2014 Top Twelve Photographs of the Year
I began this tradition last year, and hereby publish my 2014 Top Twelve Photographs, albeit I am running a little behind this year. I hope that it is a case of better late than never! This idea is based on a quote by the great Ansel Adams, that guides me everytime I am out on a photo shoot. I remind myself, I am looking for just a few shots that will be exceptional. I do not need to keep on shooting. Look for the extraordinary instead - I completely agree with him and its inherent and practical wisdom. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” ~ Ansel Adams
2014 was an extraordinary year for me, both personally and photographically, with the clear highlight being a trip to Sri Lanka, the country of my birth. It had a profound effect on me, rekindled my youth and drew me closer to my roots. It was extraordinary to walk amongst my earliest memories of this lifetime, in a magnificent land and its beautiful, kind, gentle and happy people. Some memories were extremely clear and some not so much, as would be expected after an absence of 55 years. However, what has never left me is the crystal clear memories, odors and tastes of the exotic foods of this country. The foods that clearly mean 'home' to me in every sense of the word. It was literarily like being the proverbial kid in the candy shop, but much more satiated and excited to relive and experience again all the culinary delights of these foods that are so unique to the island of Ceylon, or Sri Lanka as it is now called.
I also got to travel to Iceland for the first time, the Land of Fire and Ice. From the Tropics to the Arctic (close) in the span of 7 months! A beautiful, albeit barren land that is home to over 130 volcanos (with some 30 active), and over 300 waterfalls. Also, Iceland is a glaciated country. Approximately 11% of Iceland’s total area of roughly 100.000 square km (38, 610 square miles) is covered by glaciers. The largest ice caps in Iceland are located in the southern and central highlands.
In addition to my tropics to pole overseas sojourns, I had the good fortune to shoot in Death Valley National Park, Mono Lake, Bodie Historic State Park, the magnificent California central coastline of Big Sur, and 5 trips to my magnificent 'Granite Cathedral', aka Yosemite National Park.
I ended the year with a collection of some 14,079 images, captured from January 17, through December 31. I have changed the selection process on how the Top 12 images were selected this year, hopefully for what I consider to be sound reasons. Last year the selection process and ranking of the images were determined very simply by counting the number of Likes received on my Facebook page for each post. This year, while the number of Likes played a major factor, I also wanted the collection to be a fair representation of the various and diverse photoshoot sites.
So again this year I will count them down starting with number 12, and say something about each image, as well as provide some basic EXIF data.
#12 'Way Out' ~ This is known as Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California (also referred to as the Pfeiffer Beach Archway). This phenomena of the setting sun shining through the archway in this particular rock formation occurs only in December and the first two weeks of January of the year. A clear horizon line is necessary for the setting sun's 'light' to turn an amber color and 'glow' with the spray created by waves breaking through the archway. Shooting space is somewhat limited in this area, and it would be most comfortable with no more than 12 photographers and their tripods. This was shot on the last day of the year with a crowd of about 45 people on the beach on a day that I had hope would be devoid of people, being that it was New Year's Eve!
December 31, 2014 Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California ~ exposure 1/13 sec @ f/11; 16-35 mm lens at 21 mm; ISO 100
#11 'Celestial Playground' ~ I drove up to Tunnel View on this particular evening, 41 minutes before sunset and this was my first shot. It is standard operating procedure for me entering the Park to drive up to Tunnel View first. It provides a photographer an unobstructed view of Yosemite Valley and what weather elements are present and where. Sometimes the elements come together to produce an image like this one, where the light, the clouds and the monumental granite structures of Yosemite make it look like someone up there really knew what they were doing, and more importantly they were having a lot of fun:-) It is always fortuitous and humbling at the same time to see Mother Nature working so beautifully!
December 13, 2014 Tunnel View, Yosemite N P, California ~ exposure 1/20 sec @ f/11; 16-35 mm lens at 35 mm; ISO 100
#10 'A Faraway Land' ~ This is the mountain range Vestrahorn, in Stokksnes, southern Iceland. The Black Sand Dunes in the foreground are held together by beautiful growths of grass, and the mountain range is like none other that I have seen. Truly a faraway land, that is uniquely Iceland. In the 12 days that I spent in this magical country it rained on 9, making photography an extreme challenge but well worth the effort! On this particular day we had just about the best weather conditions and lighting available to us during the whole trip, with long periods of no rain and cloud cover that enhanced any landscape shot.
