Photography

20 Best Photos of 2017

Year in Review time!

Having done this a few times now, it seems like it should get easier. But the Fourth Annual “20-best” has been the hardest to cull by far.

This is for two main reasons:
1. I took a lot more photos this year and
2. I’m getting a lot worse at self-editing.

Long story short, “The 20 Best of 2017” is now “The 36 Best of 2017.”

The process of reviewing a year’s worth of photos is always interesting, because common themes always emerge. Last year, I was all about geometry, primary colors and umbrellas. This year, I apparently had a thing for dramatic lighting, pictures of things framed through windows, and wildlife photography taken at dangerously close proximity.

Another big change for this year is that I started work on some longer-term photography projects. These will all be ongoing, but I’m happy to share three works-in-progress. You can follow the links below to see the full galleries:

"Holiday Windows" is a sentimental portrait of people’s reactions to 5th Avenue’s enchanting holiday window displays.

"Crud" is a germaphobe’s eye view of the cringe-worthy, yet strangely beautiful “crud formations” in NYC subway stations.

"American Palace" is, well, that one's pretty self explanatory.    

Without further ado, here are my top 20... er... 36 photos from 2017.

  "Just Grand" June 7, 2017. Grand Canyon, South Rim Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/22, 1/3 sec, ISO 200

"Just Grand" June 7, 2017. Grand Canyon, South Rim
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/22, 1/3 sec, ISO 200

As the sun set over the Grand Canyon, I spent a half hour cursing these guys under my breath to get out of my shot. (Photographers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to harness the power of telekinesis to move strangers in and out of their compositions. It's not normal.) 

Eventually the mind trick worked, the guys left, and I had a clear scene.

Of course, when I got back home and downloaded all of the photos from the series, I liked the one with the people in it better. (Although I'm still cursing the guy on the right for wearing his sunglasses on the back of his head like Guy Fieri.)

  "London Nights" January 7, 2017. St. Paul's Cathedral. London, England   Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/11, 10 seconds, ISO 200

"London Nights" January 7, 2017. St. Paul's Cathedral. London, England
Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/11, 10 seconds, ISO 200

The hardest thing about taking photos of iconic locations like St. Paul's Cathedral in London is that they've been photographed TO DEATH. So you have to work a little harder to try to find something more original than the typical postcard shot.

After taking a dozen photos of this scene, I noticed the traffic pattern and had an idea. Using a trash can as a makeshift tripod, I waited for a double decker bus to pass by on its route, then left the camera shutter open for ten seconds – long enough to create these bus-shaped light trails.

  "The Navy and the Pizza." May 23, 2017. Cobble Hill. Brooklyn, NY. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125, ISO 5000

"The Navy and the Pizza." May 23, 2017. Cobble Hill. Brooklyn, NY.
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125, ISO 5000

During Fleet Week, Naval officers are nice enough to wander around New York in uniform and sit in front of things, making every photographer feel a bit like Alfred Eisenstaedt.  

  "Colors of Cape Town" November 20, 2017. Bo-Kaap. Cape Town, South Africa   Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/11, 1/250, ISO 320

"Colors of Cape Town" November 20, 2017. Bo-Kaap. Cape Town, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/11, 1/250, ISO 320

I wish I could say that I saw this photo coming together, dropped to the ground and snapped it. But the truth is, I was awkwardly crouching, cheek to the pavement, trying to compose a shot for the stripe and the scooter. Then this guy who perfectly matched the bike (right down to the fur hat and shoelaces) just wandered into frame. 

  "We were all yellow" November 17, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO 400

"We were all yellow" November 17, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO 400

"Some have said that if you take a great picture in color and take away the color, you’ll have a great black-and-white picture. But if you’re shooting something about color and you take away the color, you’ll have nothing." - Jay Maisel

  "Sad Emoticon." January 7, 2017. Notting Hill. London, England.  Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 1600

"Sad Emoticon." January 7, 2017. Notting Hill. London, England. 
Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 1600

I took this photo at the edge of a triangular island of sidewalk in Notting Hill, London. It's my favorite photo yet in my ongoing Literal Street Photography project. 

  "Camp's Bay Beach Crossing" November 9, 2017. Camps Bay, South Africa. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8.0, 1/750, ISO 200

"Camp's Bay Beach Crossing" November 9, 2017. Camps Bay, South Africa.
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8.0, 1/750, ISO 200

Moments after I took this photo, this group of kids took off sprinting across the beach. Pure joy. 

  "Rainy Paris" January 15, 2017. The Louvre. Paris, France. Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 6400

"Rainy Paris" January 15, 2017. The Louvre. Paris, France.
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 6400

"A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person." - Saul Leiter 

The Louvre is another one of those locations where it's really hard to make an original photograph. After spending the morning walking around the courtyard searching for a unique angle, I found it in an unexpected place - the back seat of the Uber on the way back to my hotel.   

  "Park job." November 17, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 1250

"Park job." November 17, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 1250

I traveled halfway around the world to Cape Town and one of my absolute favorite shots is also the most mundane.

