2021 REFLECTIONS

Some photographers create “Best of” wrap-up posts at the end of each year and this year, I decided to join the tradition. It wasn’t a simple task – I couldn’t begin to decide which are the best photos I made this year. What’s more subjective than one’s own opinions about one’s work? Mired in indecision, I persevered and finally chose to post a collection of images from 2021 that 1) appeal to me and 2) represent the scope of the year. Many of these were posted earlier this year, a few were not.

1. Bowman Bay, Deception Pass State Park, Washington; May 12th. This year I spent lots of time studying the beach at low tide.

Reviewing the year’s work got me thinking about what I do here on WordPress. I don’t post individual images, though many photographers I admire do. There’s a lot to be said for posting single images; the viewer’s attention is fully centered on one photograph, with no distractions. But I like to create posts that can be experienced more like a short story or a film short focused on a particular theme. Often my subject is the observations I glean on a local walk but increasingly I’m drawn to concept pieces with images and text. The interplay of ideas and images intrigues me and the challenge of balancing text and photograph so neither detracts from the other keeps me engaged.

Because I spend a lot of time constructing these visual narratives, I tend to see and think about my photos in groups. How they relate can be more important than how they stand alone. Typically some photographs are like main characters, moving an idea forward, while others play supporting roles. I enjoy the flow that a series of images can create as the photographs “speak” to one another through qualities like color, tone, subject, scale, etc. Composing a “Best of 2021” series is challenging because there isn’t one idea or one place to represent – over the course of twelve months, there have been many ideas and (in a year of limited travel) at least several locations. Some cohesion is lent to the group by the fact that primarily, I photograph nature. Hopefully, a personal style also lends some consistency.

2. Deception Pass State Park; April 16th. In the spring I immersed myself in local wildflowers. It’s always my happiest time of year.
3. Snug Harbor Botanical Garden, Staten Island, NY; May 24th. During a trip to Massachusetts and New York, we visited several parks and gardens. Garden photography was my favorite thing to do when I lived in New York.

As I looked back over the year, I realized that it’s been a year of gear changes. During the first six weeks of 2021 I was using the camera and lenses that I had grown accustomed to for five years. Holding that camera was as familiar as holding a pencil – it even had nice wear marks on the grip. Then the unthinkable happened: the camera died. There was no fixing it. I could replace it but it was an older model so it made sense to research newer iterations of that camera. That led me to consider other cameras that take the same lenses. At least I didn’t allow myself to be tempted to switch to an entirely new system!

For about a month I wavered. I had a backup camera to use while I thought about which camera to buy. In March, I made a decision to buy an Olympus Pen-F, a slightly smaller, lighter camera than the one that broke, which was an EM-1. Smaller and lighter is a good thing and the elegant-looking Pen-F has a special way with black and white, which interests me. But I was constantly comparing it to my old camera. Small things like the feel of the on/off button bothered me; a bigger issue was that the camera is not weather resistant. Lovely as it is, the camera wasn’t quite right. In June, I ordered the newest version of the one that died, the EM-1 Mark III. (I am not made of money but I rationalized two camera purchases by the fact that I spent little money on travel for the last two years). The Mark III is weather-resistant, has excellent image stabilization, and offers a host of features that I haven’t even tried yet. The buttons and levers feel right. The ergonomics are good, too, and it’s smaller than most comparable cameras but it weighs more than I’d like. Nothing’s perfect.

After nine months, it still feels a little new to my hands and I’m a long way from being comfortably familiar with all its ins and outs. What I’ve realized this year is that a camera you’re used to is one you don’t think twice about, which allows you to concentrate on being creative with your little black box. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time behind the camera thinking about technique. Of course, that isn’t all bad but I’m eager for this camera to be so familiar that I never pause to think about which button is where or how to quickly find a setting. I want it to be an extension of my hand in service of my vision and that’s going to take a while.

In the meantime I know I’m lucky to have a good camera that I can use anytime I want. What’s more, I’m grateful for the community of creative people with whom I share my work. Thank you for being here and thank you for all that you do – you keep me going more than you know.

