My 2012 Photo Favorites — Happy, Sad, and Everything In Between   8 comments

Last year I complained about the year-end penchant for “best of” lists, and then promptly offered my own 2011 photo favorites.  Without beating that dead horse again, here are my favorites from 2012.  Some are (I believe) strong images.  Others simply conjure up a strong memory — what I like to call “the backstory”.  Thanks once again to all who followed my posts and commented on my photos this year.  May you have the happiest and most blessed of holiday seasons!

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(Above)  For those of us who are Penn State alumni and fans, the year started under a cloud of scandal and daily revelations — each seemingly worse than the last.  The blue & white sky grew darker in January with the passing of Joe Paterno.  I took a day off to go to the memorial service.  The image above is just one of many captured that day.

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(Above)  Between mid-February and early March tens of thousands of waterfowl stop and rest at the Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge each year on their way back to Arctic nesting grounds.  Disappointed in the Snow Geese photos captured one particular February morning, this image of Tundra Swans made the pre-dawn trip worthwhile.

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(Above)  Every Friday between noon and 1 p.m. a street preacher loudly delivers his message from Penn Square in Lancaster City.  Any form of communication needs both a sender and a receiver.  Capturing both in a single shot made this image a keeper.

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(Above)  I love to photograph kids because they in turn love to have their pictures taken.  This little girl was part of a large crowd at Central Market on an unusually warm March day.  She was content to lick her lollipop and watch me take photos from about 30 feet away.  She never flinched when I pointed the camera her way.

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(Above)  In April, Melanie asked me what I wanted to do on my birthday.  I chose to visit Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  An exceptional place for photographers or anyone interested in historical sites, we spent an entire afternoon there while I easily took over 300 photos.  I’m already anxious to go back next year.  This is a view of a dilapidated wing of the prison.  Each door represents a cell where a single inmate was housed.  The solitary existence encouraged repentance  of sinful ways, or so thought the Quaker-influenced administrators.

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(Above)  A peak into one of the solitary cells at Eastern State Penitentiary.

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(Above)  In May friends of ours asked me to volunteer my photography skills for a fundraiser to benefit Rafiki Africa.  I spent much of the time photographing the 5K race and awards ceremony.  In between official duties, however, I took advantage of the time to photograph these young dancers.

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(Above)  As I mentioned earlier, children tend to like to be photographed.  This young man certainly did.

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(Above)  May was also a good month for the music scene in Lancaster.  This image was captured on Music Friday.  I spent a good deal of time on my computer bringing out the ornate detail on this saxophone.  Melanie liked it well enough to have a gallery print made and it now hangs in our living room.

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(Above)  Earlier in the same evening of the saxophone photograph I was enjoying the guitar riffs by this guy.  These are five sequential shots captured within a span of ten to fifteen seconds.  I call it The Agony & The Ecstasy of a Lead Guitar Player.

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(Above)  For whatever reason, June and July were photographically barren months for me.  I managed to grab some decent shots of daylilies outside of a local church.

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(Above)  I broke out of the summer photography drought to the tune of 1,655 photos in August, thanks almost entirely to a twenty-day trip to Alaska.  This was a learning trip through a wonderful non-profit organization called New Community Project.  It was a no-frills and physically demanding trip.  (I loved it).  The trip started out touring Kenai Fjords National Park via boat.  The Alaskan coastline is spectacular.

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(Above)  And the sea life was equally spectacular, as well as a bit noisy.

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(Above)  The second leg of our trip to Denali National Park turned out to be equally beautiful.  We got out and hiked a lot.  My recommendation?  Get off the tour buses and off the deck chairs and get close to the land.  You’ll never regret it . . . as long as you stay far away from the grizzlies.

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(Above)  Another mountain shot from Denali National Park.  I love when there are small breaks in the clouds that provide spotlighting like this.

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(Above)  Vistas in Denali are awe-inspiring, but there is beauty underfoot too.  These grasses covered with early morning dew were too good for any photographer to pass up.

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(Above)  But the real reason most people travel to Denali is for the wildlife, whether it be ground squirrels near a river bed . . .

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(Above) . . .or Dall Sheep on a mountain top.  I love this photo as a stand alone image, but it is even more meaningful to me considering that we hiked about four miles (much of it uphill) to get to this location.

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(Above)  The third leg of our trip — and by far the most unusual and rewarding — was to a native Alaskan village above the Arctic Circle, called Arctic Village.  The people who live there and who hosted us are called the Gwich’in.  They live in the single most remote location in the western hemisphere, a 300 mile flight from Fairbanks, with the nearest road 150 miles away.  The land is ruggedly beautiful; the weather ranges from comfortable in the summer to brutal in the winter.  Our hosts were Charlie and Marion Swaney.  This is the view from their front porch in August.

