Favorite Photos of 2016

This is the 7th consecutive “Your Best Photos” blog project that I’ve participated in. Thanks to my friend, Jim Goldstein, for hosting this project as usual. Here are my entries from previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

2016 was a life-changing year for me and it had nothing to do with photography as you’ll see later on. When I was out in the field I made the most of my time. I’m all about efficiency at this point in my life. Though I did manage to get in some quality photography time this year, I didn’t spend much time behind a computer processing images. I’ve got many images sitting on my hard drives that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing much less process but I tried my best to pick out a selection of images for this year’s post. As with previous years, I based my choices on personal favorites rather than purely aesthetics or popularity-based metrics. Here are my favorite photos of 2016 presented in roughly chronological order:

The Inkwells, Lagunitas, California

The Inkwells, Lagunitas, California

I spent some time in the early part of the year re-visiting Bay Area locations that I frequented as a young grad school student a decade ago. The Lagunitas Inkwells was one of those places that I went to a number of times during the winter months in an attempt to see spawning coho salmon. I’ve seen them hopping up the Inkwells before. No luck photographing that to-date but I always enjoy stopping by this spot while in West Marin. This was also one of the first images I made with my Sony A7R which I purchased after tiring of Canon’s inability or unwillingness to make a camera with best-in-class dynamic range.

James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Tide Pool Long Exposure, Moss Beach, California

James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Tide Pool Long Exposure, Moss Beach, California

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve was another favorite location of mine from my grad school days. The difference nowadays is that half the beach is inaccessible due to seal closures but the tide pools are always excellent during a low tide. On this day, I went with my friend, Gary Crabbe, and his wife, Connie. It was a minus tide so I used my Lee Big Stopper filter to create a long exposure which smoothed out all the water which created a dreamy effect.

Three Trees in Morning Fog, Yosemite National Park, California

Three Trees in Morning Fog, Yosemite National Park, California

On this early spring morning in Yosemite, I saw a scene which foreshadowed my future.

"Black Tears" Oil on Water at USS Arizona Memorial Site / Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

“Black Tears” Oil on Water at USS Arizona Memorial Site / Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor was definitely the most emotional travel experience I had in 2016. There is no other way to put it other than you are standing on a floating cemetery. The leaking oil from the ships is still very pervasive.

Koi Pond Abstract at Byodo-In Temple, Kaneohe, O'ahu, Hawaii

Koi Pond Abstract at Byodo-In Temple, Kaneohe, O’ahu, Hawaii

My friend, Seattle-based photographer, Rob Tilley, gave me a metal print of a koi abstract as a wedding gift several years ago. When I saw all these koi in Hawaii earlier this year it reminded me of Rob’s photo so that inspired me to try long exposure abstracts. Most failed but I like how the patterns came together here. I had clone out a lot of junk from the water which I typically don’t do but if you want an art piece for your wall you have to do what you have to do to make it work.

Female Maternity Photo

Samantha Maternity Photo

Portraiture is something I try to avoid like the plague but there are some special milestones in life that need to be photographed. Predictably, all my staged attempts failed but then this candid moment presented itself. This was perhaps my favorite photo of the year.

Alameda Point Navy Ships at Sunset, Alameda, California

Alameda Point Navy Ships at Sunset, Alameda, California

I owe this photo to Samantha. She was expecting any day at this point but she encouraged me to go out and shoot this sunset so I did. This sunset went viral on the internet and made the local news as well. Definitely a memorable evening.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area Sunset, Marin Headlands, California

Golden Gate National Recreation Area Sunset, Marin Headlands, California

The first time I ever stood above the fog was in 2002 at this very location. Shooting landscapes with fog is much more cliche now than it was back then but I enjoyed this moment as if it were my first experience. I moved back to the Bay Area for fleeting moments like this.

Dry Creek Valley Barn at Sunset During Fall Season, Healdsburg, California

Dry Creek Valley Barn at Sunset During Fall Season, Healdsburg, California

My birthday gift this year was day off from family duties to roam around Wine Country by myself. When I saw this scene earlier in the day I knew I had to photograph this in better light. I barely made it back here to catch some color in the sky but this was definitely my favorite landscape of the year. This scene resonates with me because I’m more country than city at heart.