4. Anacortes, Washington; February 13th. My favorite local bookstore and cafe put a positive pandemic message in their window: “We are in This Together.”
5. Bowman Bay; May 12th. Another low tide discovery.
6. Goose Rock, Deception Pass State Park; March 1st. Madrone tree bark study. I’ve been photographing these trees for almost ten years.
7. David Zwirner Gallery, New York City, New York; May 21st. Sculpture by Carol Bove. Her monumental steel sculptures were a delight to photograph.
8. Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle, Washington; November 17th. I was excited to find smudged, foggy windows at the conservatory. This is part of a series I call “Through” that I began over ten years ago.
9. Heart Lake, Anacortes, Washington; May 15th. I photographed Fawn lilies in bloom from mid-March through mid-May.
10. Little Cranberry Lake, Fidalgo Island, Washington; November 26th. This lake is often still and glassy, with nice reflections. The photo was made with an iPhone.
11. The San Juan Islands and Rosario Strait from Sugarloaf, Fidalgo Island; April 10th. Sugarloaf is a favorite destination for wildflowers in spring and views anytime.
12. Along March Point Road, Fidalgo Island; January 17th. Grasses, with their linearity and repeating shapes, are some of my favorite subjects. Home to two oil refineries, March point also has nesting eagles, a major Great Blue heron rookery with over 600 nests, and a flock of American white pelicans in the summer.
13. Heart Lake, Anacortes; July 14th. The diminutive, delicate Rein orchids (Platanthera sp.) have fascinated me ever since I began finding them tucked in out-of-the-way places all over the island.
14. Bridge Gardens, Bridgehampton, New York; May 25th. A high point of the trip to New York was meeting photographer John Todaro, who introduced me to this out-of-the-way garden on Long Island.
15. Washington Park, Fidalgo Island; February 5th. A dead juniper is hung up among Douglas fir trees but one day maybe it will fall into the water. Seaside junipers have become another favorite subject since I moved here in 2018.
16. Cornet Bay, Deception Pass State Park; July 11th. Massive logs are strewn about on many Pacific Northwest shorelines – at the ocean and all through Puget Sound. Often surrounded by detritus, they can be challenging to photograph.
17. Bowman Bay; December 3rd.
18. Ancient Lakes, Quincy, Washington; April 1st. We met friends here in the desert in eastern Washington. The scenery is strikingly different from western Washington, where I live.
19. Queens, New York; May 21st. A commuter wearing a mask waits for a train to Manhattan at the Long Island Railroad Jamaica station.
20. Bowman Bay again; November 3rd.

***


79 comments

  1. I’m glad you chose to gift us this 2021 retrospective, and appreciate the commentary about your process. I especially like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 12 but the image that grabs me most is 14. It has a timeless beauty rendered in black and white and could have been taken this year or 150 years ago. Exquisite! Looking forward to seeing your 2022 retrospective in about a year’s time. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, art-filled New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the time you put into this comment, Babsje. It’s good to hear that the narrative interested you, too. It’s no surprise that you found that timeless quality in #14 – it was influenced by John Todaro, who has a deep knowledge of art and photography history and makes beautifully classical images. Visit his website and look around if you haven’t yet – https://johntodaro.wordpress.com/gallery-2-beachtones/
      I wish you a healthy, happy, and creative New Year, and an abundance of herons.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you and wishing you the same for 2022. 21 was a challenging year, as I had very limited eyesight, which is resolving after 3 surgeries in the past 4 months thank goodness. 22 can only be an improvement! Thank you also for the link to John’s site – there are some remarkable images. Happy New Year!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These are beautiful. I, too, like to use photography to support story lines. When I’m too tired to think about my life stories, I find it satisfying to post single photos. I also wonder, sometimes, if I like to add words to photos to write about ‘whatever’ because I don’t think my photos can speak for themselves. That is another reason why I am always watching for photos that can stand alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet you can find photographs in your archives that do stand on their own though. It’s interesting to learn about how people think and feel about their work, isn’t it? Thanks so much for commenting, Pat, and have a happy, healthy, and creative New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I too love to hear how people think about photography. I also like reading books about the artistic aspects of photography – more than reading about the technical. πŸ™‚

        Like

  3. Maybe my imperfect memory is responsible, but I see many photos here that I don’t think I have before. That includes the first and third ones, perhaps my favorites in this collection. The simplicity of the compositions draws me to each, and the complexity of the lines keeps my attention. I think I remember #6; the colors are so appealing. Seeing #7 next to #6 is fun; there is correspondence there. I love the way my eye travels in #10. Yay iPhones. (But mostly yay your eyes.) What unbelievable clouds and light you have found in #11. It’s a simply beautiful image. I remember #12, maybe because I’m fond of grasses, too. You have handled the color contrasts in this photo with true expertise. The crispness as well as the lines of #15 get my praise. Thanks for another lovely collection, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It looks like both #1 & #3 were in previous posts but maybe you missed a post or two, or they just look different here. No matter, I apprecaite the good words. I liked #6 & #7 together, too, an unexpected correspondence. It’s nice that the dramatic water horizon appeals to you – I would have thought it was too much like a sunset. πŸ˜‰ Thank you, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Even if you think of these images as a disconnected set, I still see a story – the story of your photographic year, your photographic subjects, your style, you. It may not seem like much compared to your more elaborate blog posts because “it’s just life” but I think maybe this is what matters most: all the moments, strung together. Beautiful!