  "Road trip to Zion" June 9, 2017. Zion National Park, Utah Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/11, 1/125, ISO 500

"Road trip to Zion" June 9, 2017. Zion National Park, Utah
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/11, 1/125, ISO 500

I took this photo in standstill traffic at the tunnel entrance to Zion National Park. Hey, you've gotta pass the time somehow. 

  "Sins and vases." January 7, 2017. Portobello Road Market. London, England.  Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1250

"Sins and vases." January 7, 2017. Portobello Road Market. London, England. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1250

I don't take a lot of photos deep with symbolism. But there's a lot going on in this shot. You've got Jesus in the foreground faltering under the weight of the cross, gazing out longingly from between flea market trinkets (including an empty decanter of wine). His plight is completely unnoticed by the crowd of onlookers. And in the background, the weirdly devilish-looking salesman hides a blood-red cloak under his jacket and has ACTUAL HORNS on his truck.  

Art historians, go nuts. 

  "Ascend." January 7, 2017. Tate Modern. London, England Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/4, 1/70, ISO 6400

"Ascend." January 7, 2017. Tate Modern. London, England
Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/4, 1/70, ISO 6400

When I visited London, the Tate Modern was hosting "The Radical Eye," an exhibition of Sir Elton John's extensive photography collection. Just beyond the ticket window, I captured this shot for my own collection.   

  "Horseshoe Bend" June 8, 2017. Page, Arizona Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO 200

"Horseshoe Bend" June 8, 2017. Page, Arizona
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO 200

Horseshoe Bend is not a great location to visit if you're a photographer who is also afraid of heights. I honestly don't know how those rooftopper people do it. I was sitting a good five feet back from the edge, and just holding my tripod near the cliff was making me sweat bullets. 

  "Passion." June 8, 2017. Antelope Canyon. Page, Arizona  Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/8, 1.1 seconds, ISO 400

"Passion." June 8, 2017. Antelope Canyon. Page, Arizona
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/8, 1.1 seconds, ISO 400

The photographer's tour of Antelope Canyon is great, because the guides idiot-proof it for you. They tell you what camera settings to use, then show you just where to set your tripod to get all the best angles. Like this heart-shaped skylight in the canyon ceiling. 

  "Table Mountain Sunset." November 9, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/5.6, 1/70, ISO 800

"Table Mountain Sunset." November 9, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/5.6, 1/70, ISO 800

I was in Cape Town for two weeks in November, but we spent most of the time in meetings or on location for a film shoot, so I had to find photo-ops wherever I could. Fortunately, this was the view from our pre-production meeting. 

  "Canyon Breath." June 8, 2017. Antelope Canyon. Page, Arizona Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/8, 0.5 seconds, ISO 200

"Canyon Breath." June 8, 2017. Antelope Canyon. Page, Arizona
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 10-24mm, f/8, 0.5 seconds, ISO 200

I've admired these magical photos of light shafts in Antelope Canyon for years. Peter Lik's version of this shot is the most expensive photo ever sold, fetching $6.5 million dollars.  (For the record, I'll happily take ten grand for mine if anyone wants a print. I'll even sign it with Peter Lik's name).

The thing I never knew was how they get that ethereal misty effect in the light beam. 

Here's how: a photo tour guide chucks shovelfuls of sand into the air, then tells you to take a picture.

  "Unforgotten." September 11, 2017. Tribute in Light. New York City. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/17, ISO 6400

"Unforgotten." September 11, 2017. Tribute in Light. New York City.
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/17, ISO 6400

I've been documenting the September 11th Tribute in Light for seven years now. Each time, I try to find a different vantage point. This year I photographed the lights from Staten Island. The shot from over there was nice. But this perfectly-aligned view of the lights haloing the World Trade Center during the Ferry ride back to Manhattan was a total surprise. 

  "Hout Bay." November 13, 2017 Chapman's Peak Drive. Cape Town, South Africa Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 640

"Hout Bay." November 13, 2017 Chapman's Peak Drive. Cape Town, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 640

See? I told you I had a thing for things in windows this year. I took some nice shots of this scene from the overlook a few miles down the road too. But so did ten zillion other photographers.  

  "Room with a view" June 7, 2017. Desert View Watchtower. Grand Canyon South Rim Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, f/11, 1/120, ISO 400

"Room with a view" June 7, 2017. Desert View Watchtower. Grand Canyon South Rim
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, f/11, 1/120, ISO 400

The Grand Canyon is another location that's easy to take a great photo of, but really hard to shoot in an original way. Putting people in the frame helps. So did framing the canyon through this window inside the Desert View Watchtower. 

  "Battleship Rock Sunrise." June 7, 2017, Grand Canyon South Rim Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/11, 1/3, ISO 200

"Battleship Rock Sunrise." June 7, 2017, Grand Canyon South Rim
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/11, 1/3, ISO 200

...that said, when you get a sunrise like this, you can get away with being a little less original, because, wow. 

