CNET's best photos of 2015 (pictures)

We look back at 2015 and some of the best photos from CNET stories throughout the year.

James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
James Martin
1 of 25 James Martin/CNET

An executive order on cybersecurity

President Barack Obama, alongside White House officials and corporate executives, came to Stanford University in February for a first-of-its-kind summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection, where he signed an executive order on cybersecurity to promote info-sharing among the private and public sectors.

2 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Samsung in Silicon Valley

In September, Samsung opened a new 1.1 million-square-foot site that will house the Samsung Semiconductor Americas headquarters.

The $300 million campus, located north of downtown San Jose, California, houses research and development and sales operations for Samsung's US semiconductor business.

3 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Sony's Project Morpheus VR

Sony showed off a new prototype of its virtual-reality headset back in March, code-named Project Morpheus, bringing it a step closer to final release, which the company says will be coming up sometime in 2016.

The new device, unveiled at the Game Developers Conference here Tuesday, looks similar to the initial prototype, but Sony says it includes technical improvements that will give consumers a better experience.

"This looks like last year's model, but under the hood we've put a lot of improvements," said Shuhei Yoshida, the president of the company's Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment. Yoshida added that this version of Morpheus "is close to the final consumer product."

4 of 25 James Martin/CNET

San Francisco's haves and have-nots

As San Francisco perpetually grapples with the divide between the rich and poor, the once derelict mid-Market St. corridor has been a focus of recent change.

As tech companies like Twitter, Zendesk, Uber, Yammer and Dolby move in to the neighborhood, San Francisco's Tenderloin district is changing. But as much as it changes, much remains the same.

5 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Google Glass in the shower

"Yes, Google Glass had its problems, but that's because it was released too early," says Robert Scoble. "It was a misunderstood product that could stand up to neither expectations nor criticism."

Returning to the scene of the now-infamous 2013 photo of him, bare-skinned, wearing Google Glass in the shower was merely meant to show off the device's water-resistance. "I was expecting it to get attention," he says today. "I wasn't expecting it to go viral."

6 of 25 Stephen Shanklannd/CNET

Apple Watch in Paris

The Apple Watch display at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris occupied prime retail territory: four bays beneath the building's glass atrium.

7 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Lyrics Born at CNET

Bay Area hip-hop artist Lyrics Born visited the CNET Studios to talk about music and technology, and how he creates songs with just his iPhone.

8 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

CNET Rocks

CNET's Dara Kerr and Dan Ackerman rock out with Rock Band in CBS Interactive's office in New York City.

9 of 25 James Martin/CNET

The Dark Web

Stolen data is a hot commodity in the Internet underground -- but how much it goes for might be a surprise.

Data breaches are becoming a weekly part of the news cycle, and so common that the idea of our data being lost by companies which collect it, while still distressing, is not as much of a surprise as it used to be. In 2015, the Ashley Madison and Hacking Team data breaches reveal just how damaging these kinds of cyberattacks can be, with millions of user accounts compromised, intellectual property leaked and the private details of both user and executive spewed onto the web.

10 of 25 Roo Lewis/CNET

Classic style

No roof and a big V8 engine enabled this Morgan Plus 8 Speedster to blow the cold away in classic style.

11 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Project Loon takes flight

Project Loon, Alphabet's Wi-Fi beaming balloons, formally lifted off in Indonesia this year. The project uses high-flying balloons to beam Wi-Fi access to remote areas of the globe.

Alphabet is signing a preliminary agreement, known as a memorandum of understanding, with three Indonesian telecommunications companies -- Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata -- to bring the balloons to the country over the next year.

12 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

'Game of Thrones'

CNET's Bridget Carey is dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from "Game of Thrones" as she takes her seat in the Iron Throne during an HBO promotion in New York City.

13 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Inside Dolby's research labs

Dolby has opened a massive new headquarters in 2015 in downtown San Francisco that meshes art, technology and science. CNET got a look inside the labs, where scientists are researching biophysical sensory development.

