As we reach the end of another year, a lot of us take the time to both look ahead to the next year, as well as look back on the year that was. I like to practice this sort of thoughtfulness in many aspects of my life, and being a passion, and a big part of my life, photography is included in that reflection.
Over the next two weeks I'm going to look back at my ten favourite photos from the past year. I'll post each with a brief description of the image and the circumstances behind it, and the capture settings.
Before I get into the first of the photos, a few notes on my method for whittling down and determining the top ten.
As I write this, I have taken 14,892 in 2015. Whoa. That's a lot. An average of 41 photos a day! Certainly not all of these are great, or even good. A lot of them still need to be sorted through and thinned out. On the other hand, I've been in Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa for the past week and haven't yet added the several hundred photos from this trip into my library yet.
To begin with I filtered the photos to just the final edited photos. This lowered the number to 976. Still a big number, but a lot more manageable at this point. From there I added all the photos that were both technically good shots, AND had some sort of sentimental pull to me to a new collection in Lightroom entitled “2015 in Review”.
This reduced the total to 111 photos, now a much more manageable selection from which to pick the top 10. While getting the number down from 15,000 to 100 may seem like the hard part, the final 100, and especially the final 20 proved to be the real challenge.
From the 111 “2015 in Review” photos, I chose about 30 which I deemed to be the best photos of the bunch. This was largely a technical decision, as the final 111 each had at least some emotional connection for me. Some images included in the 'Review' collection had a lot of sentimental significance but may not have been the most engaging photos. I did not want to include any of these in a possible top ten list, as I wanted my top ten to be primarily based on the photos beauty and draw.
Now that I was down to 30 photo I was able to pick out about 5 shots that I instantly knew had to be included in the top 10. Likewise, I was able to eliminate about 10 instantly that I knew didn't quite measure up to the others. The final 5 of the top 10 proved to be the most difficult part of the process, and at this point, I returned to emotion, sentimentality, and nostalgia to aide in selecting the final 5 photos, as the remaining choices were all technically excellent images, with little to differentiate them, and varying subject matters that were like comparing apples to oranges.
Now, without further ado, the first of the top ten! (These are not ranked in any order)
This image was taken in Laos at the Plain of Jars near Phonsavan. The plains sites hold dual significance. Firstly, they are strewn with hundreds of huge, stone 'jars' that are thousands of years old. It's unknown exactly what they were used for, although the most common speculation in that they may be funerary urns.
Secondly, this area was among the worst bombed areas in Laos during “The Secret War” with the Americans. From 1964-1973 Laos was bombed more heavily than all of Europe in WWII, with an American bombing mission being flown every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years.
Approximately 30% of bombs dropped failed to detonate, leaving 80 million live bombs scattered across the Laotian countryside.
Here at the plain of jars, UN specialists have cleared the unexploded ordinance, but craters dot the hills and plains, a reminder of what took place here a generation ago.
I duplicated the original photo multiple times and added different hues to each of the versions. I then used layers and masks in photoshop to paint in the different colours.