Back to the Challenge

Day 67 - Curves

I’m back to shooting for the 2009 Photo Challenge this week with this shot for the Curves theme.  We took a day trip to Bodega Bay to do some whale watching, but the wind was furious and the surf too wild to see anything.  Fortunately, the tide was low so the tide pools were easily accessible.

The wind was definitely a force of nature yesterday. The Sonoma Coast can get darn windy, but yesterday was something else. I was worried about sand blasting my camera so I kept it tucked into my jacket when I wasn’t shooting. The wind literally pushed my 6 year old backwards as she walked and our parked mini-van was shaking from the wind. We didn’t spend a lot of time out in the elements, but long enough for this shot of natural curves.

I took a dozen or so shots of these mussels trying to get the curves just right, but in the end none of the shots compared to how they look in nature. The patterns and colors were truly spectacular if you took the time to appreciate it. Most people gravitate to star fish or sea anemones, but these guys are worth a look.

I took last week of the 2009 Photo Challenge off.  I just couldn’t get into the theme – Emotion. Emotional shots to me can’t be planned. I knew there was no way I could take an honest emotional shot given that I work full time. I see a lot of joy and happiness in my kids, but I didn’t want to use them as subjects. I’m also not entirely comfortable taking pictures of strangers. That is an area I need to work on, but I don’t think the Photo Challenge is the right venue.

January Reflections

All in all, a good day
I have certainly hit the ground running this year, at least in terms of photography. I decided to attempt the 2009 Photo Challenge so I’ve been taking a lot of photos. I’ve only missed one day so far, which means I’ve posted 34 photos for the challenge alone. I’ve also posted about 40+ other photos to Zooomr and Flickr. That has to be one my best months ever with about 75 photos in the month.

I’ve also been very pleased with the quality of the shots I’ve been posting, and several have received a lot of faves and views. While I’d like to think I’m growing as a photographer, I’m certain the 2009 Challenge has helped me improve. In fact, a friend is buying prints of three shots taken specifically for the 2009 Challenge. That will be my first photography sale. I’m also contributing a photo to a fund raising auction for my kids’ school later this month.

One of the high points of January was my first photowalk with Jeremy Brooks and Andrew Lighten. I was on a jury in San Francisco and Jeremy and I decided to meet up one evening. It just happened that Andrew flew into SF that day. Hanging out even for a short time with other photographers is very rewarding. Thanks guys. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get to other Bay Area photowalks this year.  This is one of the shots I took on that walk:
Night on the Bay

January was a good start to the year for me. I know the economy sucks and California is heading into a severe drought, but I’m looking forward to this year. And looking back, this is my favorite shot of the month:
Day 28 - Water

One final thing, I want to give a little promotion to the PhotoNetCast podcast. I’ve only recently started listening to this and have really enjoyed it. It’s entertaining and informative. I know everyone listens to TWIP, but you should also listen to PhotoNetCast. Really.

Best of 2008 – The Complete List

Last week I posted my best shots of 2008 as part of Jim Goldstein’s blog project. Jim provided the complete list of photographers who submitted photos. It’s an impressive list.

From Jim Goldstein
Once again 2008 proved to be an incredibly productive year for the many photographers who read the JMG-Galleries blog. The results of this “Best Photos From 2008” blog project puts a twist to the normal “Best of Photo” list by aggregating links to the work of 93 photographers from around the globe who are passionate and dedicated to their craft.

The results from “Best Photos From 2007” by JMG-Galleries Blog Reader’s were impressive, but this year not only did the number of participants exceed expectation the quality and vision of those who submitted were exceptional. This year participants ran the gamut of experience from enthusiasts to professionals.

