My Favorite Shots of 2017 Runner-up Images

I recently did my typical year-end post where I talk about how my year went as an artist: what worked, what challenges I had, how I feel about my work in that year. In that post (see: My Favorite Shots of 2017), I also picked one shot from each month that was my favorite shot. It wasn’t necessarily my best shot but it was my favorite. I asked if anyone would be interested in see the runner-up images and the response was a strong, “Yes.” So, here they are:


I love each of these images from January. The first few for the stark grays and just a touch of color. The lighthouse shot with the angled cloud, because the cloud was amazing. I love the sea smoke and lighthouse image because the light was beautiful that morning and in the night image, the sky took on a purple color that I’ve rarely seen near Grand Marais, but have experienced out west more often.


It was a hard choice in February. The image of The Tombolo with the starburst was barely inched out by the cityscape that I picked. But the experience of shooting the cityscape made it a winner.


In March, I was making images with long foregrounds and enjoying the process. You can see a few of those shots here. I almost picked the moon shot, because I love it when there is a ring around the moon. But, the upside down cedar was the winner.


Seriously, how could I narrow down from these shots other than to pick what I did based on the intense experience of having a popular park to myself.


I almost picked the red canoe image for my favorite, because a) it’s a canoe, and b) it’s red, and c) it’s on a dock. It doesn’t get better than that unless you are paddling said red canoe.


After looking back at these images, I wonder how does one really pick one favorite image. The images of Cave Point in Door County all stand out and the arch of the Milky Way over Caribou Lake and the lone rock images. All favorite images for me.


I really think that I picked the right image for July. These didn’t even come close to my favorite other than the daisy/sailboat sunset image was taken with a filter that I designed and am prototyping for Singh-Ray Filters.


How could any of these images compete with a new canoe? Except the infrared black and white rock just was included in The Online Photographer’s Black and White Bakers Dozen. Mike wrote:

This fine landscape by Bryan Hansel of the far-northern U.S. town of Grand Marais, Minnesota, doesn’t hammer you over the head with heavyhanded IR tones, and it also manages to be something that’s increasingly rare these day—a landscape photo that doesn’t look like ten thousand landscape photos you’ve seen before. The nice play of the actual and implied lines (it might not have worked without the line of the clouds and that angled band of dark sky), plus the symbolism of the brave little tree growing where it doesn’t look like it can thrive all combine to make this a landscape that was worth a second and third look for me.


This is one where the personal experience definitely swayed my pick. I think my pick of the canoe at sunrise on Cherokee Lake is an awesome picture and maybe the best out of the six I selected, but the northern lights image was so unique. The canoe one in these runner-ups lost out because there wasn’t a paddle in the picture. The black and white infrared here is of my brother and the landscape shot of Lake Superior was taken with a new camera — a camera which I now love.

One of the challenges with photography and getting better is you have to somehow put aside the emotional connection you have with an image in order to properly evaluate how good it is. The more attachment you have with an image, the less likely you’ll be able to understand how to improve next time around.


I’ll be honest with you. I have a hard time photographing fall color. It’s my favorite season of the year, but it’s my least favorite season to photograph. This year I forced myself to get out and photograph the season more and I can away with more fall images that I like than I ever have. I knew when I was picking the shots that my October pick would be my October pick, but these shots all work for me, too.


I’ve photographed this Cascade River waterfall in November before, but this was towards the end and it froze up so perfectly this year. The Badlands image was on the last day of the month. I just love how everything fits together in this image and the texture in the foreground was so crunchy.


I don’t know about you, but December is always a weird month for me. By December, I’m usually exhausted from giving my heart teaching photography workshops all year long. I usually need a long break to recharge. At the same time, I have this feeling that I haven’t accomplished enough in the year so I usually try to start some new project. This year I started doing Instagram videos. I also feel the need to work harder. And even though I want to see my family, I have no desire to travel to do so. That makes it tricky to find a favorite image for me. The tree image here was one of Explore Minnesota’s top images for the year. That was exciting.

Bonus Haiku

I’m drawing inspiration for my haiku hobby from my son. He’s two.

potty training
daddy, fishy went
poppy in the potty


As an artist, I find the process of selecting favorite images and thinking about the past year worthwhile. I hope you can see here that the choice of a favorite image isn’t always as clear as I’d like. But, it’s part of my process. It helps me process what happened in the past year and how that affected my work. I hope you enjoyed my two posts on this topic.

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