Best of 2019, Part 2

I took a fair number of pictures this past year, as I do every year. It’s important to look back though, and understand what I did well and what I did poorly.

As part of that, I spent some time gathering my favorites from the year, and analyzing them closely. I wanted to understand, at least from a personal standpoint, what makes for the best pictures. It was a good opportunity to analyze them closely and understand: what should I have done better?

What follows are my 10 favorites from the year, alongside a bit of story, as well as what I liked about them. Numbers 5 through 1 are below (I published Part 1 last week!)

#5: Prashanth & Kusum, in profile

Prashanth and Kusum asked me to help them with their engagement photos before they had gotten married. Prashanth knew he wanted to get the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan in the background. I was worried about the sun resulting in some backlighting issues, but decided to go with it.

Most of the shots we got that day were with them well lit, and framed against the bridge and Manhattan as they wanted. In between some of those shots, though, I got this one.

Even though the picture works as is, having a bit sharper of a focus on them may have made more sense.

#4: Homecoming

After Indian weddings, the bride and the groom make an entry at home together. It’s tradition for the sisters of the groom to “demand” payment, in exchange for having to share their brother’s attention.

I grabbed this from a little behind, but I was lucky enough to get my cousin’s perfect smile on arrival. Not much to adjust on this one – focus could have been slightly better, but the expression was what I needed. A longer lens could have been better at filling the frame ith just the important bits, but such is life.

#3: Little Italy, and tourists

Little Italy in NYC isn’t huge, but on Saturdays when the streets are closed off to vehicle traffic, it’s easily identifiable. Instead of cabs, the streets are full of outdoor seating, with people enjoying the sun, and crowded with passing tourists.

I caught this shot on Provia 100F – not necessarily the ideal film for this type of situation, but I was practicing using slides. The day was bright, but the film held together welll in spite of the mix of shadow and light. On top of that, the film was able to retain a significant amount of detail, both with the family to the left and the restaurant goers on the right.

Outside of waiting in position just a little longer to see what else the family got up to, I don’t think there was much more to do for this. Definitely one of the best images I was lucky enough to be able to capture this year.

#2: Fall, at 300mm

I had meant to get out to capture some fall colors sooner, but between an abundance of work and other social calls, I probably missed peak season by a week or two. To really nail fall colors, you have to work off the leaves calendar – that means observing, rather than relying on forecasts, your schedule, or even sayellite imagery (different trees hit max at different times.)

That being said, it would have done nothing for this image.

I got out to Cheesequake State Park late on a Sunday/Saturday. The sun was already well kn its way to setting, so the main entrance gate was closed off for cars. I was not to be dissuaded, however. My brother and I both hoofed it, walking the 15 minutes to the lake, and then around it to get to a platform where I could set up with my camera.

Some of the trees retained shocks of color, and the stillness in the lake reflected those colors back up. At 300mm I picked out some details clear across the lake, with these seemingly perfect parallel trunks rising through a small field of red. On a tripod, the shot was stable enough, regardless of the decreasing light and the long exposure time.

#1:  Looking down from the Vessel

Geometry is challenging to observe in real life. Reality is messy, with entropy rearing its asymmetric head frequently.

The Vessel is an exercise in geometry and symmetry onto a very human-centric (and asymmetric) part of the city. Even the buildings around it aren’t symmetric – making the Vessel somewhat challenging to photograph. That is, unless you’re in it.

It exists for no purpose other than to be photographed, and people line up to take pictures – in and around it. There were plenty of un-neat formations of people poring over every platform of the structure. But this one – the smattering of people around it, against the neat, flowing tilework surrounding it, just stuck out to me.

Maybe if I had decided to get it on digital instead of film, the imaging would have been clearer, but having this image on a slide might well be worth more than any digital image.

I’m looking forward to a busy 2020 – with work, travel, and even more photography – looking forward to what the coming months bring!

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