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Top 10 of 2011

Published December 23rd, 2011

Photographers often say that picking favorite photographs is a lot like picking your favorite kid. That's a bunch of crap. We treat kids way better. It's harder to pick favorite photos because unlike kids, we go through hundreds and thousands of images a year. We spend hours mashing them around making them perfect, and then marching them out into public for approval or scorn....come to think of it, I guess that makes them a lot like kids.

This year for me personally was full of ups and downs photographically. Some would argue that when you get out to shoot as often as I'm blessed enough to do, every day should be an "up." That is true. My problem is that I expect a lot out of myself. I constantly feel a tug to be out shooting, and capturing new images. When I was looking through the archives of 2011 I stumbled when it came to finding a folder for March.

The reason I couldn't find a folder for March was because I NEVER TOOK A PERSONAL SHOT IN MARCH. I taught a lot of workshops and that's always fun, but I never went out to shoot for me in March. It helped in a way, It made it 1/12 easier to pick out my favorite photos. photos.

I picked favorites for different reasons I'll list with each photo. With the exception of a few good weeks of shooting, I felt like I spent the majority of the 2011 season NOT shooting, which is great for preserving the life of my only camera body, (an original 5D) but not so great in keeping my portfolio fresh and new.

I"m hoping in 2012 to get out more, and hopefully upgrade my equipment to allow me to do some ideas I've had for a long time with night photography. Until then, here's to a great 2011, and looking forward to a even greater-er-er 2012.

It's worth noting the images are not in any order...kind of like kids...y'know I don't like one more than the other...



Image #1- Blowing Rocks Preserve Jupiter, Florida (April 2011)

This image was great to make. I was happy to finally be able to explore this interesting section of coastline in Florida because I had seen so many photos of it over the past few years. It was great also that it was taken while on a week long family trip that was paid for entirely by funds generated BY photography. It was fun for my family to be able to see some reward for all they endure with me being gone so often because of it (23 weekends last year, over 90 days)

I also almost lost my camera here. Even though these shelves are not too high, they are high enough, and sharp enough to make scrambling up them when a big wave crashes very painful and difficult. I got soaked by a wave that dropped under the shelf, and then shot up well over my head and drenched me and my gear with salt water.

I thought all was lost that day...but thank GOD it all still worked. This photo, reminds me of all of that.



image #2 Salt Flats, Death Valley National Park.

This image for me is a unique take on DV. I had seen these flats for a lot of years and never gotten any good weather to shoot it. This night, friend and colleague Stephen Oachs and I were sitting around waiting for our 8pm workshop orientation. The sky looked promising and we had plenty of time to shoot sunset prior to the meeting, I asked him if he was up to go shoot.

He said he wasn't feeling it, and wasn't sure it would be that great.

Well, it was probably one of the top 5 intense sunsets I've ever was like heaven for 30 minutes as I ran frantically around these twisty curves and pools of water. I was SO pumped with the shots I got there, I think I have 4 or 5 that I really like within that time I spent out there.

The best part was when I returned and Stephen very dryly turns to me and says,

"Well.........that was apocalyptic."



image #3 Panther Meadow, Mt. Shasta.

This image has similar feelings as the Tahoe image for me. I have a hard time getting anything good at Mt. Shasta. It's only 50 minutes from my house, and I can't ever get there for a decent sunset or sunrise. OH I've SEEN more than I care to admit, but I'm never THERE to get them. This was one of those nights where it looked like I was going to get shot down again. This light came and went in about five minutes time. In fact, I had already all but given up and was taking a shot with my iphone to post a "I HATE Mt. SHASTA!!!!" post on Facebook when this happened. I freaked out, dropped the phone, and did my best to capture this little blast of magic before it vanished.