Enjoy and good luck picking out your favorite from these great submissions

  1. My Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2008” – Jim M. Goldstein
  2. My Favorite Shots of the YearView from the Little Red Tent by Edie Howe
  3. 2008 FavoritesPhotine by Laurie Ballesteros
  4. My Nephew – Amit Goyal
    My nephew woke me up in the morning and was in a very chirpy mode when this was clicked
  5. Another world (+Vorher/Nachher)Visuelle Gedanken by Martin Wolf
  6. Boy, HanoiThe Sun Shines & The Igloo Melts by Jon Gresham
  7. Best Photos from 2008 – Abraham Neben
  8. Apocalyptic CapitalismSultana Sandwich by James Hill
  9. Top 10 Photos of 2008, My first year in WisconsinSierra Visions by Steven Bourelle
  10. My Best Photos: 2008Shutter Photo by D Travis North
    This past year was a huge growth year for my digital photography skills which I feel is exhibited quite nicely in my photo favorites of 2008.
  11. Best Photos From 2008G Dan Mitchell Photography
  12. Protesting Prop 8 Quan Photography by John Quan
  13. Bir y?l böyle geçti… by Caglar Tukel
    Most of Photos taken during our traveling around Turkey and hiking around our hometown, Izmir.
  14. My best shots of 2008Jonesblog by Bryan WIlliam Jones
  15. Flamingo and Desert Landscapepl?dys’s photoblog by Mike Reys
    Both pictures are from one of the most beautiful places on earth: Chile’s Atacama desert. The salt lakes there provide for some stunning colours and beautiful wildlife.
  16. SuspendedMark Groves Photography
  17. My Favorite 10 Images from 2008IM Digital by Ivan Makarov
  18. My Best Photo of 2008Matt Ward Photography
    This photo was taken in Oct at 7am after a cold night in Atlanta, GA.
  19. Highlights of 2008Lori Jackson Photography
    In 2008, I picked up my camera again after a year long hiatus following pregnancy and my son’s birth.
  20. Favorites from 2008Adventures Through The Lens by Rebecca Jackrel
  21. Top Ten Photos of 2008Chris Moore Photography
  22. My Photo RecordKriz Cpec Photo Blog
  23. Best of 2008Catavino by Ryan Opaz
  24. Looking Forward and Back Graf Nature Photography by Mark Graf
  25. Lloyd’s Favorites of 2008 – L.D. Cross
  26. My Favorite Photos from 2008Epic Edits by Brian Auer
    A selection of my favorite photos from 2008, broken down by each month and supplemented with a few thoughts.
  27. Derryclare LoughFocus Pocus by Albert MacSweeny
    My best photo of the year was when I was lucky enough to get a still lake in the usually
    turbulent west of Ireland
  28. Best of 2008News and Views by Dave Wilson
  29. NeedleAndel’s Photoblog by Andel Früh
    This photo has been shot with the kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) in retro position (front lens to the camera)
  30. Year in PicturesMarcin Retecki
  31. 2008 Top Ten – Lois Elling
  32. My Best Photos of 2008Out of My Mind by Steven L. Mullen
    These are travel and nature shots taken in Michigan, China, and locally.
  33. One from 2008Hockley Photography by Aaron Hockley
    It’s a photo taken at night, looking across a bridge towards another photographer also taking a picture of the same ferris wheel as I was.
  34. 2008 in PicturesSawlani Photography by Hitesh Sawlani
  35. My Top 10 Photos for 2008 – by Neil Creek Photography
  36. Best of 2008The Quiet Picture by Minna Kinnunen
    My 10 favourites from 2008, everything from flower closeups to landscapes and starry nights!
  37. Best of 2008 – by Stig Nygaard
    Just a quick little mixed selection of what I consider my best photos from 2008
  38. My Top Ten Photos from 2008Korn on the Blog by Justin Korn
    Of the 1,800+ images I uploaded to Flickr this year, these are what I thought were my top 10.
  39. Blog Project: “your Best Photos from 2008”Jim’s Photography by Jim Wheeler
  40. My Best Photos from by Trevor Carpenter
  41. Best Photos of 2008 – by Dave Reichert
  42. 2008 Favorites – by Beth Madison
  43. 01/01/2009 Best of 2008Brad Barton Photography
  44. 2008: My Favorite PhotosMy Digital Life by Jeremy Brooks
  45. 2008: The year in photographsKatie the Scrapbook Lady by Katie
  46. Gotham. Or maybe LondonSFT Photography by Steve Thomas
    I love the dark and moody feel, combined with the futuristic look of the building. I really enjoyed shooting it!
  47. My Best Photos of by Andre Maltais
    I’m particularly proud of these submissions this year, as it seems I’ve made some great strides in my photography from the beginning of the year.
  48. Best of 2008 ProjectPhotos From The Top Floor by Carsten Fischer
  49. La Arcada seating on a rare rainy October morninggZphotoGraph
  50. Jaguar – by Jarrod Erbe Photography
    This jaguar image was taken at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The background was generated using a combination of Aperture, Photoshop Elements, and DFT Light.
  51. Best of 2008?Suzy Walker, Underwater Photoblog
    My top ten fav travel, underwater and macro photos taken in 2008
  52. My best shots of 2008TemujinPhoto Blog by João Almeida
  53. Best of 2008 – by Rick Goldwasser
  54. My Top 10 Images of 2008The Jim Stamates Collection by Jim Stamates
  55. #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6Mannedspace: Photographs by MT Fanders
  56. Best 10 of 2008 – by Duffy Knox
  57. Future Christmas Card – by Massimo Belloni

