This is my first photography blog post and I thought it would be fitting to share some of my favorite photos from 2012. This was a great year for photography for me! I was blessed with good health, and understanding wife and a new camera (Canon 5D Mark III).
2012 provided a mix of photo opportunities for me. In addition to my usual haunts in the Bay Area, I managed to spend some time in Big Sur, Monterey, Pt. Reyes, San Simeon, Moro Bay, Yosemite (No surprise there), Mono Lake, Mammoth Lake, Bishop, Hoover Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Louisville Kentucky and three trips to New York City (just to name a few places).
It's always a challenge to narrow my favorites to just a handful, but I managed to pick out 10 of my very favorites plus 3 honorable mentions. Please feel free to comment and ask questions about any of the photos. Thanks so much for looking.
Here's the Top 10 (in no particular order):
Bridge Reflections: Yosemite National Park - I was playing tour guide on a fine spring day in Yosemite Valley and was heading up to Glacier Point for the sunset, when I saw light glinting and sparkling from under the Pohono Bridge. I had to stop! Details: Canon 5D MIII, EF24-105mm f/4L, f/6.3, 1/5 sec, Focal Length - 105mm, ISO 200.
Greenstone Lake Reflection: 20 Lakes Basin, Hoover National Wilderness - This photo was taken on the last day of a three day backpacking trip, exploring the 20 Lakes Basin. Prior to this scene, I was resigned that I would not capture any "calendar worthy images". Fortunately, the previous 12 hours of steady rain cleared the skies and the wind calmed down to provide this stunning photo op. It made the cover of the calendar! Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L, f/16, 1/200 sec, Focal Length 24mm, ISO 400.
Eurasian Eagle Owl: San Francisco Zoo. I have a love for owls, but have not had much luck photographing them. I encountered this Eurasian Eagle Owl at the SF Zoo. Her name is Athena and was given to the zoo after someone was caught smuggling her into the country. It took me about 15 minutes to get this shot. Every time I had locked onto her, she turned her head the other way. It was actually quite comical. She finally had mercy on me and I got the shot! Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, Focal Length 400mm, ISO 200.
Backlit Lacepod: Hite Cove Trail, El Portal, CA. Although 2012 wasn't a great wildflower year, I still had to go by Hite Cove Trail(near Yosemite) and see what it had to offer. The grasses were thick and higher than most of the poppies, but the morning sun was hitting the side of the hill perfectly to back light the Lacepod (Thysanocarpus curvipes). Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF 100mm f2.8L, f/4.5, 1/1600 sec, Focal Length 100mm, ISO 100.
Purple and White Tulips: Central Park, NY, NY. I had the opportunity to explore Central Park in NY while out there on a business trip and I happened to be there when the tulips were in bloom everywhere. I really wanted to try to isolate one of the tulips so I zoomed in to 105mm and opened up the aperture to f4 (that was the biggest for this lens) to decrease the depth of field and set the focus point a little off center. This turned out to be one of my top three of my personal favorites. Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L lens, f/4.0, 1/60 sec, Focal Length 105mm, ISO 400.
Silver Sea Otter: Morro Bay, CA. I encountered this beautiful sea otter on a trip out to Moro Bay. The main focus of this trip was to spend some time with my wife (and the Elephant Seals at Piedros Blancas). My wife spotted the sea otters hanging out in the bay and I found a great spot to park and get close. I was amazed at how close they actually were to the shore and braved the 20+ mph winds (it was really a no brainer for me) to sit on the rocks and photograph the sea otters. This was my favorite of the day (and the trip). Details: Canon 7D, EF70-200mm f2.8L lens with 2x Extender, f/5.6, 1/800 sec, Focal Length 370mm, ISO 250.
Fire in the Sky: Santa Maria Beach, Pt Reyes National Seashore. This photo was taken while backpacking in Pt. Reyes. I was hoping for a colorful sunset, and wow!, I sure got one! Details: Canon 7D, Tamron 18-270mm Lens, f/11, 0.4 sec, ISO 100, Focal Length 18mm, HDR processed with HDRSoft Photomatix Pro.
Canadian Geese Silhouette: Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA. I was looking for a good sunset location at Coyote Hills in Fremont and while waiting for the sun to actually set, hundreds of geese kept flying my way. They were between me and the sun and I didn't think too much of trying to photograph them, until I decided to practice panning birds in flight. I quickly noticed the great silhouettes I was getting and managed(by luck) to get this pair of geese at just the right time. This background was photoshopped in because the original background was pretty drab (you can see the original here). Details: Canon 7D, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L lens, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, Focal Length 370mm, ISO 200.
Wood Duck: Union City Library pond, Union City, CA. I found out that when you post photos of a Wood Duck, you get many reactions and the most common is that they don't believe it is real. Some also think it is a duck made of wood! Eventually, they are believers and are as amazed as I am that such an exotic looking bird can be found so close to home. Details: Canon 7D, EF70-200mm lens f2.8L, f/3.2, 1/160 sec, Focal Length 200mm, ISO 200.
Bishop Creek Color: Lake Sabrina Rd, near Aspendell, CA. I've been to the Eastern Sierras a couple of times to capture the fall colors, but I had never ventured down to the Bishop area, until this year. I ventured to this location late afternoon of my first day in Bishop. The conditions were not good, but I now knew what my plans were for the next day. Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L lens, f/16, 1/10 sec, Focal Length 32mm, ISO 50.
These photos are still some of my favorites, but may not be technically the best. I still wanted to share them and a little about them.
Barn Owl: Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA. I mentioned before I have a thing for owls and I finally was able to photograph an owl in the wild! I had heard reports about a barn owl (maybe even two owls) hunting at dusk at Coyote Hills. The owl had been pretty consistent and I was out there (with another 30 photographers) waiting for an appearance. I was not disappointed. The owl was pretty far away (for my lens) and I didn't have the best angle, but I could not have been happier to have experienced this sight, including a successful hunt! Details: Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, Focal Length 400mm, ISO 6400.
Cart and Sneakers: Chinatown, Manhattan, NY. On my third trip to NY in a matter of a couple of months, I had the goal to capture a bit of the grittiness of the city. I took the subway down to Greenwich Village and walked from there to Little Italy and Chinatown. I saw this woman right on the edge of Chinatown and Little Italy. Details: Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L lens, f/5.0, 1/100 sec, Focal Length 105mm, ISO 500.
The Raft: Museum Row, Louisville, Ky. I spent an afternoon in Louisville while on a trip visiting my family in Kentucky. I thoroughly enjoyed this city and especially the downtown area. I had no idea what to expect and ran across this amazing sculpture (artist is Armando Marino) of a 1937 Plymouth Deluxe with feet instead of wheels. At first I thought this was some sort of social commentary on Slavery, but I found it about the plight of those in Cuba. I knew right away I wanted to capture this in HDR (High Dynamic Range) and was so pleased that it turned out better than I expected! Details: Canon 7D, EF24-105mm f/4L lens, f/4.0, 1/125 sec, Focal Length 28mm, ISO 400.