Image #4 Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe

I hate this lake with the passion of a thousand volcanoes. I have tried to photograph here for YEARS. It's been a stopping point on my way to and on my way FROM so many locations. It always kicked me in the balls. I would see friends go off to shoot it, and nail it the first time, which further kicked my balls. FINALLY this past January everything fell into place. There were clouds in the sky, no wind, no clouds on the horizon to block the early light, no STUPID ASS planes leaving contrails, and I had a tripod.

ALL WAS RIGHT. THis photograph for me sums up the importance of being persistent.



Image #5 Jokulsarlon, Iceland (July 2011
I've been here a lot in the past two years. It's NOT easy to photograph. I know professionals who have messed up plenty of good shots here, myself included. It's not the kind of shots your brain tells you to take. It's tidal. EVERYTHING is moving. It takes a lot of knowledge of your camera to get decent images here. I can tell you that when I saw the HUGE rays of light blasting out of the clouds, I DID squeal like a school girl, and I am NOT ashamed. I used a larger lens for this, and put on my Frogg Togg waders and got right into the lagoon. I have at least 5 shots from this night that are in my favorites. What made this shot extra special was that i had been here the previous year and been dumped on by rain, bombarded by wind, and attacked by man-eating terns....and gotten only a couple shots of the actual lagoon that I liked. It was so special to finally get one I loved.



Image #6- Near Vik Iceland. (July 2011)

This was taken over an hour past the image in #7, which goes to show you how long good summer light lasts in Iceland (I'm teaching a workshop there this summer, hint hint We were driving out a little gravel road when we both noticed this pristine reflection. It went without saying we stopped in the middle of the road and went to photograph this little tidal flat. This was easily one of my favorites due to how original it was and how perfect everything seemed to be. Iceland, known for its fierce winds was taking a few moments off to let us get some reflections.



Image #7 Vik Iceland (July 2011)
in 2010 I was so fortunate to spend 3 months in Iceland making photographs and working on a book (which is still in progress, but over 200 pages long now) It was a HUGE dream come true for me to go there even once. Having the opportunity to head back for 2 weeks in 2011 was like an unreal blessing. I was with my great friend Adam Attoun, and he and I had an amazing 2 weeks chasing some of the most epic light ever for hours upon hours every night. Having experience with the landscape there, I was able to take us to some spots that aren't as heavily photographed as as others, and we made some images that I'll remember due to their unique location and memorable skies. This spot required us to scale a slippery slope and balance side by side while we shot these rather large waves as they crashed over the Basalt cliffs



Image #8 Pfieffer Beach- Big Sur, California. (November 2011)

I liked the golden light backlighting this iconic rock...the whole darker mood to this and the fact it was not the typical rock through the hole shot made it resonate with me.



Image #9 Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms, Mt. Shasta, Ca (June 2011)

I love this little area, it has great lines and curves, great owners, and great flowers when they're in bloom. We missed the bloom by a couple weeks (due to a very cold winter). This was taken while my workshop group was scattered out over the premise. We were invited to stay during a special event to eat with the owners and their friends and then photograph sunset, which isn't a regular opportunity there. It was so neat for my class to see this, and to be a part of helping them capture some DYNAMO images. I took a couple when the light was just starting to fade to give the class a composition idea before they scattered out to grab images of their own.

It almost looks like some kind of war was being fought in the clouds on top of the mountain....and if you believe local lore, there very well could've been aliens going to town up there.



Image #10 Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

I have an art degree, and studied art long before I went to school for photography. I have a huge nerd crush on Art History. I love finding abstraction in nature, and finding images when light seems to harsh or bad for photography. This little slow moving bend in the river had great reflections.

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Vinko Jovanovac  almost 7 years ago

Some rely good shoots, was a good photo year (=

Nicola Colicigno  almost 7 years ago

I see, you had a wonderful year. Your collection is great.

Rich Greene  almost 7 years ago

Very cool, Brian -- your Iceland shots are superb -- I'm waiting for the book. I also love the abstract of the Merced. Really impressionistic. Hope you have a cool 2012. Maybe I'll run into you again in Yosemite next month.