  58. target=”_blank”>Best Photos of 2008 – MIZSPONTANEITY: A Girl With A Camera by Elaine
    I got a Nikon D40X for Christmas 2007, and although some of these photos were with my trusty Sony W70 point-and-shoot, these are my favorite 10 results of my first year with a digital SLR.
  59. Best of 2008Changing Perspectives by Jenni Brehm
  60. My Best of 2008 – by Eliya Selhub
    In 2008, I have found myself increasingly drawn to animals as subjects, and a slight cartoonish absurdity always appeals to me.
  61. My Best Photos From 2008Lilahpops – Plunging into Photography by Anthea Brown
    Looking back over my photos for the past year shows my increasing interest in post-processing experimentation alongside my favourite macro format.
  62. My top 10 favorite photos of 2008The Taeleman’s Blog by Kris Taeleman
  63. My Favorite Photos of 2008Coulter Photos by Scott Coulter
  64. Favorites of 2008 XGray Vision by Stephen Gray
  65. My Top 10 Favorite Images of 2008 Cornforth Images by Jon Cornforth
    Spectacular nature and wildlife photography, photos, and pictures by award winning professional photographer Jon Cornforth.
  66. Sitting Backwards on My Horselatoga photography By Greg Lato
  67. Top ten images of 2008Enlightened Images by Gary Crabbe
    These are some of the image I took in 2008, and which rose toward the top of the – I Like – pile.
  68. Best 10 photos of 2008 Have Camera Will Travel by Paul Dymond
    Images from professional Australian travel photographer Paul Dymond which ironically were all taken pretty close to home.
  69. Best of 2008 – Heidi Donat
  70. Best Photos of 2008 – by Luca Filigheddu Photography
  71. Favourites of 2008 – by Chris Brown
  72. Best of 2008 – by William Kahn
  73. Pics of the pops 2008fotoVoyager by William Fawcett
  74. My Top 10 Photos of 2008Always Breaking by Gary Hegenbart
  75. Best of 2008 – by Trevin Chow
    This is a set of my best photos that I took during 2008 which is a combination of Flickr’s “interestingness” meter and my own selection.
  76. Best of 2008 Hotel Yankee Foxtrot by Alex McGeagh
    A collection of the better images captured in a progressive and productive year for me.
  77. Top 10 Photos of 2008 Digital Kloc Photography Blog by Brian Kloc
  78. Burrard-Lucas Top Ten Photographs of 2008Burrard-Lucas Photography by William Burrard-Lucas
    We are brothers from the UK with a shared passion for wildlife photography – in 2008 we followed Meerkats in the Kalahari, stalked Jaguars in the wetlands of Brazil and waded through swamps at night to photograph Caimans…
  79. My best 10+3 pictures of 2008All Day I Dream About Photography by Antoine Khater
  80. Best of 2008 on Highway 89Ann Torrence Photography
    Transecting the west from Mexico to Canada on US89.
  81. Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance – by Dave Fitch
    A railway bridge in Leith [Edinburgh] that was restored and then left to rot. It’s not perfectly symmetrical, but then neither is the bridge
  82. My Top 10 Photographys of 2008Nuwomb Bits by Scott Webb
  83. Best of 2008Matt Sallee Photography
  84. My 10 best photos of 2008Stephen Trainor Photography
    Mostly landscapes, mostly of the Southwest, but with a hint of other anglophone countries.
  85. 10 in 2008 k|d loftis photography
    My favorite images from 2008 which include weddings, maternity and newborns, families and babies and a few personal images from the year.

