2012 – My Top Twelve.

By December 26, 2012Blog, Film

Leica

As the year draws to a close, I felt it would be a worthwhile exercise to reflect on 12 of my photographs from the last calendar year, images that I feel were significant to me for one reason or another and to elaborate on the reasons behind their selection.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” these words, imortalised by the great Ansel Adam’s are of course well known in photographic circles, but are they still relevant in todays photographic world? Well, I believe so, of course it’s true that this statement originates from a generation where even the most industrious of photographers would have taken far less photographs than we do in the digital age, yet despite this obvious imbalance I feel it still holds some relevance.

Firstly, we must understand the context to the word “significant”, as only a relative handful of individuals are in a position to be producing images of “global” significance it’s important that we measure significance on a personal level and furthermore that we’re clear on the underlaying reasons for that significance. Whilst this objective may seem quite achievable vs. the number of photographs taken, we must endeavor to look subjectively at our “crop” amongst the good, great and wonderful images we’ve collected only some will hold true significance.

I’ve applied the definitions of “meaning” and “importance” to the word significant, in addition to this I have imposed a further caveat that the image be technically sound although one could certainly argue that there are technically poor photographs that are of extreme significance, that is really a personal judgement.

Of course you may have more and you may have less? If you have hundreds, I’d suggest you look again! Too few, well there is always next year. Remember, I’m not talking about the number of good shots you have, just your significant ones.

Bridge Dynamic – Leica M9 – 15mm Voigtlander Super WIde Heliar f/4.5 Leica Bridge-DynamicBridge Dynamic – This image featured in my User Report on the Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5, you can view that HERE. I know from the emails and comments I received following this post that many people either went out and bought this lens on the back of my report or were able to achieve superior results because of it. The satisfaction that came with knowing my images and writing had assisted others really was the most rewarding experience. As a result of that and because this really is the most incredible little lens this image is included here.

Day DreamerLeica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE Day-DreamerDay Dreamer – This is one of my favorite images of my youngest son and whilst that is reason enough in its own right to be included here it also marked the arrival of the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE lens. This heralded a significant shift in my thinking on lenses. Yes, I moved from cautious to cavalier in the blink of an eye, in the main, because I had established that rangefinders were going to be my cameras of choice for a long time to come. You can read about my purchase of this lens HERE if you want a laugh….. As it happens I have not used this lens as much as I thought I would, that’s no reflection on the lens, just my attentions have been elsewhere, it is on my list to explore further in the new year.

End of the RoadLeica M9 – 35mm Leica Summicron f/2 Asph Leica End-of-the-RoadEnd of the Road – Looking too hard, yes I’ve found myself doing this a few times over the course of this year, I’m sure it’s a condition many will relate to. Your traveling to interesting places, thinking there must be a photograph here somewhere and before you know it that’s all your thinking about and it can become counter productive. This image and several others that almost made it in to this selection were taken on a road trip with my son’s, relaxed and having fun I still managed to see photographs, in fact I probably saw more and it finally sunk in that you don’t have to be on high alert to see photographic potential around you. This particular scene was spotted in the rear view mirror as we drove past in the opposite direction, I guess that kind of proves my point.

AwakeningsLeica M9 – 15mm Voigtlander Super WIde Heliar f/4.5 AwakeningsAwakenings – Striking a balance between your love of photography and your love of family, should be easy, right? I’ve touched on this before and it is still one of the biggest challenges I have come across photographically. My family were of course quite used to seeing me with a camera over the years, but when my relationship with the camera became a little more serious (ok, obsessive) then at times it seemed there was a conflict between to two. This image serves as a reminder that with a little care, it is possible to combine the two, although admittedly there is probably still plenty of room for improvement on my part. Taken on a celebratory break in Queenstown, this image almost never came about as I seriously contemplated leaving my gear at home in a bid to avoid any photography/family clash. A last minute change of plan and some of that care I mentioned previously, proved the two can be combined, most of the time…..you can see all the images from this post HERE.

ShowtimeLeica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE L1000495-1Showtime – So many great memories are encapsulated in this one image, it really embodies all that is magical about the theatre in my eyes.  My post The Producers which you can see HERE was the culmination of my time spent with the Tauranga Musical Theatre. What initially started as a one off project has now evolved in to a more regular association. This ongoing involvement holds more than photographic significance to me, it enables me to be in the company of other creative individuals and that has been a real blessing.

The MobLeica M9 – 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1 Leica The MobThe Mob – An image with dual significance, I realised a long time ago that you can either sit around and wait for things to happen or you can make them happen. Have the courage to ask and be prepared to try new things, this mindset  got me behind the scenes at the regions biggest horse racing meet and I was delighted to capture this scene. Less significant but still worth baring in mind is a point about equipment, I was prepared to part company with the 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1 lens that was used in the making of this image. I hadn’t given it enough time on the camera and consequently I had not seen it at its best. I learnt a valuable lesson on the day I shot these images, you must get to know your gear and be prepared to take the time to do so.

