Eric Chan’s Favorite Photos of 2016

Ever wonder who the human is behind the editing tools you use every day? Eric Chan, Senior Principal Scientist at Adobe, is your guy. He joined the Adobe Camera Raw team in 2008, and has since developed several features like the Radial Filter, lens corrections, improved detail and noise reduction, and improved tone controls.


Not only is Eric an ACR, Lightroom and DNG guru, but he’s also an undeniably talented photographer with an enviable collection of photographs from 2016 alone. Earlier this month Eric posted his 40 favorite images from 2016 – you’ll find 12 of those photos below. Eric also shares some juicy details along with the stories behind these extraordinary photographs. I hope these images inspire you as you gear up for 2017 and beyond:

Churchill, Manitoba.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 100-400 II, 278 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200

This image was made on a trip to Churchill with my friend and teammate Thomas Knoll (who started this whole Photoshop and Camera Raw story). We had a unique opportunity to observe and photograph polar bears from ground level. This gorgeous bear stood up on her hind legs for a better look at another bear (far in the distance behind us).


Belmont, Massachusetts.

Canon EOS 7D, 70-200 II, 70 mm, 1/5 sec, f/8, ISO 100.

While I do travel a lot, some of my favorite images are close to home. Last November, I took the opportunity to photograph the “super moon” (as I’m sure countless other photographers did!). Late in the afternoon, I walked to a nearby pond and looked for a good spot to photograph the moon. The sun had just set a few minutes earlier and there was a gentle red-to-blue gradation in the sky. The moon was rising quickly, though, and I knew there was only a brief window of time when I could photograph the moon, sky, and landscape together. I set up this composition with the late autumn-colored leaves framing the moon.


Mono Lake, California.

Canon EOS 5DS R, 100-400 II, 153 mm, 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 100.

Last fall I traveled to the Eastern Sierra with my Camera Raw teammates. A major storm was sweeping through the area and provided many opportunities to photograph rainbows. I captured this scene from the south shore of Mono Lake and used a circular polarizer filter to bring out the colors.


North Cascades National Park, Washington.

Canon EOS 5DS R, 100 f/2.8 Macro, 100 mm, 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100.

I enjoy photographing close-ups and details. During a hiking trip to the North Cascades with my friend and teammate Joshua Bury, we stumbled across this small plant with a magnificent arrangement of water droplets. I stopped for a “water droplet selfie” – my silhouette appears in the largest droplet towards the top of the image.


North Cascades National Park, Washington.

Canon EOS 5DS R, 100 f/2.8 Macro, 100 mm, 30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200.

This is another image from the same trip to the North Cascades. Josh and I were photographing Diablo Lake at dusk. It was pretty dark and I could barely see across the lake. I used the Live View feature of my camera to set focus manually on a distant mountain (there was just enough contrast between the mountain ridge and the sky to verify proper focus), then composed this scene of the opposite shore.



Canon EOS 5DS R, 100-400 II, 164 mm, 1/200 sec, f/16, ISO 100.

During a shore landing in Antarctica, I was drawn to this magnificent yet mysterious view. The conditions were overcast and the mountains were mostly white, with dabs of visible rock texture here and there (like paint strokes). It was hard to tell the land, mountains and sky apart. I found a spot where I could compose an image with a lone Gentoo Penguin in the foreground.


Bodie, California.

Sony RX1, 35 mm, 1/160 sec, f/2, ISO 100.

This chair and hat are inside a building in Bodie, a ghost town with endless photographic subjects. I captured this image from the outside, through a (rather dusty) window. I placed the lens directly against the window, which provided some stability and minimized reflections. I also opened the lens up to its widest aperture (f/2) to improve separation between the subjects and the peeling wallpaper in the background.

Photographing through dusty windows often result in a noticeable drop in contrast. Camera Raw and Lightroom can help to recover the contrast via the Dehaze and Clarity controls, especially when applied locally. For this image, I placed a Radial Filter around the hat and added a moderate amount of (local) Dehaze.


Bodie, California.

Canon EOS 5DS R, 100-400 II, 400 mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100.

Here’s another image from Bodie. I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into this abandoned barn. I sure didn’t expect to find this “face” peering back at me! The dark areas of the image are the wood boards of the barn wall, and the blue areas are the sky peeking through from the outside. I set up my camera on a tripod with a long lens, to isolate just this small section.


Skógafoss, Skógar, Iceland.

Sony RX1, 35 mm, 20 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100.

Skógafoss is a lovely, massive waterfall in southern Iceland. I made this image with a 20-second exposure one early summer evening. The rising mist and water spray during this long exposure provide a dreamy quality.


Churchill, Manitoba.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 100-400 II, 148 mm, 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100

I photographed this flock of beautiful, snowy-white ptarmigans while panning slowly to the right. The partly overcast conditions provided soft, even light. I experimented with shutter speeds, eventually settling on 1/60 second as a good balance between blurring the birds’ wings and retaining visible features.


Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland.

Sony RX1, 35 mm, 1/80 sec, f/7.1, ISO 800.

This is the interior of a beautiful Lutheran church and one of Reykjavík’s best-known landmarks. I was drawn to the repeating nested arches above the giant organ. I photographed this hand-held and later applied Guided Upright to line up the edges.


Mykines, Faroe Islands.

Canon EOS 5DS R, 100-400 II, 400 mm, 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1600.

Atlantic Puffins are beautiful birds and surprisingly quiet. I photographed this puffin hand-held while flat on my stomach, to try to get closer to the bird’s eye level.


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