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My Top Photos of 2013

Best Photos 2013

Last year, I kept the number of favorites under 10.  This year, there are 13 images that I consider my best work.  8 of the 13 images were captured in one short period of time in Cuba, which surprised me initially, but given the Cuba trip was almost exclusively photographic in nature where the entire week was dedicated essentially to the craft of photography, it makes sense.  Too many of the activities I engage in are mixed purpose, but when one can completely immerse themselves in the work and sustain yourself in the zone as it were, good products come out of it.  I want to do more of this in 2014.

 

Amazing Retina

This image was a retinal image from a snow leopard, captured earlier this year.  Normally, I spend much of my day looking at normal and diseased human and mouse eyes.  When I was asked to look at these retinas from one of the most beautiful animals on the planet, I was unprepared for how pretty they were and how unlike our own retinas they are.  I’ll have more to say about this retina later, but for now, I’ll just leave you with this image.

Camera: Apple iPhone 5 (held to objective of surgical microscope).
Exposure: 1/809
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 4.13/33mm equivalent
ISO: 50

 

5 Cuba

This image was made in Havana, Cuba at the Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym.  We had the opportunity to stop by and visit with boxers as they practiced before heading off to explore Havana more.  The lighting inside the gym was pretty tough that day and I was having to really pump up the ISO beyond what I wanted to get things in the shadows.  This guy, wearing the red shirt had stopped in an area of big, soft light by the opening of the gym which gave this opportunity.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/800
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 1,600

 

Havana Cuba

Jennifer Spelman and I were standing in the plaza of a church in old Havana, just looking at the environment around us along with the people walking past.  We started shooting together and this is what came out of it for me.  I think Jennifer’s work with the school kids in it was a better image than this one, but the color, angle of light, texture and form says something about Havana.  The age of the buildings, maintenance that is not keeping up with time and wear combined with the zest for color that the Cuban people have all come together in this image.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/4000
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 100

 

Cuba 4

This image was captured in a very dark room where we were going over images from some local Cuban photographers.  I was leaning up against the wall when I turned around to see this young woman watching the presentation and was stunned by the display of muted colors contrasted with the yellow shoes.  There were only two sources of light in this room, the projector making a big soft light on the wall behind me and a harsh light in the hall to the left of the image coming through the open door.  This image belies how dark it was in the room, but if you consider that it was exposed at 1/5 with 4000 ISO, that should give you some idea.  There was something else about her face, looking far off that evoked Andrew Wyeth.  That look combined with the colors and lighting made this image one of my favorites.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/5
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 4,000

 

Watching Ballet

This shot was made at the Centro de Promoción de la Danza In Havana, Cuba.  We went there to watch ballerinas in training.  This image was made while this ballerina watched others rehearse for a performance.  I loved the intimacy of the image as the ballerina stretched, watching the other dancers perform and rehearse.  To get this shot, I was shooting through an open window at a mirrored wall with a 70-300 zoom lens so that I was looking at reflections in a rehearsal mirror.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/15
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 100

 

Havana street light

This image and the next one were made on an afternoon walk that Duncan and I took in search of light.  The sun was starting to set and we had just walked up from the Malecón along Paseo de Marti when the light got amazing.  As we looked West along Virtudes street, the road channeled the sunlight up towards us with an amazing gold color.  The specular highlights on balconies highlight the vanishing lines down the street and backlight the kid playing ball in the middle of the road set up the background for this layered shot and slice of life in Havana.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/400
Aperture: f/2.2
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 100

 

Havana Cuba Cars

This image headlined a post on Cuba and the Automobile and was made literally 4 minutes after the one above as the sunlight rapidly started fading out.  Duncan and I had decided that the light we were seeing above was simply spectacular and the right thing to do was to sit tight and see what comes along for the next little while.  I loved all the old car bodies in Cuba and the sense of timelessness they impart.  This image could almost have been made at any time in the last 60 years which is one of the attractions about Cuba right now.  This is rapidly changing as Cuba just opened up sales of new cars in Cuba for the first time in recent history.  Cuba will not be the same.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/800
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 100

 

Tobacco Worker

This image of a farm worker was made in a tobacco drying house on a tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba.  The gentleman in this image is holding a picture made by Brandon Downey.  The farmland we were on in Viñales was absurdly beautiful with jaw dropping light.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/2000
Aperture: f/1.6
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

 

Parisa Tabriz_700

This image of Parisa Tabriz was made during dinner in the courtyard of the Cathedral de La Habana on San Ignacio street.  I like to shoot in B&W, particularly in low light as a little “film grain” can be made to look a bit more natural than color noise seen in high ISO digital camera images.  That said, I loved the tones in this image.  From the highlights on Parisa’s face, to the dark color in her hair while still preserving details… everything in the histograms.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/50
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 3,200

 

Seattle

This image was made in Seattle, Washington over by the crazy EMP Museum.   The building is designed by Frank Gehry and from the outside is otherworldly.  We did not get a chance to go inside, but was simply content to walk around looking at the colors that emerged in the blue hour after the sun had gone down with the Seattle Space Needle reflected on the colored glass.

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/13
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 2,500

 

Fuji XPro1 First Light

This image was literally the first image captured out of the Fuji X-Pro1 camera that landed in my hands back in June.  That camera has changed my life and I am not kidding when I say that.  Its easy to travel with, takes up very little space and is lightweight, an ethos that I have been adopting lately.  On top of that, it creates amazing images and is pretty much the only camera that I’ve carried around with me on trips and in my every day activities since then.  It is an amazing camera system

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1
Exposure: 1/1200
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm (53mm equivalent)
ISO: 400

 

In the tent

This was a spontaneous image captured without much thought initially while camping in the desert back in August.  I awoke at about 4am and was lying there looking up at the stars from inside my tent and only absent mindedly snapped a shot without even looking through the viewfinder.  I simply manually set the focus by feel and clicked the shutter.  What resulted is an image evocative of that moment.  That feeling of a warm summer night in the middle of the desert with a full sky above you, something that is increasingly rare in todays constantly illuminated world, but also a reminder of what is out there.  That wonder and amazement you felt when first looking into the sky is what this image reminds me of.

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1
Exposure: 1/4
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 14mm (21mm equivalent)
ISO: 400

 

The Shard

This image was essentially another spontaneous image shot on a beautiful early fall day in London with the iPhone 5s while walking down to University College London, Guy’s Campus.  Mobile phone cameras are becoming increasingly capable of delivering impressive images, so long as conditions are right.  Its no wonder that point and shoot cameras are under increasing pressure as people simply use the cell phones they have with them at all times anyway.  That said, lighting conditions for this photograph were *ideal* and help illustrate modern London with contrasts between old and new.  The building in front was part of Guy’s Hospital established in 1726 and The Shard behind it was finished in 2012.  The cool thing about The Shard from this angle is that perspective correction does not matter on this building as the form of the structure, vanishing towards a point at the top is only enhanced by this perspective.

Camera: Apple iPhone 5s
Exposure: 1/2053
Aperture: f/2.2
Focal Length: 4.12mm (30mm equivalent)
ISO: 40

 

 

 

Categories: Daily.

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7 Responses

  1. my favorite is the view of the stars from inside the tent. perfect.

  2. Looking forward to find out more about the Snow Leopard. They have a couple of them at Hogle and they’re pretty. But I’m a cat person, so I’m biased. The retina looks more yellow than what I’ve seen before, but that’s from a layman.



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