Favorite Photographs of 2016

January 2nd, 2017 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

David Leland Hyde’s Personal Favorite Photographs of 2016

Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries Blog first started this group photoblog project in 2007. The blog project has run every year since. I have participated each year since 2010. The concept is simple: each photography blogger who wants to take part, near the end of each year, puts together his or her “best” or “favorite” photographs from that year. Once each respective photoblogger posts a blog post of his best photographs of the year, he then fills out a small form on Jim Goldstein’s blog. After a certain date, Jim then makes another blog post containing a list of all of the “best of the year” blog posts along with a link to each of them.

During the year 2016, while I concentrated on writing and other projects, I made fewer exposures than in any other year since 2009 when I switched to digital. I made about 10 percent or less of the number of images I made in 2015. Not only did I photograph less often, I made far fewer images each time I went out. Still, I discovered that not only did the overall quality go up, I made a much higher ratio of portfolio worthy or near portfolio worthy images than ever before when I was less selective. My hard drives and extra disk spaces are thanking me. It is satisfying and confidence building to know you do no have to make hoards of images to “get the shot,” or to make meaningful photographs, whichever of the two you prefer.

The below photographs are all single-exposure, no bracketing, no HDR, no blends. I am not against these processes per se, but I find I do my strongest work without them. Particularly when photographing people, in the field I work intuitively, more often quite slowly with faster lurches when necessary. My nature images come from a deeper, tranquil place, both outside and within, but even with landscape photography, I like a less-perfected, rougher and quicker approach to post-processing. I do bracket for exposure, but rarely end up using the resulting files in combination. I often find a single image within the bracket works just as well in much less time, or I end up using a different photograph.

I replace the traditional film darkroom methods of dodging and burning, that is, lightening and darkening certain areas, by using Photoshop for post-processing. I control contrast, shadow and highlight intensity with Photoshop levels, curves and a hopefully tasteful limited application of vibrance and saturation. In this way, I use the tools of the digital darkroom for similar purposes as film photographers use traditional post-processing. However, I generally have much more control over all areas of the image and the resulting archival chromogenic and digital prints than even the old large format masters like my father, conservation photography pioneer Philip Hyde. For more information about each image and to see them even larger visit my new website: Hyde Fine Art at http://www.hydefineart.com/ . Not all of these “Sweet 16 for 2016” photographs are up on the site yet, but they all will be soon.

Mt. Lassen From California Highway 89, Winter by David Leland Hyde. I have always wanted to make a photograph from this spot, but this was the first time I could get up there after a fresh snow and under the right conditions for a decent image. I was on my way to a meeting and stopping to make a few exposures made me late, but it was a “now or never” situation.

Fall on Spanish Creek Near Quincy, California by David Leland Hyde. I love roaming Spanish Creek and Indian Creek with or without camera in the autumn of the year. Fall in Plumas County in the headwaters of the Feather River is like no other place on Earth. Certainly there are no other “California rivers” quite like Spanish and Indian. As much as I love it, my life is usually in high gear coming out of the summer and I often miss the peak Indian Rhubarb moment, which lasts just a few days and varies as much as a week or two on arrival each year. This year I caught it a little past the peak, but the bright colors were still going strong and worked well with the dogwoods, willows and alders that were already turning. This year more than others, everything seemed to peak at different times, so this idyllic blue sky day on tranquil Spanish Creek represented the happiest medium possible. If there was ever a place to get lost in time and drift away to another world, this was it and will hopefully long be it. It has changed little since the days of the California Gold Rush.

Empowered at the Waterfall on Ward Creek, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde. One of my best friends I grew up with and two of his boys and a friend of theirs went on a secret hike near my home. I say “secret” because it is on gated, fenced private property that nobody else can enter, unless you know the owner. We hiked past a spooky old falling down mine we used to visit as kids to the waterfall on Ward Creek, a tributary of Indian Creek. I photographed the group standing in front of the waterfall, the waterfall by itself and the boys in various poses and clowning around. At one point Landon stepped up onto that rock in the center and made a pose facing the camera, then turned and faced the waterfall. Though the falls were so loud in the narrow gorge that none of us could hear each other, Landon clearly had a feeling come over him as he faced the falls. His pose here was the spontaneous result.

Yoga-Like Poses, Bonneville Salt Flats, Great Salt Lake, Utah by David Leland Hyde. Towing a U-Haul trailer loaded to the gills with fire safes and stuff from Colorado to Northern California, I stopped for a much needed rest from the road at this rest stop on Interstate 80. At first I had my camera on my tripod photographing the salt flats and the distant mountains. However, I soon got more interested in the people who kept walking out on the jagged rough salt and making all sorts of stretching and other strange motions. This group was off to the far side, but started doing exercises like pilates or yoga. I panned back and forth making a series of images of the various tourists against the white lake bottom background.