    Also, I was shocked to see an image made with an iPhone! I shall send you an iMessage right away! What’s next, you’re going to switch to a Mac? (yes! you know you want it!;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great that you see a story here – I was hoping that might be evident after all. Yes, all the moments, strung together – that’s the beauty of life, isn’t it? And there are SO many!
      Now stop making mischief and be patient…I may come over to the other side eventually…for now, I’m dipping my toe in with the phone, plus a new iPad.;-) Thanks for your encouragement, Alex, I do appreciate it.

      Like

    • Jurgen, it’s great to hear from you. Thank you very much for your positive comment. It was not my idea but I’m glad I decided to jump in and put this together. Have a healthy, happy, and creative New Year!
      Liebe Grüße,
      Lynn

      Liked by 1 person

  5. #6 & #7 make a delightful diptych. Your photos work so well because as you state: “I spend a lot of time constructing these visual narratives, I tend to see and think about my photos in groups. How they relate can be more important than how they stand alone.”. It shows in the care and detail and is something I am aiming more for to overcome my photography ennui! Am intrigued by your ‘Through” series too.
    Wishing you all the best for 2022 and thank you for giving your followers such visual delights

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Laura, it’s good to see that you like #6 & #7 together – making discoveries like that is one of the beauties of doing an exercise like this.
      A little ennui of any kind is certainly understandable these days. There’s a book that I find inspiring in terms of word and image and the way they fit together: Teju Cole’s Blind Spot. On facing pages there is one image and one brief narrative; the connection between the two is often more poetic than logical. I think it’s a beautiful book, one that loosens the format of text and image and/or loosens the idea of what a photography book might be.
      I wish you a healthy, happy, and creative New Year, one way or another! Thank you for being here.

      Like

  6. Another beautiful collection and I love #1 (as I am a lover of patterns in the sand myself).

    #16 is like a sleeping prehistoric dinosaur and #17 a unicorn. I always seem to see mythical creatures in dead trees or driftwood.

    Your images continue to inspire me and I still hope to get back to nature photography one day……seriously (if my chronic pain and health permit). Alas, I have to go back 8-10 years in my archives to find anything remotely creative and interesting for the most part.

