Sunday, January 1, 2012

New years Day-Best of 2011

I'll give full credit to this post to friend Laura Schmitt, who recently did a best of piece on her wedding photographs from this past year...which got me thinking about going back and looking at my own work from 2011.  It's an interesting exercise in a way-going back and taking a close look at what happened in my life thru images.  I won't get too carried away with those deep philosophical thoughts (I just like photographs!) but still, it's a reminder of what caught my eye before pressing the shutter.  I started picking one image from each month....that lasted until February, then abandoned that and just went with photos I liked and tried to keep it to one per event.  Some months were better than others as they say.  (BTW, who are "they" they always talk about?)  So here they are, in no particular order, my favorites (and not always the best photographs) from the past twelve months.

Colored Snow Drifts
We were blessed with a lot of snow in early 2011 (actually, late 2010) and I find myself shooting winter scenes as a favorite....and I do love snow.  Taken on a late afternoon, on the Miatke farm field, where I hike at all times of the year.  Rain had formed a crust, then high winds blew new snow across this tundra-looking plain to form these colorful forms.

Grousin Around
One early morning last winter I looked out the window and a neighborhood grouse lit in the crabapple tree out back.  He (she?) gladly took the opportunity to fill up on the remaining fruit clinging on the twigs during this cold morning.  I'll never tire of living out in the country when one never knows what might wander through, stop for a bite or just say hi.

Tenley at Levis Mound
The kids have moved away now, so unlike earlier days, they don't appear in my of my photographs, but last March a fun get together at Levis Mound with skis and snowshoes brought Tenley back to town.  A portrait?  Maybe...I love the smile, the location and the richness of the colors and knew this would be a favorite of mine of the year.

Sharp-Shinned with Prey
When I first posted this image, I wrongly identified it as a Merlin, another small hawk, but realized later it actually was a Sharp-Shinned hawk.  Backyard feeders offer plenty of prey for these sift skilled flyers and small song birds are a favorite target.  The hawk picked off a chickadee near the window and lit in a large oak tree, where quickly the smaller bird was dispatched.  It's natures way and I had mixed feelings but grateful to be a witness to the skill and survival of the raptor.

Michael at the Polar Plunge
The Neillsville Rotary Polar Plunge raises money for Special Olympics and other organizations in town, and I figured would offer some great opportunities for images.  It didn't disappoint.  Michael is a Special Olympic athlete and also took part in the plunge and by his expression, wasn't going to swim around in the ice water too long.

Madison Rally
To say this has been a polarizing year in Wisconsin would be an understatement-no matter what side of the political fence one is on.  The unprecedented cuts to workers rights and education brought out a storm of protesters from every part of the state-including myself.  I made the trip to Madison as a participant and also, from time to time that day, as a photographer.  I think this image illustrates people of every walk of life, rallying for the rights they feel strongly about.

Fog Day Off
It wasn't a conscious plan to have this peaceful photograph follow the chaos of Madison last spring, but I guess it works.  There were two days last winter/spring that because of the strange weather we've had, were about the thickest fog I'd ever seen.  School was called off and for good reason-the fog never lifted this day and visibility was truly measured in feet.  Unusual atmospheres are always fun to experience and photograph.

Trombone at Tufts
Am I a "professional" photographer?  I have been hired and even paid for photographs, but don't depend on that income for anything than spending it on more photography equipment!  I was asked to do a shoot of a band rehearsing and performing for a comeback tour of sorts.  The Willie Wisely Trio gathered this past summer at Tufts Mansion for several days of rehearsal, some group shots and the a performance.  I always love shooting musicians and bands-so many great photographs telling stories of their talent and skill and what they bring to us, the listeners.  It's always an honor to be asked to photograph these artists performing their craft.

Forest Ferns
Simplicity.  A curve, a line, a form-I'm attracted to those elements a lot when I'm out shooting and find myself at times, looking for the small quiet subjects.  I shoot a lot of ferns-sometimes just to get them out of my system.  In the spring, everything is too green, so usually these photos end up black and white, where for me, it's easier to see those elements of art stand out and come to the forefront.  This one?  I just love natures perfect curve-no artist could draw that as well.

