My Favorite Photos of 2018

Sunrise just beginning to light up the canyon, Grand Canyon, AZ

At the end of 2017, for the first time, I decided to blog about my favorite photos of the year. That post seemed to be received positively so, once again, I’m presenting my favorites of the year, this time for 2018.

One important thing I’ve learned over the years is that images I favor are not necessarily the images that others choose. To paraphrase an old saw, “Image favorites are [definitely] in the eyes of the beholder.” Just because I particularly favor an image doesn’t mean other viewers will feel the same way. And, similarly (and, initially, surprisingly to me), I have found that many viewers will favor images that are not on my “favorites” list.

I strongly suspect that I choose my favorites based not only on the image content and its quality but also because of the emotion I feel when I view it. And, in part, that emotion comes from my memory of the reason I was there, how I felt in the moment of capturing it, the context of even being in that place at that time, and other similar factors. Other viewers don’t have any of that background but do bring their own personal context to viewing images and are very likely feeling something positive from the images they favor. All of this is why I also believe that photography is an art form as well as a documentary medium.

WOW!! – I didn’t start writing this blog post with the goal of waxing philosophical but there it is, anyway. [Full disclosure: I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy (that was, of course, earned multiple decades ago). Who knew it would surface again here?]

Process

My process for selecting images for this (now annual?) post is to go back and review every image I have posted to my CedBennett.Photography website over the past year and make a first possible-favorite selection. [Note that all images on my site are favorite-enough to be there and have already been selected from a much larger set of images as photo-website-worthy during the year. A very few images that don’t make it into the photo website do end up in other blog posts providing, at least, supporting documentation value.] Then I review that set of possible-favorite images again (usually waiting a day or so before proceeding) to winnow it down to my most favorite photos of the year.

For my first try at writing a “Favorite Photos of…” post in 2017 I arbitrarily limited the number I would select to one dozen. This year I began with the same idea but after a while decided that I would not set such a limit; rather I would see if I could still end up with a reasonable number to post while also trying to let serendipity reign (somewhat). At this point in writing the post, I have selected 19 favorites from the larger set of possible-favorites. I’ll let you know at the end how many (maybe all of them?) still make the cut. Also, in the 2017 post, I organized the article by date of image capture. This year I’m trying something else.

The Favorites

First, the image at the top of the post, of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon very early in the morning just as the rising sun was lighting up the scene is my absolute favorite of the year (even though I have very strong feelings about many others in this year’s set). It was captured in September as part of a road trip with friends through parts of the southwest. I’ve deliberately cropped that image into a panoramic format to try to emphasize the broad sweep and grandeur of the scene.

Since I’ve already just mentioned one photo presented in a panoramic format, this is probably a good time to mention that there are five other such photos in this favorites collection. Four of them are single images formatted as panoramic because the composition looks better to me that way and one is a blended merge of two images presented as a single panoramic image.

Going from left to right, top to bottom, the first image is of the Launch Ramp of the Historic Life Boat Station (as part of a March weekend photography workshop held at Point Reyes National Seashore led by professional photographer, photography mentor, and my friend, Gary Crabbe). The weather that weekend turned out to be either foggy or very overcast presenting us with interesting (and useful, from a learning perspective) challenges. I decided to capture this image through a neutral density filter so I could slow the shutter speed which in turn made the water appear somewhat smoother. During post-processing I noticed that the colors of this image were not particularly helpful so I processed it as black & white allowing more focus on texture, tonal differences and the graphic nature of the ramp.

The second image is from the same workshop. The group had decided to drive to a point where we’d be above the thick fog that morning. I captured this image of the pasture and tree-line with the ranch shrouded in fog and with sunlight just beginning to rise above the clouds. A few minutes later the fog had risen even more and obscured most of what you see in this photo. The next image was taken in May at sunset while my wife and I were on vacation on West Maui. You can just see two paddle-boarders still heading out away from the island which helps to make it more than just another sunset image (you can click these images to view them larger).

The next to last image was taken while on a short trip to South Lake Tahoe in June. My particular focus of this photo, which shows the very southern tip of Lake Tahoe on the right and Mount Tallac on the left, was the unusual ribbon-shaped clouds above the Sierra-Nevada mountain range (I’m sure there are some weather-oriented folks (weather geeks?) out there somewhere who can explain the phenomenon).

