2010 Photography Journey Reflections

It is always difficult to pick out your “best of year” images. Last year I started and never finished. This year, at the prompting of my friend Hutch, instead of picking out my best, I’ve picked 9 images that explore my 2010 photography journey with friends. I am an active member of two local photo clubs and, since I must mostly plan my photo outings, there is hardly a significant image where I haven’t also shared the experience with one of them. Happy new year to Hutch, Connie, Jerry, Judy, Roy, Anne, Rachel, Suzanne, Mike, Darrel, Randi, Jeannie, Chuck, Allyson, Art, Joni, Susannah, and of course Chick.

1. Blossom

This image represents my first foray into seriously shallow depth of field macros. It was inspired by Martin Bailey, a nature photographer living in Japan. Martin is known for his incredibly beautiful low depth of field flowerscapes taken with 300mm and 400mm lenses at f/2.8. He graciously donated his image Lone White to your Thousand Oaks Photo Group picnic raffle. Whereas Martin often focuses on large gardens or patches of flowers in Japan, what I had at my disposal was smaller patches of wildflowers and blossoms. This image was taken on an overcast day in January 2010 the small Gardens of the World  in the center of Thousand Oaks. On this same day I made the image Yellow Expanse which won 1st Place in Flowers at the 2010 Ventura County Fair. (And, no Randi, I don’t do flowers.)

Blossom Photography

2. Dawn Flight

Each winter for the last couple of years, I ask members of the photo group if they want to hit the Santa Barbara pier at dawn. Each year, something new emerges. In 2009 I made the image Misty Morning. This morning I was with Jerry, Roy, Anne, Jeannie, Hutch, and others. The year before I was working on the birds that fly around the water that catches in a deep spot just in front of the pier. I got nothing. This year, I was working with both long and slow shutter speeds. The birds and the sun cooperated in this abstract image of movement.

Dawn Flight Photography

3. Fair Noir, Hot Dog

Who takes B&W images at the fair? I do, I do! At the Ventura County Fair with the usual photography suspects: Chick, Hutch, Jerry, Judy, Darrel, Anne, Roy, Rachel, John F., Susannah, and others. We would shoot and lose each other, then find each other, then shoot some more. My mission was to learn the power of the wide angle lens. I had no real intention of turning these into B&W, but when I got to processing them, the B&W brought out all the structure and contrast. I call this series Fair Noir.

Fair Noir, Hot Dog Photography

4. High Anxiety

This was taken at the Camarillo air show, my first. There I was on the flight line with the TO Photo Group. I was sitting next to, and taking lessons from, the master air show photographer – Hutch. He was using his built-for-action 7D and clicking off frames at 8 frames-per-second – pbrrrrrrrr, pbrrrrrrrr. I was using a terrific 300mm image-stabilized lens that was lent to me by Roy. It was mounted on my built-for-lanscpaces-and-portraits 5dmkII at 3 frames-per-second – ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk. Hutch would take a few, chimp, and exclaim his pleasure or displeasure (mostly pleasure) as well as the shutter-speed he was using. I was getting the hang of things. When Chuck Aaron and his Red Bull Helicopter aerobatic act came on I thought I was getting the hang of it as I listen to Hutch tell me how difficult it is to get the blades of the helicopter because they move so slowly. I start shooting and with each shot I lower the shutter speed: 1/250th of a second, 200th, 125th. I’m getting seriously close to loosing it hand holding a 300mm lens. Hutch tells me the secret of switching on the IS. Now at 1/80th, 60th – and eureka – High Anxiety.

High Anxiety Photography

5. Dancing Yucca

The guy they call Condor at the local Sierra club tells me that there are 4 hike ratings: Easy, Moderate, Hard, and Tanaka. Nothing deters Suzanne Tanaka from a good hike including winding roads and warmer than usual weather. Summer started late this year with an exceptionally cool July, but by August the heat of the summer was starting to bear down. This day we hiked the 6-mile Mishe Mokwa trail with Suzanne, Jerry, Connie, Chick and by happens-chance met Victor (a friend of Suzanne’s) at the trail head. By all accounts, this is a beautiful trail, but a little warm and we almost lost Jerry and Connie on this trek due to the heat. Dancing Yucca is at a spot about ½ through the hike at the top of a hill. It was a little drier, hotter, and dustier than this image would imply – ah, the magic of white balance.

