2022 Best Photos

It’s a new year and I think it’s an appropriate time to reflect on my favorite photos from the last year. In 2022 I acquired two mirrorless cameras, sold one, bought decade-old DSLR, rented a Canon, adapted lenses, took a ton of action shots, adjusted my Lightroom workflow, waxed and waned about mirrorless and my next camera, improved my portrait technique, expanded my bird repertoire, and found some new subjects. I tried to narrow it down to my 10 favorite images, but that was a joke, so here we are 42 photos later. Let’s get to it!

Portraits

I worked on my portrait skills this year but really only applied myself for a couple photo shoots with the boys. I still caught some impromptu portraits that came out well though, and I’m proud of each one.

  • The first image of our cat was taken while testing Eye AF on my Nikon Z50. I lucked out when he took a serious pose. His eyes are sharp and the blown-out background works to my advantage.
  • The second image of Zach is also from the Z50. As you’ll see, he make for a good candid, striking a quick pose while playing. The tones of this image lended themselves well to black and white.
  • The next five images are all from my Sony a6100, a tiny, crop-sensor, consumer-focused camera with Sony’s full Eye AF and 10 fps shooting. They were taken with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or my Samyang 75mm f/1.8. Both are amazing lenses that take great photos. You can see great detail in the eyes and pleasing background blur in each image. Most are black and white because the lighting provided deep, high-contrast blacks, which I prefer over grays. Zach plays serious and Adam plays fun in these mostly non-staged shots. Very documentary-style.
  • The last two images are from my D800. The shot of Jada was one of the first I took on that camera. Her eyes are sharp and the background just melts away on my 50mm f/1.4. It just goes to show what a 10 year old camera and 27 year old lens design can do. The image of Adam and Zach is from our Mother’s Day photo shoot. I had them set up in this tree and we were either getting ready or taking a break to be silly. This was a total candid and is one of my favorite shots ever because it just captured such a moment.

Animals

Another focus this year was to continue improving my animal photography. I was fortunate to find some horses in North Carolina and some captive birds at a Fish and Game event. These are a mix of action shots with normal telephotos as well as my 150 – 600 mm super zoom.

  • The first image was actually taken with my 90mm macro lens and my D750. As I acquired quite a few cameras last year, I didn’t use my D750 as much, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good camera. This is an adorable image of a quiet moment between Adam and his Jada. I love how she is looking right at the camera.
  • The second image is also from my D750. It looks like an action shot but Jada wasn’t actively running at this point. It was early March and she wanted to play in the snow. It’s a fun playtime image, taken with my 85mm prime lens, which is the “wrong” lens for this type of image.
  • The third shot is an action shot, taken with the Canon R5 I rented. It’s from a 20 fps burst and captures Jada’s energy perfectly. The two shots after that were also taken with the R5, the first leveraging Eye AF to capture this chill seagull, and the second tracking one in action as it grabbed a crab at 12 fps.
  • Image 6 is one of my closest bird photos and is a result of the technique I practiced in 2021. I had my 150 – 600mm lens and my Nikon D500 as I slowly moved closer and closer to the Robin. I didn’t feed it to keep it around, but even so, it let me get pretty close. The next two images are also from my D500, showing great detail from my 150 – 600.
  • The image of the baby duckling coming out of the water was a crazy shot. We were camping up in Sebago Maine and we had our own beach that the ducks like to frequent. This year they had little ducklings that swam around with their parents. I took a ton of photos of them, again with my D500 and 150 – 600 combo. These little ducklings have no fear and were happy to come out of the water to investigate before their parents quacked at them to move back. This is just the perfect image because of its composition to the right. It looks great in color but even better in black and white!
  • It’s followed by another great shot of one of the adults shaking the water off of itself after preening. This is from a series of 10 fps bursts I took with my D500.
  • The eleventh image is the last from my D500. It looks like I somehow brought a horse into a studio and stood it in front of a white backdrop to get this image but that was not the case. We were on a wild horse tour on a beach where these horses run free. The background was so bright and the horse was so dark that the background was completely blown out. That’s not usually a good thing but in this case it made a great effect. I also was lucky to be at an angle where I could get the horse’s eye nice and sharp, almost like it posed for me.
  • The final image is a hawk taken with my Z50. This is from a Fish & Game event we attended in April. There was a rehabilitation group that brought some birds for people to learn about. This one was perched on a handler’s glove and I was able to catch it as it looked around. Since the bird was stationary, it wasn’t a difficult shot, but it was a cool opportunity to get closer than I’d ever get otherwise. I was so close that I didn’t even zoom to my lens’ maximum 300mm focal length!

Outdoors

While 2022 wasn’t as big a flower year as 2020 was, I did still get out and catch some images of my favorite tulips. I also grabbed a number of great high resolution macro shots with my D800 and finally shot a waterfall in a way that I could be proud of.