  "Grand Canyon Sunset" June 6, 2017, Grand Canyon South Rim Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, f/8, 1/70, ISO 400

"Grand Canyon Sunset" June 6, 2017, Grand Canyon South Rim
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, f/8, 1/70, ISO 400

Do you think this tree has any idea how good its view is?

  "Wide angle wildlife photography: Elk edition" June 8, 2017. Kaibab National Forest, Arizona Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm (23mm!), f/4, 1/125, ISO 320  

"Wide angle wildlife photography: Elk edition" June 8, 2017. Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm (23mm!), f/4, 1/125, ISO 320  

I took this photo of an Elk with a 23mm lens (35mm equivalent. For reference, that's just slightly more zoomed-in than your iPhone camera) while crouching in the grass on the side of the road in Kaibab National Forest.  

It is without a doubt one of the dumber things I've done. 

  "Wide angle wildlife photography: Cheetah edition." November 19,2017. Botriver, South Africa Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 800  

"Wide angle wildlife photography: Cheetah edition." November 19,2017. Botriver, South Africa
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 800  

This photo was also taken with a 23mm lens. Which means this kitty was well within booping distance. 

  "Artistic license." January 15, 2017. Montmartre, Paris.   Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1000.

"Artistic license." January 15, 2017. Montmartre, Paris.  
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1000.

I just love the skepticism. 

  "A better view." November 13, 2017. Kalk Bay, South Africa  Fujifilm X-Pro2, 55-200mm, f/8, 1/5000, ISO 5000

"A better view." November 13, 2017. Kalk Bay, South Africa
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 55-200mm, f/8, 1/5000, ISO 5000

I took this photo from the passenger window of our production van in Cape Town, while going about 30 mph. (Which I think translates to around 190 kilometers per hour).

 "Seaside Chapel." September 2, 2017. Ender's Island, Connecticut Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/22, 120 seconds, ISO 200

"Seaside Chapel." September 2, 2017. Ender's Island, Connecticut
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/22, 120 seconds, ISO 200

I took this long exposure of the seaside chapel at Ender's Island, a catholic retreat and sanctuary at the southern tip of Mason's Island, Connecticut. If I were Catholic or in the market for a retreat, I would totally book a stay at this place. It was stunning.

  "Flock of tourists." January 14, 2017. Cathedral Notre Dame. Paris, France Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 640

"Flock of tourists." January 14, 2017. Cathedral Notre Dame. Paris, France
Fujifilm X-Pro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 640

The only thing more remarkable than capturing this photo was not being pooped on moments later as these pigeons took off flying over my head. 

  "Choreography." January 14, 2017, Musee du Louvre. Paris, France. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 55-200mm, f/13, 1/125, ISO 1250

"Choreography." January 14, 2017, Musee du Louvre. Paris, France.
Fujifilm X-Pro1, 55-200mm, f/13, 1/125, ISO 1250

This shot at the Louvre in Paris is solid addition to my tourists project

  "Tribute in Light" September 11, 2017. Brooklyn, New York Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/11, 45 seconds, ISO 200

"Tribute in Light" September 11, 2017. Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm, f/11, 45 seconds, ISO 200

This is  pretty popular and well-tread location for taking photos of the Tribute in Light, so I can't say this shot is breaking massively new ground. Although I've never seen the water on the East River calm enough to reflect the lights quite as well as it did this year. 

  "Tribute" September 11, 2017. Staten Island Ferry, New York Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2, 1/50, ISO 3200

"Tribute" September 11, 2017. Staten Island Ferry, New York
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2, 1/50, ISO 3200

Because I've shot the Tribute in Light so many times now, I'm always trying to find original vantage points. I love this one, framed through the window of the Staten Island Ferry, en route from St. George Terminal.

(Because the window thing.)

  "Eiffel Tower at Dusk." January 14, 2017. Paris, France.  Fujifilm X-Pro2. 14mm, f/2.8. 1/5, ISO 400

"Eiffel Tower at Dusk." January 14, 2017. Paris, France. 
Fujifilm X-Pro2. 14mm, f/2.8. 1/5, ISO 400

This shot of the Eiffel Tower nearly got cut from the list because the photo is a little postcard-ish. But one little detail does makes it much different than what you typically see: there are no people. (The lawns on the Champ de Mars were fenced off for the winter).

  "Sins vs salvation." January 15, 2017. Montmartre, Paris Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 5000

"Sins vs salvation." January 15, 2017. Montmartre, Paris
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 5000

"Hey Mike. What do you think we oughta call this porno shop?"

  "Meet you at the bottom" May 18, 2017. Harbes Farm, Mattituck, Long Island Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 4000

"Meet you at the bottom" May 18, 2017. Harbes Farm, Mattituck, Long Island
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 4000

I usually keep my family photos and my year-in-review photos separate to spare you all from cute baby overload. But this shot of my wife greeting my daughter at the bottom of a slide is objectively one of my favorite shots of the year. 

