Jim Goldstein has been running an annual Your Best Photos blog project for several years now, which I hadn’t participated in since I’m usually wary of coming across as self-congratulatory but I figured I’ll give the project a try this year for creative exercise. It was a very memorable year with trips to Yellowstone, San Francisco, Alaska, Monterey and some Southern California photography so here is one last blog post for 2010 despite what I said two weeks ago. 🙂
I picked these ten photos because they all meant something to me at the time I made them, not necessarily because they were my “best” (whatever that means), so they are presented here roughly in chronological order from the day I took them.
I first realized that the downtown Los Angeles skyline could be lined up with the San Gabriel Mountains based on a large photo mural I had seen in an office at the Los Angeles Times when I was working there several years ago. It took me over a year to figure out where to go and even then, Mount Baldy doesn’t have this amount of snow some years so I had to wait until the perfect set of winter storms. Could it be this winter, could it be a five year wait? You just never know when it comes to Southern California and precipitation. Even after the storms hit last winter, it required several photo shoots until the air quality was good enough to get a clear photo.
I had just bought Patty Griffin’s latest cd, Downtown Church, and was listening to it in my car when I saw potential for this scene way off in the distance so I immediately pulled over into the ditch and used up the last few remaining images on my memory card. It was an interesting juxtaposition and coincidence that I’m sure to always remember this night.
My cousin, Herbert, went out pre-sunrise in freezing weather on an early September morning in 2001 to shoot Old Faithful as I slept in the car trying to stay warm. Once I dedicated myself to photography months later, I promised myself that the next time I returned to Old Faithful that I’d man up and do what he did no matter how cold it was. It turned out to be even colder this time which made this all the more gratifying. My only regret was that Herbert passed away before I could invite him to go back to Yellowstone with me.
Alaska was an experience that I will never forget. From a technical standpoint, this horned puffin photo was probably the most challenging photo of the year for me to acquire. After seeing the puffin flying around non-stop with fish in their mouth, I wasn’t going to leave this island without getting an image that captured this experience. I went all-in and spent most of my time trying to capturing flight images. (Nearly risked going home empty-handed in other words.) I didn’t get a lot of keepers but the ones I did were truly memorable which should be the goal when we go out shooting photos. “Aim big or go home.”
I think any event that elicits a collective yelp of excitement from all photographers present should warrant a spot in any top ten list. Photographing grizzly bears in Alaska was the best photography experience I’ve ever had. There is no second best.
For two weeks after I came back home, I was hypnotized thinking of all the different ways I could make a life for myself in Alaska. Experiencing Alaska for the first time felt like a divine intervention of sorts. I’ve been searching for the perfect small coastal town all my life and Seward comes as close as any I’ve been to. The weather is rough to say the least but for those who can handle it, it’s paradise.
Having explored water abstracts for several years now, this Aialik Glacier reflection is my current favorite. Right after I made this image, I imagined this as a large canvas print adorning the wall of my first home. I will be placing the order with my print lab shortly.
Monterey Bay has long been a favorite destination of nature photographers and has a long tradition of famed black and white prints so when this opportunity presented itself, I had to make my own black and white landscape photo.
Photographing elephant seals is always fun and for the first time, I actually came away with some photos that I’m happy with. The seals weren’t there when I was growing up so it’s really cool to see them there now.
My friend was writing an article on interior decorating and needed some images of his house so I went there recently then found some interesting items there to arrange into this photo. Since I’ll have a new house for the new year, this is a direction that I’ll likely be pursuing more of in 2011.