My Top 100 Images of 2006

As an exercise in reflection as well as a way to get some organization going in Aperture, I decided to post my 100 favorite images from 2006.

Above is a panorama of Florence I stitched together from pictures I took from Michaelangelo Square. Click the image to see the whole set. 2006 was a big year for me photographically. I was probably as productive as I’ve been since I was in school. This is in no small part owing to the decision to go digital. It’s allowed me to spend time on the parts of photography that are creative rather than sloshing around noxious chemicals in stainless steel tanks and doing batch scans.

The process of picking 100 favorites is a strange one, and I don’t think I would come up with the same 100 if I went through the process again. In some senses I had to dig a bit deep to come up with 100, but at the same time images got cut that I wanted to include.

I had the opportunity to re-rate all of my images for the year, having received Aperture as a Christmas gift from Sarah. Aperture is a truly awesome piece of software, and the only software I needed to prepare all but two of the images in the set. Unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, there is enough paradigm shift between the way images are organized in Aperture and the way they’re organized in iPhoto, that the migration tool to import the images from iPhoto made a bit of a hash of it, and among other things discarded all my ratings.

That said, and again, Aperture is a huge upgrade. The RAW processing seems much better than iPhoto, and it produces better looking prints on my gear with less effort than Photoshop. It’s terrific for pulling details out of shadows and highlights, even if the image is in JPG format (again, curses! We need to go back to Italy!). I had been thinking I would wait around for Adobe to release Lightroom and then decide which solution to use, but in the end I know I’m going to be happy in an Aperture workflow.

The pictures are all over the place. A fair amount of architecture, some art objects, a few cemeteries, landscapes, flowers, travel, transportation. Notably lacking is portrait and street photography. Street photography I found was easier in Florence and Venice than most other places. They’re safe places to be, and there seems to be an acceptance that at any moment there will be half a dozen tourists within a few feet of where you’re standing, snapping pictures. That said, I believe I just lack the will to get up in peoples faces and get the kind of shots that make stand-out street photography. And that’s okay. As for portrait work, I did a bit “on assignment” in ’06, but I didn’t feel like that work really hangs with the rest of the images I’ve done, even as disjointed as the set is. Hopefully I’ll have more to show in 2007.

It’s clear to me that it’s time to start thinking about the vision thing. I don’t see a common thread in my work through the year. I spent a lot of time experimenting and learning new equipment, not as much time thinking about what I wanted to accomplish with an image I was making. As a result, I think, a lot of these images lack deeper interest, or at least fail at being evocative. Shooting in cemeteries was a gratifying way to exercise technique, and I’ll probably continue to do it, but I have to ask myself what I’m trying to say with my pictures of decaying monuments. If it’s nothing more than “look at this decaying monument”, then I need to find something else to say. Tricky…

Look at these cows


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