I often judge a year by the photos I took. I for sure judge a trip by the photos I took. If I go to some exotic place, and end up with a bunch of crappy photos, and people ask me how I like the place, I will usually have something negative to say about the place. On the other hand, if I come back with a ton of great photos from a certain place, and people ask me the same question, I will tell them that the place was awesome!! The places I treasure the most are the places where I have taken killer photographs, and it is those places I like to return to visit again!
So, how do I rate 2018? Well, on a scale from 1 to 10, I think I will give 2018 a 6. My photos were not bad, but I am getting very picky with my photography, and I feel I didn’t hit any real home runs this year. A few decent shots, but nothing that will go down as one of my best photos ever…
So, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorite images from 2018. A few of them have already been published on this blog, so please excuse the repeats…
This shot (below) is one of my favorite drone photos. Kayla (my daughter) and I were lucky enough to be in Bali when Mount Agung was erupting. Early morning, we heard the rumble of the volcano, so I bolted out of bed, set up my drone, and flew it out over the water, and took several shots that I later combined to make a large resolution panorama of the volcano.
Back in September, I was hired by the Olympic Committee Asia to shoot the Asian Games hosted by Indonesia. What a fantastic experience to shoot some of the most talented athletes in the world up close. I shot every day for two weeks. It was REALLY difficult to choose my favorites from the games. I did get a lot of really nice shots, and some were published. Going through my photos, I think my favorite event to shoot was women’s gymnastics. I was just amazed at their flexibility and athleticism. So, here is one shot that I really liked…
On a trip to Bali with my daughter, we took a motorcycle ride through the back roads of Nusa Penida. We eventually found the cliffs, and a couple of famous beaches. Most people think the shot below is from my drone, but it is actually a shot I took with my Leica 135mm lens from atop a cliff. I had to lean over the edge to get the shot. I really love this shot…
To start the year in 2018, I took my family to Cambodia. We tried our best to avoid the huge crowds of Chinese Tourists (who have taken over the world). Most of the tourists would visit the same temples in Angkor Wat as the same time. That made it easy to avoid them. While most of the thousands of tourists were watching the sunrise at the main temple of Angkor Wat, we went here, and had the place pretty much to ourselves. A mere 30 minutes after I got this shot with NO people in it, it was covered with tourists making it impossible to get a shot without people posing for selfies in front of the temple.
Love this shot of Kayla in Bali.
In March, Kayla and headed to the Komodo Islands for a dive trip. At sunset our liveaboard dive boat moored offshore, and let us climb to the top of Pulau Padar where I got this shot. I have no idea who the guy is standing on the rock, but he was just stepping down off the rock when I yelled down at him to stay on the rock. Him standing there gives the photograph much better perspective.
In July, Tika (my wife) went to Laos without the kids for a nice relaxing week in Luang Prabang. It rained most of the time, but it was really nice just hanging out in cafes drinking coffee and eating non-stop. Every morning (before the sun comes up), the monks walk down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting offerings of rice and other food. It is one of the main events to photograph while in Laos. Since it rained most every morning, I was too lazy to get out of bed to get in the rain to photograph them. On our last day there, I forced myself to get out of bed and make the trek downtown to get some shots. It was pouring rain, and not a lot of fun, but I am so glad I went out to get some shots. This one below is one of my favs from that morning.
This is another shot of Mount Agung erupting. This one was taken at sunset, and I just love the way the light hit the smoke coming out of the mountain.
As you probably already know, one of my favorite places on Earth is Raja Ampat located in West Papua of Indonesia. I have been going to Raja Ampat every year since 1998 for a week in October. They have recently built stairs that you can climb to the top in the Fam Islands. This shot was taken from the top of the climb.
Another gymnastics shot from the Asian Games. When you first see this photo, it looks like she only has one leg. Talk about flexibility!
On my dive trip to Tulamben, Bali, I was able to fine tune my skills in Macro Photography. This shrimp is literally smaller than your smallest finger nail. With my ageing eyes, I found it really difficult to focus, so I used my dive guide to help me out with the focus. I would hold my camera with my left hand, and had my right hand on the trigger. My guid would have his hand on the lens, and would move it in and out until he saw the animal was in focus. He would then make a grunting noise, and I would fire the shutter. It worked pretty well. I got a lot of out of focus shots (most were), but then got a few tack sharp images. The diopter I was using had an extremely shallow depth of field…I am talking millimeters. It was really difficult!!
You can see why I like Raja Ampat so much….amazing sunsets!
There is a dive spot in Raja Ampat where you can always find this LARGE school of Sweet Lips. It is very deep though (about 140 feet). At that depth, I only had about 7 minutes to get some shots before heading up to more shallow waters.
In May, I headed back to Yangshuo, China with a group of students. I have always hunted for this spot, but was unable to locate it. I actually emailed Trey Ratcliff to see if he could hook me up with someone that knew how to get to this spot. He kindly wrote back to me, and referred me to Rick Sammon. Rick wrote me back giving me the name of the guide that took him and Trey to the spot. I can’t thank them enough for that information. This is a really cool spot to take a pano photo.