    Like you, I purchased a new camera in 2015 (as being lighter to carry…..a Sony a6000), than my Canon EOS 2009 and 2011 models, but the reality is that I can only change settings when the Canon cameras are up to my eye. The Canon EOS 2009 is STILL a perfect fit for my hand and so simple to use. Now I can afford to rebuy the Canon macro lens I sold or even update my camera bodies, but unless I can get out and about, it would be a waste of money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was a year to zero in on patterns in the sand, it was very rewarding. I can see what you mean by #16 being a sleeping prehistoric dinosaur. These logs are very impressive! Thanks for the positive words, Vicki.
      I hope you’re able to do more nature photography – I know you’re resourceful and you will find a way. I disagree that you have to go back so far to find creative images – you have a great eye and I think you can do a lot photographically no matter where you are. Maybe there are ways you can use that lens closer to home and in the house. I hope 2022 finds you stronger and healthier!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lynn. I can’t walk far, can’t see as much through the viewfinder (or on the 27″ iMac screen enlarged several times) and of course, we’ve had a terrible 2 years with lockdowns and curfews and extreme weather events.
        I guess everyone the world over is fed up with the pandemic restrictions and wild weather.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, John…those somber tones…beginning with Bridge Gardens. πŸ˜‰ I hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year. Stay healthy and here’s to at least a little more travel in 2022 for us both!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Lynn, I thoroughly enjoyed your review– some delightful and memorable images from your year. You got me thinking about the review being different from the flow of a thematic post. I think, in a way, they accomplish similar outcomes. Your review has characteristic threads that speak of you and your style. Your knack for seeing shape and form (your flowers, lilies and logs) textures and abstracts (the marvelous Bowman rock and sand, the gallery piece and conservatory window, and the swirling colorful grasses) and landscape light like the gorgeous San Juan Island capture. The collection is a brilliant “portrait” of you. Happy New Year to you and Joe- looking forward to more of your work in 2022! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a pleasure it is to read your comment, Jane – you speak about the post as a whole and the idea behind the post. That’s perhaps as important as any individual image. I appreciate that and especially appreciate that you see the love of shape and form, which have been with me since I was a child. Textures have been interesting to me since childhood, too, and abstracts since the early 70s. It’s gratifying to hear that these threads are visible to the viewer. Thank you for being here all year, for your own work, and for your good wishes. Maybe we’ll finally meet next year, who knows? One of these days!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I feel the same like Linda: some of the pictures seem to be new to me? Or is my brain so bad πŸ˜‰ A wonderful collection of your year of photography. My favourites here #1, 3, 5, 6 and 8. But as always, the other pictures are close behind. I like the detail of the Madrone tree best, it is so beautiful in its color! 5 looks really like a bouquet of flowers. The text in the window is nice. I read “we are in this weather” – sorry, my mind seems to be somewhere else πŸ˜‰ It looks like a nice bookshop! Have a good end of year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, some are new, and no, your brain is not bad, it is pretty damn sharp, Almuth! πŸ˜‰ It’s fun to find out which are your favorites. Those Madrone trees are a real gift, especially here, where there isn’t a huge amount of color. Not like what you find in the tropics, for example. That’s funny what you read on the window! If it was written today you would be right – the weather has been the big challenge in our town for the past week, more than the pandemic! It has been below freezing every day and night since Christmas and I don’t think it will go above freezing until the weekend.
      You would love the bookstore/cafe, and that is where the book I gave you came from.
      I would love to see you put together a “Best of 2021” post. That would be fun. Thank you for being here, being a good friend, and doing all that you do – it is inspiring. Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. An excellent reflection on the thoughts and intricacies of a true photographer, both philosophically and technically. Really much more complex than the “problems” of an amateur photographer!
    I really like this idea of ​​seeing photographs as characters, main or secondary, that together make a story, as a “visual theater of sensitivity”. Very interesting indeed.
    As for the images chosen for this post-summary, they reveal themselves as a comprehensive and perfect set of elegance and sensitivity.
    I wish you the continuation of your excellent work and that you continue to share it here too.
    And of course, a Happy New Year!πŸ€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Anytime I spark your interest, I’m happy, so I’m glad you found these ideas worth thinking about. Elegance and sensitivity are qualities that I aspire to so that is great to hear, too. You are a master of both! Have a wonderful New Year with your family. I hope 2022 is healthy, happy, and creative. Thank you for being here, Dulce!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ve given us a wonderful year of images, narratives and reflections. One of the words that always surfaces in my mind when I’m looking at your posts is “open-eyed,” in the sense of being perceptive and aware, and also delighted and joyful with what the world presents to you. I look at your pictures from Bridge Gardens and Cornet Bay, and find myself peering through the foggy glass of a conservatory, or through an arbor into an earlier time, perhaps, or into the darkness behind the twisted old roots, because there’s always a sense in your photos, that there’s layers worth exploring, a rich depth to everything. Best wishes for the New Year, RPT.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Open-eyed is something to emulate, Robert, thank you very much. When I express that quality, I think it comes from being in love with this world and endlessly fascinated by it. Well, there’s a bit of the contrarian there, too, because I like to take note of things other people pass by. It’s gratifying to hear that you find something to explore here. You always bring something a little different to the table with your comments – I appreciate that. Best wishes to you for 2022!

      Like

  11. “Interplay” is an excellent description of what you seek to present, what you do in fact present — and what best encompasses life itself. It is all interplay. Thank you for so often helping us all see more, respond to more, muse about more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very kind of you to say, Lynn. Let’s hope 2022 eases up a little on the difficulties! Thank you for being here…stay healthy and keep creating – music, gardens, images, words – what would we do without them? πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. What a wonderful collection, Lynn…and a compelling narrative, to boot.

    Your commentary on your camera resounds with me…I replaced mine just over three years ago after a home burglary in which my other one was stolen, and I’m still not entirely used to the new one…it works nicely, but doesn’t yet “feel right” in hand and function…which probably means that I simply need to utilize it more often. πŸ˜‰

    I love the opening shot with the embedded stone in the sand…the camera-phone rendering of Little Cranberry Lake…and the image of the grasses. It seems we both have a similar feeling for the grasses that I’ve never quite put into words as nicely as you did here. Thank you for that. And your Ancient Lakes photograph looks like something you would have brought home from a trip to the Southwest, not from Washington.

    I don’t comment as often as I used to, but do still read and admire each of your posts. I hope you have a safe and healthy new year and will look forward to visiting with you more often….

