Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. This post is a bit longer than usual.
I have been posting on this blog for almost four years, and I have never written a year in review before. I don't know why I haven't posted one before, but 2014 was a big change for me photographically, so I thought I would touch on the significant ones. Before I start, let me first state that I am pretty lucky and thankful for the past few years. I know not that many people have the opportunity to travel the world and get to document their travels in photos. I have been fortunate over my corporate career to financially plan and achieve the goal of being able to do this. There were many times that I wasn't sure if it was achievable, but perseverance won out over time. I am also 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 Nikon, Hello Sony and Fuji
I have been a Nikon shooter since they came out with their first digital camera, the D100. Over the years, I acquired way too many lenses and spent a lot of money on them (I usually went after the fastest lenses I could afford). I also upgraded my camera faithfully with every iteration until the D700. It is and may always be my favorite camera ever. Nikon's failure to update the D700 (even though Nikon introduced the D750, it isn't truly an update - just marketing of an update to the D610), coupled with the size and weight of my equipment led me to experiment with the Sony A7. I was immediately impressed with the camera, and, after shooting with it awhile, I was hooked. The downside was the lack of lenses. I knew that my Nikon days were numbered and when the reviews for the Fuji XT-1 came out, I bought one. The Fuji had a full complement of lenses that are quite impressive. I brought all three cameras to Banff with me and ended up shooting with the Fuji and Sony almost exclusively. I posted this writeup on it, which became my most viewed post. From there I sold eleven of my Nikon lenses, and the remaining lens and D700 will be sold in 2015. I am very happy with the change and I am not looking back.
If you read any photography blogs, you usually end up reading an article that states that photographers should develop a style that is theirs. This stumps many who think there is a defined style that they must come up with. There isn't. I believe a style is an evolution of experimentation of using different editing software, and, that over time, a style will emerge. I have used almost every editing software out there, from Capture NX to Photoshop to Lightroom to Nik to OnOne to Topaz. That is a lot of experimentation. For the first time, I am settling with mainly two: Lightroom and OnOne. I believe that OnOne is evolving to become a Photoshop replacement. Full disclosure: I will likely use Photoshop for some of its functions, but it will be few and far between. Don't think that I am stating that everyone should follow my choices. Your choices should be dictated by your own style and what tools get you there.
- Moab - I joined my buddy Jeff Clow on his March tour. Jeff's tours are memorable outings, and attending one of them is like visiting him at home, only his home is some very impressive landscapes. His motto is "Stand in Front of Better Things" and boy does he ever make sure that you do. Moab is one of my favorite places, and Jeff always seems to find new locations to shoot at, like the La Sal Loop Road. Moab is a home base to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park and the Colorado River Scenic Byway. Here are a few photos from the trip.
- Banff National Park - Another trip with Jeff in June. Banff is in my top three favorite places, and the drive up the Icefields Parkway is the most spectacular drive that I have ever done. It was a long six years since I had been to Banff, and I took the opportunity after the tour to shoot for a few days in Jasper National Park. Truth be told, I would go to Banff every year if I could. Here are a few photos from the trip.
- Glacier National Park - My final trip this year with Jeff in August. Glacier is one of those places that I have been to before (in 2005), but that trip was almost totally rained out. This was the first year that Jeff offered a tour of Glacier and I am very happy to have attended his inaugural trip. The Glacier weather was much better this time, although we still had some moments of challenges. Unlike his other tours, there is a lot more driving due to Glacier's configuration. This was made so much more enjoyable as the other participants were flat out great. I never laughed so hard and for as long as I did on this trip. That is one thing about tours and workshops. You meet some very special people on them, and, in some cases, you make life-long friends. I know I did this year. Here are some of my favorite photos from Glacier.
- Newport - A quick trip to this seaport town with my wife and great friends. A must-visit destination for terrific architecture, sailing and quaint town charm. Not a photography trip per say. Here are two images from Newport.
- Colorado - Another photo tour in September, but this time with long-time blog friends Rick Louie and Chris Nitz. This was my first time meeting them in person, and they are just as great in person as they are online. This tour was run by Rick and it is a pretty impressive one, exploring Colorado foliage in western Colorado and a few other places along the way west from Denver. I flew out a few days early and shot a little in Rocky Mountain National Park. My favorite shot of 2014 is the one at the top of this post of Maroon Bells. Along with that shot, here are some of my favorites.
- New York City, Boston and Acadia National Park - After our Colorado tour, Rick invited me to join the NxNW crew on their Acadia trip. The crew are a bunch of photographers that get together once a year. Many of them I have followed for years. The full group was to meet in Boston and then head to Acadia. Rick and Chris had decided on a pre-trip to New York City and I tagged along. All in all, it was a terrific experience, even though I have shot many of the locations before. It was great to show off some of the places in my "backyard" to those from other parts of the country. We dealt with some typical New England weather, but managed to get some great shots. Here are a couple of mine.
- Disney - My last trip of the year was with my wife and friends in late October. We spent two weeks in Disney during its International Wine and Food Festival. I didn't shoot much at all, as I was probably a bit tired of shooting after my September and October trips. I didn't think that was possible, but there it is.
2014 Goal - Shoot in Black and White
My major project going into 2014 was to shoot more black and white photos. I love color photography, but I wanted to start thinking about my early days in photography and see what I could do with it. I shot more B&W this year than I had in the previous five years. I am happy with the progress I made this year and look forward to continuing with it in the future. Here are some of the results of my project.
If you have stuck with me this far, I thank you for your patience. It has been a fantastic year for me in 2014, and I am looking forward to reshooting with some of the new friends I made this year. While not all of my trips are totally in concrete, here are some of my destinations: Florida's West Coast, Maine, Grand Teton National Park, the Palouse, California coast and Europe. Most of all, I am grateful to those of you who follow, comment, like and favorite my photography here on the blog and on social media. I hope each of you have a great New Year's Day and 2015.