  86. target=”_blank”>My 10 Favorite Images of 2008 – Della Huff Photography
    My ten favorites from 2008 include California landscapes and cityscapes, with a couple of extra goodies thrown in for fun!
  87. Best Photos of 2008 – by Dave Schumaker
  88. Best of 2008 – by Jay Goodrich Photography
  89. My best photos from 2008All Narfed Up by Bryan Villarin
    Choosing my best photos from 2008 was really hard to narrow down, especially since it was my first year with a SLR camera.
  90. Mein Flickr Photostream 2008 – Best of – by Stefan Neuweger
  91. My Best Photos from 2008Why Yet Another Photo Place by Rafa
  92. Best Photos from 2008 – by Daria Sukhanovska
    Only until i created this set of 13 photos, i realized how much progress i have done this year: I have traveled a lot, got one photo printed in the magazine and had my first own personal exhibition in the university library and simply had fun with my photos
  93. My Best of 2008 – by Phil Price Photography

My Top 10 Photos of 2008

I hadn’t considered doing a post summing up my year in photography, but today I saw a tweet from Phill Price reminding people to submit their Top Ten to Jim M. Goldstein’s blog project. I’ve run across Jim’s blog before, but for some reason I haven’t subscribed in Google Reader. Well, that has been fixed.

I usually find it hard to pick shots I like. The shots I like are often not the ones that get the most views or faves. I went through my Zooomr photostream and picked the ones I like best that were also favorites of the Zooomr community. So here are my best shots of 2008, in no particular order:

Dreaming of Summer
Dreaming of Summer
Elk Lake, Oregon. One of my favorite places.

Seeing Stars
Seeing Stars
My wife always has fresh flowers in the house, so I get a lot of opportunities to take flower shots.

Barack Obama, plate 6
Barack Obama, plate 6
I had to include one of these shots. I was one of the highlights of the year for me, and the nation.

Return to Earth
Return to Earth
Morrison Planetarium, Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Heartland Dreams
Heartland Dreams
Somewhere near Southwick, Idaho. Another shot from our summer vacation.

What do you hold in
What do you hold in
A fence post near Petaluma, CA

Everything you want
Everything you want
Taken in Redding, CA at the Sundial Bridge. Also from the summer vacation.


Another shot of flowers in my house.

Visual Pollution
Visual Pollution
Power lines in Petaluma, CA

Petaluma, CA

2009 Photo Challenge – Days 1-5

I’m trying the Photo Challenge again this year. Last year didn’t go so well, I gave up pretty early. I’m going into the 2009 Challenge with modest expectations. The challenge is a photo-a-day with a new theme everyday. The details of the 2009 challenge are on the Photo Challenge blog. The daily theme is posted the day before, so you don’t have much time to plan.

I know I won’t be able to take and post a photo everyday this year. With work, kids, vacation, etc it just isn’t possible. I’m hoping for 300 shots for the challenge. Even those 300 might not be daily, but if I know starting out that I can’t get one a day, I won’t be disappointed if I don’t make it. If I get 300, I’ll feel I accomplished my personal goal. And I think that is the point of the challenges – grow as a photographer and have fun.

After five days I’m keeping up. I’ve taken and posted a shot everyday. It’s not easy, and they aren’t are all shots I would normally post. Since the Photo Challenges use Flickr, I finally went ahead and upgraded to a Pro account. I still prefer Zooomr, but will be posting all my photos on both sites from now on.
Day 1 – Chair
Day 1 - Chair

Day 2 – Pen
Day 2 - Pen

Day 3 – Music
Day 3 - Music

Day 4 – Book

Day 5 – Window
Day 5 - Window

Macros for a Rainy Day

It rained all day, and I was bored by about 9 a.m so I decided to shoot some macros indoors. I don’t have real lights, so I grabbed the lamp from my desk and set up on the dining room table. It’s not an ideal lighting situation, but it worked. I used my reversed 50mm lens mounted on the kit 18-55mm that came with my camera. These are the best of what I came up with. The reversed lens adds a lot of vignetting, which I cropped out to varying degrees on each of these shots.

Unfortunately I didn’t take many shots more because I broke my little toe. That made it a little hard to stand up and move around. I spent some time at urgent care and then a lot of time laying around wishing I could pay better attention to where I walk. I am, truly, always breaking something. This time it was myself.

