2018: A Nature Photographer’s Annual Review of Images
January 17, 2019
It’s that time of year when I set about to candidly reflect upon my progress as a photographer. I sift through all of my nature photographs made the previous year, looking for the best of the best. The process can be brutal, striking images from the list for being “too pedantic” or “uninteresting” — or the most wounding, “unoriginal.” It is no time to be nice. Just honest.
Making the cut
Throughout the year, I had already picked through the nearly 20,000 images, so it was not as big as a job as it might seem. Only 300 of 20,000 received “three stars,” meaning the image was deemed good enough to warrant processing, so I focused my attention on those. Another pass whittled those down to 100, and then finally, just the top 20 or so that I felt were pretty good. As I went through the process, I left my ego at the door, and looked at the work as if I were someone else, seeing it for the first time.
I did not measure the year’s success by number of images
created, awards received, “likes” on social media, or amount of print sales.
Rather, I passed judgement on the quality of the work. Was there any
improvement since the previous year? What did I do differently? And, very
importantly, what should I do differently in the next 12 months?
What stood out?
Last year, I tried to find ways to push the limits of the
medium. I was more experimental than usual, trying new in-camera techniques as
well as unusual approaches to post-processing. My experimentation resulted in some
spectacular fails, but also some triumphs. For example, I was very pleased with
my “Dance of the Dogwood” image, which contains over 20 photographs of the same
tree compiled in Photoshop.
I continued to be drawn to intimate scenes, such as “Happy Aspens,” but wasn’t shy about standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other photographers when conditions were spectacular at popular scenic spots, as in “When It Snows In Yosemite” and “Black Yosemite.”
I discovered that while I really enjoy night sky photography, I’m a complete coward when it comes to being out in the middle of the night, even when my husband, Gary, was with me. Such was the case in “The Grizzly Giant Under The Milky Way” and “Super Blue Blood Moon Over The Lafayette Reservoir” (not included in final list).
I rediscovered my love for black and white photography, having come
across some old negatives from my darkroom days. I also dug out my old Pentax
ME, bought a roll of Illford b/w film, and had a ball messing around with that
old camera again.
And, although I’ve photographed Yosemite Valley thousands of
times, I found that if one maintains a curious and creative mind, there are
infinite compositions still waiting to be discovered.
Have camera, will travel.
In addition to taking my camera to Yosemite eight times last
year, I also visited some of my other favorite places in California. I photographed
migrating birds in California’s Pacific Flyway, the North Coast Redwoods and
coastline, my old stomping ground around Mt. Shasta, the Eastern Sierra, the ghost
town of Bodie, and my home town of Lafayette. Travels outside of my native
state took me to Southwestern Colorado, Utah, and the Cascades in Washington
Along the way, I met some amazing people, and made memories that
will last a lifetime.
In no particular order, here are my favorites
of 2018. (Just click on each image to enlarge.)
Charlotte Gibb is a contemporary fine art photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in landscapes of the Western United States. Her images are often taken in familiar places for the well-versed landscape photographer, but she prides herself on her keen eye toward the subtle and sometimes overlooked beauty of the natural world. Growing up among the beautiful mountains of Northern California, she considers herself a student of life, learning about people, nature, music, and photography along the way. But always, her life-long passion for the wilderness shines through it all.
Charlotte earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has exhibited her work in several solo shows throughout California. Her darkroom, long gone now, has been replaced with digital darkroom tools, and her style has evolved from a somewhat journalistic approach, to one that pays tribute to the natural world.