Another year has passed far to quickly, in particular for someone who was taught photography on a Kodak Retina IIIc. For me it has been a year without new gear but lots of opportunities to increase my return of investment. So was it successful? Ansel Adams said that if you are able to retain 12 images in a year, then it has been successful one. So let’s see what we can do; my favorite photos and memories from 2015, in captured order.
All the best for the new year. SR
Venice (January): A Google search lists 137 million Venice images on the Internet. Does the world need another photograph of a gondola, a canal, or of the Doge’s Palace? Most likely not. And yet, images like this keep winning honorary mentions in photo contests. It is difficult to do something different, if you don’t go to the extremes (see image 36 here). January is less crowded but sunrise is at 7:50, so expect groups of visitors rolling their trolleys to the vaporetti already at dawn.
Colorado (March): We arrived in winter storm Thor, without which the skiing season would have been over by mid-March. Besides checking out ski resorts (my wife’s favorite run is Sneaky in Snowmass, mine the highland bowl in Aspen), sightseeing and winter hiking I got my long awaited image of Aspen trees. Keep in mind that large parts of the National Parks are closed for traffic even if the park headquarters are accessible. Cross-country skies are a good option.
If you get tired of skiing and photographing, the village of Ouray has become the ice-climbing mecca of northern America. And check out the ambience and steaks at the Outlaw on Main Street.
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland (April): I took the opportunity of the accelerator shutdown to visit the CMS experimental cavern some 170 meters underground. And although I had seen it many times before, it is hard not to be impressed and inspired.
Umbria, Italy (May): End of May is a good time to photograph churches and squares. With dawn of civil twilight at around 5:10 expect nobody in front of your lens. You might have to remove some trash, though, left over from the party in the evening. There is enough time so set up and wait until the spotlights are switched off and the sun does not yet cast harsh shadows on the reliefs.
Vancouver Island, Canada (July): Douglas fir to the right, Sitka spruce to the left (or a mix thereof) for miles and miles. Not very interesting either, because old-growth forests have almost all been lost due to logging. Fortunately, conservationists have fought to preserve some big trees and ancient forests in the Port Renfrew area (Avatar Grove). At the end I regretted not having gone down to the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington.
Stuttgart, Germany (September): The classical reference library is sort of an anachronism these days. In the same way that Amazon has destroyed the bookstores, Google and the online library archives have substituted (if not yet replaced) the reference libraries. Still, I enjoy browsing through a (hardcover) book and think that haptic and tactility has a role to play in the learning process. It slows you down by literally adding weight to content. Yet during the visit to the Stuttgart City Library designed by architect Eun Young Yi, I noticed that the main gallery, a five-story space arranged in a spiral, was pretty devoid of visitors, while no free seat was available in the online and multimedia sections.
China, (October): The traditional living quarters in Beijing and Shanghai have mostly been cleared for wide boulevards and their inhabitants have moved to gated, high-rise apartment complexes. What looks traditional often turns out to be an amusement quarter with boutiques, art galleries, and coffee shops, disguised by faux historic façades. In only ten years, the traditional area of Pudong (the east bank of the Huangpu River in Shanghai) has been turned into a financial center with some of the world’s tallest buildings, such as the Shanghai Tower (Gensler & Associates), the Jin Mao Tower (Skidmore, Owings & Merril), and the Shanghai World Financial Center (Kohn, Pedersen, Fox). If it was not for the colorful light show, you could believe being in Chicago, though.