Countdown: the Ten Best Photos of 2018

For the third consequetive year I’m trying to put together a list with, in my humble opinion, the best ten photos that I made over the past twelve months. And once again that proves to be a daunting task. I made about 5,000 photographs in 2018; making the longlist (see below) was already very time-consuming. And what kind of criteria should I use to make the final list?

The most useful advice I could give myself was to make a nice and diverse list, paying attention to various seasons, times and subjects. So here they are: ten pictures, each of them with a story.

Longlist for the election of the 10 best photographs of 2018

10 – Springtime by the Lake

The municipality of Rotterdam had planted a strip of flower bulbs in a lawn near lake Kralingen. In mid-April, that resulted in a festive mixture of yellow, white, blue and red. Blurred in the background we see a building that you do not usually link to a Dutch spring, but rather to the tropical heat of Sumatra. Yet this Minangkabau house has been on this location near the Lake for many years; and yes, there’s an Indonesian restaurant in it.

Purple, yellow, white and red spring flowers on a green meadow near lake Kralingse Plas with the thatched roof of the Minangkabau house in the background

9 – Sailing City Block

One does not always have to leave the house to make a cool photo. This one was made from the emergency stairwell of the apartment building where I live, sometimes jokingly referred to as the 3Develop Tower. I used a 300 millimeter lens which makes the cruise ship Aida Prima seem to sail right through a sea of houses and trees in the neighbourhood of ​​Delfshaven. The yellow-brown residential tower slightly right of the middle is 16 stories high. The Aida is almost towering above it, which shows once again that these cruise ships are in fact sailing city blocks. And this is not even the biggest one…

Giant cruiseship Aida on the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam, with old and new neighbourhoods in the foreground

8 – Dramatic Skies

This photo could not have been made a year ago. We are looking at the Amsterdam-Rhine canal from the new bicycle bridge at Nigtevecht that was not even officially open at the time. It looks unreal how the canal, higher than the surrounding land, with its rows of trees on both sides, continues till the horizon and perhaps even beyond.

The clouds illustrate the benefits of my weather reports policy. The forecast has to be very bad for me to cancel a planned expedition. And okay, on this day the rain gear had to go on and off a couple of times, but we were continuously treated to these spectacular skies.

Perspective image of an inland barge on the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal with rows of trees on both sides under a dramatic sky

7- The Class of 2018

Of course there must also be an animal photo in the list, but which one? The crayfish in the tall grass? The sheep with the big horns? The cat at the war memorial? No, I choose this class of geese, with three teachers and fifteen pupils, taken with a large telephoto lens in a canal in the neighbourhood of Kralingen. The kids obviously don’t yet agree on which direction to take.

A class of geese, three adults and fifteen kids, in springtime in a canal in Kralingen, Rotterdam

6 – Young Ferns in Love

Projecting human feelings or properties on animals is a bit foolish, but with plants it doesn’t make sense at all. And yet: I can not escape the impression that a beautiful love affair is sprouting between these two young ferns. What a tenderness, what a warmth, what an early happiness this photo shows. Or, well, seems to show.

Two young ferns in springtime, caressing each other like a loving couple

5 – Mushrooms on a sunny day

One of the many colorful autumn pictures that I shot this year. It is actually a kind of counterpart to the ferns of number 6. This also seems to be a couple having a good time together. Even though there’s decay all around them in the form of fallen leaves on the lawn. But no need to worry: in six months or so it will be springtime again. And for the time being the sun is shining.

Two mushrooms between fallen leaves on a lawn in autumn

4 – Persian Silk

There are many different types of trees but the Albizia julibrissin, with its fluffy white and pink blossoms, is a very special one. It also has a nice English name: the Persian silk tree. As the name suggests, the albizia originates from Asia. In western Europe it’s very rare, but I found one … with this almost abstract picture as a result.

Detail photo of the flowers of an albizia julibrissin, a Persian silk tree

3 – Salicornia Dreaming

I have made quite a few hikes/photo expeditions in 2018, with various companions. From Zeeuws-Vlaanderen to Fryslân and from Texel to Zuid-Limburg: I ​​have been to the farthest corners of this city-state called the Netherlands. This photo is symbolic for all those trips, because of the combination of natural beauty as well as physical activity that has been captured in it.

It wasn’t taken very far from home: on the beach at the Kwade Hoek nature reserve on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee where the salicornia flourished, in the rasta colors red, yellow and green. In the background we see two of my fellow hikers, mr. van D. and mr. van D. A third fellow hiker, mr. van D., is out of the picture, just like me he was on his belly to photograph salicornia.

Field of salicornia in the rasta colors red, green and yellow at the beach in nature reserve Kwade Hoek on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee, with two hikers in the background

2 – The City and the Harbour

We tend to associate industry with negative issues such as air pollution and climate change. And rightly so, but in this picture the indescribable beauty of that industry is also evident, especially when dusk falls.

In the foreground we see the neighbourhood of Schiemond; with its eighties architecture it may not be the most beautiful part of Rotterdam, but the lights make up for that. On the left is the Heyplaat with the former Submarine Wharf, on the right is Schiedam, in the background are the cranes, tanks, chimneys and oil rigs of Pernis, Botlek and Europoort. In between the Nieuwe Maas river, which continues as the Nieuwe Waterweg, meanders to the Northsea, carrying busy shipping traffic and, to the left of the middle, a mysterious colossus.

Evening view of the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam with in the foreground the neighbourhood of Schiemond, left Heyplaats, right Schiedam and in the background the industrial areas of Pernis, Botlek and Europoort

1 – Winter on a Sunday morning

The weather forecast was not optimistic: some snow was predicted, but long before dawn a heat front was expected to push temperatures to far above freezing. But when I woke up and looked outside shortly before the aforementioned dawn, I saw that the city was still a bit white. So I went outside to capture this increasingly rare natural phenomenon.

It helped that it was a Sunday morning; on every other day the snow would have melted under thousands of footsteps. Also the mist and the dusk contribute to the special atmosphere in this picture. And then the light trail of a car, the diagonals of the quay, the two trees that seem to lean towards each other, the mirror-like water, the statue in the distance, that one leaf on the quay … That same evening, this was my Christmas card.

Photo made on a Sunday morning in december on the lower quay of Westersingel canal in Rotterdam, with a thin layer of snow, bare trees and the Calypso building almost disappearing in the mist

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