BEST PHOTOS of 2019
By Team Think Orange
Every year, it’s a tradition to look back at all that you’ve accomplished, to take stock of your achievements, and to remember your adventures with fondness. And 2019, the last year of the decade, is no different. Here at Photo Workshop Adventures, our team of international photographers, had a lot of work to sift through, but sift they did! Each of our tour leaders has gone through their catalogue of images from 2019 trips, and offer their favourite photo of the year. Enjoy!
People-watching and exploring the world around her. That’s exactly what this curious young Indian girl was doing as her train pulled into the Jodhpur railway station. I love trains in India and the stories I find on them.
Street photography is always a challenge. In a foreign country you must understand and respect the various cultures, religions and personalities of people you don’t even know. Photographing train riders is unique because they represent a naturally captive audience. I have found that almost always, people on trains are receptive to me taking their photo. They very often enjoy the moment.
I took that photo this year in Dubrovnik, actually above the city from one viewpoint. The viewpoint is a concrete construction above an electric power station, so it’s not a regular viewpoint where someone would typically stop.
After a long day of shooting, I stopped with my guests here, as we saw beautiful pink clouds on the horizon, and great lights on the city. But when we set up our equipment, I realized that I didn’t bring my tripod. We hadn’t planned to stay and shoot in the late afternoon above the city, but since we encountered such great scenery on the way back from the city of Cavtat, we had to stop and shoot. These kind of shots you can’t leave behind.
So with no tripod, I found a fence where I can set up my gear and shoot with some stability, and I showed everyone in group how to do the same and we started to shooting. Car lights in both ways created beautiful light strips which I immediately liked and this is final result.
Fujifilm X-T3, Fujinon XF16-55, ISO80, f6.5, 20sec
On our journey between the High Atlas Mountains and the Dades Valley in Morocco, we stopped for a break to stretch our legs in the Todgha Gorge. Walking through the gorge, I spotted this Berber girl helping her mother load water onto their donkey. Her curiosity brought her closer, and I captured this shot from an elevated position before she walked off with her donkey.
The lens used was a Tair 135mm f2.8. Around 40 years old, and weighing 700g, this Russian lens can yield exquisite out of focus elements due to its 20 aperture blades. The Fujifilm XH-1 was purchased specifically for this lens to make use of the camera’s built-in stabilization, and larger grip.
Ian Robert Knight
Throughout Asia, it’s common for ageing grandparents to look after their children’s children, while the parents are at work during the day. With little or no social safety net, most people need to be looked after, both physically and financially, after they can no longer work for a living. It’s a trade off, in a way. The young children are looked after by someone they know, and the adults are able to work away from the home, knowing their kids are cared for by someone they trust.
This graceful senior, belonging to the Hmong tribe that lives in Tauser, central Laos, was shy at first. When I spotted her in the shadows of a home I was invited into, she slowly emerged. I think she was nervous, since foreigners seldom visit her village, high up on a mountain, deep in the Laos jungle. It wasn’t until she came into the light, did I notice that she was carrying her sleepy grandchild on her back.
A month or so later, I returned to her village. I brought a printed version of this photo to give to her. I don’t think she’d ever been photographed before, in her 80+ years. She was happy, while still a little confused why I wanted to photograph her. But her face and shy demeanor was enough for me.
Fujifilm X-T2, 18-55 at 31.5mm, f4, at 1/80 sec
Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering on earth, and attending Kumbh was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Hindus from all over the world came to Kumbh in Prayagraj, hoping to attain spiritual clarity and wash away their sins by bathing at the Treveni Sangam. It is here, Hindus believe, that one of the four drops of ambrosia fell from heaven. That, and being situated at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati river, make Prayag among the holiest of cities for Hindus. Devotees believe performing the bathing ritual here will allow them to attain moksha, freeing them from the cycle of rebirth.