The sound we wish for
The sound we wish for

Finding What We Lost
Finding what we lost


Academy of Sciences

Below the surface
After five years, the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park reopened this weekend. Opening day was free, so we decided to go on Sunday hoping the crowds would be a little smaller. We’ve been anticipating the re-opening for a long time, and even got an annual membership. We expected to be impressed, and were not disappointed. The Academy of Sciences is simply amazing.

It was crowded, but not jammed with people. There were lines to get into the Rainforests of the World exhibit, but it moved quickly. The show at the Morrison Planetarium was completely packed, but we had no problem getting tickets and all the seats had good views of the show. It was a little too crowded at times to truly enjoy and experience all that the Academy has to offer, but we’ll have plenty of time over the next year to see everything.

After spending a couple of hours exploring and enjoying the Academy, we sat down on a bench to rest and have a snack. An older man walked up and asked us how we liked it. Turns out he was the Director of the Academy of Sciences. We told how much fun we were having and how much the kids enjoyed it. I thought it was cool that the director was out just casually chatting with guests. He seemed very pleased, and for good reason. The opening was huge success.

From a photography point of view there is no lack of shots. The vast concrete and metal structure housing the Academy is an exhibit itself, drawing your eye into the prominent geometry of the design. The main level features two giant spheres that house the Rainforests of the World display and the Morrison Planetarium separated by a naturally lit plaza.

One suggestion, go see the series of black and white wildlife prints on level 3. They are spectacular. Since I love photography, they were my favorite exhibit. They are essentially wildlife portraits. I didn’t make it to the gift shop, but if they have book of these shots, I’m definitely getting it.

Morrison Planetarium, Plate 3

Rainforests Sphere, plate 4

A Small Find

View all the shots in the set.

Sunset Photos

I’ve been keeping up with the April Challenge, but seem to fall behind in the 2008 Community Challenge. Maybe because there is so much that falls apart. Anyway, here are the shots for week 14 and week 15 (which by my count is this week).

Sunset Twine at Sunset
I set out yesterday evening to shoot the old Sunset Twine building because the light hits it perfectly with few shadows. The building is truly amazing. It was a working factory up until about a year ago (maybe two). Developers had planned to turn it into condos, but the city kept dragging its feet on approving plans, so the developer finally gave up. I want to see the building preserved and hope someone comes along to take care of it before it falls down.

Barn at Sunset
This barn was moved a couple of years ago to this spot by the river to make room for a parking garage downtown. The move was about a 1/4 mile as the crow flies. I tend to not like development that displaces or destroys old buildings, but I was ok with this move because it preserved the building and put it in a new riverside park. Moving it was a good compromise.

These shots were taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at

Devolution Days 2-5

I’ve actually been keeping up with the April Challenge, so far. It’s only Day 5, so I guess it’s not much of an accomplishment yet. Here are the shots for days 2-5.

April 2, 2008
Layer upon layer
Paint peeling off the old barn/shed in my backyard. This building is probably 100+ years old, and looks like it. It is also my next project at home. I’ve neglected it for too long and will be fixing it up over the next few months.

April 3, 2008
I’ve blogged before about trains (or lack thereof) in Sonoma County. This is a section of track north of Penngrove, CA.

April 4, 2008
Sunset Twine 1

April 5, 2008
Bits and Pieces
One of the thousands of pieces of glass from my car window that was smashed yesterday in a random act of stupidity. Actual size is 1/2 inch long.
These shots were taken as part of the April photo challenge.

Sad State of the Streets

Streets of my town
My first shot for the April photo challenge. It also works for this week’s 2008 Challenge. My town is known for its streets, or actually how badly the streets need repairs. This street is in downtown, off the main drag.

We’ve gotten a bit of press over the sad state of our streets, and at one point Petaluma had the worst streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. A distinction most residence aren’t proud of. In addition to being annoying, the potholes actually damage cars and put extra wear and tear on them. The city is working to make improvements, but there are many streets in dire need of repair. I’ve heard people say our streets are worse than the streets of Baghdad. Having never been there, I can’t say, but they are worse than many dirt roads I’ve driven.

Here’s a few of websites with more information if you’re interested:
Bruce Hagen
Tim Hurley on Petaluma 360

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at and the April Challenge.