My top 12 for 2012 by Jason Howe
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, immortalized 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 underlying 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
Bridge 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 Dreamer – Leica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE
Day 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 Road – Leica M9 – 35mm Leica Summicron f/2 Asph
End 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.
Awakenings – Leica M9 – 15mm Voigtlander Super WIde Heliar f/4.5
Awakenings – 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 was 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.
Showtime – Leica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE
Showtime – 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 Mob – Leica M9 – 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1
The Mob – An image with dual significance, I realized 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
Lakeview – 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 Mornings – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 Asph
Misty 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 Thrower – Leica M9 – 50mm Jupiter 3 f/1.5
Rock 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 Out – Leica M Monochrom – 35mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE
Reach 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 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 past 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 Placid – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 v.1
Lake 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.
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 whilst there have been challenges I’ve certainly done my best to overcome them and progress. Whilst it’s always rewarding to look back on the images you’ve taken the real excitement lies in the images your yet to capture, that thought should fill us all with encouragement and excitement in equal measure, enjoy!!
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a safe and prosperous 2013.
All the best, Jason.
well done, Jason. I am trying to do the same thing with my own photos, but damn! It’s really difficult to narrow down which photos are the best to your own eye!!
Each one of your photos is an inspiration! Keep up the great work during 2013!!
Wow – these are fantastic images – I’d be happy to get such images over a decade let alone one year.
Great set of photos and an inspiration for me to shoot more with my heliar 15mm. It has sat on the shelf since I lost the cap for it, but now I have sourced a replacement I need to press it back into service. In ‘A Turning Point’ did you use a filter to heighten contrast in the sky? If so, how did you attach the filter?
I’d just like to say thanks for all the kind and generous comments.
I wish everyone a wonderful 2013.
Fabulous and Inspiring- Thank You.
Amazing photos…always like to see your posts.
WOW , once again im speechless , the DOF on that pic “End Of The Road” is killing me ,…. Superb shots :thumbs: UP 🙂 😀 😉 😛
A very productive year for you, my friend, as evidenced by these wonderful images. I think you’ve simply blossomed with the melding of your vision and the M Monochrom. At the very least, RF photography suits you very well.
It’s been a delight to view your progress and I wish you the best for 2013.
“You are lucky if you take one, maybe two good pictures in a year.” – Thomas Hoepker
If you think you can make more than one or two good pictures in a year, then you need a year or two to think about what makes a good picture.
Excellent photos, love them all
Wow, truly one of the best images I have seen here! Just top seeing, editing, doing. Love them all. Thanks for posting.
These are all wonderful photographs. I especially like what you’ve done with the 15mm Voigtlander. I just received my Leica M-E yesterday and maybe someday I will add that lens to my arsenal.
Very nice series of inspiring photographs. I just finished a “best of” book of my images for 2012 and I would strongly advise anyone to do the same. Regarding your 3 out of 12 ratio of color images I dare to comment that – maybe except for “The Mob” – in my opinion the color doesn´t add much to the images. So, maybe you should try 100% b&w this year? I would be interested to hear about your reasoning to choose the 35mm f2 for “end of the road”. Did you consider a somewhat tighter crop from a 50mm or even a 75mm?
Simply stunning, and a fantastic representation of your work. I have been thankful this year to see most of these images as you made them. Keep up the great work, Jason, and I look forward to another set of great images from you in the coming year.
This is my first time commenting on this site that I visit every day. I just wanted to say these shots are fantastic. Every single one of them. They have inspired me to strive to be a better photographer. Thank you for sharing.
Thankhs fore some great shots and inspiring reading this last year of 2012! I really like this Rock Thrower shot + the Day Dreamer… They’re all great but these really give me somethin’ special (guess Im a people-person;o)… And for sure the little 15mm Heliar really shines with film! Almost regret I got rid of mine (got myself a ZM18 instead which i dumped as well when gettin’ the Monochrom – it was just to ‘sizzly’ for me at least there).
Happy New Year
Fantastic pics and will inspire me for 2013. I have just purchased a M9-P after a couple of years on an M8 but I must admit I am finding it a challenge to hit focus as easily if at all and as quickly as I did on my M8!
These pictures make me more determined to stick with it and sell my M8.
Are your images raw or jpeg?
Significant indeed. Your pictures are wonderful. Strong, yet calm. Pretty much what i would like to achieve myself, but i have long road to walk before getting even close to this.
Hi Jason, beautiful pictures! Each image is a gem for the eye. Thank you for sharing and happy 2013!
Great work Jason 🙂
Love your work with the Heliar which I consider to be one of the great modern lenses.
I use the Heliar on my OMD for all my serious architectural/abstract photographic art work.
Thank you for sharing these great images and for you review of the Heliar.
Here is sample of the Heliar on the OMD: http://500px.com/photo/21372987
Like I’ve commented on your blog and it’s not redundant to repeat: your selection is fantastic. Congratulations!
Love The Mob especially!
Excellent Picks !
Great to see film M3 and Very impressed with quality of Jupitar 50 (FSU Copy Cat ‘Leica’ glass.
I’m debating (cdn peso) obtaining a D Leica M9-M P/LE I consider Pana M 4/3 as a Poor man’s M8/9 without the Leica lens. ( I can hear the haters out there…I use mostly MF primes Pentax-Helious-some LTM FSU MF primes 35-135 and use M3-M4 and quess what folks for next to nothing I tend to buy of local Thrift shoppe finds (Karma Karma) I have held HD film scans using a Pro HD Mac Screen -sure some grain from BW film with M3 but results are close No Lightroom or Photoshop just basic crop-zoom in some removal of colour some saturation to Clean up some gran BUT I still prefer the look of film. Trying to develop BW by hand using Coffee and Vitimen C…Will wait for a batch dev of various Test rolls Mostly BW colour low light hand held.
40 Nocton 1.4 M mount was my latest lens-Also a wide 1.4 for Pana M 4/3…may post results still learning life long passion Obsession Hippy New Year folks and Enjoy the happy accidents.
Your in Leica Land…Paul
If I.m right, the jupiter is in fact a copy of a Zeiss glass, with a Sonnar formula. Btw the sonnar 50 is my favorite lens on the Leica.
Thanks for the twelve pictures !
Fantastic pictures and comments!
you know all the good that I think about your pictures …
Once again, I say: Bravo! The beautiful work my friend!
Happy New Year Jason!
Great pics Jason. I always look forward to seeing your post on Steve’s website & Facebook.
What a great idea! I’m definitely going to start reflecting and recording for myself my top 12 per year 🙂 Rather than always being unsatisfied I can look back at how I’ve progressed and what I’ve achieved _photographically_ each year. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it that way before.