Lakeview – Leica M6 – 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 LakeviewLakeview – I began to shoot and develop film around 18 months ago because I felt somehow that I had missed out and also because it could only improve my photography in the long run, now with the benefit of hindsight I believe it was the right move and I would recommend this route to anyone. I suppose when I look at this particular image I associate it with my love of film photography. Certainly I have a very long way to go when it comes to film and this will be something I look to explore more in the coming year.

Misty MorningsLeica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 Asph Misty-MorningsMisty Mornings – I’ll always look at this image and remember the wonderful time I spent on the road with my boys earlier in the year, having fun, exploring new places and really seeing them in a different light. Much like the light in this image their personalities and sense of humor really shone through on this road trip, we had so many laughs. Photographically, this journey really highlighted the quality of the 35mm Summicron f/2 which I had considered selling just a few months before. I bonded with that lens and in truth it was the only lens I needed on that trip. You can see the full post of images from the East Cape HERE.

Rock ThrowerLeica M9 – 50mm Jupiter 3 f/1.5 Rock-ThrowerRock Thrower – One of the main draws to the Leica M9 and indeed the M/LTM system was the ability to shoot with retro glass, this image underlines that appeal for me. Shot on an inexpensive, 49 year old  lens from the former Soviet Union I still look at it today with the feeling that I could almost reach in to the scene, such is the quality of the 50mm Jupiter 3 f/1.5. Proof if any were needed that it is still possible to get great quality without spending a small fortune. Not to mention, so much fun to shoot because there is always a chance of a magic. You can read my User Report on this lens HERE.

Reach OutLeica M Monochrom – 35mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE L1000560-Edit-EditReach Out – The Leica M Monochrom didn’t mark any great shift in preference from colour to b&w for me, it’s quite clear from my photographs that b&w imagery is very much a part of my photographic identity. I mention it here because I have a strong feeling from what I have already seen from this camera that it is going to be very significant for me, I guess only time will tell……….This image featured in my first post from this camera which can be seen HERE.

A Turning Point – Leica M3 – 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5 A-Turning-PointA Turning Point – This image has not appeared on here before, shot on Ilford HP5 plus 400 it made such an impression on me that for a while there I was considering abandoning digital and shooting solely with film. However one thing that I learnt early in photography is that your opinion on a specific genre, image, film type, you name it, can change quite quickly and decisions need to be considered. As time passed my love of film remained strong but I eventually began to see that for me at least it did not need to be a choice between film and digital, I can see the merits of both, therefore I should enjoy both.

Lake PlacidLeica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 v.1 Lake-PlacidLake Placid – I had the remarkable good fortune to not only discover some great equipment this year but more importantly the photography of the late Roland G Phillips-Turner, so far I’ve featured his work twice on my website with more to follow in the new year. It’s really been a discovery that has bought myself and many others a huge amount of joy. The image above was shot with the 35mm Summicron f/2 v.1 that belonged to the aforementioned photographer, this was certainly the first time it had been used in many years and it worked it’s magic accordingly. A great reminder of this wonderful discovery. You can see both those posts HERE and HERE

Food for thought…….

Taking an overview of my selections here it’s actually quite insightful  and as it happens, a very accurate assessment of my shooting habits, for instance –

  • Two of the twelve photographs are film, equating to 1/6th of the images This is an accurate reflection of the amount of film I’ve shot this year compared to digital, I really want to increase this next year.
  • Three of the images or 1/4 are in colour. Again, I’d say this is a fair reflection. I only want to make great photographs, B&W or Colour it makes no difference to me, although it’s fair to say I can’t see the the ratio of colour increasing next year.

It’s been a good year for me photographically, I’ve continued to develop and this site has made considerable gains in terms of it’s readership and popularity, for that I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation. I’ve enjoyed the comments and feedback immeasurably and I hope this progress will continue next year. Speaking of next year, I have some exciting projects planned and they will certainly take my photography in some new and challenging directions, I’ll post early in the New Year with an update on what to expect and also a few tweaks to the website.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a safe and prosperous New Year.

All the best, Jason.

24 Comments

  • Pete Ansara says:

    Beautiful reflection and stunning work Jason!