September 16, 2014 ~Vestrahorn, Stokksnes, Iceland ~ exposure 1/50 sec @ f/11; 16-35 mm lens at 24 mm; ISO 250
#9 'Are You Experienced' ~ "When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!" ~ Ted Grant (considered Canada's premier living photographer). This photograph of a street beggar was shot just outside the cave temples in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, March 26, 2014. The man was just getting set up as we walked past this particular entrance to the Dambulla Cave Temple, and I was hoping that he would still be there when we returned. Sometimes I wished that I could speak the local languages as it would be fascinating to be able to communicate with an individual like this about his experiences and journeys in life. It is one of my favorite images from my journey back to the home of my birth. The photographing of 'experienced' men and women is the only other subject matter other than landscapes that interests me as a photographer.
March 26, 2014~Dambulla, Sri Lanka ~ exposure 1/125 sec @ f/4.0; 24-105 mm lens at 67 mm; ISO 250
#8 'Mono Shipwreck Sunrise' ~ 5:50 AM, Mono Lake South Tufas, a Sunday morning's sunrise produced these beautiful muted colors that I was able to capture with my full frame sensor camera. The large resultant file allowed me to develop and display these subtle colors, which were the highlight of that morning's sunrise. This prominent tufa formation is commonly referred to as 'The Shipwreck' by photographers, and provides an otherworldly feel to me in any Mono Lake sunrise. We are fortunate as people that there have been heroic efforts made over the years to protect and keep Mono Lake alive. There is no telling the endless destruction that would have occurred without these monumental efforts, and what damage would have been done to this beautiful area and the fascinating ecosystem that is Mono Lake.
July 25, 2014 ~Mono Lake, California ~ exposure 1/3 sec @ f/16; 16-35 mm lens at 23 mm; ISO 100
#7 'Shadows and Light' ~ Early morning sunrise in the Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley creates these beautiful shadows and light. The low morning light highlights the windswept patterns of the sand, an opportunity for a photographer that lasts 10-15 minutes at the most. Therefore, it requires one to be able to imagine and predict what the light would do to the sand, get in position with a camera mounted on a tripod to begin shooting when the light comes over the distant hills. I try and stay away from the usual areas that are trafficked heavily by tourists and photographers in these beautiful dunes because of the footprints that the hundreds of people leave behind every day. I am also afraid of heights, and the main dunes area are several hundreds of feet high in some areas. Over the years I have discovered this marvellous spot, where very few people if any go and leaves me without footprints to shoot to my heart's delight!
February 22, 2014~Death Valley, California ~ 1/20 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 40 mm; ISO 100
#6 'Goodbye Sunset'~ On my last day in Sri Lanka I arranged to stop in Negombo one last time to shoot the sunset before I was driven to the airport to catch my red eye flight home, at 1:30 am on April 11. It looked like there would be no sunset worth shooting until this color appeared a full 40 minutes after the sun had actually set. I love these catamarans, which are abundant in Negombo, and are a fond symbol of my childhood and my father the fisherman, and author of stories about the people and fishing folks of Sri Lanka's estuaries. Negombo is a fishing town that was an important area to the family on my mother's side. Her parents were married here. She was born here, together with her other 5 siblings, and my parents were married in Negombo, all in an Anglican church that still here today.
April 10, 2014 ~Negombo, Sri Lanka ~ exposure 1.0 sec @ f/11; 16-35 mm lens at 17 mm; ISO 100
#5 'Stairway to Heaven'~ One of my most interesting Milky Way shots, that I purposely lined up with the Methodist Church in the town of Bodie, California, now a ghost town and state park. This image is from a Saturday night's shoot captured during a workshop headed up by Jeff Sullivan. Together with his partner Lori Hibbett, they run the best photographic workshops that gives you access to a night's shoot until 1:00 AM in the Park, and you come back at 6:00 AM to get access to photograph the interiors of a number of buildings, none available to the general park visitors - highly recommend the experience!
