Saturday, December 29, 2012


Today we share the final six of our 12 favorite pictures from this year.  In doing this annual series I strive for not only pictures with some compelling interest but diversity in the series as well.  They are not ranked in any particular order, in fact, on any given day an entirely different selection might have been made from the thousands of images made in 2012.  Enjoy!

I like to think of this picture being entitled Desolate Beach.  Actually, that's Sue on a beach just south of Port St. Lucie, FL which shares her name; Brooks.  We were exploring beaches for their sea shelling potential and I liked the fact we were more or less alone here.  I backed up making Sue with her red top very much the center of interest in the photo but presenting her in this diminutive size and alone struck me with a feeling of pleasant contemplation; or, whatever.

A characteristic of a telephoto lens is it compresses planes; making background objects appear closer than they really are.  In this photo it appears the fisherman is making a perfectly aimed cast to snare the lady on the wave runner.  Actually she is far out of his casting range while passing by in the Jupiter, FL inlet.  The photo was done at 1/500th of a second, f/9 and at the zoom lenses' full 200 mm focal length.  The relatively fast shutter speed was sufficient to freeze all motion in the photo (except for the rod tip), the aperture offered ample depth of field to keep the entire frame in sharp focus and the full telephoto length pulled the background and foreground together.

I selected this picture because it demonstrates two compositional tools, 1) getting close to your subject often improves the effectiveness of the photo and 2) throwing the background out of focus helps separate the foreground from an otherwise intrusive background.  I extended the lens to its full 40mm focal length and manually focused it at its minimum distance--then simply moved the camera back and forth toward the spider until it was sharply focused and made the exposure at 1/160th a second; a speed sufficient to help maintain sharpness in this hand-held shot.  It's a pair of banana spiders in Vero Beach.  The female is in the foreground.  As you might imagine the male usually is well behaved.

Interesting creative work in digital photography can be done with software; in this case Photoshop Elements v4.  Believe it or not the above, twisted, geometric spiral of lights is a very conventional Ferris Wheel at our county fair.  Take a peek at the blog story of August 16, 2012 if you are really curious about this technique.

This picture began life as a very conventional composition of my three children posed with son Craig's (right) prized VW bus restoration.  While I was tinkering with the camera some shenanigans broke out which I encouraged to continue and this was the result.  There is a place for nicely posed, conventional group photos but some apparent spontaneity can add lots of real-life interest.

It seems fitting to end an annual series of favorite photos with a sunset view; this one at the pier of the Lobster Shanty, Cocoa Beach, FL.  Before ordering our dinner I scouted the general area as dusk approached then went outside and did a couple of test exposures until I was zeroed-in on this presentation.  Sunset scenes are difficult to arrange on Florida's east coast.  The ocean is in the wrong location.  This one features the Banana River segment of the intercoastal waterway.

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