14 of 25 Lynn La/CNET

Hidden in plain sight

Carrier cell tower sites live on top of buildings, inside forest groves or right next to your bus stop. Sometimes these giant antennas are too obvious to ignore, but other times they're entirely undetectable -- hidden in plain sight.

For a saguaro cactus tower like those that pepper a desert landscape, deeper grooves are painted green and each of the 10,000 fake needles is dotted one by one.

"There's a lot of artistry that goes into it," says Larson President Andrew Messing. "Our heritage comes from theming, design and art. We really take that to heart."

15 of 25 James Martin/CNET

You go anywhere, be anything

LeVar Burton cried when his Kickstarter campaign for "Reading Rainbow" reached his $1 million goal in just 11 hours.

A year later, the actor -- known to many as Geordi LaForge on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," is still emotional when talking about instilling a love of reading in kids.

"You do not have an opportunity to reach your highest level of potential unless you self-select as a reader," says Burton, 58, during an interview at Reading Rainbow's headquarters in Burbank, California. "You can literally go anywhere in the world in your imagination -- go anywhere, be anything. That's a valuable message."

16 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Alan Turing's manuscript

CNET had an exclusive look earlier this year at an extremely rare handwritten scientific manuscript by Alan Turing that examines his works on the foundations of mathematical notation and computer science.

London auction house Bonhams auctioned off what may be one of the most exciting documents in computer history.

17 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

Addicted to games

CNET's Roger Cheng demonstrates social isolation and a poor diet -- the dangers of addiction to video gaming on one's phone.

18 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Nixie, the wearable selfie drone

At CES 2015, we were introduced to Nixie, the wearable selfie drone.

The small camera-equipped drone can be worn as a wrist band. When activated, Nixie unfolds into a quadcopter, and flys off to take photos or a video, and then return to the user.

Be sure to join us for CES 2016!

19 of 25 Olgun Kordal/CNET

On the road with XCAR

Cruising the countryside, Aston Martin may be replacing the DB9 with the DB11, but CNET's XCAR says it's still a hell of a car.

20 of 25 James Martin/CNET

Glass ceilings

The early morning sun was shining in Palo Alto, Calif., when the Apple Watch went on sale in April.

21 of 25 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

iPhone 6 Plus

The CNET Reviews team has one job: to help you decide whether a shiny new product on the store shelf is worth your hard-earned money.

Photography plays a big part in this. Longtime CNET readers will remember that our product reviews used to have a standard set of shots, all against a white background. These served their purpose, but in recent years, we've tried to make our photos even more helpful by showing them out in the real world.

The iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6, are seen here looking stunning in a side by side comparison.

22 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple goes big with iPad Pro

How will that product look in your hands, on your wrist or on your face? We'll show you.

Shooting tech products isn't easy. These shiny objects have many reflective surfaces that smudge easily. To minimize reflections on the glass and metal, it often takes fine tuning movements and angles to achieve just the right look.

23 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET


These are't just simple catalog shots; our photographers take an editorial approach to these product images, showing products in real-life situations.

And we do it with beautiful photography that's design-oriented with powerful colors and strong lines, showcasing the products with a little extra flair and energy.

24 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

Selfies in NYC

Because we largely shoot out on location in the "real world" and not in a studio, we are working in a wild environment where it can be challenging to control all the details. We must pay careful attention to the background, lighting, the weather, cars and people to get the shot just right.

Here we are taking the iPhone out for a selfie walk in New York City during a CNET Reviews product photography session.

25 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bright lights, big city

When CNET dives into product photography, we are looking to show off the best lines of the devices in the best light, giving you a real sense of design -- along with beautiful photos.

One challenge when shooting products is getting across scale. How long is this product? How thick is it? What would it look like in average-size hands? These are the kinds of things we're thinking about when shooting a new product.

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