  "Cape Town Nights." November 11, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa.  Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/70, ISO 6400

"Cape Town Nights." November 11, 2017. Cape Town, South Africa. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/70, ISO 6400

Sometimes you get really lucky, turn a corner and happen upon a pre-lit, period-piece film set. 

  "Lion's Head Mountain Sunset." November 18, 2017. Mount Nelson Hotel. Cape Town, South Africa.  Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2, 1/40, ISO 400

"Lion's Head Mountain Sunset." November 18, 2017. Mount Nelson Hotel. Cape Town, South Africa. 
Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm, f/2, 1/40, ISO 400

The driveway to the historic Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town is lined with palm trees. From the right vantage point (that is to say, smushed awkwardly up against a lamp post) they provide the perfect frame for Lion's Head Mountain.

  "Christmas in New York." February 9, 2017. New York, NY Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/80, ISO 6400

"Christmas in New York." February 9, 2017. New York, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/80, ISO 6400

Every year when I go back through all of my photos there are a few gems that I totally overlooked at the time. This photo is interesting, because I have absolutely no memory of taking it. I’m not even sure if I took it in Manhattan or Brooklyn. 

Maybe it's because, as a picture, it’s not actually all that good. But as a representation of what it feels like and means to live in NY? It’s SO good. 

Thanks for reading! And if you want to see more, you can check out 2016's Year in Review2105's Year in Review, or 2014's Year in Review. Or follow me on Flickr or Instagram

20 Best Photos of 2016

Time once again for the annual struggle to choose 20 photos that best represent my year in photography. As any creative-type might imagine, the process of choosing images for the Year in Review is both rewarding (in sifting through the thousands of photos taken this year, I found a few nice surprises that I'd overlooked at the time) and torturing ("was last year's Year in Review better? Am I actually getting worse at this? Were these really the best shots that I got?")

In choosing this year's favorites, I noticed the following:

1) I took tens of thousands of photos of my 1 year old daughter this year, and not much else. There were just a handful of days this year that I actually went out to take pictures. New Year's Resolution #1 for 2017 is to get out there and shoot more.  

2) I don't know if this represents an evolving personal style, but this year, a few things caught my eye much more-so than in years past: geometry, primary colors and umbrellas. Read into that what you may.

Without further ado: 
 

"Tribute in Light" September 11, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 10s, ISO 400

I've been photographing the September 11th Tribute in Light for about five years now, and each year I try to find a new vantage point. This year, I planned to start on the Manhattan Bridge and make my way into the city to wander the streets around Lower Manhattan. But the views were so stunning, I spent 3+ hours on the bridge and called it a night.

"Tribute in Light over Chinatown" September 11, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/4, 2s, ISO 200

Another one from September 11th. This one was taken a few hours later from the Manhattan end of the bridge. The graffiti in the foreground is Chinatown, and the smell from the bridge was amazing. After taking this photo, I called it quits and went for dumplings.   

"A ray of hope. Wall Street, 9:25 a.m." October, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 200

Presidential debate #2 between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was an especially dark, ugly and discouraging affair, sure to make anyone anxious-at-best about the future of our country. The next morning on the way to work, I climbed the stairs from the subway, stepped out onto Wall Street and saw this.  

"The center of attention" May 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 1000

I'd love to say this moment just happened. But I camped out in this spot for about 15 minutes hoping a pedestrian would walk through the street instead of along the sidewalk.

"The Refresher" September 2016. Los Angeles
Fujifilm XPro2, 35mm, f/8, 1/150, ISO 200

Los Angeles' original Farmer's Market is amazing for vintage signs and old school Americana. I was taking photos of this great old soda shop when this guy wandered into my shot. Sometimes the photography gods just hand you a scene from a Wes Anderson movie and you just have to be there to take the picture. 

"Beautiful" November, 2016. Brick Lane, London U.K. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 2000

Full credit for this photo goes to the graffiti artist. 

"Baltimore's Best Pawn" April, 2016. Westminster, MD
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/350, ISO 200

I mean, come on. You couldn't have asked for a better car to be parked there. Even the colors on the Louisiana license plate match.

"Stripes and squares" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 200

Downtown L.A. is weird. There are pedestrian overpasses connecting nearly every building so it's entirely possible to traverse the city without ever touching the sidewalk. It must make urban planners insane. On the bright side, the walkways offer some interesting perspectives, transforming the streetscape below into a living Mondrian painting. 

"Calling for snow" January, 2016. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000, ISO 640

In January, New York got the largest snowstorm on record with 27.5 inches falling in Central Park. Laziness prevailed and I only made it about four blocks from home before deciding it was too cold/windy/snowy and calling it quits. I'd make a terrible mailman.   

"Off duty" January, 2016. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000, ISO 400

This photo was taken about a half block down from the previous one. I told you I didn't make it far. 

"Black and blue" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 500

This was another intervention from the photography gods. I was working this scene, taking some really mediocre photos of the reflection of these umbrellas in the marble when this guy in his perfectly matching blue shirt walked out to take a phone call smack in the middle of my shot. 

