My best photographs, 2014 edition



Los Angeles skyline at sunset, version 3.







Skateboarder, Venice Beach in Los Angeles.


I read somewhere a few years ago that an admirable goal for a photographer was to capture one good image every month. I've always liked that goal. It really reflects how difficult it is to take an outstanding photo. 

Above are my best 12 shots from the past year. These dozen were culled from a few thousand images that I took. 



'Best,' of course, is a subjective term. In this case, 'best' means a few things. Generally speaking, these are photos that I think would interest the most people, have very strong subjects that are well composed and maybe show some technical competency with a camera and processing. 

Of course, by tomorrow -- hell, two hours from now -- I might pick another 12 photos entirely. Such is photography and art. I have plenty of other photos that I like for all sorts of reasons, many of them self-indulgent. Some of those resonate with other people and some surely may not. 

If the above photos have anything in common it's this: strong, obvious subjects without a lot of clutter in frame. The cactus shot is a good example. It's just cactus and sky and clouds and nothing else. Initially I thought it was a throw-away shot. A few months after taking it, I came back to it and started to appreciate the power that comes from its simplicity.

As for the rest of the photos, a brief description of each: 

The top photo is the pit bull that my partner and I rescued this year. The image was taken at the fountain in front of Pasadena City College on our nightly walk (I often bring my camera). The location was obviously good and once I got her to sit and stare at me, I knew I had a winner. 

The sailboats and ocean sunset was the product of happening to be at the beach at the right time -- and recognizing that the light was changing for the better and scrambling to a good vantage point. The skyscrapers in downtown L.A. and Morro Rock are photos that took advantage of interesting subjects and nice sunsets.

The elephant seal pup was captured from a bluff in San Simeon with a telephoto lens. This was away from the usual tourist spots. The pup didn't fear the camera, even at a distance. 

I was sitting on the floor in Los Angeles Union Station's picturesque Fred Harvey Room, a good spot to take photos of couples dancing during the station's anniversary event last spring. The same shot from eye level would have been far less interesting. 

The photo of a woman navigating a muddy portion of a Gladiator Games event was also taken from a low vantage point -- although not as low as this other shot that I also like. In this case, I just really like the expression of the woman's face and the position of her hands. She's about to pull herself forward using the netting. The camera froze the action in such a way that she also looks exasperated (which she kind of was). 

The photo of the ballerinas in L.A. Union Station on was taken as part of a work assignment (a promotion for a performance of Swan Lake). The ballerinas were performing and the above shot was taken when the ballerinas were preparing to dance -- so it was a bit of an out-take. The signage and the setting are a bit of a distraction perhaps but I think the photo says something about the relationship between the young dancers. And the light was really nice.

Scrambling around near the top of Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo I reached a dead-end that was a perfect perch to photograph some hikers scrambling on the rocks above me. It was really just a matter of tossing on the wide-angle lens, composing a good shot and taking a photo when the hikers were doing something interesting, such as looking down at the considerable drop-off below :)

I had some time to kill at Venice Beach early last summer and ended up spending most of it at the skateboard park. I came away with a bunch of images that I liked, but this is the one that I think is most unique. And I always give bonus points to photos that look good in black and white. (This shot and this shot are also personal faves) 

The final photo is Sammy, our 16-year-old lab that we lost this past summer. We often took him to the Caltech campus near our house so he could stare at the turtles. And it was a great place to take dog portraits. This was stake in spring with everything in bloom -- my partner was there to help get Sammy to look up. He was the gentlest dog in the world and this colorful, bright photo perfectly reflects his personality. Photography is about capturing memories, the reason this image is so important to me. 

I'll probably throw together one more post with some of my other favorite photos from 2014 that didn't quite make the cut for this post. 

For those interested in gear, all the photos were taken with either a Nikon D5100 or the Nikon Df. Both are DSLRs. I used a variety of lenses -- most of the consumer-grade variety. The wide angle used on the Bishop Peak photo was the Nikon 18-35mm 3.5 lens, which is Nikon's cheapest wide-angle zoom for full-frame cameras and also a very sharp lens. The photo from the Gladiator Games was taken with the Nikon 85mm 1.4D, a lens that sells for $1,100 new. I rented it for a week for a few days for $75 from Samy's here in the L.A. area. 

All my galleries are here, including info on buying prints or licensing images (downloads of the photos taken for work are available for free from the Metro Flickr page). Any questions, always feel free to drop me an email. Thanks for looking and Happy Holidays! 

--S.H.

The above photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission.