14mm blue hour photo of boat dock and calm, reflective water.

Best Photographs of 2018

Sunset photo over frozen Barnegat Bay in Harvey Cedars, NJ.
Sand to Snow — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/15

Sand to Snow | Captured: January 5, 2018 | Location: Harvey Cedars Sunset Park, Harvey Cedars, New Jersey

2018 began a proper tundra. Far flung neighbors from the northern reaches of Manitoba may have felt right at home staring out over the southwestern shores of Hudson Bay. I was about as cold as I can remember making this photograph and striking arctic vista aside, my primary takeaway from this venture into the meat locker was of my contact lenses freezing over. Rapid blinking and jumping jacks were essential in getting me through this forty-five minute freeze along the shores of Barnegat Bay. Photo-wise, things were looking great to start out 2018.

Soft focus 35mm photograph of spirea blossoms and bokeh.
In and Out — 35mm | f/1.4 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/2000

In and Out | Captured: May 11, 2018 | Location: Ocean Acres, New Jersey

Yeah, that’s right, a big jump from January to May. Not much doing over the winter so we are skipping right to spring flowers. Here we have a photograph I made of my front yard spirea bush. Compositionally, I am drawn to the interplay of soft focus, shallow depth of field, and the working of the post and rail wood fence set against the delicate blossoms. This macro photograph is a reminder of my roots—cutting my teeth in 2012, shooting flowers as I was learning my way about a camera.

High key macro photo of a peony flower surrounded by bokeh.
Prime Peony — 100mm | f/4 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/320

Prime Peony | Captured: May 26, 2018 | Location: Ocean Acres, New Jersey

Straightforward approach with this photograph. Center weight macro of a fresh bloomed peony in all its pastel pink petal glory. Soft focus and simplicity work very well here; and it’s a fair demonstration that a subject placed right smack in the middle of your frame is the way to go. Sure we talk up the rule of thirds and avoiding this sort of composition, but sometimes I is best to toss away the rule book to let your subject shine.

14mm wide angle photograph of Pinelands pine trees and ferns.
The Forest and the Trees — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/50

The Forest and the Trees | Captured: June 16, 2018 | Location: Baker’s Acres Campground, Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey

This pine forest composition is not overwhelming in its precision or wow factor, and in a more prolific year it probably doesn’t make the cut, but it is getting the nod in 2018. It’s departure from my usual marsh sunset/flower macro motif, plus it’s rich green and yellow coloring and line work, make it a viable contrast to my standard body of work. Sometimes an imperfect thing a little different is better than perfection we readily seek.

Wide angle HDR sunset photo over marsh grass and reflected in water.
Some Summer Night — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | 7 Bracketed Exposures

Some Summer Night | Captured: June 29, 2018 | Location: Cedar Run Dock Road, West Creek, New Jersey

Finally a shot in my wheelhouse. Longtime followers—thank you—will recognize this marsh sunset as an exemplar for my standard body of work. This is square in my comfort zone, and while 2018 was a down year for my photography—particularly fiery sunsets over the marsh—it is nice to have a solid one to drop in this year’s annual retrospective. I just love the way that vibrant, young marsh green works against the pinks, purples, and blues as day passes on into night. There is nothing quite like June on the marsh.

100mm macro photo of a blooming purple coneflower.
Corona — 100mm | f/4 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/80

Corona | Captured: July 9, 2018 | Location: Ocean Acres, New Jersey

Purple coneflowers, ladies and gentlemen. They are beautiful and wonderful to photograph, and depending on the day of the week they are probably my favorite flowers. For folks looking to get into photography, particularly macro photography, coneflowers will lend you a splendid muse throughout all phases of its lifecycle. Early bloom, full blossom, and even in death, they make a forgiving subject that will have you looking like a pro in no time. As an added bonus they provide a great food source to our insect friends giving you some added joy to practice with. Considering this has been my iPhone wallpaper for the past six months its inclusion in this list was a foregone conclusion.

100mm macro photo of a green silver-spotted skipper caterpillar on a dead purple coneflower.
Reaching Out | 100mm | f/4 | ISO 1600 | EXP 1/200

Reaching Out | Captured: September 16, 2018 | Location: Ocean Acres, New Jersey

Hey, I told you purple coneflowers make great subjects through all phases of their lifecycle. Here, the same plant we saw above was in its death throes providing home base for a silver-spotted skipper caterpillar. Excellent. The anchor of this composition is all about the negative space. Some three-quarters of this photograph is nothing but muted greens and purples. Plenty of room to breathe. This lends all the narrative drama to our caterpillar friend who finds herself reaching out into the void, seeking her next phase of existence; a transformation into something wholly new and beautiful.

14mm blue hour photo of boat dock and calm, reflective water.
Blue Steps — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | EXP 3.2 sec

Blue Steps | Captured: November 18, 2018 | Location: Cedar Run Dock Road, West Creek, New Jersey

Batting cleanup, Blue Steps. Here we arrive at my big hitter in an otherwise thin year. But I confidently declare this photograph would hold up even in my best and most productive years. This blue hour special had that je n’ais se quoi from the get go. Making the shot I knew this one was special. The last of magic hour moody blue light, dead calm seas, and an intricate dock structure on its way toward dereliction. There’s a quality to this image that keeps the viewer locked in, comfortably gazing and setting the mind at ease. It’s no question my personal favorite from 2018.

Yogis Rose Dease and Jesse Holt form an 'X' in a partner yoga pose.
Partner X — 35mm | f/1.4 | ISO 800 | EXP 1/80

Partner X | Captured: December 2, 2018 | Location: Bask Hot Yoga, Brick, New Jersey

Devastating changeup. Here’s where I share my new pitch, a total departure from my standard repertoire. In early December I engaged in an actual yoga photo shoot with actual yoga people. It was intimidating and intense, but I better for having given it a shot. Here’s where we turn it into a human interest piece: my girlfriend, Rose, pictured here and highlight of my year, gave me the proper prodding to get out there and do this. Like all great partners she has been a source of inspiration, hope, and the proper kind of growth inducing discomfort.


Photographic productivity was in short in 2018, and yes, this retrospective does not feature my customary 12 photographs, but I am not going to use this space to go out on a sour note. Life threw me plenty of sweet blessings in 2018: improved health, a wonderful mother/daughter combo, good friends, and a budding yoga practice. Yet while I centered time elsewhere I have not forgotten about photography as a cornerstone in both my personal and creative wellness. While I am not making any specific promises now, I assure you I will be back and better than ever with my photo work in 2019, setting aside a bit more time to return this blog, and more important, this essential hobby. Cheers and thanks for reading.