"Come together" March, 2016. New York City
Apple iPhone 6

One of my favorite photographers, Jay Maisel, says that all great photographs are about one of three things: Light, Color or Gesture. Light and color are easy to understand. Gesture is a bit harder to explain, but you know it when you see it. 

"The interloper" September, 2016. The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Fujifilm XPro2, 14mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO 500

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong...

"Buff" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO 6400

We were staying at the Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A. for a quick work trip. I stepped out of the elevators and saw this. 

"Somewhere West" May, 2016. Location unknown
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/6.4, 1/2200, ISO 200

I took this photo from the airplane window on the way to the LA trip mentioned above. Taken somewhere between Kansas and California. 

"Santa Barbara Sunrise" September, 2016. Santa Barbara, CA
Fujifilm XPro2, 56mm, f/8, 1/850, ISO 200

While staying in Santa Barbara, I motivated myself to get out of bed stupid-early in the morning and go try to take some photos from the pier at sunrise. It was the right decision.

"The night swimmer" August, 2016. Santa Monica, CA
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2, 1/70, ISO 6400

I took 20 or 30 shots of this kid running in and out of the surf. Not many came out. Not because they were out-of-focus, but because he needed the lightness of the waves crashing in the background in order to make out the shape of his silhouette. 

"Chase" May, 2016. Pier 5, Brooklyn, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/16, 1/900, ISO 800

The nice thing about taking the ferry to work is that, instead of crowding onto a train and being wedged into a stranger's armpit, your commute home looks more like this. 

"Limitless" November, 2016. Brighton, U.K. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 200

At the end of Brighton Pier there's an amusement park. This shot was taken at the trampolines.

"West Pier" Novmber, 2016. Brighton, U.K.
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/16, 28s, ISO 200

Closed in 1975, Brighton's West Pier sat vacant and partially collapsed for years, until a fire gutted the structure in 2003. To get the ghostly effect in the water, this photo is a 28 second long exposure. I got this shot just in the nick of time. A few minutes later, those storm clouds unleashed a massive downpour and I went for fish and chips. 

Thanks for reading! And if you want to see more, you can check out 2105's Year in Review. Or 2014's Year in Review. Or follow me on Flickr or Instagram

20 Best Photos of 2015

In June, my wife and I had a daughter. Which means that 95% of the photos I took in 2015 were baby photos. Here are the best of the rest. 

Click on any photo to view it in lightbox mode

"The snowstorm and the smokehouse" January 2015. New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/20, ISO 6400

In January, winter storm Juno was forecast to bring a major blizzard to New York City. The storm missed New York (sorry Boston!), but gave us enough snow for some magical twilight photos on Stone Street in the Financial District. I love the way the warm glow from the lights plays against the blue evening sky in the distance.  

"Sunset snapshot" April, 2015 Islamorada, Florida Keys
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/4.0, 4.3, ISO 200

One of the most annoying things that can happen as a photographer is to frame up a beautiful shot of the last fleeting moments of the sunset only to have a bunch of thirteen year olds walk into said sunset shot and start posing for several hundred iPhone photos. After briefly cursing them and wishing that they would fall off the end of the pier, I realized I could use them to make a more interesting photo. I used a slow shutter speed to capture the flash from their iPhone, which cast a spotlight onto the girls while leaving the boys in silhouette. 

"Bahia Honda State Park" April, 2015 Florida Keys
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/11, 210s, ISO 200

Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys is at the foot of an old abandoned railroad bridge.  To get the smooth water effect and movement in the clouds, I used a three minute long exposure. Here's a shot from the other side of the bridge.

"!" April, 2015, Islamorada Florida
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 340s, ISO 200

Here's another long exposure shot from the Florida Keys. This photo was taken at the Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada. This exposure was nearly six minutes long. It's also cool in Black and White

"Daybreak in Jamestown" November, 2015 Jamestown, Rhode Island
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/16, 1/125, ISO 200

I guess I had a thing for water and pylons this year. This shot is taken at sunrise in Jamestown, Rhode Island. I love the ethereal mood created by the fog rolling across the harbor.

"Washington, DC sunrise" November, 2015, Washington, DC
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/8, 1/25, ISO 200

This was taken just before sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. To get the reflection in the marble, I sat on the floor and set the camera on the ground.   

"Here comes the sun" November, 2015, Washington, DC
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/22, 1/125, ISO 1600

It wasn't easy to get this shot from inside the Lincoln Memorial. There was a boot camp class with about three hundred people running laps up and down the stairs and weaving in and out of the pillars. Fortunately, I got enough of a break between runners to make it seem like a much quieter morning than it actually was. The lone runner created just enough mystery to the shot with the shadow on the wall. 

"The Bird Feeder" December 25, 2015, Coney Island, NY
iPhone 6

Coney Island is magical in the fog. Especially on Christmas Morning. Something about this photo feels like it could have been taken 75 years ago.  

