It is always dangerous to pick your favorite “anything,” especially when it comes to your own photography! I find I often fall in and out of love with individual photographs, especially ones that were recently made. How well photographs stand the test of time is always difficult to know today. Only time will tell! But as of right now, these five images are my personal favorites from 2011, all for very different reasons.
Above is a photograph of the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church, about 17 miles north of Beaufort, South Carolina. Built in the mid-1700’s, the church was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War in 1779. Why is Old Sheldon Church among my 2011 favorites? Probably because of the mood and sense of emptiness that the old ruins conveyed to me. I have many photographs of intimate details of the church, but this wide-angle shot, taken with an infrared converted camera, captured what I saw and felt. For me, key elements of this image that help make it one of my favorites, are the dark tree limbs and tree trunk on the right side of the frame, the dark shadow along the ground in the foreground, the mighty columns that still remain, and the infrared interpretation of the sky and leaves. This photograph is hanging in my studio and although I have looked at it thousands of times, I continue to enjoy it.
The Arthur Ravenal Bridge connects Charleston with Mt. Pleasant, S.C. and this image was taken at sunset. In processing this image, I struggled to decide whether I liked it best as a color or monochromatic image. Because what I liked about this image was its simplicity and the architectural beauty of the structure, I decided on black and white. This image and the bridge are all about triangles, some that are complete, and others that are implied. Did you notice the many triangles of the supporting cables? I find a soothing rhythm in the repetition of the shapes and lines, and even slight arch of the roadway, which gives a sense of motion. The empty sky completes the image. Clouds would have competed; here the bridge stands on it’s own.
Botany Bay Beach is on Edisto Island in South Carolina. The two dead trees in this image are, depending on the time of day and the tides, either along the beach or in the water. This particular photograph was captured just before sunrise after carefully checking tide tables and sunrise times. This scene was also about the mood and feeling of the place, so I decided to use a 30 second exposure which made the water appear milky and serene. The color repetition from the horizon to the reflection on the shoreline helps tie the elements together. The slightly lighter band in the water, where small waves accumulated, helped to break the monotony of the dark water. Like many of my images, this one is simple, with just a few key players and a supporting cast of the light, rocks and debris on the shoreline, completing the staging of this beautiful sunrise.
Conventional wisdom, and an old photography axiom says that you don’t make photographs of other peoples’ art. Well, what about photographing architecture? What about photographing carefully designed and arranged gardens? I love to break the rules! This statue of Neptune by Paul D. DiPasquale is on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, Va., just steps from the sand and the Atlantic Ocean. What an appropriate location. What initially attracted me to make this photograph was the beautiful, man-made lighting that lite this enormous statue. I always like surprises – the unexpected. When I first studied the statue the clouds were thick over the ocean. Suddenly, the moon appeared, as if nestled between the two clouds. I quickly and carefully repositioned myself to get the clouds and the moon exactly where I wanted them. “Click – click – click!” I had my shot.
Death Valley, California. I LOVE this place! This photograph was taken just before sunset in the middle of the Badwater salt flats. The stagnant salt looked like a flowing river. I decided to crop the bottom of the image to emphasize the nearby wide-expanse of the “river,” leading down through the “S-curve” as the salt receded into the distance. Color just wouldn’t have worked for me. This image is about the juxtaposition of the tonalities (salt, clouds, sky, mountains) with the harsh textures of the mud-salt combination to the right and to the left. The amazing clouds dancing at sunset completed the image. I’ve been to Death Valley three times. I’ll be back!
I would greatly appreciate your comments and thoughts about these five photographs! I’m sure there will be some very different opinions!