In 2016 I was lucky enough to visit two new states and four new countries (all of this on a fixed vacation allotment). Here are my ten favorite photos from the past year in no particular order.
Good Hope Plantation (Jamaica)
Being the history nerd that I am, naturally the port excursion I signed up for in Jamaica involved history. I was able to visit a former plantation house and its grounds that dated back to the 18th century when Jamaica was an English colony. The estate was perched high up in the mountains (it took some incredibly windy and bumpy roads to reach it) and offered gorgeous views of the valley below. But my favorite photo from my visit to Good Hope was actually of a detached outbuilding (fun fact-the building served as the honeymoon suite back when the plantation operated as a boutique hotel in the 1930s and ’40s). I loved the pairing of this small, unassuming building that had seen and weathered so much (hurricanes, change of owners, transition from colony to independent nation) next to the creeping palm tree and of course the magnificent picture perfect blue sky.
Charleston Historic District (Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Charleston is one of the prettiest places I have ever photographed so naturally there were a slew of photos to choose from (that, and I could have easily had my Best in Photos 2016 be solely of Charleston). Instead of featuring the more well-known sites (i.e. Rainbow Row and other famous historical landmarks in the city), I selected a random street in the city’s historic district, one that showcases its two most beloved features, its well-preserved historical architecture and its window boxes that fortunately for me were brimming with flowers in early April. Street photography scenes are something I have tried to work on (and continue to do so) but I really am quite pleased with how this particular image turned out.
Ship in Elliott Bay at dusk (Seattle, Washington)
As I’ve mentioned before, the weather in Seattle during my trip there was less than stellar. Only in my visit’s waning hours did the weather finally cooperate. After dinner at Elliott’s Oyster House we went on the touristy but fun Great Wheel (Seattle’s Ferris wheel). I was able to take some beautiful photos of the setting sun on the city’s skyline but my favorite actually was from the water side where I captured a boat gliding slowly over the waters of the famous Puget Sound.
Marienplatz (Munich, Germany)
The Marienplatz is Munich’s main square (dating from 1158 if you can imagine) and naturally on a gorgeous September day it was mobbed with visitors and locals alike. Although I probably took nearly two dozen photos here between the striking architectural details, the flowers that were bursting all over, and of course the famous Glockenspiel (the clock that puts on a show several times throughout the day), it was this that was my favorite. I’m always trying to look for more unique angles to photograph and so I loved how I was able to capture the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) at a tilted angle along with the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Street in Prague’s Malá Strana (Prague, Czech Republic)
One of my favorite places I visited in Prague was the tower atop St. Nicholas Church in the Malá Strana neighborhood. It offered wonderful views of the city but the best part was it was almost deserted. Although the photo below doesn’t include any of the city’s famous landmarks (i.e. Prague Castle, Charles Bridge), to me it embodies a timeless Prague. I love how the view looking down on this particular street could just have easily been captured in the early 20th century. And the cherry on top was definitely being able to capture a moving tram since there’s nothing modern about them looks-wise (this is a good thing).
Adventuring lizard at Cayman Turtle Centre (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
Ever since I first visited Cancun, Mexico and encountered a huge swarm of lizards roaming the grounds of the resort I stayed at, I’ve been mildly fascinated by this reptile. In terms of a thriving lizard population, the Cayman Turtle Centre in the Cayman Islands did not disappoint. I love how they are oblivious and clearly unafraid of humans; they just go about their lizard business as lizards do. I captured this particular fella before he scurried up the rest of this MASSIVE palm tree, no easy feat because lizards move ridiculously fast. And even though the colors on the lizard look “touched,” this photo is unedited. Lizard colors are just that cool.
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens (Charleston, South Carolina)
While I had heard the gardens at Magnolia Plantation were lovely, I had no idea just how lovely and more importantly, how utterly massive they were. Although there was a great deal to photograph and take in, it was the covered bridge that captured my heart the most because it reminded me so much of Monet’s Giverny. I’ve never been to Monet’s famous house and gardens but I’ve seen enough photographs and of course his paintings to see that Magnolia looked exactly like them. I couldn’t help but think it was a little bit of the Normandy countryside right in the heart of the American South. And the fact I got a reflection of the bridge in my photograph was an added bonus.
Random street in Munich (Munich, Germany)
I said before that so much of Munich reminded me of my beloved Seville and this particular courtyard scene is a prime reason why. I passed by this street while on my Third Reich walking tour and it was only after we were finished and were walking back to the Hofbräuhaus for lunch that I actually thought to photograph it. I love that within the entranceway of the gate are two rounded doorways framed within the picture. I enjoy photographing the famous sights in any city but sometimes it’s just the random, no-name buildings and views that make the image that much stronger.
Dusk on Charles Bridge (Prague, Czech Republic)
I had something of a love/hate relationship with the famous Charles Bridge, namely because as I had heard and read, it was ALWAYS mobbed. As such, I never was able to capture a people-less bridge. The first time I walked to it, the sun was setting and it offered the just right dramatic lighting. While it may look as if my photo “didn’t come out,” I just adore how one of the bridge’s statues (there’s a slew of them along its entire length) and St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle are perfectly illuminated in silhouette form. I couldn’t have asked for a more stunning photo.
Christmas lights at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
I don’t take many nighttime photographs because I don’t feel I’m too good at it but it’s definitely a skill I would like to improve upon in future photographic endeavors. Thankfully, the holiday lights at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory made it easy to capture some lovely outdoor evening scenes. The last time I visited Phipps at Christmastime was back in 2009 so a return last month was long overdue. And the added surprise was being able to walk through its outdoor holiday lights selection, which didn’t exist in 2009. There’s nothing more festive than holiday lights and I simply love how the photo turned out since artificial lights often tend to be blurry.
And an honorable mention for pinning purposes:
What’s your favorite photo of those I selected?