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

Antoher Spring

Another Spring
It’s the end of February and Spring is in full force. In typical California fashion, a few weeks of bad weather was followed by a week of upper 60s and low 70s, so all the plants have started budding and blooming. I drove by this house kind of on accident today and had to stop to take a picture.

Even though I didn’t plan the shot, it’s perfect for the 2008 Challenge for this week because the weather has been spectacular, as it usually is in February. Our town has a lot of flowering trees and several beautiful Magnolias. This tree, in particular, is stunning and the photo just doesn’t do it justice. So, no long blog post for this one, just enjoy the weather, if you can.

I used a polarizing filter, so the sky is really dark. I did some minor contrast adjustment, but this one is pretty
much “as is”. This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at The photo is hosted on Zooomr, along with these others I shot this week.
Signs of Spring There is beauty in imperfection

Dahlias in Golden Gate Park

The things you know

On our day trip to San Francisco last weekend, my wife had to take me by the dahlias outside the Conservatory of Flowers. I’m glad she did. I’m so bad with flower names I probably couldn’t have identified a dahlia myself, so didn’t really know what to expect until we got there. I had no idea dahlias came in so many sizes, shapes, and colors. My wife is a florist, so I’m a little ashamed to admit me floral ignorance. But I do like to take pictures of flowers, and this was an excellent opportunity. I geotagged the image on Zooomr so you can find out how to get there, but if you want to see them you’d better go soon. The flowers were a few days past their prime (according to my wife) so won’t be as spectacular much longer.

We went there late in the day, around 6:00 pm, so were able to park right next to the flowers. There were several other people taking photos of the dahlias, including a few people with the exact same camera I have, the Canon 30D. I’m still getting used to the controls on the camera, so I was slowed down a little. I still managed to take a couple of dozens photos in a few minutes. There are so many varieties and great shots, it wasn’t hard to take a lot of pictures. I wish I had thought to write down the flower names as I shot, or at least took shots of the little plaques with names. I’m going to need to get a notebook to start writing things down. The JPG records EXIF data, but usually there’s more going on in a shot than what EXIF records.

I used my 70-300mm IS lens to get the shots. The light was starting to fade, so even with the image stabilization a couple of shots were blurry.

Here are two other shots, the second one is the same variety as the main image:
Your Shining Face

What will be

Almost Ready

Almost Ready
We have two hydrangea bushes, one on either side of the front steps. When we bought our house nearly 11 years ago they were the only things attractive on lot. My wife keeps them pruned nicely and every year they have beautiful bunches of flowers. This year is turning out to be no exception. They always start blooming about now, and are usually in full glory right around the beginning of July.

They seem a little brighter shade of pink this year, not sure why. Hydrangeas can change colors, and if you plant new bush they usually do change colors. They pick up different minerals or whatever in the soil and it changes the color. I’ve heard you can put pennies in the ground to get them to change.

One year someone actually stole the flowers. Early in the morning, before I would ever dream of waking up, someone came by and cut all the bunches of flowers off both bushes. This was a couple of days before my daughters birthday party, so instead of beautiful hydrangeas to welcome the guests, we had bare plants. We were furious, but what could we do. That year we got to enjoy the flowers for about two weeks and had to wait a full year to get them back. That hasn’t happened again, and I hope it never does. We’ve planted some bushes in the backyard just in case.

Anyway, you can enjoy these plants on Zooomr. There are more shots here and here.

Roses in May

Roses in MayRoses in May Hosted on Zooomr

The past few weeks have seen the most spectacular roses I’ve seen in town since I moved here. All over town, rose bushes of every color have had an abundance of flowers. At this point, many are past there prime, but last weekend was great.
I shot this a couple of days ago, thinking it was one of the last flowers to bud on this bush, but today it still looks amazing.

I shot it in RAW and did some adjustments in Picasa; just some brightness and contrast. I really wish I had a real macro lens for my camera. I know I mentioned that before, maybe this summer I’ll get one, or at least before next spring. This year was great for roses, but who know what next year will bring. We didn’t get as much rain as normal, and the weather has been pretty mild, at least until today.

Higher resolution versions are on Zooomr, but no Exif data. Shooting in RAW doesn’t capture the Exif (because Exif is jpeg specific) and I haven’t found a good tool for editing Exif data. I tried a couple, but was unimpressed.

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom 2Apple Blossom 2 Hosted on Zooomr

It’s definitely Spring in Northern California. The wildflowers are blooming, and many fruit trees have long since bloomed and pushed out new leaves. We have an apple tree in the back yard that has some really beautiful blossoms this year. The apples always have worms, so now is when we really enjoy the tree. Unfortunately the tree is not going to be around much longer because we are building a garage. It’s not a very old tree, but it will be sad when we have to remove it. I’ll plant another, though.

This is on Zooomr, but without the Exif information. For the first time I took pictures in RAW format, which doesn’t capture Exif. I could have used RAW+JPG, but I only have a 1 gig card and was worried about taking up too much space. Next time I’ll use RAW+JPG and switch to just JPG when I get low on space. I never fill the card up anyway, so I don’t know why I was concerned.

There are a few other photos on Zooomr that were also taken in RAW. (apple blossom, sunset, and wildflowers) Picasa handled them OK, it was a little slow. But the ancient version of Photoshop I have (6.0) didn’t recognize the files. I’m going to see how Gimp handles them. For what I do, I didn’t see the advantage of RAW. But this is just a hobby and I don’t spend anytime tweaking the photos.

Rose Highlights

HighlightsHighlights Hosted on Zooomr

This was taken the same day as my last photo post, I just haven’t had time to do a blog post for it. There really isn’t much to say about it, other than I like the highlights and the color variations caused by the natural light. This shot was taken outside, in full sun. This rose was in a bucket of roses my daughter and her friends were using to make flower arrangements.

My wife is a floral designer and loves flowers, so I end up taking a lot of pictures of flowers. I’ve taken a lot of the pictures on her web site, and will continue to take more at any wedding or event she does.

This shot is on Zooomr, and will be offered as part of their stock photography when Zooomr Mark III is available.

Flower Fairy

Flower FairyFlower Fairy Hosted on Zooomr

We have a small magnolia tree in our backyard that’s only about 5 feet tall. It’s been in the ground for a few years, but doesn’t seem to grow. This year it had more flowers than ever before. It just so happened that it was in full bloom on my middle daughter’s birthday, and she is very into flower fairies right now. This particular flower looked like something out the the fairy books she has, and seemed like the kind of place one would expect to find a fairy hiding. My daughter is able to find fairies amongst plants and flowers, but I haven’t spotted any, yet. You can visit the Flower Fairies web site to see some fairies.

I took this during the birthday party while the girls were making flower arrangements. I took a few shots of this particular flower, but this was my favorite. The short depth of field makes the center of the flower really stand out. I also liked the lighting and shadows. View the exif data on zooomr for exposure details.

First Daffodil

First DaffodilFirst Daffodil Hosted on Zooomr

I took this in our front yard, between rain showers yesterday. I had to kneel on the ground to get the angle right. This is the first daffodil I’ve seen this year, and since they always bloom for Gilly’s birthday, I took this shot the day for her birthday. More sizes are available on Zooomr. The only bad thing about the shot is the telephone pole in the background, but there wasn’t much I could do about that. Unfortunately, the rain bent the flower over and the snails came along and ate most of it. At least I captured it while it was around.