"Head in the clouds" March 2015, New York, NY
iPhone 6

I took this photo of the clouds draped over downtown Brooklyn from my office window in Lower Manhattan. 

"Across the bridge" August, 2015 New York, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/16, 1/80, ISO 6400

The new transportation hub at the World Trade Center is controversial because of its four billion dollar price tag. But it does make for some really great photo ops.  

"Scenes from a Taxi" August 2015, New York, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/9, ISO 6400

I took this photo of the World Trade Center from the back seat of a taxi somewhere in TriBeCa. The red glow is from another car's brake lights hitting the plexiglass divider in the cab.

"31st Street Sunset" August 2015, New York, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/90, ISO 6400

I'd just gotten off a train from Washington, DC and turned the corner in front of Amtrak's Penn Station just in time to catch this incredible sunset. I love the way the neon lights along the side of Madison Square Garden blend with the purple glow in the sky and reflect on the buildings across the street.  

"Never sleeps" November, 2015 New York, NY
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/8, 8, ISO 200

In November, we edited a film project at a studio called Work in TriBeCa. This is the view from their office. Not bad. 

"Castle Hill Lighthouse" November 2015, Newport, Rhode Island
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/11, 1/125, ISO 500

Hard to go wrong with lighthouse shots. This one was from a trip to Newport, Rhode Island in November. I like the way the cracks in the rocky cliffs draw your eye down to the lighthouse. Classic leading lines stuff. 

"Lincoln Memorial Reflections" November 2015, Washington, DC
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/3.2, 1/140, ISO 2500

The trouble with shooting famous landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial is that it's photographed thousands of times every single day. And often by photographers with much fancier equipment. To avoid taking the same postcard picture everyone else took, I came out at sunrise to try to find a unique perspective. I found it in a tiny puddle of water on top of a metal wayfinding sign. 

"Not Forgotten" September 2015, Jersey City, NJ
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/2, 1/30, ISO 6400

The September 11th Tribute in Light as seen from the waterfront in Jersey City, New Jersey. 

"Statue of Liberty at Sunset" December, 2015 Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm XPro1, 200mm, f/4.8, 1/25, ISO 800

This was shot from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with my telephoto lens at 200mm, using the fence as a makeshift tripod. 

"Synchronized selfies" December 2015, Brooklyn Bridge, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2, 1/20, ISO 3200

Millenials. 

"But I hadn't run out of things to say to you" July 2015, Brooklyn, NY
iPhone 6

I saw this scene while walking the dog. I have so many questions. 

"Tough crowd" April, 2015, Central Park, NY
Fujifilm X100s, f/8, 1/240, ISO 400

New Yorkers are a hard bunch to impress. 

Thanks for reading! And if you want to see more, you can check out last year's Year in Review. Or follow me on Flickr or Instagram

20 Best Photos of 2014

According to Lightroom, I took well over ten thousand photos in 2014. It wasn't easy to narrow those down to my 20 favorite photographs, but I gave it my best shot. I hope you enjoy them. 

Here's to many more photo-worthy moments in 2015. Happy New Year!

"Stormy Sunset in New York", October 2014, Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 2.6 sec, ISO 500

I've probably taken this shot of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park fifty times now. This one stands out for me, not just because of the amazing sky, but because of the way the metal bands on the tops of the pylons reflect the streetlights behind me. Usually, these poles either fall completely in shadow (like this), or are partially lit and a bit distracting (like this). But on this night, some alchemy of lights, angle and camera settings came together to give each silhouetted pylon a shimmering halo, mirroring the bands of lights along the skyline.

"Wall Street"  May 2014 , New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/150, ISO 800

I took this photo on Wall Street, a block east of the New York Stock Exchange. While I'd like to tell you that this was a single, serendipitous moment, it didn't quite come together that way. After noticing the poster on the wall and getting the idea for the photo, I went back to this spot for two days in a row trying to capture this image. It must have taken 200 tries before I got one with a single businessman walking in the right direction, looking just the right amount of unhappy, who was just the right height so the rope would intersect the back of his neckand frozen at just the right moment so those two inches of rope would actually attach to his collar. 

"Cherry Blossom Festival"  April 2014 , Washington, DC
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/11, 1/35, ISO 800

Even though I lived in the DC area for most of my life, I never actually made it to the Cherry Blossom Festival during its peak. This year, a visit home was timed perfectly to catch "peak bloom." I arrived at the Tidal Basin before sunrise along with dozens of other crazy photographers. I got  some great shots from the sunrise, but this one from a bit later in the morning is my favorite. When the early morning sun hit the cherry blossoms, the pinks just lit up. 

 

"Man in the Middle" January 2014, New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 2.1 sec, ISO 250

On a rainy weekend in January, my wife and I went to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was playing around with a slow shutter speed to give this stoic scene of the Grand Staircase a sense of energy. But then this guy stopped right in the center to check his phone, which froze him while everyone else blurred. Totally unplanned. But it totally made the shot. This may be the only instance in history where a guy checking his smartphone has actually improved a photo. 

