2015 was a year of significant change for me photographically. I haven’t posted to this blog since 2012 as there were significant personal challenges and life-changing circumstances that put my photography on the back burner for a while. And while my photo outings were very limited this year, I did manage to capture some and perhaps enough to be able to claim my favorites for 2015 and submit once again to Jim Goldstein’s annual Blog Project: Your Best Photos from 2015.
What changed for me photographically in 2015? Well, after 23+ years of shooting film exclusively with a 4×5 field camera, I’ve thrown in the towel and got myself a DSLR. The major factor in the decision was simply economics. The cost of color transparency film has skyrocketed in the past several years and E6 processing is becoming harder to find and also more expensive. Even buying out-dated film, the cost per image, was $6-8 each. I’m fortunate to have acquired a nice 4×5 kit over the years and selling all my gear will more than pay for my first DSLR purchase. Because of the cost and personal challenges, I just wasn’t motivated to do a lot of large format film photography. When one feels pressured in to making a decision whether or not to expose a piece of film because of cost, well, it got frustrating and seriously began limiting my freedom to create fine art images.
I had my first DSLR experience with a borrowed Nikon D700 on a trip to the Eastern Sierra this past October. I also shot with the 4×5 in parallel. I’ve yet to even send the film in for processing. I discovered after this trip that my ability to “see” and create images didn’t change because I had a DSLR in my hand. What did change is that I had 10X the number of captured images! I was fearful of the “spray and pray” pitfall that it doesn’t cost anything to capture digital images…. and I did find myself capturing a LOT more images that I could have with just film. In the end though, what I learned is that I came home with the same quantity and quality images as I would have normally with film. I also came home with a lot of “extras,” but a large portion of the extras were a result of capturing multiple images per scene for things like focus stacking and exposure blends: and so many iterations when shooting moving water…. or having fun with zoom and pan blurs. Oh, and the Milky Way…..
As much as it saddened me to leave film and the 4×5, I knew it was time. So before an annual trek to Yosemite Valley for fall color in early November, I set my sights on a DSLR. My first and only photo excursion so far with my new Nikon 800E was this trip to Yosemite Valley. Many of those images are included in this year’s favorites.
So one chapter is closed and a new one is being written. What remains to be seen is whether or not I can equal or surpass the quality of images that I’ve come to expect from myself. And to that end, I have a challenge for anyone who may come across this post. Are you able to tell which images below are originally from film, or if they are from a DSLR? Some of you who have already seen my work, or can decipher some clues already provided may be able to correctly choose. But I’ll put this out there as a fun exercise. Can you tell the difference? Which ones are film and which ones are digital? (No fair looking at metadata…)
So in no particular order, here are my favorites from 2015:
Select any Image to begin Slideshow, or scroll down for individual views:
Select individual images for larger view:
Thank You! All my best in 2016!