Grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up.
This post is a bit longer than usual.
I have been posting on this blog for almost five years, and I wrote my first year in review in 2014. I had such a great time reliving the great places that I was fortunate enough to visit, I thought I would do it again for 2015. Before I start, let me first state that I am so thankful that I have been able to travel and experience new things. I know not that many people have the opportunity to travel and document their travels in photos. Thankfully, the plans I made earlier in life have come to fruition. My experiences this year, as in the past, have allowed me to meet some great photographers, and, more importantly, make new friends. Last, but not least, I am very thankful for the support I get from my wife and son, who put up with my travels and passion for taking photos. So, without any further ado, here we go.
Goodbye Sony and Hello Fuji
In last year's review, I reported my move away from Nikon after 15 years. I began the year shooting with both a Sony A7 and a Fuji XT-1. After a few months, I decided to consolidate to one system, primarily due to the cost of maintaining two systems. While I liked each system for different reasons, I ended up staying with the Fuji. There were some compelling reasons for this personal decision. First, the Fuji just felt better in my hands, and I like the old-time dials to control the settings. Second, the Fuji lenses are extremely sharp and are terrific to use. Lastly, and most important, I love the quality of the end product. Before anyone starts saying that I should have went with Sony, I would have been totally comfortable with the A7 and its successors. In this day and age, almost all of the big named cameras are extremely capable and are probably more sophisticated than the photographer using them. Given that, choosing a camera brand is a more personal decision rather than an indictment of other camera manufacturers.
- Western Florida - The winters in New England have been getting progressively worse and worse over the years, and we finally decided to spend three weeks in Florida with the rest of the Northeast snowbirds. We had terrific timing. The really bad winter weather in Connecticut started the day after we left for warmer climate. This trip was not necessarily a photography trip, but I managed to get in quite a number of photos over the three week period. The highlights of the trip were Sanibel and Captiva, Sarasota and St Petersburg. Of course, no Florida trip is complete without stopping in Disney World, which we did before heading back home.
- Flower Macro Workshop - One of my goals for 2015 was to participate in a macro workshop. When I saw that Denise Ippolito was running a Flower Macro Workshop at Longwood Gardens, I couldn't resist. Denise is a wonderful photographer and probably the most creative photographer that I know. Learning from someone you consider one of the best is quite the opportunity. Even better, I was able to visit Longwood Gardens, the site of my very first photo shoot back in the late 1970's. Not only is Longwood Gardens a stellar location, the site was originally owned by William Penn. Combining Denise's skill as a photographer along with the beauty of the gardens, I was pretty happy with my shots from the workshop. I haven't been able to shoot much macro the rest of the year, but plan to do so in 2016.
- Maine Scouting Trip (Spring) - One of my best friends, Jeff Clow, is not only a great photographer, he also runs a wonderful photo tour company that is the best I have ever participated in. His tour destinations are mostly in the western United States. Jeff's position on locations is that he will not do a tour unless he knows the terrain intimately. I had been trying to get him to have a tour of the Maine Lighthouses, and promised that I would co-host the tour to ensure he had the right amount of local knowledge. Jeff and I, along with Jaki Goode Miller, went on a week-long scouting trip so that he could see the stops with his own eyes. I think that after the first day, he said we would be doing it. Here are some of my photos from that trip.
- Grand Teton National Park (Spring) - Another adventure with my buddy Jeff Clow. Jeff started his photo tour company based on his knowledge of this amazing National Park. Over my visits there with him, I have grown to love it as much as he does. I was excited about revisiting it with him in May, as I had never visited when the wildlife were emerging from their hibernation with their young and the mountains were covered with snow (that is Mount Moran at the top of this blog post). I had the opportunity to make quite a number of new photographer friends, many of whom are talented wildlife photographers. I guess they rubbed off on me, as some of my favorites are of wildlife.
- Mount Rainier National Park - I added this short visit as a prequel to my trip to the Palouse. I had visited this cool National Park on a couple of previous visits, but wasn't able to get good weather. I am glad that I did this, as the weather was beautiful, except for the day I arrived. Fortunately, the snow at Rainier was at a record low this past winter and I was able to walk many of the trails. I definitely need to spend a longer time on my next visit.
- The Palouse - This area in Eastern Washington and Western Idaho has long been on my bucket list. I have seen photos from the region of the Pacific Northwest over the years and they mesmerized me. Upon seeing it with my own eyes, it is even more amazing that I imagined it. The vast farmland, with the its rolling hills and mounds, captures light and shadow in a way that is perfect for photographers. Add to this the many abandoned farmhouses and grain elevators that dot the landscape that tickles the imagination on what happened to lead them to what you see. I hope to revisit this amazing place someday soon.
- Grand Teton National Park (Fall) - This was an unscheduled trip. We were planning to be in Europe on a two-week river cruise down the Danube. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to go on the trip. When talking with Jeff Clow, he suggested that I come on my second Teton trip this year, specifically to capture the Fall foliage. After making sure that all was well at home, I headed out to Wyoming. I was able to capture some moments that made this a memorable trip.
- Maine Photo Tour - The inaugural Jeff Clow Maine Lighthouse Tour went off better than can be expected for a first outing. Not only was the weather quite nice (albeit a bit cold), we were blessed to visit during the peak foliage week of the year. It is pure luck to have this happen, as the peak foliage can happen at any time over a 5 - 6 week period. An additional bonus was that the tour is held the first off-season week of the fall, and there were less people and tons of lobsters. You can't beat Maine and the post-tour extension to Acadia National Park couldn't be better.
One of the personal initiatives that I undertook this year was to participate in the Photo Frontier's WE35 project. The project is designed to "..to coordinate a global team of explorers and scientists to conduct a worldwide survey from a 35mm field of view." Each month there were challenges that would require creativity while being limited to a 35mm (or equivalent) lens. While I was only able to participate fully for six months, I found that my photography skills were broadened. There were 35 photographers that participated in 2015. The Photo Frontier plans to continue this project in 2016 with a whole new cast of photographers ("scientists"). Check out the Photo Frontier's website if you are interested in participating.