I didn't want to get too deep into 2021 before I compiled my best of list for 2020. I usually begin to compile this list somewhere near the beginning of December and publish it before the new year starts - but I didn't get that chance this year.
The most difficult part about making this list each year is the fear of leaving some one or some thing out. I compile it based solely on memory. Maybe for 2021 I'll keep a running file of things that delight me and review that near the end of the year. Perhaps I'll simply pull from my links that I publish here somewhat weekly. I think it is time for a change to this format. But, for now, here is this years totally random pulled from memory list.
You can review other years I've made similar lists in 2008, 2009, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Best Blog: Kottke.org
I've been subscribed to Jason's blog for decades. Kottke.org made last year's best blog runners up list. And it should likely be in that list in perpetuity. I'm giving Kottke.org the award this year because of how many times I linked to it from my blog and the amount of content I enjoyed on it in 2020.
Runners up: Julia Evans, Ton Zijlstra, Dan Mall (I like what he's doing with his week notes)
Best (new to me) Blog: All film photography blogs.
Rather than a single winner in this category this year I'm going to highlight the dozens of film photography blogs that I subscribed to this year and have gleaned a lot of insight and enjoyment from. I would like even more (especially those covering the darkroom) so if you have suggestions please send them my way.
Best Twitter account: @pinot
The amount of content Pinot W. Ichwandardi puts out on Twitter is really amazing. He takes older tech and makes contemporary art with them. Some things seem like an incredible amount of work. What a fun account to follow!
Runners up: @3eyedmonster, @FlakPhoto, @cabel.
Best place: Home
We bought a house this summer. And we've really enjoyed being here. We've done a lot of renovations and yard work already with more planned for this year. I'm very grateful we found this place during such a hard time.
Runners up: The only places we went this year; Georgia, Virginia, and the Finger Lakes.
Best book: Contact by Carl Sagan.
I liked the movie. In fact, I watch it at least once or twice a year. But I hadn't read the book until this year and I'm glad I did. My new computer is now named The Machine as a result. I think I'll read it again in a year or so.
I read at least 6 or 7 photography-related books this year and perused about a dozen more. So this kept me from my now not-so-normal reading schedule. I'm hoping to pick up the pace a bit in 2021 but, like I said last year, I'm not going to beat myself up about it.
Runners up: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline.
Best hardware: Canon AE-1 Program from 1984.
Last year I noted that a film camera would likely be the winner this year and I was right. While I've been able to shoot with a wide variety of cameras this year the Canon AE-1 Program has stood out as the most fun to use. It was also a gift from my brother-in-law who bought it new in 1984 and kept it in very good shape. I'm thankful for his generosity as I hope to have this camera for many years to come.
Next year I hope to list a medium format camera that shoots 6x4.5 but I don't own one yet.
Runners up: The Canon Rebel G (a very inexpensive and solid film camera), and my Beseler enlarger that I've been making many of my prints from.
Best desktop app: NetNewswire.
I use this app almost every weekday to keep up with all of my interests. It is a fantastic break from the pall felt within social media apps.
Runners up: Silverfast 8, Simplenote (still hanging in as my go to note taking app despite so many incumbents), Zoom (unsure how I can't mention this app this year), 1Password (for the Apple Watch integration).
Best mobile app: Untappd
I mentioned Untappd in September. I've had the app installed for years and didn't really lean into utilizing it until a few years ago. I'm very happy that I have. The more you use the app the more useful it is to you. But it also has several features that you need to remember to use in certain circumstances. If you're into beer, and even moreso if you have specific tastes, I highly recommend investing the time to using the app.
Runners up: Pocket Casts, Chess, Flickr, Walmart (for curb side pickup).
Best podcast: The Large Format Photography Podcast
I've learned a lot from LFPP. It is laid back and my style. I also help manage the Flickr Group.
Runners up: Vision Slightly Blurred, All Through A Lens, ATP (I've listened to more episodes this year than previous years).
Best browser: Safari
Firefox has won this award multiple years but this year I've switched to Safari. I'm giving it this award based on the fact that it is more of a Mac app than Firefox, it is fast, and it keeps your privacy as its main priority. I do miss Containers however. I don't know what the future of Firefox looks like but I'm thinking 2021-2023 will see massive changes at Mozilla.
Best YouTube channel: ScreenCrush
OK, hear me out on this one. I watched The Mandalorian on Friday mornings at around 6-6:30am. I believe Disney published them at midnight. By the time I was done watching the episode I was able to log onto YouTube and see the episode broken down, explained nearly frame-by-frame, with clips from old movies, past Star Wars films, etc. I still do not know how they did it so fast.
Runner up: The Dark Shed, Rolf Nylinder, Rainfall Projects, Nico's Photography Show, ILFORD Photo, Borut Peterlin.