Top Photos Of 2019

Time again 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 my favorite images I’ve created throughout the year.

2019 started as a year of meeting obligations for promises and things said “yes” to in 2018.  People visited the lab, we said goodbye to a legendary piece of equipment that captured ultrastructure and got us going on a new scientific endeavor, connectomics. Got to reunite with dear friends.  Had other friends visit in Salt Lake City.  Almost froze in Chicago.  Gave talks in Denver, in San Francisco and got to meet people in person for the first time that I’ve been talking with for years (Hey om!), in New York City (Hey Clive!), in Berlin, in Vancouver (Hey Tim!), in Baltimore, in Stockholm, in Cambridge, in Austin, in Obergurgl.  Attended SciFoo for the 3rd time! Celebrated dear friends in an apple orchard.  Visited with Apple peeps at their new headquarters.  Celebrated the wedding of dear friends.  Hired a new technician in the lab.  Took delivery of a new electron microscope.  Published 5 papers, with 4 more coming in the first months of 2020 along with a chapter.  We also heard about a new grant from Research to Prevent Blindness focusing (see what I did there?) on glaucoma with Pete Williams.  I also wrote three more grants that have been submitted, that hopefully we’ll be hearing more about in the not too distant future.

My eternal gratitude to the lab who pulled hard together to make all our productivity happen including Becca Pfeiffer who absolutely kicked ass this year.

Photographically this year was a bit of a blur for me, and I don’t feel like I had much of a chance to concentrate on the practice of photography as most images felt like they were opportunistic, rather than carefully made with forethought and planning… or at least having the opportunity to compose and wait.  I am hoping to remedy that somewhat with a trip early in 2020 where I’ll have a couple of days to just concentrate on photography.

Without further ado, I present my favorite images from 2019.  The trend towards Leica cameras have been pretty much complete over the last couple of years, though three of my favorite images this year were made with iPhone cameras.  Breakdown:  10 images, 2 with the Leica Monochrom, 1 with the Leica M9, 3 with the iPhone XS, and 4 with the Leica SL.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/8
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 4,000

The first image was an opportunistic shot made in Berlin, Germany on a nighttime walk with friends.  I love this image for the abstract, yet very real quality of a moment in time.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/2000
Aperture: f/7
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 800

This image of a friend and colleague Andras Lakatos was made on a glorious afternoon walk in Cambridge, England.  The backlight provided by the sun in an 800 year old street was glorious.

 

Camera: Leica M9
Exposure: 1/180
Aperture: f/1.7
Focal Length: 50mm
ISO: 640

This image of a legend of vision science, Helga Kolb was made on a day she dropped by the office to chat about changes to Webvision.  The light was coming through my office window with a particularly sharp edge from the reflection of a building behind us and trans-illuminated her face.  You have to obey light when it gives you this opportunity.

 

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/30
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 26mm equivalent
ISO: 640

This image was made in the Berlin Museum für Naturkunde.  I was staring at this tyrannosaurus skull when this little girl walked up with (I presume) her father and the expression on her face said it all.  Dinosaurs do that to people.

 

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/220
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 52mm equivalent
ISO: 16

This image was made on a visit to Stockholm where I got to meet scientific heroes of mine, collaborate with new friends, and give a talk at The Karolinska Instituet.  This was one of those moments on a run, you have to stop and make the photo.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

I loved this photo, made of my dear friend Dallas in a San Francisco diner just after he married another dear friend Katherine.  The light was shining through the front window and it was about as perfect as you could ask to light a portrait.  On top of that, Dallas looks so happy.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/15
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 800

I had a free afternoon in Cambridge, and had heard of an early pre-Norman church up in Ely, so ran up with a hyper wide angle lens to see what there was to see.  The space was enormous and so, incredibly beautiful.  I’d started looking up to take photos with a hyper wide lens last year, and have continued to do so this year with fun results.

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 1,600

A visit to Cambridge would not be complete without stopping by the King’s College Cathedral.  I’ve heard so much beautiful music coming form this building over the years in recorded form, so it was a special thrill to hear the choir rehearsing on my way back from an afternoon meeting.  After hanging out for an hour listening, I got to walk through the cathedral making some images.  This one give some imperfect perspective on the space of the place…

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/180
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 3,200

This photo of my friend Clive Thompson was made in the doorway of a bar in New York City.  Clive and I have been talking for years, but this was the first time that we’d had the chance to meet in person.  I loved the informality of this image, and the light coming through the doorway made for an ideal portrait spot.

 

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/1076
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 26mm equivalent
ISO: 25

This shot of the inside of Apple Park is not only rare (Apple does not allow photographs typically), but also shows off the capabilities of modern smartphone cameras.  I’d love to see what I could do there with the new wide angle lens on the iPhone 11 Pro, but the light and space in this building are simply unparalleled.

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