Wild Mustangs, Hazy Morning, Tall Grass, Central Wyoming Open Range II by David Leland Hyde. Somewhere in Central Wyoming this herd of wild horses grazed peacefully along the freeway. I stopped and walked back toward them with camera off my tripod and ready for action photographs. At first they were skittish and ran a little ways away, but slowly and seemingly curious, they came back toward me as I waited in silence. I made my best attempt at horse whispering to get them to walk toward me. After a little time went by, they were playful in front of the camera and acted as though they were familiar with being photographed. I was able to make some exposures of them walking, standing, grazing and on the run. Thank you Wyoming and my new four-legged friends. This was a special gift because throughout my summer 2015 17-state, 10,000 mile trip to the Midwest photographing farms, I came back with only a few photographs of horses. Though these Wyoming wild mustangs’ coats were a little scrappy and their tails had burrs, they were big and lean and more muscular than most domestic animals.

Storm Surf, Point Pinos, Pacific Grove, Monterey County, California Beaches by David Leland Hyde. With only an afternoon left in Monterey, a local large format photographer recommended I check out Point Pinos. The surf turned out to be larger than usual, which made for a number of interesting frames.

Fall Alders, Indian Creek and Grizzly Peak From the Taylorsville Bridge by David Leland Hyde. One afternoon coming home from Quincy and having photographed fall color on Spanish and Indian Creek most of the afternoon, as I crossed the Taylorsville Bridge, I saw what could be a keeper image. This is probably one of the most, if not the most photographed place in Indian Valley. My father made a number of large format photographs here in different seasons, going back as far as the early 1950s. If I was going to stop, it had to be good. I still would like to get a lot of snow on the mountain with fall color sometime, but the timing here turned out well with the interesting light and shadow in the middle distance and the lines and shapes that echo from the foreground beaver dam, beach and reflection to the distance.

Fields of Flowers With California Poppies, Mokelumne River Near Jackson, California, Sierra Nevada Foothills by David Leland Hyde. Though my father was crazy for photographing wildflowers, I have not been big on it so far, though flower photography is growing on me. This year a photographer friend in Jackson who helped me scan some of Dad’s collection, also showed me the wildflower mother lode near town. People say this type of photograph makes good wallpaper or large wall decor. Maybe this could even work for a matted and framed fine art photography presentation as well…

Olsen Barn and Meadow, Evening Sierra Mist, Winter, Lake Almanor, Chester, California by David Leland Hyde. This photograph has special meaning to me because I am a member of the Stewardship-Management Group for this Feather River Land Trust property. I made this photograph as a plume of smoke or Sierra mist came in low across the meadow just after a cloudy sunset several hours after a meeting of our committee at the barn. I made several images over the space of about 10 minutes and suddenly the mist or smoke was gone.

Wall Murals, Detour Sign, Carpet Warehouse, Oakland, California by David Leland Hyde. One morning driving out of Alameda I saw this wall mural on a carpet store and had to stop because of the vivid colors. I made quite a few exposures of details and from different angles, but this one stood out most. I wonder if a certain photographer friend who lives in Alameda has photographed this store…?

Fund Raising, Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood, San Francisco, California by David Leland Hyde. I love street photography. Here I just roamed up and down the Haight and surrounding streets at night with camera hand-held, photographing whatever I liked. This young hippie couple had obviously just eaten. He was reading the Bible and she was rocking the electric guitar… and I do mean rocking. She started out very slow with acoustic-like finger picking and gradually built up energy until she was standing up and blasting the neighborhood with her bell-clear voice and grungy bar chords. What a great smile too. All the time I was connecting with her and making a lot of photographs, her companion hardly moved, but just kept his head down reading away.

Hippie With Coffee and Phone, Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood, San Francisco, California by David Leland Hyde. This man had a warm smile and agreed right away to let me make his photograph. What a scene with the cafe windows, colors, coffee, red chairs, his backpack and the gray, spot stained sidewalk. I wish I had talked to him more. He seemed as though he had great tales to tell, like a Hobbit, Elf or some other traveler from distant lands.

