Favorite Five Photographs from 2009

2009 was the year I really got into HDR photography -- Colt Creek State Park in summer

5 - Colt Creek State Park - category: HDR

Not too long ago I did not like HDR photography at all.  Today, I love it and will have an HDR image in a collective retrospective exhibition of historical photographs of Saint Petersburg.  This HDR image of wetlands in Colt Creek State Park is one of my top five favorites of 2009 because I felt this park was an overlooked if not ignored state park.  It is a fairly new state park, only a couple years old.  I could almost feel the lack of photographs taken at this park, which is a shame as the wetlands were expansive and white ibis and other water birds flew in and out of them in flocks.  Someday I will return to this park and camp there in order to photograph it at sunrise.


I photographed my first wedding in 2009 and learned it is not all stuffy formal photos.

4 - The Ring Bearer Makes a Point - category: Wedding

2009 marked my debut as a wedding photographer.  Wedding photography could not be more different than I imagined.  Maybe I have just been lucky, but all the weddings I have photographed have been fun, tension free experiences.  This candid image made in between the formal shots made this list because of the moment it froze and the smiles on their faces.  This is the epitome of my candid style of photography and the types of things I am constantly searching for when photographing a wedding, event or any other gathering of people.


I still feel bad about running over this alligator in my kayak, sorry again dude!

3 - Eye to Eye with an Alligator  - category: Wildlife

This alligator photograph makes this list for a variety of reasons:  the long story behind the shot, my first time to really photograph an alligator, my first time to make any photograph from a kayak, and my first real foray into true wildlife photography.  The long story behind this shot can be read here.  After literally driving by the exit for Myakka River State Park on I-75 160 times, 2009 was the year I finally turned off the highway and got out of my car and into a kayak!  Floating added to the technical challenge of making this photograph, as was having to steady my hands on the camera knowing I was only a few feet away from this sizable alligator in his (her?) natural element, i.e. water.  However, being in the kayak allowed me to get to eye level with this alligator and having the sun to my back allowed me to get this exposure in the harsh Florida sun.  The experience of making this photograph was the only one that has ever made my heart race.  I cannot wait to shoot from a kayak again!


Six years living in Japan allowed me some unique photography opportunities.

2 - Four Come of Age in Vivid Kimonos  - category: Culture/Japan

A friend still living in Japan recently remarked how it is almost cliche to photograph young Japanese girls on Coming of Age Day in their kimonos.  This was not really in my mind last January when I was still living in Japan and fighting the crowds to enter Meiji Jingu Shrine.  However, upon seeing the dozens and dozens of photographers (at least guys with very expensive photo gear) shooting like it was the red carpet at the Oscars, I started to think I am really going to have to dig deep to produce a standout shot, and not just standout from what others are shooting, but to be a shot that standouts to me personally, as ultimately I really only shoot for pleasing myself in these situations.  By not including the girls' heads in the shot, I thought I could put the focus on their kimono, and make an image that years later will make me think, "who were these girls?"  


A true candid portrait, made at pretty much my favorite spot on Earth.

1 - On Treasure Island You Can Meet Your Other Self*  - category: Candid Portrait

I differentiate myself from other photographers in the Tampa Bay area by promoting my candid style.  I do not think I will ever be able to make a photograph that illustrates what a candid portrait means to me more than the one above.  This portrait of a boy placing his palms on the shore, closing his eyes, thinking/imagining, and unknowingly making a reflection of himself is a true candid.  He was off playing by himself while I was a distance away, when I noticed he was making a reflection in the wet sand.  I bent my knees to get near his eye level, steadying my 80-200mm lens in my hands, and that's when he went into this symmetrical stance.  I pushed the shutter and made my favorite photograph of 2009.

*This photograph was critiqued by Scott Bourne himself.