    Liked by 1 person

    • A home burglary – that’s awful, Scott, I’m sorry that happened. I guess it takes a long time for a camera to feel like second nature.
      Grasses – yes, we definitely have a similar feeling for them. You’ve posted many beautiful photos of grasses. And Ancient Lakes – it does look like the southwest a bit, which is what’s so fun about going to the other side of the mountains. Now, the passes are too iffy and in summer it’s too hot – you have to time it right. The entire eastern side of the state is very dry. All the moisture tends to fall on this side.
      Thank you for the kind words, Scott…we’re doing OK. I sure would love to travel again. Maybe in the spring or summer. Or fall. Take care, don’t work too hard, and enjoy your hikes!

      Like

      • Yes, the burglary was awful with multiple precious things taken…and yes, the camera will take a bit longer to feel like second nature. You are welcome for the words, of course…and I will look forward to seeing images of your travels. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You did a wonderful job of summing up your year while showing the scope of your vision and creativity. While our approach and styles are different we agree on the benefits of creating a set of images with our work. I hear you with the camera change. The newer version of my favorite lens that broke in the fall is still on back-order. I’ve been using different lenses but still miss it. 1, 5, 15 & 17 are my top four picks here. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’d have a tough time if I didn’t have one particular lens! I hope yours comes before too long.
      It was really a good exercise to review the year a little and comb through the archives for some of the better photos. I should do that kind of thing more often. Thank you for being here and for encouraging me. πŸ™‚ Stay healthy, enjoy the snow and keep creating – well, I know you’ll do that. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  14. Your studies are so well seen Lynn always a pleasure to visit and re-visit…I love the learning of all the aspects of photography…wishing you all good things for a new year β˜ΊοΈπŸ•ŠπŸ€πŸ’«sending hugs hedyπŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I know exactly what you mean about telling a story and the challenge of balancing text with images. Sometimes I think if I could just write the story it would be easier, but I’m always thinking about how to weave the photographs I’ve chosen into the story. Challenging.
    This is a most beautiful collection. You chose well Lynn. I won’t pick favourites because I appreciate the beauty in all of them except one. #7 doesn’t appeal to me at all, not because of the photo but because I find the sculpture ugly. There’s no accounting for taste eh? All the rest are gems and most definitely your personal style shines through. I’m a little envious of it actually.
    Happy New Year. May 2022 be all you could wish for.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • For me the writing is harder – your writing is smooth as silk. I struggle and do lots of rewriting but I do like the challenge of it. It’s interesting to hear that you’ve also given thought to how to make words & images work best. What you say about #7 does make sense. There was a whole room of those and it was a very visceral experience. Everyone’s taste is different and that photo is pretty much a straight shot of the sculpture so if the sculpture turns you off, the photo will too. I so appreciate your praise, Alison, because I know that you take photography seriously. Let’s hope 2022 turns out to be more than we wish for! And please let’s free up travel a little more!!! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Few things are more difficult than judging your own products, be they paintings, photographs, poems… You took a clever curve by not choosing “Best of” as the criterion, but choosing “appeal” and “scope 21”.

    With No.1 and 3 you start with masterpieces of composition and clarity, and these two parameters seem to me typical for your photography not only in 2021. I should add depth of field and light. This not only applies to the individual picture, but also to the series of pictures that you put together.

    The way you write about your work process when selecting images for a blog post sounds to me almost like a choreographer or director conducting her actors.

    To my knowledge, your intention to create visual narratives in which neither text nor image takes the lead has never before been expressed in such clear terms as here, although it was always evident in everything. A program, a poetics that you show at the same time as the formulation in an application.

    With this selection, you have also managed to get a good overview of what constitutes your essential content. I am impressed by the extraordinary degree to which you are very clear about your artistic work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful, considered comments today, Ule. It was really a good exercise for me – good to go back through images and think about why some are “better” or more appealing than others, and good to write about what I’m doing. As you know, it makes you organize your thoughts in a way that you might not otherwise. Composition and clarity, huh? πŸ™‚ Thank you! Composition (I may have said this before) is something that I still struggle with but I guess the work pays off. I like the analogy of the choreographer very much. As for being clear about my work, maybe all that education helped along with the fact that I still enjoy reading about what artists do, whether in their own words or a good critic’s. This WP community helps a lot, too. Sending smiles and hugs your way, Ule!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, reading what artist do or think about their work is something I highly enjoy, too! And your community here is something great, it is an exceptionally knowledgeable and open minded one. No wonder, regarding how interesting and sound your posts and how extraordinary your photos are.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You flatter me too much! But it’s true that over the years, I have looked for interesting people who blog (like you!!) and I have made it a point to get to know them by commenting on their blogs. That opens up a lot, as you know. This is the good side of social media! πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s