Sunset Clouds, Carmel Mission a.k.a. Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California by David Leland Hyde. This trip I arrived at the Carmel Mission less than half an hour before closing. By the time I got in, made a donation and started photographing I had 15 minutes to catch what I could of the Basilica interior and grounds of the Mission. I thought to myself that I could chose to get stressed out, cry, moan, complain, swear a lot, leave without trying or think of it as an exercise. Ok, 15 minutes, go… I was off. I made quick decisions, photographed the key subjects and most important angles. Surprisingly enough, all of my images were strong with few throwaway frames between. All in all a good exercise. Try it sometime. It is important to note that this approach is the exact opposite of what I typically use or recommend. However, mixing it up now and then, shaking up the routine, breaking all rules, including your own, builds not only photographic skills, but character and a sense of humor as well.

Sunset, Barn Skeleton and Playground Equipment, San Mateo County Coast, California by David Leland Hyde. I saw this rundown barn silhouetted against the setting sun, but there was no place to stop or turn around. I had to jog back over half a mile while the sunset was in motion. Still, all turned out ok. I even made it further down the coast to San Gregorio for more photographs before daylight faded all the way to night. Anyone who believes online jpegs do photographs justice compared to prints is probably looking through the wrong end of the kaleidoscope of history, or at the very least the distorted viewpoint of a throwaway device. Possibly they are being fooled by new screen technology on a computer with a perpetually outdated updating agenda.

Twilight, San Gregorio State Beach and Lagoon, San Gregorio, California by David Leland Hyde. I arrived at San Gregorio Beach with little more light than an orange glow on the horizon. I kept going for longer and longer exposures as I photographed the beach and lagoon from different angles into complete darkness. The people on the beach were the biggest challenge and asset to the images. I tried to catch them while standing still, but some exposures show them in motion on the whole spectrum from slightly blurry to transparent ghost figures.

“You Are Beautiful,” Central Wyoming by David Leland Hyde. Somewhere in Central Wyoming off Interstate 80 there is a lonely service exit with some road building materials and a good wide gravel area to park for a nap when tired on a long drive. I slept for a few hours from around 4:00 am to daybreak. I photographed the sunrise over a corrugated shed and saw this scene behind my van just before getting back on the road. It reminded me of the beautiful cinematography and hand-held imagery of a plastic bag blowing in the wind in the film American Beauty. To me this scene contains warmth in coolness, humanity in loneliness and beauty in the mundane. It is a reminder to find beauty in yourself and in even the most plain or “ugly” of places. Ugly is only in the eye of the judge. It is not “real” in any sense, except that given to it.





























Blog Project Posts From Years Past:

My Favorite Photographs of 2015

Best Photographs of 2014

Best Photographs of 2013

My 12 “Greatest Hits” of 2012

Best Photos of 2011

My Favorite Photos of 2010



  1. A great collection of images. David. My favorites are the barn with the perfect little bit of ground mist, and the ‘beautiful’ image from Wyoming. That really is a great and compelling shot.

    Wishing you the very best for 2017. Cheers!

  2. Gary, I appreciate your perspective. Very glad to hear you like “You Are Beautiful.” I was wondering if it would strike a chord for anyone or not. Hope you have an excellent 2017 and that it brings you what you want and need including satisfying photographs and prosperity.

  3. Richard says:

    Great selection of images David! As for the mural, if that’s where I think it is that’s technically in Oakland. Haven’t shot it but driven by many times.

  4. Thanks, Richard. You probably drive by the mural regularly as it is just past downtown Alameda going back toward the freeways. Too bad if that’s Oakland, as I don’t have any photographs of Alameda and I do of Oakland, though not many. That morning I hung out at Starbucks in Alameda for a bit checking email and social mania (not a typo). I sort of ran out of time and was thinking I would come back to photograph Alameda more some other time, but couldn’t resist stopping when I came to that mural.

  5. Richard Wong says:

    Next time you’re in town I could show you around some. Maybe shoot the historic theatre at night, and go to the Navy Base.

  6. Thanks, Richard. That would be really cool. It seemed like a very likeable city that I am not yet familiar with at all.

  7. Really nice and diverse set of images, David. I appreciate your street photography images, because I haven’t ever either (a) been good at them, or (b) felt I had the personality to be a good street photographer. Yet, at the same time, I feel really compelled by it, so maybe I should give it a shot.

    Like Gary, I really enjoyed the barn and fog image–the colors are great, and it’s a simple, very moving photograph. And I really like graffiti like you found in Wyoming.

    Anyway, best wishes for a new year, and congrats on a successful 2016! Hopefully, sometime in 2017, our paths will finally cross!

