best images of 2015

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’ve already begun my traditional year-end wrap-up last night with my Blog Awards for 2015 (thanks for all the great comments!) Last year I included in the year-end line-up a post featuring my favorite images and illustrations that appeared on this blog during the preceding year. It was a really fun article to do, and a way to showcase an important feature of this site that may not be as immediately apparent as the words on the screen. Almost every article that’s run on has a header image (and often more than that), and these images form a key part of the visual presentation on the site that I work on no less diligently than the articles themselves. During 2015 I also tried to make visuals the main subjects of certain articles, and I’ve devoted no less than three ongoing series of posts–Historic Photo, Historic Painting and Interiors–to that end. So doing a round-up of my favorite pictures from the year is entirely appropriate.

I’m going to separate my favorite images into two categories: images I created (usually, but not always, digital composites from other pictures, usually stock images), and images I did not create but used. I try to be very careful about photo copyrights, so the vast majority of images here are one form of Creative Commons or another. A very few incorporate fair use images (those tend to involve movies or book covers). Beneath each image is the title and link of the article in which it appears. Listing all the licensing credits at the end of this article would be a nightmare, so if you want to see image rights please click on the individual articles.

Now, without further ado, here are my favorite images of 2015!

Images Created By Me

mosquito coast

Paradise Lost: The Libertarian nightmare of Peter Weir’s “The Mosquito Coast.”

goodfellas header 3

Guns and Provolone: Food, booze and wine in Scorsese’s “GoodFellas” (Part III).

bogie chess

“Ruy Lopez” and The African Queen: Humphrey Bogart and the Art of Chess.

Note, this was used as a “featured image” and actually does not appear in the article itself (but does appear in the slider when it comes up randomly on the front page).

germany suicides header

Farewell, Mein Führer: The German mass suicide wave of 1945.

If this is not the best composite image I created in 2015, it’s certainly the most complicated and was without a doubt the most time-consuming! I talked about how I created this image in this article.

pope and abolition

The Pope’s moral crusade: Climate change is the abolitionism of the 21st century.

This composite includes a photo (the Pope) by Edgar Jimenez

climate change summer

Endless summer: What I learned from teaching a class on climate change.

baby hitler

Nursery crimes: The cruel idiocy of the “Baby Hitler” scenario.

Yes, that is actually a photograph of Adolf Hitler as a baby.

ice age 2030

Climate change facepalm: No, we’re not going to have an ice age by 2030.

Includes a photo (the mammoth) by Tracy O

lusitania gamble

Sailing toward disaster: The moral gamble surrounding the Lusitania sinking.

mysterious tales president header

“Mysterious Tales of the New England Coast”: The fate of the S.S. President. And wine!

vof writing

A thinking machine: My retro typewriter and why it’s better than writing on a computer.

Photo by Sean Munger

nome race header

Sled dogs of mercy: The incredible true-life adventure of the 1925 Nome serum race.

vof finished header

A labor of five years ends: I finished “The Valley of Forever” tonight.

Includes a photo by Bjoertvedt

Wacken 2007 guys

Bull-headed: What happened when I binge-watched all my Wacken Open Air DVDs.

Photo by Sean Munger

Images Created by Others

mulberry street nyc 1900

Historic Photo: Mulberry Street, New York City (Little Italy), 1900.

Photographer unknown


Wacken in Winter: A different view of Germany’s heavy metal Mecca.

Photo by George Kay

times square 1920s

Throwback Thursday: A night out in Manhattan…in 1922!

Photographer unknown


Historic Painting: Maslenitsa by Boris Kustodiev, 1919.

times square 1997 kent kanouse

Throwback Thursday: A night out in Manhattan…in 1997!

Photo by Kent Kanouse

apollo 16 jump salute

Historic Photo: John Young’s jump-salute on the surface of the Moon, 1972.

Photo by Charles Duke

tastes of the swan valley

Tastes of the Swan Valley: Western Australia.

Still frame from a video by Shane Ness

hp42 in palestine

Historic Photo: Handley Page H.P.42 biplane airliner, Palestine, 1931.

Photographer unknown


Stone cliffs and mind mysteries: Some new photos of Hanging Rock.

Photo by Robert Horvat

in the spirit

“In the Spirit:” Native American hip-hop with a powerful message.

Still frame from a video by Kunu Dittmer-Bearchum and Tim Burgess

Historic Painting: “Pollice Verso” by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872.

trumps hair by bostonjerry

Who is Donald Trump? A historical investigation (Part II).

Photo by BostonJerry

harvest rest by george cole pd

Historic Painting: “Harvest Rest” by George Cole, 1865.

winter solstice at stonehenge by mike peel

Historic Photo: Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, 2012.

Photo by Mike Peel

olympic and mauretania pd

Historic Photo: Two great liners, Olympic and Mauretania, about to die.

Photographer unknown

lincoln robot by loren javier

The malleable past: How easy is it to “fake” history?

Photo by Loren Javier

wilks station tattered passport

Abandoned Antarctica: Exploring the ruins of Wilks Station.

Still frame from a video by Shane Ness

okinawa charge pd

Like bathing in fire: How to write about World War II.

Photographer unknown

Please see linked articles for more detailed picture credits and licensing information.