  • The first image is actually from my D500 but it is shot with my macro lens. These tulips were in a vase by our kitchen sink which is kitty-cornered with windows on either side. I like to put tulips there because they are often backlit, which is my absolute favorite way to shoot them. The gray in the background is the white frame of the window in shadow.
  • The second image isn’t macro at all – it’s taken with my a6100 and its 55 – 210mm zoom lens. It’s taken at f/8, so it’s surprising how much background blur it even has. I took this in March when things were still very gray and dull. That tulip petal had fallen off the bunch that I was throwing out. Actually it was from one of the tulips in the first image taken about a week earlier. I really like this image because of the color contrast against the browns. The vibrant petal is isolated in this world of dull.
  • The next seven images are all macro images from my D800. I noted in my review that my D800 has some autofocus accuracy issues, but they aren’t a problem with my fixed-focal length macro lens. All of these images are incredibly detailed and I’m so proud of them. The petal of the tulip, the cutout in the leaves, the water droplets, and the veins and cells are just so sharp. The black and white flower images are just dripping with contrast and elegance!
  • The final image is a cameo from my D750. Sally took me up to Crystal Cascade in Pinkham Notch so I could finally get a good waterfall! I studied up on technique, brought my tripod, took my time, and captured many images I’m proud of. I would have preferred to use my D800 for its higher resolution but I didn’t trust it to focus accurately across the range of my 24 – 120mm zoom lens. It turned out just fine, as my 24 MP D750 is still a very competent camera.

Action

I took a lot of action photos this year, many of Jada playing during the different seasons, many of Zach playing soccer, and many of the kids doing things in the summer. I ended up with some really great shots, most of which are from my Sony a6100. You’ll notice that none of them are in color – I like high contrast black and white action shots because they I feel they freeze the action by reducing distractions.

  • The shot of Adam running was from a 10 fps burst on the a6100 with my Samyang 75mm f/1.8. The kids were playing Nerf in April and I was shooting whoever passed by. This shot just came out perfect and lended itself well to black and white processing.
  • The basketball shot is an a6100 / 75mm burst from a party. I caught Zach while he and the ball were both in the air.
  • The third image is one of my favorite images ever. It’s from Zach’s soccer playoff game. Their team lost, but boy did I get some great photos anyway. I took this on my Sony a6100 with my Nikon 70 – 200mm f/4 adapted to it. I thought this was a pretty good action shot to begin with, but once I noticed what the kids were doing in the background it became one of my favorites. There is great focus on the player and just enough blur on the background to separate him from it while still retaining the humor of this very candid image. I didn’t capture this kind of “protection” happening in any of my other photos.
  • The last image is from a 20fps burst on the R5 I rented in December. The weather wasn’t great that week but it warmed up to around 50 degrees toward the end. The ice in our back yard started melting and the sun was in the right place to backlight this splashy action shot. I added a blue color grading to it to give it some variety amongst my other black and white images.

The Rest of Them

This last set of images doesn’t perfectly fit into any specific category. Some are documentary-style, some are “artsy”, some are landscapy, and one is even kind of creepy.

  • The first image in this series is just humorous. It was February, it was cold out, we had mandatory Family Fun Time™, and I had my 16mm fisheye on my D750. I only took a few shots that night, but this one was my favorite. We were trying to play Phase 10 and Adam wasn’t having it. This shot perfectly captured the mood of our game. I don’t think we even finished.
  • The second and third are random images from my a6100 that spoke to me. The cell tower is a landscape-type photo whereas the mule is more of a product shot.
  • The fourth shot is from the interior of the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion in Rye. According to the tour guide we were not allowed to bring cameras, but of course he let me bring mine. The mansion is the combination of several structures built over many years and it has a lot of weird nooks and crannies like this. I don’t really even know what function this performs, but the chairs and shadows make for a creepy feel in black and white.
  • Image five is a documentary-style image from one of Zach’s soccer games. I really like these “getting ready” images. I found myself taking a similar image at each game. This is my favorite because it shows an interaction between the ref and the players. It reminds me of the kind of everyday situations Normal Rockwell would paint. The light was very high contrast that day and it makes this image pop in black and white.
  • The sixth image is one I’ve been trying to capture for years. I absolutely love garden lights. We have some in our back yard but they’re over our hot tub and I can’t get them at a good angle to focus on one and blur the rest out. We were at a friends house for a party this fall and lo and behold, there were some garden lights with plenty of space to get the angle I needed. This is yet another beautiful image from my a6100 / 75mm combo with a preset applied to give it a vintage look. The second bulb is tack sharp and the background blur is just awesome. This is one of about 10 that I really like. Choosing one for this post was difficult, but I can envision any of them in a magazine for a fancy vineyard dinner or something.
  • The final image in this series, and in this post, is a candid of Adam listening to judging feedback at the LEGO FIRST Robotics competition in December. His team had just finished a match and were crowding around the ref to hear feedback. I had been zipping around with my D750 and 70 – 200mm f/4 to capture the action. I was lucky to snag this shot where Adam’s face and eyes were not only visible, but perfectly illuminated by the light from the ring in between all of the people around him. I don’t take too many pictures that have blurred elements in the foreground and this one just pops. In a sea of people, boom, there’s Adam. This one is lightly edited to bring up the whites and bring down the blacks for the best highlight, but is otherwise stock. Black and white, of course.

You Made It

If you made it this far, I’ll assume you read every single description of every one of the 42 photos I covered here. While my original goal was 10, getting to 42 was difficult enough. 2022 was actually a pretty busy year for me photographically and I was able to hone my craft, capture new subjects, and play with new toys along the way. I typically don’t do anything with photography during the December – February timeframe but this year I’m still feeling fresh and interested. Creating this post has encouraged me to finish editing some of the images I’d taken last year and culling through them to find the best of the best has allowed me to spend some time and really enjoy them. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

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 )

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

%d bloggers like this: