My 16 Favorite Photos of 2008

Why 16? Because that’s the smallest number I could whittle it down to.

Each of these photos says something about how my technique improved in 2008, where I still need to improve, or just something cool I did.

    1. Brahman Shrine, Caesar’s Palace. I love the complex lighting in this shot and the exoticity of the shrine itself. This was my favorite single spot in Las Vegas.
    2. Predator/prey. This was a conscious attempt to tell a story in pictures. The cat eventually did pounce at the little chicken, and amazingly enough, I caught it on film. Came out kind of blurry, though.
    3. Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús, Cuzco (Panorama). I had a really hard time getting a good angle of this church because of the number of people walking around the Plaza de Armas and the multitude of light poles obstructing me. I put this panorama together a few months ago, but I didn’t initially post it because there was a ghosted image of a single pole in the middle of one of the towers. I did a little cropping and re-stitched it, and it came out great.
    4. Polar Bear, Toledo Zoo. Only in the last few months have I allowed myself to crop anything I post on Flickr. I used to think cropping was a way to compensate for my inability to frame shots correctly, but a friend helped me rationalize it. He said, “Cropping is a way to get the shot you would have framed if you had a longer lens.” This shot benefitted from a little cropping and a slight color adjustment, since it was shot through glass.
    5. Houses, Machu Picchu. This is one of my favorite shots from my Peru trip. I like unusual angle and the patterns of the stonework. On second look, it probably could have used a little more cropping.
    6. Unfinished Sun Temple, Ollantaytambo. Another favorite from Peru. I can’t resist shots with visible sunbeams in them. One of my resolutions for 2009 is to be more conscious of the time of day and the weather I’m shooting in so I get results like this more often.
    7. Boy scavenging for food. This was my favorite piece of pseudo-photojournalism for the year. We were served boxed lunches on the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. In one of the villages the train ran through, this boy ran up onto a piece of construction equipment and people started throwing him their leftovers. He scrambled to pick up as much of it as he could with the train roaring by a few feet from his head.
    8. Cat on the Red Chair. My single best photographic investment this year was a cheap tripod. I’ve been able to get some indoor and night shots that I never would have been able to before. On this shot I focused on the cat’s eyes and got lucky with great, shallow depth of field.
    9. Leaf and Water Droplets. My one successful attempt at bokeh this year. The plan for early this year is to upgrade to an SLR so I can get shots like this more often. I’ve got the Olympus E-520 in my sights.
    10. Monarch Butterfly, Sterling State Park. One of many great shots from a productive afternoon at the lakeshore in Monroe, Michigan. Possibly the sharpest photo I took all year.
    11. Weavers in Qaqaqollo. I guess this is a stereotypical “local color” shot, but it surely is colorful. My next photographic resolution for 2009 is to take more portraits.
    12. Adobo de Chancho. Probably my best food photograph of the year, but it was easy because this plate was so beautiful when they brought it to me. This year I learned that it doesn’t pay to take photos of food while it’s cooking; how many times can you really look at a pan full of tomatoes being stirred?
    13. Blossoms, Toledo Botanical Garden. This was one of the photos that helped get me back into photography in 2008. This tree was almost too easy a subject, and I got several great shots. I love the soft lighting and complex depth of field.
    14. Not Dead, Just Sleeping. This is a great example of how angle and framing can make all the difference. This photo seems way more dramatic than it is, because the pig looks like it’s halfway to bacon. Another goal for 2009 is to be more conscious of the environment I’m shooting and look for angles like this instead of stopping at the first angle I see.
    15. Broken Umbrella, Downtown BG. This was one of my most successful night shoots. The tripod made all the difference. I like how most of the scene is in sharp focus, while John’s head and arm are blurred as he lines up his shot. When I get the new SLR I plan to do more long-exposure night photography.
    16. Vegas Vic and Fremont Street Light Show. There’s nothing special about the technique on this one, but I had to include a shot of the lights in Vegas.

Happy 2009, everybody!

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