Jeff Harmon, the man behind the Photo Taco podcast, advocates doing an annual review of your photography, which includes picking out your favorite 10 photos of the year. He recommends that all photographers do it, as a guide to how you are progressing in the craft and, for the past several years, I’ve been following his advice. Doing so gives me a good gauge on how I am doing in my photography and what I can focus on to improve.
So, How'd You Do in 2021?
Well, to be honest, 2021 didn’t turn out too well for me, photographically.
Take a look at the picture at left. That’s a snapshot of my 2021 photoshoots for the year. There are only 18 folders there. That means that I only did photography 18 times in the past year.
Now, to be honest and fair, that number is a bit misleading. I’m counting our Colorado vacation and my Moab trip as one time each when, in reality, I did a lot of shooting during each trip.
But even so, a quick glance at the dates will show that there were long stretches when I didn’t pick up my camera. That’s got to improve in 2022.
There were several reasons why I did not shoot a lot during the year, including the fact that I now work from home and do not go into the city very often, and my depression which was not so great this year. However, I’m planning and hoping for a better 2022.
Okay, enough of the complaining. Let’s get to what you wanted to see.
The Top 11
I tried to get it down to a Top 10. I really did. But in the end, I just couldn’t decide from this list which one should go. So, in the end, I decided to keep all 11.
In chronological order, here are my favorite 11 pictures of the year.
Most of Florida’s beaches (or at least most of the ones I’ve seen) have flat sandy beaches. This one, however, has these coral rocks strewn about the shore.
Coming here to shoot a sunrise is always a pleasant little adventure The beach is nearly empty and when the clouds and the sun cooperate just right, you can create a beautiful image very easily.
Waterdrop on a Dandelion Seed
Taking this shot was pretty easy. Setting it up, however, was a pain in the neck. 🙂
Dandelion seeds are notoriously fragile and it took quite a while before I could get a waterdrop to rest in it without falling off. Even once I had it set up, I had to work fairly quickly to get the shot before the water drop fell.
I’ve been photographing water drops for years now, but I can honestly say that this shot is one of my favorites of all time.
When Lisa and I went to Colorado, I rented a really long lens (150-600mm) as well as a teleconverter, hoping to be able to shoot large images of the moon.
It took some practice getting the moon in focus and maintaining it in the frame while shooting, but I did manage to get several shots in.
I’m actually really proud of the detail that I managed to capture in the moon. The only regret that I have is that I was not able to shoot this shot during the full moon.
Lisa and I visited Mount Evans (one of the highest peaks in Colorado) on our trip in August.
The peak of Mount Evans is over 14,000 feet above sea level, and, at that height, we did experience some altitude sickness. We didn’t stay long, but we did manage to capture this shot of the sun rays coming out of the clouds during the trip.
Marine Parkway Bridge
One of my earliest memories, as a little kid, was passing the Marine Parkway Bridge as we traveled from our house in Queens to my grandparents’ home in Brooklyn.
Today, I live about 15 minutes away from Marine Park, where I took this shot of the bridge on a nice morning this past November. Colorful skies are a favorite subject of mine, and the sun did not disappoint that morning, filling the sky with a wonderful orange glow.
La Sal Mountains
Moab, Utah is famous for being the home of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. But slightly less well known is Dead Horse Point State Park, where lots of beautiful sights can be seen.
I went there one late afternoon to catch the sun setting over a bend in the Colorado River, but found that the landscape was much better suited for a sunrise shot than a sunset shot. However, as I was leaving, I turned around and saw the moon rising over the La Sal Mountains with this great pastel colored sky in the background and I knew I had to capture that.
I didn’t get the shot I was looking for then (although I did later, see below), but this was an incredible consolation prize.
Dead Horse Point Overlook Panorama
*This* was the shot I wanted to get when I took the last picture. After seeing that the location was better suited for sunrise, I came back early the next morning to get the shot. I set up the camera on the tripod and tried to capture as much of the landscape as possible while it was lit up by the rising sun.
I love taking panoramas, and this location seemed to be just perfect for it. I believe I actually managed to capture the grandeur of the location.
Dead Horse Point Overlook - Vertical
I normally wouldn’t include two shots of the same location, but I just didn’t have the heart to leave this photo out.
This shot was taken only about half an hour after the panorama above, but it clearly demonstrates how quickly the light can change during those golden hours.
I really like how the bue sky and yellow clouds contrast against the red rocks that are still lit up by the rising sun. If you ever get a find yourself in the general area, I highly recommend that you go see this spot at sunrise. It’s just amazing.
I got up really early in the morning to catch the sunrise by Mesa Arch.
This eastward-facing arch is perfect for sunrises, but it does require about a fifteen-minute walk in the dark to get there. But the sight of the sun shining through the arch and the colors in the sky made it all worth it.
On the way to the airport to go back to New York, I drove along Utah Route 128, also known as the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway.
There were quite a few great places to stop for photo opportunities, but this one was the best.
New York, NY
The New York City skyline is one of the most recognizable images on Earth.
I went to Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens on a cold December evening to shoot the skylight. I decided to go with a low-key image, to try to emphasize the lights as much as possible. The color reflecting into the water was just a bonus.
So, those are my top 11 shots for the year. Could I have done better? Certainly, especially if I shot more.
As it is, I’m making plans to go into the city for work at least once or twice a month during 2022, just so that I will go shooting after work. Hopefully between that, and doing more shooting overall, I’ll have better pictures next year.
So, how do you think I did? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear. And also, please feel free to check out my previous Top 10s below the comments.
Looking forward to 2022!