Favorite Ten Photographs of 2011

This is a collection of my ten personal favorite photographs that I made in 2011, with roughly each image from a different category.  I somehow totally forgot that in the past I only selected my "Five Favorite" shots (2009, 2010), as I from the start set out to choose ten this time.  All photographs were made in the greater Tampa Bay area using a Nikon D300, various lenses, various techniques and various lighting.  My process for selecting the images was based on if the photo made me feel emotion, and also if the particular photograph was a breakthrough for me in terms of technique or content.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1 sec tripod mounted10 - Carnival Time Machine - category:  motion blur

In 2011 I finally invested in a proper tripod.  This allowed me to explore the world of motion blur photography when the annual carnival came to the church right across the water from where I live.  This tilt-a-whirl image appeals to me because of its perfect roundness on a pure black background.  It has a cleanness of form that appeals to me aesthetically. (read original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/100th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/4 power to frame left & SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/4 to frame right9 - Close Family on Colorful Sunset Beach - category:  strobist

This family were repeat clients from 2010.  It is always great to photograph people you already know and have photographed before.  Last year it was their daughter's seventh birthday party.  For this year, they wanted family portraits on the beach.  As you can see Mother Nature did her part providing a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.  Using my 2-strobe off camera flash technique I caught the family in a candid exchange of daughter from father to mother. (read original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/1600th8 - Great Blue Heron Sunset Silhouette - category:  nature

I had pretty much never made a silhouette shot before the one you see above as I thought them too common, too easy to do.  However, when I saw a great blue heron right in my own backyard with the sun setting behind it, I thought, why not?  The result to me is a classical representation of Florida, the Sunshine State.  I feel a sense of near and far with the image as well, with the great blue heron so close, and the Sun so far.  Sunset is my favorite time of day and this shot will always help me remember what it was like living here on Snell Isle. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable release7- New Salvador Dali Museum at Twilight with Moon - category:  HDR

This very well could have been my #1 image of the year.  I had a print of it made for my portfolio, which I only do for a very select few images.  I made the shot while teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson, otherwise I would never have been there that evening.  I have always from the beginning tried to make my HDR look realistic, to use the HDR technique to show images in a more real sense, rather than hyper-real as a lot of HDR tends to look.  Using HDR allowed me to expose the people inside the glass enigma feature of the museum, as well as the purple twilight sky surrounding the waxing moon.  This is yet another image taken at sunset/dusk, my favorite time of day.  This image appeals to me because of its futuristic sense. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 to frame right SB-600 to frame left6 - Fashion Model With Dog Statue - category:  fashion

I can tell you that photographing models for money is rather enjoyable.  Photographing a model is totally different because they know how to act in front of the lens, and like being in front of the lens.  When working with a model I can focus on the creative much more since keeping the subject's interest and coaching them into a flattering pose requires little to no effort.  It was my idea to introduce the dog statue into this shot as an element of pure curiosity. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm @ f/2.8 ISO 1250 1/60th ambient light5 - Old High School Friends in Dennys - category - candid

This is by far the most personal image for me out of the ten, and the one that in ten years will have the most personal value to me.  I had it printed and mounted and it resides on my desk as of this moment.  On the left is old high school friend Rick.  On the right is eldest friend Terry.  We were all best friends in high school.  I had not seen Rick in ten years.  It was the first time for all three of us to be together since we could remember, possibly as long as 1996.  As is the case with childhood friends, ten years might as well be ten seconds once back together again.  This candid portrait perfectly captures how I remember these friends in my mind, which to me is the best result one could ask for in a photo, capturing something as it really is. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/160th SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right4 - Family Facing the Sea & Setting Sun - category - family beach portrait

The beach is not an environment with that many features.  Basically there is the tall grass at the edge of the beach, the sandy beach itself and then the water.  Therefore, family beach portraits can all tend to look similar.  I am always trying to think of new ideas for photos as I do not like to repeat myself.  This portrait was the first time I had a family face the setting sun, thereby putting their backs to the camera.  For me creatively, this makes the impact of the photo totally different than if you could see their faces.  The mood is entirely different, mystery is added, and their reflections in the wet sand add yet another dimension to the image.  When the family looks at this photo in ten years, I want them to wonder what they were thinking about in that moment. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm lens @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR mounted on Induro CT214 tripod with cable release3 - Binocular Viewer Relic of the Past - category:  black & white

This is another image that was made while teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson.  This image ranks so high among my favorites because it haunts me.  In a world rapidly becoming all digital, I am taken aback that suck an analog relic from the past still exists.  I am very pleased that it does.  An object made of thick metal, so heavy that it simply cannot even be moved using one's full strength.  It is such a tangible object.  I chose to use black & white processing to show my nostalgia for the binocular viewer and its links to childhood in general.  I will have a print made of this photograph soon.  (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable release2 - Lexus IS F in Abandoned Ybor City Tampa - category:  car

This is the one image not made in St. Petersburg.  I scouted this location in Ybor City, Tampa before the day of the shoot as the client wanted a brick warehouse background.  For a short time, the Lexus IS F was my favorite car in the world.  So when the opportunity came to actually get paid money to photograph one, I was ecstatic.  This also marked a transition in my business toward car & commercial photography.  I liked this image so much that I have been using it on the front side of my business card for most of 2011.  I need to get a print of this one made sometime very soon too. (read the original photo story for this image)


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/7.1 ISO 200 1/160th SB-800 to frame right & SB-600 to frame left1 - Guitarist Playing to the Sunset - category:  commercial

Quite simply, I believe this was the best time I ever had making photographs, at least professionally.  The client gave me the ideal instructions:  just photogrpah me while I play.  In this way, I was able to combine a commercial shoot with essentially candid street photography.  Thus, it was my ideal photography job.  Since he was actually playing, the music also set the tone for the shoot as well.  I never shot a greater variety of photos using all my lenses, both natural light and strobist shots, wide shots, tight shots, sunset shots, silhouette shots, basically a little of everything from all the other above images.  Once again, the image that appeals most to me is one where you cannot see the subject's face.  I already have a print of it in my portfolio.  This is my favorite photograph made in 2011.  (read the original photo story for this image)

My Favorite Five Images of 2009

My Favorite Five Images of 2010

--please post links to your own favorite photographs in the comments below