Top Photos Of 2018

Time for my annual New Year’s tradition, written in the wee hours of New Year’s Eve, reflecting back on the previous year through the context of the photographs I’ve created, and picking my favorite images.

Last year was incredibly difficult. And while the struggle through 2018 managed to moderate some, the entire year was filled with an incredible amount of hustle and stress all while the current POTUS threatens our democracy with authoritarianism and corruption.  I also said “yes” too much in 2018 and found myself traipsing all over the world, running to too many meetings, and continuing to write grants in a desperate attempt to get the lab fully funded.  2018 saw trips to Chicago for ORDcamp, Melbourne, Australia for a collaboration, Sydney to visit with friends, go for a hike, and a footy game. A trip to Seattle to talk about artificial intelligence, ARVO in Hawaii, the AREADNE meeting in Greece to talk connectomics, visiting with dear friends in the Peloponnese, a quick trip up to Idaho, a stop in Amsterdam (need to spend more time there), a trip to Killarney, Ireland and the Ring of Kerry, to Coleraine and Northern Ireland, Belfast and Finland making 6 countries in one year.  Too much travel for me, thank you.  I’d like to say that 2019 will calm that down some, but there are already trips to Chicago, Denver, San Jose, Los Angeles, New York City, Berlin, Vancouver and Baltimore planned.  I’ll bring a camera… or two.

Things are looking up however…  Just last week, right after Christmas, I found out that the lab will in fact, be fully funded and I can start expending more effort on the science and expanding the lab’s focus some to new initiatives and collaborations that have formed over this past year.  The lab now has two R01 grants, an R21 grant with collaborators, and some new funding initiatives in the pipeline that I have hopes will come through in 2019 which will expand our work into the multiple sclerosis arena where we have some novel approaches that we think will allow some new discovery.  My eternal gratitude to a lab who pulled hard together to make this happen.  I am especially grateful to the lab for stepping up, big time and helping to keep productivity up while I was sequestered in my office, writing grants.

I also hear that Mueller’s Special Council investigation will have something to tell us…

Photographically, my efforts at getting more people into photographs appeared to have succeeded, particularly given that many of the portraits were made in my office which, when I was not out of town was where you could find me… writing grants.  Though, 2018 left me gasping for air in terms of a plan for photographic exploration.  I did not have a plan for 2017, and that continued through 2018 as I focused mostly on getting the lab funded.  I’ve not had much head space for anything else in 2018, so I do not know what to expect for 2019.  Though, I was surprised that a couple of wide angle images made it into my faves for this year, so perhaps I’ll explore more wide angle photography in 2019.  Though I really want to get back into macro photography as well.  I am hoping that a more relaxed mindset will allow me headspace for some photographic creativity and being able to spend more time in the lab will open up some macro fun.

Without further ado, I present my favorite images from 2018, and for the first time, interestingly… they have all been shot with Leica cameras.  Breakdown: 11 images, 4 with the Leica SL and 7 with the Leica Monochrom.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/3000
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 320

This shot of the Chicago skyline was made on my first visit to ORDcamp, standing inside Google HQ Chicago.  I made a color version with the iPhone X, but the B&W version from the Leica Monochrom seems to speak to me more.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/8
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 5000

This image was made in the Peloponnese of my dear friend Katherine (@fightingfish), holding her arms up to the moon on a perfect Greek night with friends.  It was one of those photographs that screams to you in the moment that if you don’t make it, you will kick yourself for years to come.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/350
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 1,600

This was one of those moments that for some reason, resonates with you enough to pick up a camera mid-conversation and snap an image.  I was incredibly pleased with this image made as Carl and I talked about circling back to some work that we had implemented a few years ago in order to write it up.  I’m eager to make this happen, but at the same time sad that Carl will be retiring this year.  Love you Carl.

This was also, literally first light for my Leica 35mm Summilux lens.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/90
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 2,500

This image of Magnus Lindström was made at the Tvärminne Zoological Research Station in Hanko, Finland.  Magnus was generous enough to show me his laboratory where he looks at the visual properties of the photoreceptors of crustaceans.  This was a great meeting and I hope to get back next year, with a bit more time reserved for walking around the research station and exploring.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/200
Aperture: f/1.7
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

My friend and colleague, Michael Redmond (@TMichaelRedmon1) and I took a train trip up to Coleraine, Ireland and up to Derry.  Michael is an amazing source of historical and biological/botanical/avian Irish centric knowledge.  It was a glorious day and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time visiting.  I loved this photograph for it’s depiction of relaxed fun on a day for exploring.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/350
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 2,500

My friend and business partner Trent Nelson (@trenthead) dropped by the office to visit on this particular day.  Any day Trent drops by is a good day as I find him to be one of the smartest people I know, completely and totally brave and able to wade into just about anything without fear.  I chose this photo because it just worked.  Exposure, framing, everything…

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/500
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 800

I was up in Seattle for a meeting on artificial intelligence, and did one of those wonderful things where you manage to meet up with a friend by happenstance, in the middle of a city you don’t happen to live in.  Jeff (@JeffCarlson) was leading a photo walk/class and was kind enough to step aside for a couple of minutes to chat and get a portrait made.  This image worked for me for the exposure and the environment.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/500
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 1,600

This portrait of Zhuo-Hua Pan was made in my office on a visit to give a talk at the Moran Eye Center.   Pan was the *first* person to implement optogenetics in tissues and it blew my mind when I saw it.  I loved this image for its academic atmosphere and his relaxed smile.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/4000
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 320

My friend Helena (@Helena_LB) always manage to get together to talk, visit, and have fika when we occupy the same space time.  This time was in San Diego for the SfN Meeting where we managed to sneak away from the convention center for lunch and conversation.  I like this image for the form and lines of Helena’s head and neck.  She was showing me her Swarovski black skull earrings, and I took the opportunity to make an image that works.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/40
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 800

This image was made of the inside of St. mary’s Cathedral in Killarney, Ireland.  It was made on a walk that Crystal, Becca and I made on the day after we arrived for the RD Meeting.  I don’t often shoot wide angle images, but this one was shot with a little Zeiss 18mm lens that helped capture the space and quiet emotion in this building.  The image itself was a challenging exposure, especially handheld as I was trying to just reveal the detail in the ceiling while preserving detail in the stained glass windows.  We spent a few years in a megapixel race, now it seems to be an ISO race.  My hopes for the future of digital camera sensor tech is to focus on dynamic range to make shots like this less challenging.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/30
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 1,600

I had 24 hours in Vienna before leaving for a meeting to run around all the museums I could.  In each of these museums, I was stunned to see the view when I looked up.  The idea was not to make a series of images of ceilings, but that is what emerged from that day.  The lens that made this possible was a 10mm Voightlander, ultra wide angle lens that is also rectilinear, and renders beautiful star patterns from point sources of light.  I loved the sense of scale and detail in this image.

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