My Favorite Photos from 2013

I need your help! I’ve whittled my faves from 2013 down to twenty images, but I want to get it down to the Top Ten to feature on my website. Below are the top twenty. Please have a look and send me a comment on your favorites. You may select any number of photos but no more than ten. The photo number and caption are under each photo, but just giving the number is fine. You don’t have to rate them in order, but you may if you wish.

To make it still more interesting for you, here’s an incentive: Each person who sends a comment listing their favorite(s) will be entered in a drawing to receive a signed 8.5 x 11 print. On January 20 I will select three names at random from among those who have commented; those three will receive one of the prizes.

So, here are the photos — please tell me which ones you would nominate for the Top Ten of 2013.

1 - Poughkeepsie

1 – Poughkeepsie

2 - Baltimore Sunrise

2 – Baltimore Sunrise

3 - Inner Harbor

3 – Inner Harbor

4 - Omaha Diner

4 – Omaha Diner

5 - Thunderbird Wheel

5 – Thunderbird Wheel

6 - New Hampshire Storefront

6 – New Hampshire Storefront

7 - Historic Rhode Island

7 – Historic Rhode Island

8 - Gritty Old Car

8 – Gritty Old Car

9 - Newport, RI

9 – Newport, RI

10 - Poughkeepsie in B&W

10 – Poughkeepsie in B&W

11 - Poets Walk Park

11 – Poets Walk Park

12 - New Hampshire Reflections

12 – New Hampshire Reflections

13 - The Old Barn

13 – The Old Barn

14 - Crawford Notch

14 – Crawford Notch

15 - Catskill Trees

15 – Catskill Trees

16 - Chapel Pond

16 – Chapel Pond

17 - Autumn Color Splash

17 – Autumn Color Splash

18 - Autumn Evening at the Lake

18 – Autumn Evening at the Lake

19 - Cold Spring Resort

19 – Cold Spring Resort

20 - Lexington Hotel

20 – Lexington Hotel

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Shameless Self-Promotion

Hi my friends,

You know this isn’t something I normally would do or even advocate, but I just want to devote this one brief blog to letting you know about some special items I have for sale–a limited number of matted prints (and two framed prints) left over from a recent show. Here is a sample, and before I add them, let me tell you that the link to view and purchase them is exclusively at my Etsy shop. You can also click on the photos themselves to go directly to some of these items.

Thanks for looking! — Next posting I’ll make it up to you by reviewing a phenomenal new book by one of my favorite photographers.

Sunflower Photographs: 2 + 2 = 2

Sunflower season is upon us, that time when fields are filled with endless rows of these dear, stately flowers. After trees, I think that sunflowers are the most anthropomorphic member of the plant kingdom: their bright yellow smiles and their spread-out leaves seem to offer a hearty “Welcome! Look at me!” to all who pass by.

Thanks to a tip-off from fellow photographer G. Steve Jordan of New Paltz (more about Steve in a future blog), I found a huge field of sunflowers on Route 299 leading out of town; they were flanking a big tree that belongs in a painting by 19th-century landscape painter Asher B. Durand. Nice! An “anchor” for my photos. And the eight-feet-tall sunflowers’ welcoming qualities came into play when I hid under them during a sudden rain shower and they protected me from getting soaked!

The sunflowers in the photo I’m going to show you here aren’t from the Hudson Valley, however, but from Connecticut: Buttonwood Farm in Griswold. I’ve been there several times during their annual “Sunflowers for Wishes” week in July, and I believe this photo was from my second visit. The barn wall is from a recent trip to the Delaware Water Gap with fellow members of the Ridgewood Camera Club, and so you’re looking at some artwork combining photos from Connecticut and Pennsylvania and made by a photographer in New York. Who belongs to a New Jersey camera club.

Starting by ensuring that the two photos were the same size and then cloning out the rusty nails in the barn wall photo, I combined the two photos in Photoshop. For the first one I dragged the sunflower photo over the barn wall photo. I wanted that wall to provide texture for the photo. I used the “Darken” blend mode with 100% opacity, then selected the flowers and increased the brightness. There are many different blend modes available, of course, but I preferred “Darken” because it made the end result look as if someone had long ago painted sunflowers on the wall and it was all now peeling. Finally, I applied the Color Contrast preset from Nik Color Efex Pro to make the entire picture a lot brighter.

The second version gives an entirely different result. This time I began by changing the blue sky in the sunflower photo to the rich brown you see here, then I pulled the barn on top of the sunflowers. Here the blending mode was “Color burn” at 56% opacity. It gives a rather dramatic result, I think; at least two friends have commented on the “3D” effect. Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to photograph old buildings, especially old buildings that are sort of hurtling toward a state of ruin. I keep fantasizing that maybe someone will come along and liven up one of those old buildings in Spruceton Valley in the Catsksills by painting sunflowers like this on it. Anyhow, please tell me: Which of these two versions do you prefer, and why? I’d love to hear from you.