Favorite Five Photographs of 2012

The five photographs below represent my personal favorites that I made in 2012, from various categories.  The process, as always, for selecting my favorite images of the year is based on if the photo made me feel emotion.  Another factor for choosing is if the particular photograph was a breakthrough for me in terms of technique or content.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione looks out over the Tampa International Jet Center airfield - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable release

1 - Alfa Romeo 8C HDR at Tampa Jet Center - category: event, car, HDR

Photographing the Cars & Couture event in October 2012 was the most fruitful evening of shooting of the year for me by far for getting portfolio shots.  The term kid in a candy shop could not be more well applied.  I had free range to photograph numerous supercars in a unique (jet hangar) setting as the light of the day was providing an ideal sunset backdrop.  I felt as if in a blissful trance.  It was hard to choose which shot from the event for my favorite.  I chose the above shot of an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione because it incorporates the best of my 9-exposure HDR technique in a shot that composes the car and event photography categories.  I also believe it tells a story with the couple embracing framed in the windshield of the car, the woman standing alone in the center, the jets in the far background and the other people mingling at the right of the frame.  This image is the one I am currently using on my business card too. (read the original photo story for this image)


Abby surrounded by bokeh using "sandwich lighting" - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR Micro @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right both @ 1/4 power

2 - Abby Wrapped in Shadow with Bokeh - category:  model portfolio shot, strobist

I had several model portfolio shoots in 2012, but like the Cars & Couture event described above, my shoot with Abby produced the most portfolio shots of any other model shoot.  The image of her above largely in shadow also represents a new photography style for me pushing my strobist techniques into different, less traditional areas.  This shoot was also on location, not in a studio, and the bokeh in the background is the result of finding trees filled with small lights.  The shadow the model is wrapped in to me, is what produces the emotion of the shot, along with the pose Abby chose on her own.  Both of these add up to some mystery the viewer has to ponder. (read the original photo story for this image


Isabella dancing at her first communion celebration at the Don Cesar St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame right

3 - First Communion Dress Sping - category: portrait

I had photographed Isabella's mother twice before as she is a professional flamenco dancer.  She asked me to photograph her daughter's First Communion celebration at the Don Cesar.  As soon as I saw Isabella in her beautiful, flowing white dress, I knew I wanted to make a shot showing the dress twirling in the air.  In the driveway of the Don Cesar I stood on the top of a low wall of potted plants to get a high perspective.  Then it was about timing the shot right to get Isabella smiling and looking at the camera as well as her dress in full spin.  (read the original photo story for this image


Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 11 sec tripod mounted with cable release

4- Fiery Dusk Sky Over St. Petersburg - category: fine art, landscape, long exposure

2012 may well be the last year I would be able to make a shot like the one above as the location I made it from, the top of The Pier, is slated for demolition soon.  If that is so and this shot is the last twilight sky over downtown St. Petersburg I ever make, then at least I got great cooperation from Mother Nature.  Just minutes before sunset, everything was totally gray and overcast.  Then, suddenly, light burst out from just above the horizon and changed color at least three times.  This view is more commonly shot framed to the west and north, but I chose to frame it west and south, making it stand out from others I have taken from this same vantage point.  (read the original photo story for this image)


Kiki's mouth opens too wide when yawning to even fit in the frame! - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/8 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/4 power in brolly to frame right

5 - Kiki Yawns on Digital White Background - category: candid, Photoshop, pet

A photograph of my beloved puppy Kiki returns to my favorites of the year after a one year absence.  This one demonstrates the benefits of being restricted by focal length.  On my Nikon was the 105mm macro lens, making it impossible to get Kiki's entire head in the frame.  I think had another, wider lens been on my camera then and all of Kiki's head could have been in the frame, the shot would not have had nearly the impact this one does by showing only part of her tongue and jaw and featuring her eye looking straight ahead.  The other reason for choosing this shot is that it demonstrates my improved Photoshop technique for removing a subject from a background and my new liking of putting subjects on digitally created white backgrounds.  (read the original photo story for this image

My Favorite Five Images of 2011

My Favorite Five Images of 2010

My Favorite Five Images of 2009

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

First Sunrise of 2012 Florida Sunshine Skyway Bridge New Years

First light of dawn on New Year's morning 2012 Sunshine Skyway Bridge - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 10 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI was just thinking about a week ago how I have no photographs of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, one of the top landmarks in the entire Tampa Bay area.  With New Year's Day 2012 approaching it seemed then a great chance to continue a Japanese custom, watching the first sunrise of the year, while finally photographing the bridge.  I learned from a photographer in Japan that the best morning light is actually way before the actual sunrise.  The above image was taken approximately 49 minutes before sunrise.

Dawn light surrounding the peaks of Sunshine Skyway Bridge - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 5 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseDawn photography is similarly easy to night photography.  If you have a stable tripod and a cable release, then it is basically just a matter of choosing the best shutter speed to produce the most vivid color and also of course composing the shot in an interesting way.  With my Nikon D300 mounted on my Induro CT214 carbon fiber tripod, making these shots was no mess, no fuss.  By that I mean the tripod takes away the physicality of holding the DSLR and heavy lens, correcting a shot just means turning one dial for shutter speed, and the act of making the shot itself is just holding the button on the light cable release.  Painless!

The sun first peaks over Sunshine Skyway Bridge St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 1/60th tripod mounted with cable releaseIn the fifteen or so minutes before the actual sunrise the light is already poor, especially compared to the light fifty minutes earlier.  So in that time I did not even bother making any photos.  Thus, it is important to know the exact minute of the sunrise so you can keep an eye on the time because once the good dawn light is gone, all that remains is to photograph the sun itself rising above the horizon.  Once it is above, that is the end of the excitement.

Vivid orange sunrise Sunshine Skyway Bridge Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseSince the sunrise is well in the distance along the horizon, using a longer lens with a focal length of 200mm is very handy for being able to fill the frame.  The above shot was taken at 200mm (300mm effective focal length).  

Please put links to your New Year's sunrise photographs in the comments below!