Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Wrap Up

Making The Most Of Difficult Times

We heard the news at the start of the year that a mysterious virus was killing people in Wuhan, China. We didn't panic; we had heard of events like this before. New diseases emerged, but most of us were never impacted. We trusted the authorities to get it under control.

Covid-19 was different. It was easily transmissible and could be spread by people who showed no symptoms. The old method of checking the temperature of airline passengers before they boarded planes didn't work. The virus spread around the world virtually undetected. 

This began an extraordinary year of lockdowns, shortages, and bitter arguments about the best way to control the disease. The divided response to the pandemic was as big a challenge as the disease itself. Some citizens locked themselves in their homes and wondered where they might be able to buy toilet paper, while others flocked to socialize at bars and beaches. Hospitals were overwhelmed while politicians argued whether to provide them with money or badly needed supplies.

The stage was set for a year unlike any other in modern history. Vacations were cancelled. Weddings were postponed. Businesses failed. Unemployment climbed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Parents struggled to educate their children at home.

And many, many, many people died. Countless families lost loved ones. The rest of us adapted as well as we could.

a photo of the interior of grand central station new york city
Grand Central Station - New York City (2020)

I had expected that 2020 would be a fun and fulfilling year. I was looking forward to traveling and seeing new places. I had to cancel those plans, of course, but despite the worries and the restrictions, I tried to make the most of the time and the opportunities that were available. I figured that life didn't need to stop completely; I just had to adapt while being as careful as possible.

I started the year with three main objectives. I meant them to apply to my life globally, but they each had an impact on my photography.

1. Travel more
2. Instead of buying new things, get the most out of what you already have
3. Focus on what you do best

I was planning a trip to California when the pandemic started to spread. I considered tempting fate and still going while the ticket prices were insanely cheap, but ultimately, I decided not to risk it.

The upside is that I had more time to explore beautiful places near home.

a photo of the moon rising over bow bridge in central park new york
Moon Rising Over The Bow Bridge - Thanksgiving Day (2020)

The second objective of appreciating what I have is something that I need to remind myself to do occasionally. I enjoy the thought of picking up some shiny new lens to add to my collection, despite the fact that I'm not lacking anything that I really need.

Appreciation brings balance and contentment to our hearts, but it is especially important especially at a time when life has become so difficult for so many.

a wide angle photo of the bridge at pershing square new york grand central station
Wide-Angle View Of Pershing Square (16mm)

Practicing appreciation in my photography inspired me in a number of ways this past year. I used wide-angle lenses more often. Typically, use telephoto lenses in the city. They enable me to exclude elements that I don't want to see in the final image. Wide-angle lenses give a more dramatic and inclusive view.

I also discovered a new love for a lens that I haven't used much and even considered selling. It turns out to be a great lens for capturing handheld images in the dark, something that I had not had much luck with in the past. 

a handheld photo of new york city at night
Handheld Night Photography - Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

The third objective was meant to inspire better use of my time. There are only so many hours in a day. If we spend those hours on activities that don't leverage our true gifts, then we're not accomplishing all that we could.

a panoramic night photo of central park south new york city
Nighttime Panorama Of Central Park South - New York (2020)

I enjoy taking photos at night. I haven't always been good at this type of photography, and for a long time, my results were usually flops.

I have worked hard in recent years to develop the skills required to make my nighttime images look the say I wanted to capture them. I felt that this was an area where I would do well to invest more time. When you develop a strength, you might as well leverage it. Create unique expressions that everyone can appreciate.

a photography of bethesda terrace in central park new york at night
Bethesda Terrace At Night - Central Park - New York (2020)

This challenging year is nearly over. 2021 is not going to be easy, but things are beginning to move in the right direction. Life may never be the same, and for a lot of families, the grief of loss will last for a long time. But one of these days, we'll be back to doing normal things again, traveling, shopping, going to plays and concerts and ball games. It's a future worth working for, worth fighting for.

a photo of a cyclist riding past christmas decoractions in new york city
Christmas in New York (2020)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! I wish you and yours comfort, security, and an abundance of blessings.

Sony a7R IV
Lenses: Various

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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