Here, you can see the Naga Sadhus lining up before their procession to the Royal Bath. It was still a few hours before dawn on February 4th, and I was having difficulty getting a shot that conveyed the chaos and mood. It was crowded and smokey and dark and I was getting jostled around from every direction. I finally waded right into the middle of the procession and managed this image. It’s not a technically great shot but I felt like this one did mange to capture the frenetic mood. By the time the holy men made it to their designated bathing spot at Sangam Nose, I was just one of millions in attendance to witness the sacred event. An item checked off my personal bucket list, made even more special because I was able to share the experience with my family.
Attilio Di Giangiacomo
To take this picture, I have waited over 2 years for it to finally work exactly as I wanted. It took a long time to happen, because is not easy to get perfect timing, and have the fog on the bottom and on the top of the farm. The picture is formed by two shots one for the light of the sun and one for the farm and the fog because the shadows and the lights was very different.
This is a photo that is important to me in more ways than one. Firstly, the way it was captured is very much the definition of successful wildlife photography where patience and perseverance often is the key. I was in the Kalahari desert for 4 weeks in 2017 without getting a single decent shot of a Caracal after many days of searching. Then 1.5 years later, I was back looking for this beautiful cat. After a lot of scouting and scanning the landscape I managed to get a glimpse through some of the road side bushes and there it was.
Secondly, it is not a cat that many people have seen at all. Not because they are particularly rare but rather due to the simple fact that they are notoriously hard to find due to their behaviour and the habitat they live in.
Thirdly, even if one has seen this cat in the wild it is not the easiest to photograph. It often moves in the thickest of bushes and during dusk or dawn with very little light. Photographing this cat in my own photographic style was a pure privilege.
This magical place is the Bachalpsee in Switzerland, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came to the lake at night. I never have seen a lake so calm, that I had such a perfect mirror of the Milky Way! I knew for sure that I had to hurry up to take my photo, as every little bit of wind could destroy that magic.
Luckily, I took 8 photos before the wind arrived, and then I stacked them to reduce noise. But nature had even more surprises for me this night. As I was concentrated at my camera, and although I didn’t notice him at first, but when I turned around, a little fox was just standing 1m away from me, very curious what I was doing. What a great night company!
The EXIF of all 8 photos are: Sony A7III, Laowa 15mm, f2, ISO 6400, 30s
On the shores of Botany Bay, near Charleston, South Carolina, driftwood maroons onto the sand, rising tall above the coast. With its spectacular trunks and twisting limbs, these trees culminate in a whimsical landscape, assisted by the silhouettes and shadows made by the rising sun.
Nikon D7000, 12-24mm, 1/1000, f16
The wise say: the best camera you own is the one you have with you. I was waiting for my ride in one of the most unattractive Mexican cities, León, one hour’s flight northwest of Mexico City. I was lamenting over the lack of notable scenes or landscapes or whatever the local flavor is supposed to be, when the reflection of the Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz in a medical supply store window hit me. The white building on the other side of the street lined up perfectly with the top of the shelving system inside the shop, making the cathedral’s domes and towers appear as if they were inside as well.
When someone asks me which camera brand is the best, I always resist talking shop at first. You create pictures in your mind, with your eyes, your brain, your heart. The taking of the picture itself is only a technical step, one we are sometimes successful at, sometimes not, and with the only silent intention to try to share with others what we saw, what amazed us or touched us. We want to share our eyes, our brain, our heart.
This isn’t the best photo I took in 2019, but it’s one that stays with me. It’s full of stories, from religion to death, and their processes. It was taken with an iPhone XR, and roughly edited with Snapseed.
While on our Arizona adventure in September 2019, we were touring and photographing the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. From the observation deck, you can see many of the beautiful red rock monuments. A thunderstorm was moving across the landscape with a rain squall and lightening. I put my camera on high speed shooting, steadied my camera against my body and began shooting in hopes of capturing the lightening. I took over 100 images and, by luck, captured one lightening strike. The contrast of the bright red rock lit by the sun peaking through the clouds and the rain pocket in the gap made this photo for me. The dramatic skies and warm sun glowing against the lit clouds next to the storm clouds makes this shot one of my favorites of the year.
