2014 brought me many photo opportunities. From my annual visit to Walt Disney World in February to my trip to California in July, and photographing all around Saratoga Springs and upstate New York throughout the year, I had a lot of photos to choose from when rounding up my 25 best photos of 2014. It was hard to narrow it down, but after gathering nearly 50 of my favorites, I was able to whittle the list down to 25. Here are my best photos of 2014:
Come Embark on the Voyage of the Little Mermaid!, February 17
Taken in the New Fantasyland part of Magic Kingdom, I have fond memories of the night I took this photo. I was enjoying a night of fireworks and photography with fellow Flickrites (all of which I blogged about back in march). Another reason I really like this photo is because it was featured on the cover of the Walt Disney World Unofficial Guide Color Companion (which I also blogged about). I certainly wasn't imagining that this photo would be on the cover of a book when I was taking it, but I'm glad it ended up that way!
Fireworks Friday: Wishes, February 17
Taken less than an hour after the previous photo, this is my favorite Disney fireworks photo to date. Disney World fireworks expert Jeff Krause helped me envision this shot before the fireworks even started. We had a blast running to different locations throughout the show to try to get as many viewpoints as possible. Fun fact: those two people in the bottom left corner are my parents!
What a Great View...Before You Drop!, February 18
I've taken a few photos of the view from the Tower of Terror before the drop, but this is my favorite. The late afternoon sun and the fisheye make it one of my photos taken at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's also fun to take photos like this because I've been on this ride enough times that I know what to expect and I'm not afraid to take my camera out and snap a few shots. I blogged about this portion of my Disney World trip back in March as well.
The Moon and Halcyon Hall, April 13
A trip to the abandoned Bennett College had been on my wish list for years. Since it's barely a half hour from Hyde Park, I was able to combine it with the Hyde Park trip. To be clear, I certainly did not go inside any of the buildings. As neat as it would have been to explore them, it's both dangerous and illegal, since the buildings are on private property (this photo was taken from behind a fence). The main building, Halcyon Hall, is falling apart and probably won't be standing much longer.
Curious Kids, May 18
I just love this photo I took of my friend Allison's kids, even though they aren't facing the camera. They are the quintessential siblings. I blogged about my photo shoot with the Hubbs family back in May.
Taking A Drink at Congress Spring, May 18
Another shot from my photo shoot with the Hubbs family that I really love. I just told them to go get a drink at the spring, and I stood back and captured this moment.
Bodie Seems to Go On Forever, July 6
Bodie Ghost Town in California had been on my wish list for quite a few years, and it did not disappoint. I like this photo a lot because the view seems to compress the buildings. I blogged about my trip to Bodie back in August.
Reflections on the Bodie Schoolhouse, July 6
Being a teacher, the schoolhouse was naturally my favorite building at Bodie. I like this photo of it best because it reflects the town in the window.
Dusk at Mono Lake, July 6
After visiting Bodie, I got to photograph Mono Lake before turning in for the night in Mammoth Lakes. With its unique tufa formations that look like something out of a Martian landscape, this scene is very different from most others that I've photographed. I blogged about the Mammoth Lakes area portion of my California trip back in August.
El Capitán at Night, July 8
This is a photo I took during a Yosemite Valley moonlight tram tour. For this shot, I had about a minute to get it right before the tram kept going. I set up my tripod right next to me on the seat and took a few exposures until I captured this one. I like how the tram lights illuminated the trees. I blogged about my visit to Yosemite National Park back in August.
The Ahwahnee at Night, July 8
After the moonlight tram tour, I took this photo of the Ahwahnee Hotel. This night shot was a white balance and dynamic range nightmare. I took 4 shots on my tripod, and then had to process a couple of them twice to account for the various white balances in the scene. I blended each shot by hand using layer masks in Photoshop, because the "merge to HDR pro" function left a lot of strange artifacts (which I often find for tricky scenes like this). I wrote a post for Digital Photography School going through the steps I took to make this final image.
Sunrise at the Saratoga Battlefield, August 9
Waking up at 4:30 AM is not fun. But then you see this glorious light peeking through the tress and you realize it was definitely worth it! I blogged about my summer of sunrises and how to photograph spectacular sunrises earlier this year.
Horse Breath, August 29
I took so many photos at the Oklahoma Training Track this summer, that it was really hard to narrow them down. I just really like this one, though, because you can see the horse's breath. And for once, the horse is standing still! I blogged about the Saratoga Race Course back in September.
Riding Into the Sun, August 29
I just love the way the light was hitting the horse and rider in this shot.
One of the Last Summer Sunrises, August 29
This composition came from firing off 5-6 shots in burst mode. I love how the riders sort of ended up equidistant in the frame. I couldn't have posed them better myself!
1 & 2, September 7
I photographed my first polo match at the Saratoga Polo Association back in September. I love the way the players shook hands at the end of the match. The fact that it was the last match of the season meant that beautiful afternoon light was that much more golden.
Cierra, September 26
This is one of my favorite shots from my senior portrait session with Cierra.
A Morning Workout Under the Fall Foliage, October 12
I think this is my favorite photo that I took this year, and one of my favorites of all time. Two photographer friends and I decided to go to the Oklahoma Training Track on Columbus Day weekend to photograph the horses warming up with the fall foliage. Before we went in, we got some shots from outside, like this one.
Birds Fly Over Cape Cod Bay, November 28
I saw what I really think was one of the most gorgeous sunsets of my life at First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod. It was absolutely frigid cold and the wind just made it worse, but with a scene like this in front of me, I was determined to get as many photos as I could. By the time the sun had set and I had finally had enough, I hurried back to the car, where my wonderful family was waiting patiently for me, having retreated there some time earlier to enjoy the last rays of light from the comfort of a heated vehicle. I blogged about my Thanksgiving on Cape Cod back in November.
Pink Skies at Night, Sailors Delight, November 28
Another photo from the glorious sunset on First Encounter Beach, this time with a neutral density filter to smooth out the water and the clouds. Screwing filters on and off lenses with gloves on in the freezing cold is not very fun, but definitely worth it.
Nauset Light at Blue Hour, November 28
After the sunset at First Encounter Beach, we went to a couple of other beaches to enjoy the blue hour. I was the only member of my family who ventured out of the car at Nauset Light Beach to take this photo of the lighthouse.
Frozen Skidmore Campus, December 11
In early December, Saratoga was covered in a fresh blanket of snow that stayed fresh and beautiful for a couple of days. My friend Barb and I went up and down North Broadway and onto Skidmore's campus to capture the winter wonderland.
Milky Way Over First Encounter Beach, December 26
Christmas brought me back to Cape Cod and back to First Encounter Beach, this time for night photography. Although it's faint, you can see the Milky Way in the center of the image.
Casey's Profile, December 28
This is one of the first photos I took with my new flash gel set I got for Christmas. I'm lucky I have a cat who's so willing to let me test my new gear on him.
So that's my year in photos. Which photo is your favorite?