An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

December 28, 2015

My 10 Favorite Photos of 2015

     I should probably rename this post. At the end of each December for the past five years, I've shared my favorite photos from that year, and the only time I've ever been able to limit the number to 10 was for the first year back in 2011. This year I decided I would just pick my favorites, and worry about the count later. However, even after some heavy pruning I could only get it down to 20. If after seeing the first 10 your eyes have grown tired, my feelings won't be hurt if you move on to other things.

Broward Main Library
(12/31/2014)
The first photo was actually taken on New Year's Eve in 2014, but I didn't get a chance to look at until 2015. It is a reflection from a solar art installation at the Broward County Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was next door visiting the Stranahan Botanical Garden when the swirling light, water, and colors caught my eye. If you click on the photo it will take you to my Flickr page where you can click on the photo yet again to enlarge it, possibly taking some of you back to the 60's.
Broward Main Library (4)

NBG Snow Day
(2/27/2015)
Like many places, Norfolk experienced its share of brutal weather last winter. The morning after a snow I was able to grab this shot of a cherry tree at the Norfolk Botanical Garden where I work. The light was incredible, and the air was still, allowing the snow to stay put making for white blossoms.
NBG Snow Day (7)

Wellhead
(4/11/2015)
The next two photos were taken in Colonial Williamsburg. I was there to speak at a garden symposium, but my mornings were free to wander the streets photographing through wonderful light. I'm not sure why I like the first photo so much; perhaps it seems to take me back in time. I chose the second photo for the early spring light flowing through the emerging leaves of a common hackberry.
 Wellhead (1)

Celtis Light
(4/12/2015) 
Celtis Light

Last Day of May
(5/31/2015)
I spent a lot of time on my bike this year; it's something I can still do without my knee protesting. Many of the trips were taken in Virginia Beach, where I took this photo illustrating one of my favorite themes - little people in a big landscape.
Last Day of May

Ocean Ave.
(6/7/2015)
This photo was also taken on a bike trip to Virginia Beach as I rode through what's referred to as the North End. At one time this area was home to humble shingle-clad vacation cottages among the wild dunes, most of them boarded up for the winter and opened again Memorial Day weekend. Now there are only glimpses left of that former world among the tightly packed, well appointed houses in one of the areas most sought-after zip codes.
Ocean Ave. (5)

Metompkin Bay
(7/18/2015)
Since picking up a camera, I have taken many hundreds of photos along the shores of Metompkin Bay near my parent's house. I love walking there in the mornings to catch the sunrise, but on this day the skies were murky, but the colors of the grass and adjacent marsh were vibrant. No matter where I take her, my dog Penny has always chosen to walk through more difficult grass and brush, even with a clear path just steps away.
Metompkin Bay (1)

Black Skimmers
(7/18/2015)
I took this photo of a large flock of black skimmers on Cedar Island. As the birds were busy nesting, they were none too happy with my presence, and most took to the air as we neared them, though I did respect their space. Obviously this photo has been manipulated, but the birds and their numbers were real.
Black Skimmers

Nottoway River 8-1-15 (5)
(8/1/15)
The next two photos were taken from my kayak during a trip along the Nottoway River, which is inland from where I live. I have been here several times, as it is one of my favorite places to paddle. However, the river is different each time. On this trip the water level was more elevated as we had a fairly wet summer, and this enabled me to explore side passages and swamps that were unavailable previously. I took the photo below from a sheltered cove looking out towards the main river. I felt like I was in a my own private chapel.
Nottoway River 8-1-15 (5)

Nottoway River 8-1-15 (17)
(8/1/2015)
On many of my previous trips I have seen huge banks of Hibiscus moscheutos growing on the riverbank, but I have either been too early or too late to see them in bloom. Such was not the case on this trip, and I was able to enjoy the blooms as I paddled by underneath.
Nottoway River 8-1-15 (17)

Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition
(8/9/2015)
I took this photo at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. They were having a special exhibition on traditional Japanese tattooing, and I wasn't certain I would enjoy it. However, I did indeed!
Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (8)

Alium
(5/13/2014)
Here is another photo out of sequence taken in 2014. However, I did not show it until this year, as it was one of several my friend Mac Houfek used in her book, Reflections on a Coastal Garden, which was not published until this fall. I was honored that she choose me as one of the photographers, and wanted to wait until the book was out before I shared any of the photos.
Alium (2)


Virginia Beach, North End 
(2/27/2015)
Early in the fall this area got stuck in a three week long pattern of weather that included tidal flooding, wind, rain, and very gloomy skies. I made several trips out to the beach to stare at the sky and the agitated Atlantic. It gave me chance to repeat that photographic theme in the picture below of little people in a big landscape. It did nothing, however, to quell my preoccupation with climate change and subsequent sea level rise, which threatens to drown the place I call home. Ironically, a repeating theme in dreams throughout my entire life (even before climate change was a thing) is of people on a beach where waves wash over them and their houses, and when the water recedes they carry on unharmed as if nothing had ever happened.
Virginia Beach, North End (5)

Three Photographers, Two Ducks
(10/4/2015)
This photo is not my best artistically, but I thought it was hilarious, and no, it has not been manipulated beyond a little cropping. This was taken just a couple of blocks from my house near the river, and I love that all the photographers are wearing black and taking seemingly random shots. The flooding was part of the same system mentioned above.
Three Photographers, Two Ducks

Agave americana (Chanticleer House)
(10/15/2015)
On a trip to Chanticleer in October, I took over 250 photos (not all were keepers). Despite the extraordinarily diverse and creative horticulture taking place there, this simple plant in a pot on raked gravel became one of my favorite photos.
Agave americana (Chanticleer House) (2)

Muhlenbergia capillaris and Echinacea (Gravel Garden)
(10/15/215)
Another simple planting that caught my eye at Chanticleer was past-peak purple coneflower fading through pink muhly grass at its peak.
Muhlenbergia capillaris and Echinacea (Gravel Garden) (2)

Peirce’s Woods
(10/17/2015)
Two days after visiting Chanticleer, I was at Longwood Gardens before heading home to Virginia. As I am every time I visit Longwood, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and horticulture taking place there. I got this shot looking up through a frequently photographed gazebo towards the surrounding fall colors.
Peirce’s Woods (7)

Meadow Garden
(10/17/2015)
While at Longwood I got to see their much anticipated and much talked about new Meadow Garden. It was the favorite part of my trip there, but I have yet to complete a blog post on the subject. So as I had last year, consider this a teaser. In the photo below I am not sure what the plant is, perhaps a wild cherry  (Prunus serotina?). I am sure I like its color.
Meadow Garden - Meadow Garden - Prunus serotina maybe

Reflection
(11/15/2015)
In November I was able to participate in a small and watery bloggers meet-up, when I got to explore Merchants Millpond with Marilyn who writes Adventures of a Vagabond Volunteer. The title alone should make you want to check out her blog. The conditions that day were very conducive to photography, environmental discussion and political liberalism, for a time making this pond in northeastern North Carolina the bluest part of a normally red state.
Reflection

Black Friday 2015
(11/27/2015)
My last photo was taken once again along the shore of Metompkin Bay, but on this day the sun made its presence known as it rose over the Atlantic with rays coming through a grove of ancient eastern red cedars. Focusing my camera towards the sun forces it to take its cues from the bright light, darkening everything else. I like the effect and use it often.
Black Friday 2015 (8)

If you would like to see all of this year's contenders, you can visit My Favorites 2015 at Flickr.

Do you have photos from 2015 that you are particularly proud of, or that speak to you in a special way? If so, then I welcome you to share them on your own blog or Facebook page. If you do, come back and leave a comment with a link please. I would really appreciate it. Thanks, and I hope all of you have a happy new year filled with many photo ops!

