Saturday, January 8, 2011

And the best photo of the year is...

Thank you to everyone who voted on the best photo of the year. Here are the winners, in each of the categories, based on over 400 votes tallied from nearly 50 people:

Animal - Squirrel on a roll - 35.56%
Plant - Sex & Death - 43%
Macro - We are here to wash your brains - 33.33%
Activist - In loving memory - 28.57%
Bokeh - Pop - 34.38%
Sky - Volar - 34.09%
B&W - Rainy day fun - 47.62% (Apologies to those of you who couldn't vote on this one. Something got messed up part way through)
Abstract - If good fences make good neighbors, do pretty fences make pretty neighbors - 34.09%
Portrait - Show us your birthday smile - 36.36%
Motion Blur - 5,261 - 47.22%
Reflection - Bubble Billy - 37.14%
Strobist - When was the last time you did the wave? - 29.55%

So last night, Max and I put our heads together to decide which was the *best* photo of the year. It was easy to choose. We both agreed that the absolute best photo of the year was Volar, taken on August 14th in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I re-edited it just now, and like it even better!

I knew this shot was good the second I took it. It's one of the few shots I actually planned. I saw these boys jumping over the fence, but by the time I'd taken my camera out, they had stopped. Thankfully, the "boy" spirit got back into them, and they started up again. 

This photo was actually one of the first I sold (to a friend, who loved it). (side note: I'll sell it to you, if you'd like. 12" x 12" for $35. Ikea sells a nice frame that it fits perfectly into, with a big mat. If you want it smaller, I can do that, too. Leave a note in the comments if you're interested). It got picked up for use on American Public Media's website for their show Being. Also, a few random Puerto Rico blogs are using it to promote how lovely Puerto Rico is. 
I think it's fascinating to hear how people interpret this photo. I see it as an example of someone taking a leap and not knowing how it will go, even though others have done it before. Others have told me that they see the four figures as all part of one person, before they jump, mid-jump, recovering from the jump, and moving forward. How do you see this photo?

Here it is before I edited it. Funny how much editing does to make a photo really great...

What I did - I use Apple Aperture to edit photos. So first, I hit auto-levels, which is a magical button that makes almost everything look 100% better. This brightened the photo too much, so I lowered the brightness 5%, bumped the contrast a bit, and increased the saturation to 130%. This got me pretty close to what I wanted, but it still needed more. I adjusted the white balance some, to make it more yellow (it was taken just before sunset, after all). I cloned out one funny speck of dust that was on the sensor (damn dust spots!). Finally, I bumped up the teal and yellow saturations separate from the overall saturation of color, and gave it a tiny vignette. I'm very happy with the final result!

In your opinion, is this the best photo of the year? Would you have chosen another one? Let me know in the comments section!

Oh, and thank you again to everyone for your ongoing support. You are the best!


  1. i am super happy that you got to pick volar as your best photo of the year. but most of the others were not ones i voted for. darnit!

  2. Delighted with your re-cap and volar was an exquisite choice ~ kudos to you and Max <3