Dancing Yucca Photography

6. Wall of Wave

What would a year of 2010 remembrances be without an image from The Wave? In late September the 6 Utah Trekkers set out on a week photo-adventure to various points in Utah and Arizona. The trip was built around a mysterious hike to a place called “The Wave” – an enormous sandstone chute out in the wilderness area of Coyote Buttes. They allow only 20 hikers per day and 10 of those permits are given by lottery 3 months in advance. We had but 18 chances to “win” and, our lucky charm, was the one-and-only Jerry “the King”. On September 29th Chick, Connie, Jerry, Mike, Suzanne, and I setout on the 3-mile, each way, trip over hill and dale, and sand dune, and red rock, and more sand, and did I mention the sand, and reached The Wave. It was an extraordinary sight and I wish I was able to do it justice with my lens, but an abstract will have to do.

Wall of Wave Photography

7. Solitary Hiker

Did I mention that they day we went to the wave it was near 100-degrees? Here a solitary hiker rests at the mouth of the wave. Who do you think that is?

Solitary Hiker Photography

8. Lone Pine Peak

One of Jerry’s favorite places – Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills. When Jerry makes up his mind to visit Lone Pine, nothing stops him. This time he invited his buddies Mike, Connie, and me. It was just a short trip with one goal in mind, the sunrise in the Alabama hills. For people who haven’t experienced the desert southwest, this area must look like the moon with the brown rocks of the Alabama Hills meeting the blue peaks of the Eastern Sierras. The colors were just too distracting for this scene.

Lone Pine Peak Photography

9. Happy Holidays – Are You Home Yet?

Even though I was on a landscape shoot, I just can’t stop myself from framing up the city scene. Well, kind of a small town scene. Well, can you imagine a more depressing Holiday scene than this? This is my pick for next year’s holiday card. Happy Holidays – Are you home yet?

Happy Holidays Photography

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Bryce Canyon Sunrise
Bryce Canyon Sunrise by I Nancy, on Flickr

This image was taken in late September at Bryce Canyon during the Utah photo trek with my friends from the Thousand Oaks Photo Group. Although the clouds were a welcome sight in the sky, it made the sunrise and sunset shots difficult as they also diffused the light hitting the hoodoos. In this image the light hitting the hoodoos on the left edge is balanced with the dark clouds on the upper right. A 2:1 panoramic crop provides a sense of expanse.

Ripples in the Dunes

Ripples in the Dunes
Ripples in the Dunes by I Nancy, on Flickr

I’m beginning to learn the value of time and distance when it comes to evaluating images. This images was shot on my Utah trip taken in late September. The trip was a whirl-wind tour through areas surrounding Page Arizona, Bryce and Zion National Parks. Upon returning, the emotions of the trip were so in grained that it was very difficult to separate them from the value of each image. The day we visited the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, not far from Zion National Park, we had already missed the best morning sun and the temperatures were quickly rising into the 90s. In addition, photographing these dunes meant more slogging through sand, something which we had already had enough of. “Oh goody, more sand!” became our favorite expression.

This image lay victim to my reluctance to revisit these emotions and edit this mid-morning shoot. The sand here is fairly fine and a reddish, orangeish, pinkish color. The sky a deep blue. The clouds were coming in and soon the weather would cool down some and bring a great display of clouds, rain, and hail for our ride home a few days later. It was difficult to bring out the texture of the ripples and still maintain a good handle on the color. Ultimately the B&W allowed me to concentrate on shapes and the bands of textures. I did all my processing with Lightroom and Photoshop layers (levels and contrast), but I’m guessing that this would have been a good candidate for Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Here is a nearby scene in color. I capitalized on the orange and blue to enter this image into the Thousand Oaks Photo Group December Digital Composition Challenge on Complementary Colors. Ultimately I think that the B&W with its diagonals is a more dynamic image. We will see what the judge has to say on Monday night.
Dunes and Sky

Solitary Hiker

Solitary Hiker
Solitary Hiker by I Nancy, on Flickr

I’m part way through editing my images from our hike to The Wave. Here is an image of Chick, my husband, sitting nonchalantly at the entrance. More rocks, but this one with some attitude. The human element adds a sense of scale and gives the viewer something to identify with. I’ve also captured four different directions of sandstone caught in four different lighting conditions. This is such an amazing place.

A Glimpse of The Wave

A Glimpse of the Wave
A Glimpse of the Wave by I Nancy, on Flickr

Our photo trip to Utah centered around a 2.7 mile hike over red slickrock and through sandy canyons to a sandstone structure known as simply as The Wave. A remarkable sight of eroded sandstone like you have never seen before. The day we hiked in the temperatures were in the upper 90’s with not a cloud in the sky. Here is my first post from the day’s shoot. Everyone gets the iconic Wave image, here is a little different view looking up the wave instead of down.