2018 - RJ Wilner

2018 Photography: The Year in Review

Calendar year 2018 is rapidly reach its conclusion. And it's fairly common for many photographers to reflect on the year gone by and present what they feel are their 10-15 best images for the year. I've done that for the last 4-5 years (see the Personal Favorites page if interested).

This year I've decided to switch things up a bit and offer up a peek at some of my personal favorites from the outset of my photographic journey in the digital era and include one image from each year since.  I don't know that each of these would necessarily be my 'best' of the year, but each holds a special place in my memory for a variety of reasons.  And while I think I've 'grown' photographically in a variety of ways over time, I'm as proud of some of the images made in the earliest years included here as I am of any of those from more recent times.  A few (?few?) notes about the collection...

2002 - I purchased my first digital camera in mid-2001...an Olympus C3030Z...a whopping 2mp device.  But did little more than fool around with it until I decided in 2002 to give it, and me, a good test. To that end,  I made a trip to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in September. The image included here is from that trip and largely sealed my desire to pursue photography in a 'serious' fashion. 

2003 - It didn't take long working with the Oly to figure out I wanted to pursue photography for more than the occasional family get together and a vacation here and there. By spring of this year, I had already purchased the next digicam...a Minolta Dimage 7Hi...a 4.7mp machine. This one was at least capable of producing RAW files....something I had concluded would be a necessity moving forward. Though I made a couple trips this year, my best efforts came working locally in the STL area concentrating primarily on 'urban abstracts'. The image for this year comes from near my place of work at the time.

2004-05 - My best work from both years came from trips to the Moab, UT area...a location I had become very familiar with over the previous 7 yr or so via annual mountain biking trips. If you've never been, both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are a treat and just chock full of photo ops. I did purchase my first DSLR in '05...an Olympus E-300 (8mp device). DSLR's had been obscenely expensive to that point, but it was right in this time frame that 'prosumer' level devices began to be common and affordable. The 2004 image comes from Goblin Valley State Park, and the 2005 image from Canyonlands National Park.

2006-11 - Outside of the occasional trip for work, I did very little traveling during this time frame. I had built a new house on a small lake in '06 and found myself rather content to shoot locally.  Each image from this time frame comes from the lake community where I built the house. I did move up in camera quality somewhat in 2008 with the purchase of a Canon 450xsi (12mp 'crop sensor' device).

2012 - 14 - These years I should probably consider my Great smoky Mountains National Park phase. Though I've made trips back frequently since, the GSMNP was an area of concentration during this time. And after not having traveled much for the previous several years, the travel bug needed some scratching by 2012 and I made my first trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park as a 'photographer'. I think if GSMNP had any seaside boundaries, I'd probably never go anywhere else. The photo ops are just so plentiful in a variety of genres under the 'landscape' umbrella already that if seaside ops existed as well....I might just have a photo ops overload.

I did make a trip in 2014 to the Roan Mountain area of northeast Tennessee in 20214, but heck, that's still the Smoky Mountains, no? :) The 2014 image is from that trip. The2012-13 image are from GSMNP. The other notable tidbit for 2012 is that I purchased a Nikon D-600 camera...my first 'full frame' camera. 

2015 - A yr of change. I had reached a point where I felt like any progress to improve my photography had sort of plateaued. The stuff I liked, I liked a lot. But there was just entirely too much inconsistency. So, I decided to pursue some educational opportunities and wound up participating in a workshop on the Outer Banks in July and then signed up for an online Black & White Fine Art class. Both turned out to be terrific decisions. The time spent at the workshop was great, but I found the post workshop time equally interesting as the participants shared some of their shots from the trip. To me, it is big fun to see the various interpretations each participant sees in the same area(s).  Experiencing those differences has made shooting with a group an interesting experience ever since. I also made a fall trip to Reelfoot Lake State Park which, for a relatively small area, has such a gaggle of photo ops, I've returned a couple times since. With the various adventures experienced this year, it was difficult to select a single image to include. In the end, I selected one from the Reelfoot Lake trip.

2016 - This turned out to be a terrific year. I joined a bunch of online acquaintances for a return trip to the Outer Banks in the spring, and then participated in another workshop...this time in the Charleston, SC area. Both trips were outstanding experiences I enjoyed thoroughly.

This year brought about another change. I had never previously submitted any of my work for publication nor to any contests. This year I did submit some to the International Photography Awards....1 series of 3 B&W abstract images in ice, and a 2nd set of 3 images shot during the '15 trip to Reelfoot Lake (the latter series submitted in 2 categories). And much to my surprise, I was fortunate to pick up 3 Honorable Mentions. While I certainly don't place a great deal of importance on 'competition' as an aspect of my photographic journey, it is nice to know that a jury of accomplished people in the photo industry found the work sufficiently worthy of some recognition. Check out the 2016 Awards page for more info.

The one other notable factor for this year is that I began to attempt to focus on creating 'projects' or 'series' of images as opposed to just going out and shooting whatever happened to trip my trigger for that session.

2017 - This year brought about a return trip to Reelfoot Lake in the spring. And in the fall, I ventured across the pond to attend 2 weekend long workshops in Ireland....one if County Kerry  and the other on the 'Copper Coast' in County Waterford. Between the two trips, it was tricky once again to select a single image to represent this year, but in the end, it almost had to be one from Ireland and this particular shot and this one comes from Ballydwan in County Waterford.

Another camera upgrade occurred this year as well...this time to a Nikon D810 (36mp) prior to the trip to Ireland.

I was also fortunate once again to pick another Honorable Mention for the 2017 International Photography Awards competition.

2018 - Travel has been a bit lighter this year...at least in mileage. I made two trips this year... both of which were repeats of locations visited previously.  The first occurred in the spring to Great Smoky Mountain National Park (yet again :) ), and the second marked a return to Reelfoot Lake State Park in NW Tennessee. I did also participate in a single workshop sponsored by the St. Louis Camera Club to a couple Missouri State Parks, but that was a day trip as opposed to an extended adventure. There will come another series (probably 2 part) come out of one of those state parks. It's been started, but I'll likely have to make at least a couple more trips down that way. The image included for this year comes from one of the state parks visited on that one day workshop.

And once again....I managed to pick up 2 more Honorable Mentions for the 2018 International Photography Awards competition. One from a series of 3 from the 2017 trip to Ireland, and the second for a series of 3 surrounding some experimental work I've been toying with for Minimal Color. There's nothing cohesive enough to be deemed a 'series' or 'project' as yet, but the most successful shots are collected on a page entitled 'Reality Is Overrated' available under the Projects menu choice above. This I'm especially  looking forward to continuing.

The End

(Phew!!! It's about time!!)



2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Lake Tishomingo 051, 02/03/2007

2008

2009

2010

Lake Tishomingo 019, 01/10/2010

2011

Lake Tishomingo 002, 07/02/2011

2012

2013

Clingmans Dome 031, 10/22/2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

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