Best of 2012

In recognition of arbitrary numbers assigned to seasonal patterns produced by axial tilt, I present my favorite images taken within the past 31,556,941 seconds, more or less – what some gauche people refer to as a “year.” Also note that these are not the best as determined by popular vote, unless you consider ‘popular’ to mean ‘me,’ (and no one has done that in my life, so why start now?)

You can view the runners-up here, and since I shot a huge percentage of arthropod images this year, a gallery of finalists in just the Insect category here. I shot over 21,000 images in digital alone, certainly more than I’ve ever done before, and this is what I have to show for it – in my defense, the majority of photos were illustrations of habits and life cycles, but make of that what you will ;-)

Once again, these are presented alphabetically by the categories that I use for sorting.

“Blue Boy”
Less than a millimeter in size, this is an Arrenurus parasite that preys on dragonflies, among other things. The dark field technique brought out the color, exoskeletal textures, and internal organs in (to me) a fascinating way. And yes, it is a male…

“Breakfast in Bed”
There was no contest over this one coming in first – the framing couldn’t have been any better, solely from the positions of my two subjects, and in such tight conditions as well. You have to recognize this kind of cooperation.

Yes, it’s dew, and I did nothing but take the shot – some mornings just produce the best effects. If it helps, you can get a sense of scale here.

Lakes, Streams, Waterfalls
“Tiny Scenics”
Not twenty meters from the runner-up, though on a different day. I just liked how the elements came together.

Leaves, Plants, Trees
The last of the dew shots, I promise. But c’mon, can you blame me?

Mammals, Carnivores
“Weeks of Effort”
Yeah, I know, big fat hairy deal and all that. I said I was doing this by category, and this is one of four frames in the Mammals – don’t ask me how I went so long without seeing any. It shouldn’t have been this sharp shooting through a glass door, however.

Reptiles, Amphibians
Another no-contest – does this make up for the squirrel? How about when I say that it’s roughly 14mm long, thus slightly larger than a Japanese beetle, and the smallest frog that I’ve ever seen? That’s not a full leaf that it sits upon, but one that’s just budding out. Another view, and a scale comparison, can be found here.

Scenic, Abstract
You may have just seen this, a last-minute entry. I’m a happy little photographer when I spot things of this nature.

Okay, granted, I’m not little…

Science, Miscellaneous
“Protracted Labor”
This is what aquatic snails look like hatching, and it happens even slower than you imagine. The light angle brought out the details and the iridescence of the eggshells remarkably well. Click here to see a scale pic with my fingertip – the eggs are roughly 0.5 to 0.8 mm across. Click here to see these eggs being laid.

“Down in Front”
Well, of course this image was going to take the category. When the cloud conditions acted as a natural solar filter and brought the sunlight down to just-barely-manageable levels, I was able to capture the transit of Venus against a wonderfully apocalyptic setting, without any special equipment or preparation. A pleasant surprise, since I had no plans to even attempt this.

Sunrise, Sunset
“Holly Gosunlightly” [Okay, I admit that was terrible.]
Another late entry to take the category unopposed, though it beats out a lot of what I’ve shot in previous years as well. I didn’t travel at all this year, even having a few trips crap out, and there just isn’t anything in my immediate area to do with sunrises. The placement of the holly bush against the sun peeking through the trees was almost an accident, but if we have a clear sunrise after a decent snow, you can bet I’ll be out again to redo this shot with snow on the leaves.

And that’s my selection – at the very least, these posts illustrate the variety of subjects that I chase (though word has it I should specialize more.) The goal, of course, is to blow all of these out of the water next year, though I’m presently at a loss as to how you use steroids in photography.

If you’re the kind to celebrate tonight, use a little sense when doing so, but more importantly, try making a resolve to learn something new about our natural world in the coming year. I’ll do what I can to help ;-)