San Pablo Reservoir Overlook from Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Hills, California

San Pablo Reservoir Overlook from Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Hills, California

This photo from Tilden was the result of a last minute change of plans. The original plan was to go shoot the Milky Way during new moon at Drake’s Beach with my friend, Phil, but I over-thought it by obsessing over the webcams and weather satellites too much that afternoon so I suggested we make a last minute hike up the trail at Tilden instead. My thought was that we wouldn’t see a Milky Way due to cloud cover. Well by the time we made it this spot at Tilden, all those clouds from up the coast had blown inland which resulted in these crazy clouds that you see here. Meanwhile the coast was clear. It was so windy that the clouds were whizzing past us at fast speeds. I’d never seen something quite like that before.

Special Bonus Photo

Newborn Baby Boy

Welcome Tyler!

It’s probably clear by now what I spent the second half of 2016 doing. My wife likes to say that I’m married to my camera, which has some merit to it, but with a baby boy in my life now photography has to take a back seat most of the time. I’m enjoying seeing Tyler make progress and learn new things. This has been an exciting journey so far.

Favorite iPhone Photos

I took a lot of iPhone photos this year; more than in past years. I find the iPhone to be an interesting creative tool as its more spontaneous. It’s also much easier to share iPhone photos to my various social media channels than to sit down at a computer to process images then upload, etc…

Waikiki Beach at Dusk, Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach at Dusk, Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii


Baby Boy & Furry Friends

Tyler & His Furry Friends

Mother Reading The Hungry Caterpillar to Baby Son

Samantha Reading The Hungry Caterpillar to Tyler

Fruits & Vegetables at Marin Farmers Market, San Rafael, California

Fruits & Vegetables at Marin Farmers Market, San Rafael, California

Infant and Great-Grandmother

Tyler Meets Great-Grandma Lucy

Infant and grand-aunt

Tyler Meets Aunt Helen

Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes at Backroads

Mother & Infant, San Francisco

Samantha & Tyler at Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California

Dog Party in Berkeley, California

Barbara & Ashley at Dog Party in Berkeley, California

I have some tentative travel plans for 2017 but beyond that I’m not sure how much photography I’ll be doing as I want to spend as much time with Tyler as possible as he grows up. It would be terrible to miss all these wonderful life milestones that he’ll surely go through.

Goodbye 2016 and Happy New Years!

31 thoughts

  1. First of all, congratulations on the addition to your family. It was great to meet Tyler and Samantha for the first time last month. Samantha’s Thanksgiving leftovers were superb. Seems like same thing happened to you as me: you decreased annual output, but your images just got better. You sure found some wonderful skies in 2016. A fabulous sky can really make an image and give it a unique stamp. You also have a knack of finding unexpected vantage points. Interesting colors and compositions again this year, only better. Interesting how many of your iPhone photos tend to be of people and family. Maybe you are more of a people photographer than you realize…? It’s hard to pick favorites, but I like Inkwells, Alameda Point and San Pablo Res the best.

    • Thanks David. Glad you liked the food and it was great to have you over. I’ve always approached my photography with the idea that it doesn’t matter how famous or not a place is, I’m going to do my best to make my own photos from there. I’m trying to find interesting compositions from places people might not have expected to see them. I think the trick to doing people photos is to work with people you know and have a rapport with. I’m more interested in shooting moments and emotions than just shooting a “people photo” for the sake of doing so.

      Wishing you all the best in 2017.

  2. Hi Richard – First, congratulations on Tyler’s arrival. He looks like a sweet, fun baby. It is nice to see the diversity of photos here, as they help tell more of a story about your life than just landscape photos. My favorites are the koi, oil, three trees, and the farmer’s market iPhone photo. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Sarah. Tyler has been great so far and fairly well-behaved for a baby. I’d like to think much of my work is auto-biographical to some degree. Landscape just happens to be part of it but there’s a lot of other things as well. Happy new year!

  3. What a great look back on the year Richard, and congrats again on Tyler’s arrival to your family. No doubt he will have an effect on the way you see the world and you will also be able to share your own vision with him.

  4. Pingback: Best Photos of 2016 by JMG-Galleries Blog Readers - JMG-Galleries - Landscape, Nature & Travel Photography

  5. It sounds and looks like you’ve transitioned smoothly into Fatherhood Richard! By now I’m sure you can’t remember life without Tyler! Keep taking those photo trip when you can so you can create more great images like the “Koi Pond Abstract”, love that one. Wishing you great light and great family time in 2017.

    • Thanks Greg. It’s going pretty well. There’s been a few challenges along the way but not too bad compared to what I’ve heard from other parents. Happy 2017 to you and your family!

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