s a famous quote by Jay Maisel I believe that says to shoot more interesting photos you have to become a more interesting person. To me that says one needs more life experience in order to say something more interesting with their work.

As in previous years, I picked these images based on what I enjoyed shooting and experiencing the most. I can’t pick my “best photos” because that’s for others to decide. These ten photos are presented in roughly chronological order.

Yosemite Falls and Merced River at Sunrise From Swinging Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls and Merced River at Sunrise From Swinging Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

I don’t spend much time photographing at classic icon landscape spots but it all came together for me on this spring morning in Yosemite Valley. My shooting and post-processing technique on this photo was unique for me at least as I had to hand-blend three different exposures together (sky, land and river) with Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks to get the best results. Usually when confronted with a contrasty light situation I opt for graduated neutral-density filters or avoid all together but that would have resulted in an ugly black line across the mountains in this photo so Photoshop was the best option in this situation. This was only the 2nd time I’ve used this technique though this is a much more common technique amongst my fellow landscape photographer comrades. I’m pretty old-school by comparison. Single-frame get it mostly right in camera.

Robert Crown Memorial State Beach at Low Tide, Alameda, California

Robert Crown Memorial State Beach at Low Tide, Alameda, California

I was actually testing out my new Lee Big Stopper ten-stop neutral density filter on this photo shoot but I preferred the straight rendition better (the photo above).

The Grand Canal at Sunset From Accademia Bridge, Venice, Italy

The Grand Canal at Sunset From Accademia Bridge, Venice, Italy

Samantha and I traveled to Italy again to celebrate our first anniversary. We stayed in the Dorsoduro area of Venice and crossed the Accademia Bridge every day during our excursions so this classic venetian Grand Canal scene became a familiar site.

Meat Market in Old Town Bologna, Italy

Meat Market in Old Town Bologna, Italy

We went on a food tasting day trip to Bologna. What an experience it was too to eat at the birthplace of tortellini and lasagna.

Sand Patterns on Beach, Morro Bay, California

Sand Patterns on Beach, Morro Bay, California

Definitely the least obvious composition that I photographed all year. I was up early to catch sunrise at Morro Rock. Walking back to the car mid-morning, I noticed some faint patterns in the sand created by sidelight off in the distance so I zoomed way in and shot this abstract pattern.

Asian Man Jumping at Paint Pots, Kootenay National Park, B.C., Canada

My Brother Jumping at Paint Pots, Kootenay National Park, B.C., Canada

Other than HDR, jump photos are my #1 photography pet peeve. With that said, my brother and I decided to mock the whole process and do one of our own. You know what? It’s actually fun to do this!

Landscape Photographer Under Fogbow at Bodega Head, Sonoma Coast SB, California

Landscape Photographer Under Fogbow at Bodega Head, Sonoma Coast SB, California

When it comes to unusual natural light, fogbows are near the top of the list. It’s the same phenomena as rainbows except for it requires fog instead of rain. What makes them more rare than rainbows is that the amount of fog required to see one usually means the sun is usually completely blocked out. They are also much more difficult to spot than rainbows because they are colorless.

Super Blood Moon Rising Above Clouds, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, California

Super Blood Moon Rising Above Clouds, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, California

I actually consider this super blood moon photo to be a sub-par photo but this phenomenon last happened in 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033. I’ll be a member of the AARP by then. After 2033, it won’t happen again until we’re all long gone. I got to witness this with Samantha and many others up the Berkeley Hills on this night. Moments like this make me realize how fleeting life can be.

Fall Sunset Over Napa Valley, California

Fall Sunset Over Napa Valley, California

The upcoming “El Nino” winter seems to have brought a number of stunning fall sunsets along with it. In the previous two years since I moved to the Bay Area, colorful sunsets were in short supply so I’m fortunate to have photographed Napa Valley on this day.

Dogwood in Fall After Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California

Dogwood in Fall After Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California

I enjoy visiting and looking at the iconic scenes within Yosemite Valley but there is something about the details that draw me in. I can stare at scenes like this all day.

If you would like to purchase a print of any of these photos, you can click on the photo and order directly from my website. Prints usually ship within a week and are delivered within two weeks, sometimes less than a week.

Happy Holidays!


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34 thoughts

  1. Beautiful selection, Richard. I always like the color tones of your sunrise and sunset photos, they do seem rather distinct to me. If I had to pick just one, it would be the Sand Patterns for sure – such a cool abstract!

  2. Just absolutely beautiful scenes, I love them all can’t choose just one.
    You should come to Michigan we gave some miraculous/out of this world places to see and explore especially in the Upper Peninsula absolutely beautiful/breath taking places any time of the year!
    Keep on capturing amazing scenes for us to enjoy 😉

  3. We have talked about the “adding people” aspect from several viewpoints. While my dad and Nat Geo disagreed on it, I think in many cases today that Nat Geo would be right to add people for interest and scale. However, my father was doing something different with his work at a different time: documenting the pure landscape. Today, we document the landscape with many human elements because that is what we see more and more. Also, I feel that when a photographer has made many images of subjects besides pure landscapes, in some ways, his or her work fits in better with his overall body of work if he also photographs nature with people in it.

    Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year David. Each have their own objectives. Nat Geo focuses a lot on anthrolopogy and human discovery so it would make sense to. Most of your dad’s Sierra Club work wouldn’t make sense to have someone just randomly standing in the photo. Though I have to say that people in “Cathedral in the Desert” is a major part of why it’s such a strong image due to the immense scale.

      In today’s context, it’s very common to shoot landscapes with no one in there so adding people in can simply be a creative element.

  4. What a great year with some great travel, Richard. I really like the timing of the “Old Town Bologna” photo with the gentleman ordering/pointing. It helps add to the photo versus an empty store window. And sometimes you need to address your pet peeve’s head on…I’m sure the jump photo of your brother will be in the family album for years!

  5. Pingback: Best Photos of 2015 by JMG-Galleries Blog Readers - JMG-Galleries - Landscape, Nature & Travel Photography

  6. Sorry for being late to your beautiful blog, you’ve had a fantastic year. The patterns in the sand are so captivating.
    You will love your visit to Hawaii! There is no other place on Earth quite like it. There is something about it, a feeling, no words can truly express.

  7. Pingback: Favorite Photos of 2016 | In the Field: Photo Blog by Richard Wong

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