Favorite Five Photographs of 2013

The five photographs below represent my personal favorites that I made in 2013, 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.

Severe lightning strikes in St. Petersburg Florida during a powerful June 2013 storm - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 bulb mode lens covered until strike tripod mounted with cable release

1 - Lightning Strikes Downtown St. Petersburg - category: nature, long exposure

This was by far the most dangerous photograph I have ever made.  I did not purposefully go out into a lightning storm.  I was teaching a photography lesson along the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront as I had done hundreds of times before.  You may have heard the saying that a storm can come out of nowhere, well that is what happened this time.  Dark clouds could be seen rolling in that including funnel clouds dipping down!  Then the lightning started.  It was a lesson teaching how to shoot from a tripod which allowed us both to get a chane to capture lightning.  The crack from this lightning bolt was the loudest I had heard in over 20 years.  I ran to cover along with the student just after making this shot as rain began pouring down.  It was a bit scary and a little risky, but it resulted in the photograph that makes me feel the most emotion from 2013 because of it. (read the original photo story for this image)


Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Tampa Car Photography Shoot in Ybor City - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/320th with two speed lights behind custom ADV.1 Wheels

2 - Lamborghini Gallardo in Ybor City - category:  car, strobist, Photoshop

It was a good year for photographing cars as I got to photograph a number of special sports cars and super cars.  I ended the 2013 shooting year with this Lamborghini Gallardo shoot.  It was a mid-day shoot, but I knew I wanted to create a dark, atmospheric shot nonetheless.  Using mostly digital photo editing skills, I transformed the shady street the Lamborghini was parked on to look like a dark alley.  I also placed two speedlights under the wheels creating the glowing effect at the bottom, something I had never done before. (read the original photo story for this image


Father holds his baby girl in the air at Madeira Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/4 power beside camera & SB-600 @ 1/4 power to frame right

3 - Father Holding Up Baby Daughter - category: portrait, candid, strobist

Making portraits on the beach is always an unknown due mostly to weather.  If there is no great sunset, so be it.  If there is, then the sunset background canvas helps make any ordinary photo look special.  Then if you can add subjects willing to do something different placed in optimal lighting from two speedlights, the results can be one of the best beach portraits I have made.  This type of shot is full of pitfalls from shadows falling on the subjects face to the baby not having a happy expression.  For this particular portrait, everything fell right into place. (read the original photo story for this image


After 10 seconds, a swinging ship on a pendulum looks elliptical at St. Rafael Church Festival Snell Isle Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 10.5 sec tripod mounted with cable release

4- Carnival Ride on Snell Isle - category: night photography, long exposure

I am a nostalgic person.  It delights me greatly that a small carnival travels from who knows where each October to setup right across the way from my apartment.  One day just a grass soccer field, the next a wonderland of excitement that reminds me of going to them as a kid.  Now when I visit this carnival I do not go on any of the rides, I just observe with my eyes and then my camera capturing what the eye cannot even see.  Then I eat deep fried Oreos and go home and overnight the place returns to a quiet soccer field. (read the original photo story for this image)


Great Egret looking straight at the lens in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1000th

5 - Great Egret Looks Awkward From Straight-on - category: bird, nature, perspective

This area of Florida provides close access to all kinds of large wading birds, like the Great Egret.  From most angles, they are very beautiful and elegant birds with their long slender necks and white plummage.  However, if you remove the dept of their shape and look at them from straight-on, to me, they look incredibly odd and like another creature entirely.  One is so used to seeing these birds from the side perspective, that from the front, they look almost unnatural, not unlike how Beavis should only be observed from the side. (read the original photo story for this image

My Favorite Five Images of 2012

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

St. Petersburg Grand Prix 2013 Classic Racers

Porsche 911 Series 993 racing on the track at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix 2013 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1250thI entered the 2013 St. Petersburg Grand Prix raceway area around noon not know what type of cars I may see on the track at that time.  To my delight the classic racers were out and I got to see my favorite car, the Porsche 911 in several forms roaring around the course.  It took me awhile to find a suitable spot to photograph the cars because the double fence around most of the course just could not be shot through with any success.  

A Mustang takes the corner ahead of a Jaguar at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix 2013 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1250th

I ended up using a spot where a TV camera guy was.  There was a hole cut out of the fence that his huge camera was pointing through so I then only had one fence to shoot through and I could put my lens right up against essentially making it invisible to my camera's sensor.  This spot is where most of these shots are from.

Another classic Porsche 911 with huge rear wing taking a turn at the 2013 St. Petersburg Grand Prix - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1000thI had some idea it would be very loud because as I sit here at home now with the windows open some 4 miles away I can hear the faint sound of engines even.  I actually liked the intense sound and did not use the promotional air plugs handed to me by some social media guy.  I was there less than an hour, so perhaps longer exposure to the engine sounds would have been headache inducing, but for me it was a rush to shoot and feel the subject so viscerally.  

Going down a long straightaway at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix 2013 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/1000thI always wonder what the people do who live in the condos right on the race course.  Do they eventually block it out, love it, or just spend the weekend out of town?

New Year's Eve 2012 Fireworks St. Petersburg Florida

Fireworks on New Year's Eve 2012 St. Petersburg Florida waterfront - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 18.8 sec tripod mounted cable release locked covering the lens with a cardSt. Petersburg Florida celebrated the new year 2013 with a fireworks display on New Year's Eve.  I have photographed various fireworks displays in this area and am always looking for a new spot to shoot from without knowing exactly ahead of time where the fireworks will go off from.  For this New Year's Eve I chose a more northern vantage point allowing some of the city skyscrapers to be in the shot too.  

I detailed my fireworks shooting process in this blog post.

First Sunrise of 2013 Snell Isle Smacks Bayou St. Petersburg Florida New Years

The first glimpse of the first sunrise in 2013 over Smacks Bayou in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/60th tripod mounted with cable releaseI once again woke up early to photograph the first sunrise of the new year, which is somehow already 2013.  Last year was a little more spectacular as I made the big effort to drive out to Ft. Desoto and use the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as a background.  This year I just took a few steps off my back patio to make these images of the sun rising over Smacks Bayou in the Snell Isle area of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The first sunrise of 2013 reflecting on Smacks Bayou Snell Isle Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th tripod mounted with cable releaseThough there was a ripple across Smacks Bayou this morning, a decent reflection from the rising sun could still be seen.  There were only a few low clouds in the sky, so in this case I found the water to be more interesting and made the foreground dominant in the framing of this shot.

A quiet and beautiful first morning of 2013 in Snell Isle Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th tripod mounted with cable releaseIt is always worth it to wake up early and photograph the sunrise.  Did you get up and see the first sunrise of 2013?  Did you have your camera with you (I hope!!)?  Share your first sunrise photos in the comments below.