December is upon us once again so it’s time for me to comb through the 15044 new shots added to my Lightroom catalog since January 1st and pick my favourite dozen. After some editing and head-scratching, here are the final set. I’m listing these in the order that I took them rather than by any ranking. The collection this year is, I reckon, rather more diverse than usual – there are even several portraits in here! – so I’ll leave you to decide which ones you like best.
By the way, if you click on any of the photos below, you’ll see a larger, higher quality version.
I took this picture of local photographer Joshua David Curtis at a ”Drink and Click” meeting early in the year and really love the dramatic lighting. Thanks to Juan Gonzalex for bringing along the enormous octabank that someone was kindly wrestling with about 6 inches to the right of the picture!
I did a lot of photography out at Circuit of the Americas, Austin’s Formula 1 racing track, this year. I attended at least one day of every racing weekend except the vintage event in October. My favourite, from a photography standpoint, was definitely MotoGP. The race in Austin was the first even for rookie Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Team. He won in Austin and went on to take the championship in his very first year!
April saw the second ”NxNW” photoblogger get together. This year, we decided to visit Moab in Utah and use that as a base for a long weekend of shooting in Arches and Canyonlands National Park. We were up well before dawn every day and averaged about 4 hours sleep a night but it was well worth it to capture views like this one taken at Mesa Arch. I processed many pictures from that morning but this monochrome version is my favourite (so far).
This is another of the Moab trip pictures that made the cut. Look closely at this and the previous shot and you’ll probably see that the only difference was the lens I used. This image was shot with a telephoto from exactly the same position as the previous, wide angle shot. The recession of tones in this image illustrates a style that I love and there can’t be too many places better for this type of image than the canyons of Utah.
The third image from the Moab trip to make the cut was taken about half an hour after the previous two at the top of Shafer Canyon, again inside Canyonlands National Park. The figure in the bottom right is Justin Balog, setting up his own shot from the edge of the canyon while some of the rest of us stood further back, scared of plummeting 2000 feet or so to our certain death.
The final ”Moab” picture in the top 12 was taken the night before I flew back to Austin. We stayed in Grand Junction that night and spent part of the evening scouting Colorado National Monument for a good sunset shooting location. This was my favourite image from that evening and it went on to win ”Best of Show” in the Photographers of Dripping Springs exhibition.
Getting really close to the action at any race at Circuit of the Americas is enormously difficult. Thankfully, for those of us without press credentials, you are sometimes lucky enough to be walking the pit lane while mechanics are practicing pitstops and you can get a photo like this which gives the impression that you’re in the thick of the action even though you are surrounded by about 50 other people trying to get their own photos of the event!
In August I was fortunate enough to be sent to Taipei for a week on business. The work part went well but it was also a great week for photography because my host (thanks Charlie!) is also a keen photographer and went above and beyond to show me around. One of the locations we went to was this spot on Elephant Mountain, reached via what felt like thousands of steps, which offered an amazing sunset view of the city.
Taipei, like many Asian cities, is home to tens of thousands of motor scooters. I spent about 20 minutes shooting low shutter speed, panning shots at a downtown road intersection one night and came away with three or four shots I’m happy with. This is the best of the bunch as far as I am concerned – extremely blurred lights and yet sharp enough that you can make out the faces of the riders.
Dripping Springs’s first rodeo at the new arena and event center that the city has built was an enormous success and definitely the best rodeo I’ve ever had the privilege to photograph. The rodeo itself was great with all the usual events but, better than that, I have full access to all areas of the site and spent most of the weekend shooting right behind the gates and in behind-the-scenes areas that I would never get access to at a larger event. I took many pictures there that I’m delighted with but this one stands out to me. My only regret is the person walking behind Craig on the left. Maybe next year, I can get another shot without that distraction?
We had some pretty freaky weather this autumn. Drew and I attended a Cub Scout camp in mid-October and ended up getting flooded out after 6 inches of rain fell in a couple of hours. We abandoned the site at 5:00am with all our gear left in the tents and gathered in a pavilion on higher ground. The camp was a washout but at least I got this picture to remember it by.
The highlight of the Circuit of the Americas year was, once again, the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix in mid-November. I shot a ridiculous number of pictures and got a lot more keepers than last year, partly because I had had a lot more practice at shooting racing in the previous 12 months but, I suspect, mostly because I rented a truly fantastic Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens for the weekend. That monster is fast and super-sharp! Oddly enough, though, my favourite picture of the weekend was shot using a prosumer 70-300mm during the race itself. It’s not super-sharp but it was taken at a ludicrously long shutter speed and falls in to the ”Hail Mary” category – I shot a lot of these and one just happened to be sharp enough to work. This shows Heikki Kovalainen, stand-in driver for Lotus’ Kimi Raikonnen, racing through the turn 3/4/5 section of the track which sports a very picturesque set of red, white and blue stripes.
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