The votes are all in and counted, and here are my top photographs of 2018!
We had a great response this year: over 300 people looked through my initial selection of 40 images and voted for their favorites here on the blog, Facebook, Google+, and through email. A big thank you to everyone who took the time to look through these photographs and voice your opinions! I also really appreciate all the kind words so many people included with their votes. I wish I could respond to every comment and email, but please know that I’ve read them all and am very grateful for all your support. And also, many thanks to my wonderful assistant Claudia who tallied all those votes!
To express our gratitude we’re giving away a print to one of the voters. We assigned each person who voted a number, and used a random number generator to pick the recipient. And the winner is… Larry Petterborg! Larry will receive a signed and numbered 16×20 print of his choice from among the 40 original selections. Congratulations Larry!
Here’s the list of the ten images that received the most picks, and the number of votes they each received:
1. Image # 12, Half Dome and Clouds at Sunset from Glacier Point, Yosemite, 148 votes
2. Image # 16, Milky Way over a High-Country Lake, Yosemite, 140 votes
3. Image # 1, Three Brothers at Night, Yosemite, 114 votes
4. Image # 33, Cottonwood Leaves Swirling in the Merced River, Yosemite, 110 votes
5. Image # 35, Misty Sunrise, Half Dome and the Merced River, Yosemite, 109 votes
6. Image # 19, Paintbrush and Peak, Sunrise, Inyo NF, California, 106 votes
7. Image # 9, Milky Way over the Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley, 102 votes
8. Image # 36, Pines, Oak, and Mist, Yosemite, 99 votes
9. Image # 2, Misty Moonrise, Half Dome and the Merced River, Yosemite, 91 votes
10. Image # 26, Cattails and Aspen Reflections, Colorado, 86 votes
Filling out the top 15 were numbers 13, 4, 15, 3, and 29.
Overall I think it’s a well-rounded selection, with daytime grand landscapes, nighttime images, and a few more intimate scenes. Interestingly, two of the photographs were made on the same night, and two on the same day: numbers 1 and 2 were photographed during the first few hours of January 10th, and numbers 35 and 36 were both captured on the morning of November 24th.
If you’re wondering about my personal favorites, most of them are in this top ten. I was happy to see that number 33 (Cottonwood Leaves Swirling in the Merced River), number 26 (Cattails and Aspen Reflections, Colorado), and number 36 (Pines, Oak, and Mist) were so popular, since they’re more intimate, personal photographs. Some other smaller-scale landscapes that I’m fond of, but didn’t make the top ten, include number 27, Autumn Hillside in the Fog, Colorado, number 28, Aspens and Conifers in a Snowstorm, Colorado, and number 40, Oak Tree above a Fog Layer, Mariposa County. And number 7, Sunbeams Above a Flock of Ross’s Geese, conjures up memories of an incredible experience, when Claudia and I watched some 20,000 geese lift off with sunbeams overhead.
But again, I think this final ten makes a nice, well-rounded collection. I’m happy with it, and it would be hard to take any of them out. As Clinton Smith once told me, we don’t get to pick our best photographs; our viewers do that.
I think every photographer has images they love that aren’t very popular. You can keep pushing those favorites out to the universe, but if the universe yawns and scrolls past them there’s nothing you can do about it. Photography is a form of communication, and communication is a two-way thing. If one of your favorite photographs only communicates something to you, and no one else, then it can still serve as a great memory for you, but it hasn’t succeeded in conveying to others what you hoped to convey.
Becoming a better photographer means learning to become a better communicator. That doesn’t mean trying to make images that you think will be popular, and losing your own voice in the process. It means means finding common ground, where you’re expressing your own personal vision of the world, yet other people get what you’re trying to say. That’s not easy, but if it was easy it wouldn’t as challenging, interesting, and fun.
I’ll be submitting this post to Jim Goldstein’s blog project shortly. Thanks to Jim and G Dan Mitchell for providing the original inspiration for putting together this list back in January of 2011, and helping to start this tradition.
Again, thank you so much for your participation. This has been really fun for me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it also. Here are the top ten images:
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.