I don't know how much of a "yard stick" Flickr's Explore page (top 500 images for the day) is because it can be gamed: If you post on other people's images you can amass an army that will post and fave everything that you push to Flickr. But I don't play the social game because I don't have time, and because I don't like to tell people they are doing well when they are not (too self serving). None the less sometimes a photo makes it into Explore, and this year 40 of my images hit the top 500 for the day that I posted them. Here's a few of my personal favorites.
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/wHCWKr]Bumblebee in Basil VIII by John Kimbler, on Flickr
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/AHHVZF]Mantis Portrait I by John Kimbler, on Flickr
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/zzcgz2]Sleeping Cuckoo Bee by John Kimbler, on Flickr
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/yUx563]Bees in a Wallflower Series 1-2 by John Kimbler, on Flickr
I'm really happy with the images that I took in 2015 because it was a very difficult year (very hot and humid) and I pushed myself to shoot outside of my comfort zone by mixing natural light and flash. Ended up doing a lot of experimenting and it paid off. Here's the last image I took and posted last year, and I set the camera to expose for the natural light in the background.
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/CAwKkw]Plant Bug by John Kimbler, on Flickr
Once things quiet down I plan to blog more, and I'll mostly discuss composition. I'll answer any questions you might have in this thread, and if you like we can talk about how you really shouldn't let the background be black if you can avoid it. I'm at a point where I won't take a shot unless I can get something in the background because I know that a black background won't work.