The last image in this group is the blended merge of two photos (taken on the same road trip with friends described earlier) into a panoramic image that shows off the wonderful fall colors of this early morning view of the Sawmill Museum in Breckenridge, CO. The only change to the merged image is a change to the color of the small bus that arrived while I was shooting. It was a very bright white and was terribly distracting; I “painted” it to reduce that distraction by having it blend better with the surrounding colors.

Below are the only two photos with a vertical orientation in my favorites for this year. The image on the left was the result of a challenge by Gary Crabbe at the same workshop I mentioned earlier. After shooting at that foggy ranch, the group, looking for other areas of less fog, had gone up to a place called the Tree Tunnel, in which two rows of trees form a sort of tunnel over a long driveway leading to a building. After we’d all had an opportunity to shoot the iconic image of the tunnel, Gary challenged us to try to imagine the scene in a different way. I liked the way the color and texture of the trees in the early morning sun on the west side contrasted with the background of a layer of fog plus blue sky just outside the tunnel made the individual trees stand out.

The image on the right was taken while we were on the same vacation on West Maui mentioned earlier. I got up early one morning and just wandered around the resort and found this scene where the path and the rope fence led my eye toward the green palm trees back-grounded by the sunlit pink / magenta clouds. I grabbed the image before it could change.

Bird on a wire
Sings to his own music

At the March photographic workshop,Gary gave us another challenge early on – to walk around a fairly small area and deliberately use several different lenses. I noticed these birds who had just settled on the wires and wondered about the one who was not exactly with the rest of the flock. I thought to myself, “That one flies to his/her own drummer” and quickly captured it using a telephoto lens before they left.

I attended another of Gary’s workshops in August, also held at Point Reyes. As it turned out, for the second time this year the weather was quite overcast for almost all of the session. I did manage to create several images I like and three of them are in this favorite’s post.

The first is a straight down view of the Launch Ramp at the Historic Lifeboat Station. It is taken from the 2nd floor (which is the only way to get it since the ramp itself is closed to visitors). It is a color photo (not a colored black & white) and looks the way it does because it was shot during the morning “blue hour” (which creates the overall blue cast). The middle image is of the Old Fish Dock. I shot this one with the idea of processing it as a black and white image but when I examined the photo on my computer the amount of bright color available in this otherwise gray day was amazing and worth retaining. The third image is also under the Fish Dock where I chose to use the supporting piers as a frame for the sailboat moored on Drake’s Bay.

In early December my wife and I took a short trip to Monterey, CA to celebrate our anniversary. We used some of that time to drive around a bit to take photos. Of the two favorites from that trip, the first one is of a Cypress Tree skeleton in the midst of a Cypress Forest at Point Lobos (a state preserve). I was struck by the way this nearly white, and beautifully shaped old tree stands out among the newer (not new, just newer) growth.

181204-2748-PScc

The last photo was taken about 15 miles south of Monterey along State Highway 1 (also celebrated as California’s First Official Scenic Highway) and shows off the beauty and strength of The Bixby Creek Bridge built in the early 20th Century. I took several different versions of this and other angles from both sides and both ends of it; I particularly liked this one and the way it shows off how the bridge both contrasts and blends with the rugged California coastline.

181204-2661-PScc

Well, first the score I promised: I used 14 of the 19 images I selected as my favorites for 2018. I also yammered on a bit more than last year about the philosophy of photo art, the details of images, the way they were developed or presented, where and when they were from, and how I selected them. I did make an effort to link to other important sites (like Gary’s) as well as to other of my blog posts from 2018 that related to the photos shown. You can find other posts from 2018 by clicking on Home (from the menu at the top of the page) to get to the directory for all posts. And, as usual, you can see all of the images shown here, plus others, all larger and in greater detail by visiting CedBennett.Photography.


If you would like to comment, letting me know which ones you liked or didn’t, or anything else – there is a place below to do that. Or you can send email to Ced@CedBennett.Photography. Thanks for looking and reading this far; I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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