"Your Journey Continues" April 2014, New York Botanical Gardens, Bronx, New York
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/11, 1/125, ISO 5000

I take it back. Maybe there are two instances in history where a guy checking his smartphone has improved a photo. I may be the only photographer to ever visit the New York Botanical Gardens and come away most excited about a photo of a guy in front of a beige cinderblock wall, not a flower in sight. I don't do much in the way of social commentary in my work, but I just love this one. The guy, completely oblivious to the journey that lies ahead. The total blandness of this space. The polite sign trying to encourage him on to bigger and better things. The ray of light from the heavens beckoning him on to something unimaginably amazing. He's blind to it all. Right now, there's candy to be crushed.   

"Storm over Williamsburg" June 2014, Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO 1600

In June, I drove to Grand Ferry Park in Williamsburg to photograph an event called the "World Naked Bike Ride." It was going to be a bizarrely great photo op. But nature had other plans. Not more than 15 minutes before the official meet-up time for naked bike riding, this storm rolled in. I stayed around just long enough to take a few dramatic shots before the sky opened up, dumping a monsoon of rain across the city. I'll never know if they went ahead with the naked bike ride. 

A day after I posted this photo, I got a notification that one of my favorite National Geographic photographers, Jim Richardson added it as a favorite on Flickr, which is the photography equivalent of Frank Sinatra stopping by to compliment your karaoke performance. 

"Watching the storm roll in" June 2014, Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/150, ISO 320

This photo was taken just eight minutes earlier than the one above. I started shooting this scene down low along the rocks. But then I stood up and saw the couple with the umbrellas. As a rule of thumb, people are almost always more interesting than rocks. 

"Covered Bridge at Sunset" March 2014, South Woodstock, Vermont
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/4, 1/80, ISO 250

In March, we planned a long weekend trip to Vermont. Two days before we were scheduled to go, a storm dropped 24 inches of snow across the state. While the snowstorm made for some harrowing driving moments on the less-plowed side roads, it also made for this covered bridge photo op, which is about as iconic Winter-In-Vermont as it gets. Much to my good fortune, they even left their Christmas Wreath up for St Patrick's Day. 

"The Long Walk Back" March 2014, Burlington, Vermont
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/16, 1/320, ISO 200

When we checked into our hotel in Burlington, the concierge suggested we take a walk across the frozen Lake Champlain. This seemed like a terrible and dangerous idea. But sure enough, people were out there traipsing around all over the ice. So we took a walk on the lake. After all, "when in Rome." Sure enough, it was frozen solid, clear across to New York. This is the first time the winter has been cold enough for the lake to freeze since 2007. 

"The Flatiron Building at Sunset" November 2014, New York City
Fujifilm X-T1, 35mm, f/1.4, 1/30, ISO 800

In November, we edited at a studio on 5th Avenue called Rock, Paper Scissors. This is the view from their kitchen. Wowsers. 

"The Birdwatcher" November 2014, New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 63mm, f/4.5, 1/60, ISO 200

The trouble with taking photos of iconic New York landmarks like the Bow Bridge in Central Park is that they've been photographed a zillion times before. Fortunately, this birdwatcher gave me the opportunity to capture something more unique than the typical postcard view. 

 

"Two Bridges" May 2014, New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 250 seconds, ISO 200

Sticking with the bridge theme, here's one of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges that I shot from the East River Promenade. This was a four minute long exposure, which made the water on the East River go silky and created the sense of movement in the clouds.  

"Brooklyn Bridge" May 2014, New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 240 seconds, ISO 200

Here's another shot from the same evening. I love how foggy the water looks around the pylons. The scene feels totally silent except for the flapping of the flag on top of the bridge. (Of course, it was far from it, with horns blaring overhead on the FDR Expressway)

"Coney Island Reflected" June 2014, Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm XPro1, 74mm, f/5, 1/750 seconds, ISO 200

My favorite shot from Coney Island's raucous Mermaid Parade wasn't even of a mermaid. It was this quiet moment of an amused spectator, sitting on the boardwalk railing, taking in all the madness. I love how isolated he is against the blown-out sky. It's only when you see the reflections in his sunglasses that you get a sense of place. A jam-packed boardwalk with Deno's Wonder Wheel spinning in the background. 

"Bonk" April, 2014 New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/4, 1/55 seconds, ISO 1250

It's hard to create slapstick humor in a scene without any people. But when I spotted this poster at the Broadway/Lafayette Street subway station in SoHo, I knew I had to come back with my camera. I took this photo on 4/2/14, so it may have been inspired by April Fools Day. Or, more appropriately, tax day. 

"Little Cupcake Bakeshop" January, 2014 New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/105 seconds, ISO 6400

I love the feeling of this photo. There's something kind of Edward Hopper about it. And there are so many little details. The glimpse of the Empire State Building in the distance. The snowflake decorations that make the cupcake shop feel just a bit cozier. And the fact that the two people crossing on either corner of the street are perfect mirror images of each other. 