    Peye

  • Jim Ascher says:

    Jason: I’ve been following your blog with interest ever since (you may recall) I purchased my Voigtlander 15mm on the basis of your earlier review. Therefore, I was especially interested in those fine shots you just posted using that lens (some of which I’d seen (and admired) before). While I am enjoying my use of the lens tremendously, seeing your photos I am mindful (and regretful) that I am not able to gain the full wide-angle views you achieve as I’m using the (considerably) less expensive NEX 5n, which, with its reduced sensor, I only achieve a focal length with the lens of about 24mm. While this is still fairly wide, it’s not 15mm! I do therefore feel the lack of not having a full-frame sensor camera, but the cost difference is presently beyond my means. Anyway, thanks again for including me in your blog’s loop. Best holiday wishes, Jim

    • janrzm says:

      Hi there Jim, yes I do recall that. Hopefully at some point in the near future there will be some more cost effective full frame options available, I think we’d all appreciate that!! Then you’ll be able to appreciate this lens at 15mm, which is a joy.

      All the best for 2013.

      Regards, Jason.

  • Perfectible says:

    Dear Jason,

    Of course, I know and I (especially appreciate these images … Your pictures sorry! They are really a very high level … At both the technical quality and in terms of sensitivity they emit …
    Congratulations to all and good luck!

    I take this opportunity to wish you a happy holiday season …

    Best regards.

    Hugues.

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Hugues, your generous words of encouragement are greatly appreciated here.

      I wish you all the best for 2013

      Kind Regards, Jason.

  • Umberto says:

    Dear Jason, your work is always inspiring and your site worth to visit week after week. A happy 2013! Umberto

  • InFrame says:

    Great work.. You know you have set a benchmark for the first photo you upload for 2013 😉 lol

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Paris, been away for a short break so not seen any of these comments until now…….No pressure then for the next images! 🙂

  • Luiz Paulo says:

    Amazing selection, Jason! I think that editing it’s not an easy job (really the opposite) and you did a terrific job here. Congratulations and happy new year!

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Luiz, your quite right, it’s incredibly difficult to edit a selection of your own shots! I’m pleased you enjoyed them, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish a prosperous New Year!

  • […] for one reason or another and to elaborate on the reasons behind their selection. Full post here – 2012 – My Top Twelve. and a couple of sample images…. All the best, Jason. __________________ Website | […]

  • Brent says:

    Spectacular and inspirational selection of images, Jason. Your post processing skills are as good as I’ve seen anywhere. I hope you continue to find the right balance between photography and family because it would be a shame if you had to abandon either one for the other.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Brent,

      Thanks for the very kind words, I will certainly be doing my utmost to maintain the balance!

      Have a great 2013, Jason.

  • Andrew says:

    Very nice selection Jason. Good variety in the subject matter and perspectives. Hard to choose a favorite from all of those but thinking either:

    Showtime
    Reach Out
    Lake Placid

    As you can see I love B&W!

    Loved that set on the race day though. Being an Aussie and the closeness of the NZ racing industry to ours and having been to a few meets (think Melbourne Spring Carnival and country races) it did strike a chord!

    Have a great 2013.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Andrew

      Thanks, I haven’t actually stopped to pick a favorite of my own out of these, it changes over time. B&W is where my heart is I would say so it would certainly be one of those.

      I was at the races yesterday, no camera this time but lots of great subject matter!! I’m pleased you enjoyed them.

      Best wishes for the New Year, Jason.

  • JT says:

    Dear Jason, My first visit to your site and there certainly will be plenty more visits. You’re work is simply amazing and very inspiring. I’ve had the 15 Vogt for years and always loved its look on the M8. (20 mm equivilent). When I upgraded to the M9P I never really reached for it any more thinking it was too wide. These photos have inspired me to bring it out this weekend. Have you ever compared it to the Zeiss 18mm. Was curious to your thoughts. Happy and healthy New Year.

    Regards,
    JT

    • janrzm says:

      Hi JT,

      Thats very good to hear, welcome.

      Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of shooting the Zeiss 18mm ZM so I can’t give you the benefit of any acquired wisdom 🙂 Your probably already aware that Ken Rockwell rates it highly, I personally prefer more of a user report to a technical one but its still very informative.

      All the best for 2013 to you also.

      Regards, Jason.

  • […] photographe Jason Howe propose un top 12 de ses photographies prises durant l’année 2012. De superbes clichés en noir et blanc et en couleur réalisés […]

  • Gage Caudell says:

    Jason,

    I don’t believe I’ve commented here before but I’ve been to your site many times and absolutely love your artwork. You inspire me to become a better photographer. Keep up the wonderful work!

    Gage

  • Andrew M says:

    Hi Jason,

    Many of these images are taken with the 15 mm Heliar – since I sold mine out of frustration … does this lens exhibit any edge tone-shift (as opposed to the magenta shift on the M9) on the MM? It’s a wonderful lens on film (as you show) which now makes me regret getting rid of it.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Andrew,

      For me it is visible on the MM although when shooting B&W landscapes with this lens it’s actually a benefit. I’d recommend picking one up again, get an uncoupled version with the viewfinder, set it to f/4.5 focus at 2m and enjoy!

      Cheers, Jason.

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