My top photos of 2010

Responding to a few requests for top photo of 2010 as well as contribute to Jim Goldstein’s blog project, I give you my best shots of 2010.  Most of these images have appeared in this blog before, but a couple are being shown here for the first time.

The photograph above was made on the 2010 Antelope Island Bison Roundup.  I liked this photograph as it was a sort of iconic image of the cowboy in the American West.  It is a simple photograph, but nicely summarizes the environment and tools of the trade of the cowboy.  Technically, to make this happen while focusing on the cowboy on horseback, I opened up the aperture on the 70-200 lens all the way to f/2.8 which helps isolate a subject while slightly blurring the fore and backgrounds.


This image of a surgery designed to inject stem cells into the degenerate retinas of a host was made on a trip earlier this year to work with collaborators in Louisville, Kentucky.  This image was made in a very challenging environment, a darkened operating room while we were injecting stem cells into the host.  It would have been helpful to have the 50mm f/1.2 for this shoot, but I was not sterile for this surgery and needed a bit of reach.  The Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens did rather nice by providing for some reach while keeping things razor sharp, even wide open in a very low light environment.  Lesson: Macro lenses make great portrait and still life lenses.


These small flowers were overhanging our walk up to the house one rainy Friday evening coming back from the lab and it appeared in the entry on the 2010 ARVO.  This shot reminded me to always be on the lookout for images, no matter where you are or how tired.  When the image presents itself, make an effort to capture it.  I love the macro lens, and hope to refine my macro photography skills more in 2011.  The Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens is wicked sharp and has great color transmission.  Optically, it is almost identical to the less expensive, non-L lens, but given that I shoot in adverse environments from time to time, the weather sealing of the L lens is appreciated.  Lesson:  Again, one of the oldest is look around from time to time.  The things you walk under or over everyday can be interesting and beautiful.


2010 seemed to be the year of the horse for us and started out with this exposure made back in March just after a early spring snowstorm up in Eden, Utah.  This image reminded me to be patient, compose on the fly and wait for the image you want to happen, but also to be prepared.  This was actually the second time that these horses ran past me.  The first time they ran past, the camera was in the back seat and not very accessible, so I walked back to the car, got the camera and waited in the cold for them to make the circuit on their property, running the whole way around 15 or 20 acres until they came running right in front of the camera, almost making the image themselves.  I loved the action and dynamic nature of these beautiful horses.


The Stable Place is an equine therapy facility out in West Valley City, Utah.  This image is from one of the open houses out there in spring where I was making images for their website.  There was something about this image that spoke animal train to me: a dog, two humans and a horse all working together to optimize a therapeutic outcome on a glorious afternoon.  The sun was at my back for this shot simplifying issues of shadow and the image was cropped in slightly as I did not have enough reach from across the arena where I was standing.


This image of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine was made in Louisville, Kentucky on my first visit to collaborate with colleagues on a project investigating retinal degeneration.  This bronze of Bacchus was in the bar of a restaurant in Louisville called Proof on Main.  The light inside was fantastic, but photons were sparse and finding enough light in a rapid, busy bar to make this image was a bit fortunate.  To make it happen, I shot with the 50mm f/1.2 wide open at ISO 1250 to make for smooth bokeh with low color noise on the Canon 1D Mk IV.  Lesson:  Try and shoot with available light.  Make it do what you want by experimenting with exposure.


This shot on our trip to Dublin, Ireland was a totally lucky shot.  Its tough to do truly discrete street photography with an SLR, particularly with a zoom lens on.  This image was made with the 24-105 all the way out and held down at my waist.  In other words, a blind shot as I had no idea if it was properly framed or not.  It was shot wide open for this lens at f/4 to try and isolate the subjects from the background, something that is tougher to do at f/4 than with a faster lens.  The problem of course with a faster lens is that they are even bigger and in Canon’s case with say, their 70-200, the lenses are white, attracting even more attention which is not necessarily desirable for discrete photography.  I miss my old Leica M6 and often find myself pining for a new rangefinder specifically for street and discrete photography, but on a scientists salary, that is currently a pipe-dream.


Blue the horse was a resident of Castle Leslie up in Gaslough, Ireland.  Blue was photographed on our trip up to ride.  The scene was absolutely pastoral with saturating levels of green.  So saturating in fact, that I had to dial back the green in post processing to make it look more believable.  I also brought down the highlights some to keep some of the detail in Blue’s coat.  I still blew out some of the highlights in Blue’s shoulder and neck, but I’ll take it as it still makes me smile.  The lesson here: Shoot what makes you stop and appreciate, but don’t forget to enjoy the moment.  All too often, I worry that the photography gets in the way of the experience and its a constant struggle.  Sometimes its best to leave the big iron behind, but…


Another shot from our trip to Dublin gave us this incongruity between old and new.  We were walking along a street in downtown Dublin when we heard the clop, clop of a horse coming up behind us, not unusual in Dublin.  However, this was in a residential area, not in a tourist area and this rider was riding bareback in trackpants and sneakers which made it somewhat interesting.  The rider smiled at me a split second later, but this shot was the last one on the card and I missed that shot.  Perhaps this shot would have worked better without the smile, but I’ll never know.  Lesson: buy bigger memory cards.