"Indecent Proposal" May, 2014 Brooklyn, New York
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 1/40 seconds, ISO 400

I have so many questions. Was it a real marriage proposal? Did she say yes? Did they cash his check? Was the tiny shrub in the shipping crate part of the proposal? 

"Houston Street Noise" May, 2014, New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/8, 1/160 seconds, ISO 1600

This famous mural on the corner of Houston and Bowery Streets has had rotating artist installations for 30 years, including work by Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey. I've just learned that the wall has been temporarily dismantled for the construction of a new building. This mural by Cope2 was the final installation. 

"Welcome Freedom Creators" December, 2014, Edgewood, Maryland
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO 200

I took this photo just a few days ago. We were driving home for the holidays and pulled off I-95 to to get gas. This hotel was next door. This is why you always carry a camera. 

"MacDougal Street Snowstorm" January, 2014, New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2, 1/125 seconds, ISO 2500

This year was one of the ten snowiest winters on record for New York City. So there was no shortage of picturesque snowglobe-quality photo opportunities. But of all the winter photos that I took this year, this shot from Greenwich Village is my favorite. I took this photo while kneeling in the center of MacDougal Street. I snapped a few shots, played around with settings, and tried to compose something interesting. But then this guy stepped off the curb in the distance and crossed into the middle of street. Sometimes it's that tiniest of details that makes all the difference. The other photos from this series are totally unremarkable. This one is magic. 

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade 2014, East Village, New York

On Saturday, Tompkins Square Park in New York's East Village hosted the 24th annual dog halloween costume parade. According to CNN, it's the largest dog costume parade in the world. It's also arguably the most adorable. Here are some of my favorites from the day. Pity Dog Halloween only comes once a year.  

Check out the iPhone case

Steve and Nick's Wedding - Central Park, New York

Talk about an amazing destination wedding. On September 20th, Steve, Nick and 25 of their closest friends traveled from London to New York celebrate their union at the Cop Cot in New York's Central Park. They couldn't have asked for a nicer day. With perfect weather, lots of laughter and so many excited friends, the wedding was a joy to attend. Congratulations to Steve and Nick and thank you for your hospitality and the huge honor of photographing your wedding! 

We started the day with some wedding portraits in Steve and Nick's hotel room at the Viceroy in midtown Manhattan. The light from the huge windows was fantastic.  

After a few pre-wedding portraits, we headed downstairs to Kingside to meet the guests for Champagne and pastries.

Afterwards, everyone headed over to Central Park for the wedding ceremony.

But first a few photos. (I'm always a sucker for the selfie shot.) 

Steve and Nick's wedding took place Inside the Cop Cot, a rustic wooden gazebo on the crest of a hill at the southeast corner of Central Park  

Rev. Annie Lawrence gave a beautiful ceremony. 

Group photo with all of the guests. 

And here's a picture of me taking a picture of them. Thanks for the behind the scenes shot, Rev. Annie Lawrence! 

Congratulations Steve and Nick! Thanks again for inviting me to be a part of your wedding day!

September 11th, a Tribute in Light

Tonight, New York will remember the lives lost on September 11th with the annual Tribute in Light memorial. The Tribute is a breathtaking art installation made of 88 xenon light cannons which shine from the shadow of the World Trade Center into infinity. The lights can be seen from 60 miles away. I've spent the last two September 11ths capturing images of the display. Here are some of the better images from the Brooklyn waterfront (2012) and Lower Manhattan (2013).

Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2012

West Side Highway, 2013

Lower Manhattan, 2013

DUMBO, Brooklyn 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2012

Zuccotti Park, Manhattan, 2013

West Side Highway, 2013

Vesey Street, Manhattan 2013

This is Robinson. He told me that his cousin passed away in the towers. He moved to the US from the Dominican Republic. On 9/11 he was 10 years old. 

DUMBO Brooklyn, 2012

DUMBO, Brooklyn 2012

From the roof where they hold the light canons. Lower Manhattan, 2013

From the roof where they hold the light canons. Lower Manhattan, 2013

Event: Pooja and Chris's Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of capturing the memories from Pooja and Chris's wedding rehearsal dinner aboard the Atlantis cruise yacht in New York. After a few portraits by the waterfront in Jersey City, we set sail along the Manhattan shoreline, with a trip up the Hudson and the East Rivers and a grand finale at the State of Liberty. Perfect weather, an amazing party and a very, very happy couple. Congratulations to Pooja and Chris!

Event: Debbie and Dan's Surprise 35th Anniversary Party

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing Debbie and Dan's surprise 35th wedding anniversary party at F&G Pine Restaurant in the Bronx. It was a fantastic party. Their wonderful family came in from around New York, Connecticut and even Florida for the event. And Debbie and Dan were definitely surprised! Congratulations!