reactorassemblyAs 2013 comes to a close it’s the perfect time to look back over the year. Jim Goldstein does a blog project encouraging photographers to edit their top images for the year and post them, so here are my picks!

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In May I had the opportunity to visit Germany and Ukraine. Through a roundabout way I started corresponding with a photographer from Poland, Arkadiusz. He makes a popular Chernobyl video “Alone in the Zone” and had a spot in his truck for his visit in May. I jumped at the opportunity, and started to make plans right away. I spent 4 straight days shooting with my large format camera around the Chernobyl “exclusion zone”. It was a great experience full of challenges and opportunities to explore the worse nuclear disaster in mankind’s history. It was sobering to see a relatively modern city completely abandoned due to a chain of seemingly small human errors. One of my favorite shots “When I Light A Torch” was featured in the December issue of Black & White magazine.

In September I went to Australia. This was mostly a non-photographic trip. I visited Perth, Sydney, Cairns and Uluru. It was good to relax and see the sites without lugging around my usual photographic setup. Australia is a big country, and certainly filled with a lot of photographic opportunities.

Back on the home front I had a number of projects going on. I refurbished an old 8×10 Kodak view camera, and started playing around with wet plate photography. I’m not ready to put down film quite yet, but the look of wet plate is very appealing. It is definitely the antithesis of digital photography, but the immediacy of the result makes it different than film photography as well. The challenge is having to haul around wet chemicals, and I must shoot within a short distance of my truck.

December here in California has been very dry, a few cold spells, but the good weather has been tempting me to set out on a road trip. But, I have a ton of darkroom work to do. Ilford has introduced a new line of silver gelatin papers, so I am exploring the artistic possibility of those while working through the photographs I made this year. I also am hoping to do some catching up online marketing via the “social networks”, and preparing for a couple shows in 2014.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous New Year,

RW Hawkins