29 comments:

  1. I loved all your pictures but particularly the Nottaway River Scene, and then the Reflection. I was amused and amazed to see it was from OUR trip. Hope 1016 brings a few repeats in a different local. I'm currently working on two blogs that remember my past year's activities, and another two that bring back memories of birds. While not necessarily my favorite pictures, here is the link to my Sunday blog. I'll have a blog on next Wednesday, and again next Sunday which fill finish my last years reflections. http://mkircus2.blogspot.com/2015/12/remembering-2015-part-i-recuperating.html. And I must say, getting to meet you in person was one of the things I'm grateful for this year.

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    1. Marilyn, I have enjoyed your version of 2015 wrap-up posts. I had to pick one favorite for 2015 for a Flickr group, and I choose the millpond reflection.

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    2. Since that is my favorite kind of place, I'm glad you liked it too.

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  2. I like the first two photos and the Longwood Gardens Pierce's Woods photo best.
    Ray

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    1. I thought the Peirce's Woods photo was just about post card worthy.

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  3. Thank you for the look back over the past year. I think I like the Reflection photo best.

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    1. That was probably my favorite as well, Kathy.

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  4. Breathtaking! Stunning! The very first picture, Williamsburg picture and Doggy picture are my favorite. You are a great photographer Les! Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy new year to you as well, Tatyana.

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  5. Gorgeous!! You're a very talented photographer!

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    1. Thank you. My head is swollen now.

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  6. Thank you for the retrospective. You took some really fantastic photos. I think my favorites are "Metompkin Bay" and "Reflection" - with honorable mention for "Three Photographers, Two Ducks".

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    1. I had fun with the "Three Photographers, Two Ducks".

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  7. These are all stunning images, Les, and illustrate your creativity with a camera. I'm not surprised that your photos were chosen for your friend's book--they're amazing. My favorite, I guess, is the one with Penny. The composition is excellent like all the other photos, but I smiled when reading your story about Penny's preferences. Thanks for sharing your talents. :)

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    1. It was hard to limit my dog photos to one. I had to remind myself that most pet photos can be too easy.

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  8. All of your photos are amazing. Just totally amazing.

    Thanks for noticing I updated the blog. It was long overdue and I finally had time and the data while I was visiting my daughter.

    Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Happy new year to you as well, Tina. I have contemplated a new blog design, but my head spins at the work involved.

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  9. How lovely to view your favorite images from 2015, Les. You have a unique way of looking at the world, and your images are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you for the kind comments, Pam.

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  10. Your photos are amazing! Thank you for a chance to see the year from your perspective.
    Here's my post: http://www.gravylessons.com/journal2/2015/12/30/myfavoritephotosfrom2015

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    1. Thank you for sharing the link. I look forward to seeing your choices.

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  11. Great photos, Les. I like the dog walking towards the water, the last reflection of the bald cypress, the VA beach shot... Interesting choices. I wish others had posted a link to their 10 best. Maybe they still will?! My link is below. Happy New Year!
    http://ofleafandlimb.blogspot.com/2016/01/best-of-2015-photo-review.html

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    1. Sarah, I appreciate your playing along, and look forward to paying a visit to your blog.

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  12. A wonderful selection of favorites, Les. I do like the one from the book. It is cool and very colorful.

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    1. I took several of those alliums to get the drips on the fountain just right.

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  13. I remember many of these photographs from the original posts. It is always interesting for me to see which you would choose as your favorites. As the person who lived the experience vs me, who only see it through the computer screen. The one that I love best, now as when you first posted it, is that of your dog Penny, walking towards the rising sun. Simply amazing.

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    1. There was something about that light that morning, combined with Penny's stubborn determination.

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  14. Gorgeous, all, but Black Friday is particularly stunning. Happy 2016!

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    1. Black Friday was a last minute addition. Happy 2016 to you as well, Georgia.

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