This shot is of the Gravity Probe B made in the hallway of the Physics building at Stanford.  This image is another reminder to always have a camera with you as you never know what one may see.  Chase Jarvis that said “The best camera is the one you have with you” as part of his ad campaign for his social photography site The Best Camera.  While I do not have an account there, the sentiment is appropriate.  This shot was made with my iPhone camera which is a respectable camera these days.  Its better than some point and shoot cameras and good enough that I now feel comfortable posting shots from my cell phone to Jonesblog.


This shot of a gila woodpecker is here simply because its the best photograph of a bird I’ve ever managed.  Its detailed mostly because of patience as it was shot relatively close.  Most bird shots like this require large, heavy and *very* expensive lenses to get close which are beyond my means, though some photographers like my friend Chuq manage beautifully with the Canon 100-400mm zoom.  Perhaps one of these days I’ll get a bigger lens to fill up more shots for the bird category here on Jonesblog.


This image of a dragonfly was made on a trip to a FASEB meeting in Saxtons River, Vermont.  Its a reminder that not all insect images have to be made with a macro lens.  This one was made with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.4x extender and cropped a bit in post processing.  The dragonfly landed on a tow cable on the ski hill behind the school where we were staying.  It was a warm, blustery afternoon and had I tried to get out the macro lens to get him, I would have lost this image as he was only there for about 7 seconds before flying off.  I had hoped to shoot images of birds on that walk, but this was they flying creature than got its image made.


This shot of a late season flower was made in the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin, Ireland.  It was a glorious day.  The subject matter was nothing special, but use of a wide open aperture to isolate the flower from the background and the rich colors of the flower and the background made it a favorite of mine.  Lesson: crouch down or lie on the ground (much to my wife’s dismay) to get the shot you want.  Seeing things from a different perspective by moving yourself is one of the oldest admonishments of photography.  Do it.


The Dublin trip was photographically rich hunting.  So rich that I would absolutely consider returning for a couple of days just to do street photography.  An international photowalk is something that a group of us have been considering for a while.  With any luck, Jeremy, Duncan, Rich, Ann and others that may be interested might be heading off to Tokyo for a couple days of street photography and excellent food later in 2011.  I liked this image for its every day simplicity.  Its a neon sign in a food shop serving everyday gruel in downtown Dublin.  Lesson for 2011: photograph more windows.  Focus on the things in the windows, and use light, apertures and polarizing filters to compose the things behind and in front of the windows in the photograph.


This image is in here because every year I try and make images of fall trees.  Until now, I’ve not been happy with any of them.  This is still not quite the image I would have wanted, but its more satisfying than images in the past.  The secret here was shooting across the canyon with a long lens and a tight aperture.  This “collapsed” the distance in the image and made it appear that the trees were much closer together than they really were.


I’ve been covering defense applications for the past few years and arms shows are part of it.  Most of the images that come out of these things from me and others all look pretty much the same.  Taking a different perspective will reward more powerful images that may not tell the whole story, but make you look harder anyway.  One typically does not bring a macro lens on these gigs, but I’ll start to make the effort to bring a macro lens in the future I think.  That said, this image technically was not made with a macro lens.  It was made with Canon’s 24-105 f/4 all the way out then subsequently cropped some in post processing.  A true macro would have made this image a bit easier to get.


The lesson here is in two parts.  First, again, look for the details… The assignment here was to shoot one of the world’s largest aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy.  This aircraft is so big that the initial impulse is to try and get everything in.  In fact, I picked up a fisheye lens specifically for this project, but my favorite shot was a detail shot that I wanted to make before I even left for the trip.  This brings up the second part of the lesson: Pre-visualize the images you want to make.  Start by doing your homework on places or things and draw out what images you might want to make beforehand, then write it down on a list.  It will make planning and capturing of the images you want easier when you are there dealing with all of the innumerable problems that crop up on projects like this.


The final image of the desert Southwest from the air is a reminder to me to keep your head on a swivel.  Always look around and while much of my time on planes is spent trying to get work done, writing manuscripts, emails, trying to do science when not in the lab, etc…, it pays off to look out the window from time to time and document what you see.  I’ve tried to do this for years as have others like my friend Duncan as evidenced by his Christmas card this year of an aerial shot of snowy Chicago.

Happy New Year and good hunting for 2011.


20 Replies to “My top photos of 2010”

  1. Nice write up. Gorgeous pictures as always. My favorites are the dragonfly and the late season flower. But all the others are superb too. I’m very positively surprised about the iphone camera picture quality. Thanks for sharing the pictures! Happy new year!

  2. Thanks folks. Happy New Year to you all as well.

    As for the iPhone pics, yeah… I am pretty much pleasantly surprised at the quality of them.

  3. Bryan, great images! I especially liked the Dublin street/Ireland images (here and in parent pages). You captured Smithfield and its vernacular modes of transport to a “T”!

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