Bog Lake Photographer
Each summer I try to get a photography class or workshop in to advance my skills, to see differently and to force myself to shoot everyday-a lot.  It's always a rejuvenator for my photography.  This past July I spent time in Northern Wisconsin and the U.P. shooting nature, waterfalls and sometimes other photographers.  This was an early morning on a bog lake outside of Eagle River Wisconsin and my favorite from this photo session.

Young Greek Girl in Rhodes
Coaching at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece was a great opportunity to be a part of something I love doing in my life.  The head coaching position on the track seemed to fit me well, and I loved every minute.  Well, almost.  I bought a new camera for the games, expecting to make a lot of pictures, but coaching is a full time job and I was a participant, not an observer here... I found myself not shooting much at all.  Our host town was on the Isle of Rhodes and one day we had the chance to visit an ancient walled city there and as thousands of athletes paraded the cobble stone streets, Greek residents cheered and waved along the way.  I saw this young Greek girl waving from a window high above the street and loved the joy expressed in her face, and in a split second grabbed a shot before getting paraded forward down the narrow crowded street.  It would be an image I'll always remember.
Jermaine on the Ferry
Another World games photograph made the cut here and I guess the color really drew me to it.  It was a long ferry ride from Rhodes to Athens-some parts great, some during those 18 hours, not so great.  Meeting Jermaine, who was a powerlifter, was a highlight-a giant spark of life, who could not only lift small cars, but also perform  cartwheels into the splits to fire up his teammates and the rest of Team USA.

Jamie-High Key
These photographs are loosely chronological as I'm posting them, but I had to go back to late spring to a shoot I did for a family friend down the road.  Jamie has a great personality and it was fun to make some senior portraits of her out on the farm.  There were a lot that I liked and she is easy to photograph, but I kept coming back to this high key image as one of my favorites.

Sam Moku-Skipping
This is actually from the Team USA training camp in April held in San Diego.  We trained at San Diego State on their excellent track-a perfect place for our track and field athletes.  We got to know the athletes and other coaches and Sam became one of my favorites.  He is from Hawaii and not only is he an excellent coach but a fun loving human being and one I'm proud to call friend.

The Sun Bites a Building
One of my favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe, once described a painting she did of New York skyscrapers as buildings shooting up to the sky with the sun taking a bite out of the building.  This image reminded me of that-taken in downtown Minneapolis this past fall while attending a wedding of a good friend.  Every once and a while, it's good to get the country boy to the big city....just for a while.

Nate & Ena
Unlike Laura, I don't see myself taking up wedding photography on any great level-that's a lot like work and there is pressure to get the shot and make no mistakes.  I'll admit, weddings I've shot for friends have been fun and there are always a few images I really like.  This was a favorite of mine taken at an unexpected moment high above Lake Wazee where the ceremony was held and captures their fun playful side and love for each other. 

First day-Ava and Juju
I've had a habit of marching around school on the first morning, camera in hand,as students file into their classrooms and settle into their desks.   As a teacher, it's fun to see their excitement (for the most part) of starting a new year, with new classmates and teachers.  Ava and Judah are so very different and so very likable and I love having them walk into my classroom.  On this first day I wonder what they are each thinking...

Molly and Colored Blur
A strange image but I just love it.  Taken on a fall hike out in the county forest along logging roads and ATV trails.  It's sometimes hard to get fall color photographs just right, or something one hasn't seen before, and for whatever reason, this was my favorite from that day...light, motion, color, Labrador retriever?

Mr.Art and Abby
Photographers usually don't like to have their picture taken or photographs of themselves-at least, that's the case for me.  That said, I do like this one-I'm at my job, in my room and with one of my favorite students.  Abby is the sister of one of my past high school students, who is also an excellent photographer, and one who made countless pictures of Abby as well.  As a teacher, there is nothing better than students who love to come to your room smiling, happy to see you and ready to try the next great thing in art and give it their all.

Whew.....bring on 2012.........

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