Nikon D850, 35mm, 1/250, f11, handheld
Theyyam is a ritual art form so ancient, it predates Hinduism (500 BCE), though it has since adapted to include Hindu elements. It’s believed to be thousands of years old, from a time when tribal animism was a common form of worship.
It’s some of the best face painting art I have seen. Unbelievably beautiful. Ritualistic art with lots of trance and belief. The ritual has only just begun. Stay tuned.
Canon 7D Mark II, 35 mm, f2.2, 1/250
The photo was shot in the route towards El Chalten, in Patagonia. I knew that the route had several curves, and specially one or two “S” shaped ones, which I thought it was going to be great for a twilight shot, using car light trails. The problem here is that there are not many cars on this road, and the few ones that you see are not very modern ones, so the rear red lights are not intense enough for a good trail.
The group I was leading all set up on the side of the road, while the sunset was finishing. We decided to use the longest shutter speed we could, so we could have the car light traces all along the two curves. It is something like 30 seconds. So we used the lowest ISO we could (50-100) and the smallest aperture, at F22 or so.
The light was decreasing in intensity until the exposure was perfect. There were still some orange rays of sun hitting the Fitz Roy Mt., and we needed to do the photos before the light vanished. Luckily, at the last moment, we had 3 cars passing by us, separated enough from each other so we could try 2 or 3 shots. After that, it would be too late. And fortunately, the last car had strong rear lights, so the drawing in the frame was stronger too. The light was less intense by then, so we could use a smaller F number, so the lights from the cars were stronger in the photograph. There was no time for ND filters. This was the final shot.
The photo settings are: f14, 30 seconds, ISO 100, Canon 6D, with 24-105 lens at 73mm
Xaman, Chichicatenango Guatemala.
An experience within the Mayan world. Taken during a private PWA tour to Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan world. The mysticism lived that day, and the spiritual intensity of the ceremony, made this image a special memory.
Canon EOS 5DS-R, 27mm, f5.6, ¼ sec
“Sleeping Under Moonlight”
The primary mountain formation in Grand Teton National Park is the Teton Range. But if you turn around to the east you will be looking at the Gros Ventre range. While not as majestic as the Tetons, the Gros Ventre has some very interesting formations, one of which is knows as Sleeping Indian. It depicts an Indian chief, lying on his back with arms folded across his chest, looking toward the heavens. As this afternoon progressed, the sky was a deep blue with storm clouds coming in from the north.
I started driving, looking for a location that would enable me to capture Sleeping Indian with the clouds and the moon. The problem was that to get the moon as large as I wanted, I’d have to shoot the frame at at least 200mm on my full frame Nikon D850. I ended up about 6 miles away from Sleeping Indian near a clearing that you can see in the foreground.
In the old film days I would have shot this with an orange or red filter to darken that deep blue sky, but now we can simulate those effects digitally which I did when I post processed this image in Lightroom and NIK Silver Efex.
This was a sunset image taken in May on the PWA trip to Arizona. On this leg of our trip we arrived midday to get the sun inside the deep Horseshoe Canyon to avoid the shadows that would have “dulled” the canyon walls.
We were successful earlier and after looking at my Photopills app, I noticed that the sun would be setting directly behind the canyon and hopefully we would be able to get that as well later in the day. We returned about an hour before sunset and the sky was overcast and not promising at all. The clients were letting me know that this may be waste of our time. I was keeping a close eye and I noticed the clouds clearing in the distance and also noticed the wind direction was blowing them away from the horizon and the sun. Sure enough, the sky cleared and gave up the perfect amount of clouds and sun to produce a sunburst sunset lighting up the canyon walls, this time in golden rays of sunshine.
Fujifilm X-T3, 8mm, f22, ⅛ sec
In the western part of Ireland is located the region of Connemara, and here the landscape is majestic. Generally the weather is clear and the clouds move very fast. The light is constantly changing and sometimes we have to wait for long time until we have the right light.
For this photo I used an ND16 filter to capture the movement of the clouds. Also the long exposure allowed me to capture the movement of the water in Derryclare Lough.
Canon EOS 7D MII, 25 sec