Looking Back at 2011

2011 was a big year. Michelle and I got married in August, and much of the year was spent planning and saving for the big day. We made a trip up to Rochester, New York in April to catch up with my college friends, and we spent a day in Lansing in May, including a trip to the Potter Park Zoo. Over the summer we visited the Detroit Zoo, and just before my wedding I got a new lens, the Tamron 17-70 f/2.8-4.

My Favorite Photos of 2011

We spent our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, enjoying the beach, seeing the sights, and eating very well. While there we saw the Mayan ruins at Tulum, went to an eco-waterpark called Xcaret and swam with manatees, took a cooking class, and visited a local zoo. We spent the rest of the time strolling up and down Playa’s Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) checking out the shops.

After the wedding we moved to Toledo, and I went to Boston in October for a jQuery conference. The rest of the fall was quiet, but we went to Florida to stay with my parents for Christmas. While there we went to Cocoa Beach and Universal Studios.

2012 looks to be a great year photographically. Now that the wedding, we’re already planning our next big trip to Paris in December. We’re also planning a smaller trip around Ohio and Pennsylvania the first week of April. And of course there’s a new addition to our house, our dog Petey, who’s sure to appear in front of my lens this year.

Coati

Coati

96mm, 1/250 sec at f/4, ISO 400

This photo was taken on my honeymoon in Mexico. We heard about a small zoo south of Cancun, called CrocoCun, and went to check it out. It wasn’t a very modern zoo; the enclosures were small and sometimes barren, but the animals seemed well taken care of. This coati’s nose twitched excitedly as we took his picture. His fur was almost the same color as the concrete wall he was standing on, and the shallow depth-of-field really made his eyes and nose stand out.

Peacock Fan

Peacock Fan

248mm, 1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

I took this photo at the Lansing Zoo in May. The peacock was quite a showman – he gathered a crowd of people photographing him from every angle as he danced in a circle with his tail fan out. I zoomed in with my telephoto lens to fill the frame with his beautiful colors.

Polar Passage

Polar Passage

18mm, 1/200 sec at f/13, ISO 400

One of the Detroit Zoo’s shining features is the Polar Passage, the centerpiece of the Arctic Ring of Life. As you walk through the tunnel, seals and polar bears swim over top of you. It’s not clear who’s on exhibit here, the people or the animals.

Green Bird

Green Bird

259mm, 1/80 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

Here’s another photo from one of my favorite places, the Toledo Zoo Aviary. I was drawn to this bird because he was chewing on a plastic leaf. I watched him for a few minutes and he didn’t seem to get that it wasn’t real. This was hand-held, so there is a bit of shake, but the area around his eye is sharp and the color is beautiful and smooth.

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

31mm, 1/80 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400

We wanted to take a cooking class while we were in Mexico. The first school we booked with cancelled on us, so we did some quick searching and found Food Motion. Chef Alexandra Iserte invited us into her apartment, and with her assistant Carmen we cooked four courses, including horchata, salsa, flautas, and this mole poblano. It was a wonderful experience, and all the food looked and tasted great!

Benito

Benito

50mm, 1/160 sec at f/4, ISO 400

Benito, a tegu lizard, was another denizen of CrocoCun Zoo. Our guide let us pet him, and he barely stirred from his nap as we did.

Tulum Pyramid

Tulum Pyramid

17mm, 1/250 sec at f/8, ISO 400

This image is the iconic for the Mayan Riviera, and of our honeymoon. Tulum is hot, dusty, and overcrowded, and I chose to process the image slightly overexposed, with desaturated colors to carry that feel. I did not include the bottom of the pyramid because there was an ugly fence in the way. By happy accident, this makes it look much larger than it really is.

Toledo Zoo Overpass

Toledo Zoo Overpass

19mm, 1/6 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800

Michelle and I have been going to the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo almost as long as we’ve been together. Most years I’ve tried to take pictures, but it took me some time to figure out what was really interesting about the Lights. The zoo is crowded with happy, jostling people in the Christmas spirit, and the crowds are far more interesting visually than the animal-shaped lights. I stepped to one side in the overpass that connects the two halves of the zoo over Anthony Wayne Trail, and captured the rush of people underneath the trademark double-hippo neon sign.

On the Beach in Playa del Carmen

On the Beach in Playa del Carmen

28mm, 1/800 sec at f/8, ISO 400

On this day we walked down Quinta Avenida for maybe a half mile and then made our way back along the beach. The sand was beautiful white and the water turquoise blue. The skies were blue, the weather was warm, and the gentle curve of the bay was lined with palm trees. In short, a perfect honeymoon scene.

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