August 30, 2014 ~Bodie Historical State Park, CA ~ 15.0 sec @ f/2.8; 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm; ISO 6400
#4 'Fall Reflections' ~ One of my favorite places to shoot in Yosemite is this location on South Side Drive in the Valley. I come here to capture images of El Capitan and the beautiful Three Brothers. As a photographer I have learned to 'always look behind' me when I am shooting, which allowed me to see these colorful reflections of Cathedral Rocks and the Cathedral Spires. Fall is a magical time in this magical land! The spectacular sky as seen in this image is one of my favorites in Yosemite and completely changes any landscape shot as it adds so much interest to the composition as well as the reflections, common in the fall as the water levels of the Merced are low and still, creating a mirror like effect that are perfect for reflections!
October 31, 2014 Yosemite N P, California ~ exposure 0.5 sec @ f/16; 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm; ISO 100
#3 'Half Dome 'N Pink' ~ Sunset at Housekeeping Bend on the Merced River the day after Thanksgiving, a fabulous way to end the day with my youngest son's first visit to Yosemite NP. While the Park had mega tourist crowds on the day, there was only one other photographer at this location with us. Never been here when the color of the clouds in the sky matched the alpine glow on Half Dome, and add to that the remnant fall colors, just a beautiful sight to see! We really are fortunate to be alive as 'mankind' on this magnificent planet - I wish and hope that we all would do more to look after it as a people!
November 28, 2014 Yosemite N P, CA ~ exposure 10.0 sec @ f/11; 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm; ISO 200
#2 'Abstract in Blue'~ This is Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, my favorite place in Iceland, that is fed by a large glacier that meanders down to the lagoon from the distant mountains. These beautiful, pastel colored chunks of glacier break off and end up in the lagoon. They then break up to even smaller pieces and flow out to the nearby ocean, and black sand beach. This is what drew me to Iceland, having never seen anything like this in my life before. The abstract created in this photograph, with the glaciers, the mountains in the background in these beautiful pastel colors, are omnipresent in the lagoon and is simply a delight to be here and shoot till your heart's content! On this particular morning I was fortunate to be at the lagoon almost by myself, as I had left the other 12 or so photographers in our workshop in another location to join me at a later time. Without exaggeration, I walked up and down the shoreline of the lagoon stunned by the beauty of the ice, the pastel colors and the distant mountains and the massive glacier that fed into this body of water. The utterance of OMG was repeated over and over again, in awe and appreciation of this stunning and beautiful location. I will be back someday for sure!
September 17, 2014 Jökulsárlón, Iceland ~ exposure 0.8 sec @ f/11; 70-200 mm lens at 113 mm; ISO 100
#1 'Wild Nights' ~ Made my day when I was notified in October that this image of mine was being considered as a finalist (1 of 30) in the 2014 Outdoor Photographer’s 'Vistas Photo Contest'! The background story to this shot was that I was on my way to the gym on the evening of May 20, 2014 when I noticed the potential for a 'good sunset' at a go to location, so I returned home to pick up my camera equipment and raced to where I needed to be. This magnificent rain cloud developed into an amazing umbrella shape over a lone oak tree, and I made a quick decision that the only way I could capture the magnitude of the scene was to shoot six vertical images that I could stitch into a panorama in Photoshop. I opened my copy of the February 2015 edition of the Magazine on December 28, to find that it had received an Honorable Mention in the final judging, and it is printed on Page 50 (see link below) ~ my first publication in a national photography magazine of renown, and a late Christmas present! Feeling grateful and a great way to end the year! http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/locations/international/op-2014-vistas-winners.html?start=2#.VJ-VgsBA
May 20, 2014 El Dorado Hills, California
There you have it, my second annual Top 12 Photographs for 2014. I am extremely happy with my accomplishments this year, learned a great deal and traveled extensively, both abroad and within California. I have numerous journeys set up this year, including a 10 day trip to Hawaii (the Big Island and Maui), 21 day journey back again to the country of my birth Sri Lanka, and a full month's trip to Australia, also know as 'my second home'. My planned itinerary should put me in interesting places to hopefully allow me to have another creative and successful photographic year.
And in conclusion, I owe a great deal of gratitude to the many, many people who support my photography by purchasing my images in print form, as well as the hundreds of Likes and Comments that so many people take the time to stop by and leave on my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/djgrenier .
Enjoy the rest of 2015!