    Take care,

  8. Hi Greg, glad to have your input here on my images. I had a really hard time doing street photography at first. It was hard to approach people and ask to make their photograph. I was nervous and uncomfortable and it rubbed off on my subjects. However, with time, I have gotten better and now have much more fun striking up conversations and asking for permissions. I don’t ask for releases or anything for street photography. We’re all in the public domain, so if they say yes, that’s all I need… just as the street photography tradition has worked forever. Recently in The Haight, I photographed a group of characters across the street. One scruffy man crossed the street, aggressively approached me and suggested I needed to ask to make his photograph. I said, “You’re right. It is a nice courtesy that I try to do whenever possible, but you are in the public domain and I am as well and I have no legal obligation to ask you. It is a courtesy.” He tried to say some other intimidating baloney, but I was just firm, non-antagonistic and stood my ground. That was the only time in seven years of doing street photography that I have ever had any problem. Everyone else that night was very friendly and said yes right away. Nearly everyone loves to get their photo taken if approached in the right way. Try it out, Greg. You will suck at it at first, but you will improve with time. If you want, we can hit the streets together when I come down there this early Spring. It is usually much better to do street photography with a buddy, but I do it alone more often. I too hope you have a prosperous and rewarding new year…

  9. Peter Tellone says:

    Nicely done David and some good words especially about not shooting as much. Not always a bad thing. And for me it was a good thing when I slowed down and shot less.
    I agree with Gary, The Olsen Barn was my Favorite.
    Have a great 2017!

  10. Hi Peter, Thank you for reading and sharing your favorite, which is helpful. I believe many photographers find when they make fewer images, the overall ratio of high quality images goes up. Dad used to talk about it with other photographers from time to time. He despised what he called the “machine gun” approach to photography. He had an advantage because he started out making a lot of throwaway images in the High Sierra in his teens and early 20s. By the time he arrived at photography school with Ansel Adams, Minor White, Edward Weston, et al, he was ready to pick up the view camera and be more selective. Some decreases in production volume come with maturity in photography and some depend on camera size. However, I have seen some of the most seasoned full-time pros today making thousands of images a day for many days in a row. My wish to decrease has evolved out of having a very full life and being tired of having loads and loads of mediocre to almost portfolio worthy unprocessed raw files to slog through and maneuver around between hard drives.

  11. Mark says:

    I really love the stories in these photographs David, even without the captions telling more of the detail.

  12. Thank you, Mark. Glad you feel the stories are inherent in the images themselves. The captions are just to add flavor and spice.

  13. Rachel Cohen says:

    Beautiful selection of images David! I really like the storm surf, the barn with fog, and the fall alders! Have a wonderful 2017!

  14. Oh cool, Rachel, I’m happy you like Storm Surf. I was wondering how people might receive that one. Best wishes for 2017 yourself.

  15. You bet, David! Shoot me an email or give me a call when you’re down this way.

    Take care,

  16. Great year end collection David. Always a pleasure to see your year end photos and really appreciate your participation in this years Best Photos of the Year blog project. I hope you have a great 2017!
    PS glad the hippie you caught in frame wasn’t me 😛

  17. Thanks again for putting this all together, Jim. I know it takes much effort on your part. If I spot you in the Haight with your tie dye on and you get in front of my camera, you can bet I will press the shutter release. Other than that, you seem to do a great job making images of yourself and your kids. I wish you a successful new year…

  18. Kevin Ebi says:

    I absolutely love the Spanish Creek image. The colors, the lines… great capture! Point Pinos is one of my favorite parts of the coast. You caught some great wave action. I hope you have a great 2017!

  19. Your comment is much appreciated, Kevin, as are the kind words. Monterey has a lot to offer photographically. Maybe that’s why so many great photographers have congregated there to live over the years. I’m surprised I never made it out to Point Pinos before, at least to photograph. I know I’ve driven by it a number of times over the years, but never thought to make a point of photographing it. It was an exciting day there when I did. There were great ocean shore and people photography opportunities there too.

  20. A wonderful collection of images from last year! All the best to you in your travels this year!

  21. Thanks, Patricia. Best to you this year too…

  22. Russ Bishop says:

    You certainly had another visually inspiring year, David! Love the variety in your collection. The Spanish Creek and the Olsen Barn images are my favorites.

    Wishing you continued success and growth in your photography in the year ahead!


  23. Glad to hear your favorites and your compliments, Russ. Coming from a dedicated, diverse photographer like you, it makes me very happy. Hope you have a great 2017 as well!

  24. Hugh Sakols says:

    You are beautiful! I like this industrial landscape. I look for it now in the central valley.
    Your fall reflections are wonderful and give a splash of color.
    The barn is mysterious and the fog makes it.
    Having gone to a number of Grateful Dead shows in the 1980’s, I was fascinated with your Haight Ashbury photos. You should check out Glenn Denny’s – Yosemite in the 1960’s

    Let’s all start photographing our natural landscapes before they disappear.

Leave a Reply