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(Above)  And this is the view from the banks of the nearby Chandalar River.  The land you see across the river is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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(Above)  This is Charlie Swaney, our host.  An outdoorsman supreme, advocate for the Gwich’in way of life, and all around great guy.  Charlie welcomed us into his home (or in Melanie’s and my case gave us a nice piece of tundra to pitch our tent on) and he taught us more than I ever thought I’d know about the caribou herds on which his people depend.

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(Above)  This is Marion Swaney.  Charlie’s wife, camp boss, and our host too.  She has lived in Arctic Village her entire life, along with approximately 140 other Gwich’in.

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(Above)  This is Charlie’s grandson, Little Charlie.  He only stopped by for a few minutes, but once again showed a child’s interest in my camera.

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(Above)  And this is Derek, Charlie and Marion’s nieces child.  Derek was a constant at the Swaney home and came along with us to the hunting camp.  He was my little buddy for much of our stay there, and I somehow found myself giving him lots of piggy-back rides whenever we hiked uphill.  Derek was a big part of the reason that I lost 8 pounds in twenty days despite eating a high calorie diet!

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(Above)  Speaking of hunting camp . . . this was the view when we got there.

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(Above)  And this was the view when the sun was setting around midnight.  Those mountains are part of the Brooks Range in the Wildlife Refuge.

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(Above)  One of the highlights of our arctic trip was when we did a fairly long, arduous hike into ANWR and up the side of a mountain.  Here you see Melanie taking in the view with her camera.  The day was also a highlight for Charlie because he spotted a small group of 25 or so caribou on a neighboring ridge — the first caribou sighting of the season.  Caribou mean sustenance to Charlie’s people.

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(Above)  The arctic is a land of water, spruce, mountains, and vastness.  It is not a place for novices to walk around without a guide.  We were all happy to stay with Charlie, even if keeping his pace was exhausting.

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(Above)  One of the surprises in Arctic Village was meeting this young lady, a college intern from New York named Madeleine.  She was an assistant to Sarah James, an activist village elder.  This photo was taken inside a historical Episcopal Church on a chilly August day.

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(Above)  By September we had returned to the lower 48 and I was wandering around Lancaster City once again.  Turning the corner onto Prince Street I spotted this meditating woman near the upscale Prince Street Cafe.  The juxtaposition between the meditator and the khaki-and-blazer cafe patron (who I believe is actually one of our county’s commissioners) was too good to pass up.

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(Above)  On that same day I was sitting and listening to this man play his native flutes outside of Central Market.  When this young girl and her family (out of view) stopped to listen too, the image was obvious.  Sometimes you just sit there and the photos come to you.

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(Above)  Later in September — at another Music Friday event — I ran across this young woman named Ali Taylor.  She has a big time voice and a fledgling music career.  You can hear a song or two here.

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(Above)  The same evening I photographed Ali, this band was playing on the main stage.  I never saw “the eye” inside the trumpet until I downloaded the photos later.  Serendipity.

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(Above)  In October we drove across Pennsylvania to Erie to visit a friend.  We took a few extra hours to visit a state park and see the great lake.  The cloudy conditions actually made the foliage “pop” in this photo.

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(Above)  And of course Melanie had scoped out all the lighthouses on the shores of Lake Erie.  So here is a nod to my wife and her love of lighthouses.

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(Above)  The last “keeper” of the year came at the end of October, in our own backyard.  Although the color version is nice too, I find that the form of the flower and the background fence boards work better in black and white.

So there you have it, three dozen of my favorites from 2012.  I hope you have enjoyed them too.  Thanks for looking!  Peace out.

Posted December 20, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

8 responses to “My 2012 Photo Favorites — Happy, Sad, and Everything In Between

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  1. WOW Awesome Photos Bruce…now if I only knew what juxtaposition or something like that…Fantastic Job!!

  2. Bruce–sitting here with my coffee on this “end of the world” day enjoying you “best of 2012”. What an incredible journey I had through your lens.

    • Thanks, Bobbie! Speaking of the end of the world, I’m part of a photography group that is doing a world-wide “end of the world” photo day. I’m somehow going to have to find an image on the crappy weather day here in Lancaster. Off to Central Market, I guess!

  3. Thanks for the memories!

  4. very beautiful, Bruce! I enjoyed the photos and the captions for each one. I wish you another great year of photography.

    • Thanks so much, Wendy! I don’t know how I missed your post for so long, but thanks for the good wishes. I hope you have a great year too. Maybe we’ll make it down to Charlottesville in 2013 and get a chance to visit.

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