I enjoy taking pictures. In 2010 alone, I took more than 5,000 of them. Some were good, some really sucked, but most were just okay. The 4,000 or so that I kept each tell a story which, regardless of their technical quality, brings me back to the time and place at which they were taken.
The purpose of this page is share with you not only my 10 favorite pictures of 2010, but the stories that come with each. I am not a professional photographer (yet) so I’m not sure how these rate technically, but I don’t much care. Their special because of the people and stories that accompany them.
So, for remainder of 2010, I’m going to share my top ten, one at a time. I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment on each as you please.
In no particular order….
Picture 1: Kayak POV
I love this picture for three reasons. First, It was taken with my iPhone and I continue to be amazed with the level of quality that the iPhone camera can produce. I find the colors and the clarity stunning each time I look at the image. (I have a feeling this won’t be the last iPhone image in the top 10.)
Second, this brings me back to some of my greatest summer memories, kayaking with the kids on Lake Winnipesaukee. Several years ago when my mother passed away I found hundreds of great old photos and 8mm films from various summer activities that we did as a family. In looking at those old photos and watching the grainy films, I realized the responsibility that I now had as a father to create similar experiences for my children in hopes that they might open some dusty old box in 30 years and remember a time when life was simple and their only responsibility was to have fun. I hope that kayaking in the early morning calm waters of Lake Winnipesaukee will provide for my kids the type of experiences my parents provided for me when I was their age.
Finally, I just love the simplicity of the shot. The bow of the kayak, the blue of the waters and the green of the islands across the way. It’s simple, but very real and anyone who has been alone, at peace on the water knows exactly what that view, and that feeling, is all about.
Picture 2: Elisabeth & Ali
There’s something about girls and horses, both seem happier when they are with each other. Both of my daughters ride, this picture happens to be Elisabeth with her favorite horse, Ali. Ali is a retired thoroughbred. I share that only because she is a big horse. But despite her relative size, there is a confidence that radiates from Elisabeth when she rides this horse. Every time I see this picture, I see it in her eyes – the belief that she can control this 1200 pound beast. The relationship she builds with Ali and the other horses she rides is incredibly powerful because it is based on their trust for one another and Elisabeth’s unabashed love of these animals.
As for the picture itself, I love the natural smile Elisabeth is sharing and how crisp and clear her and Ali are compared to the background. Additionally, I love how the camera captured the outline of the blood vessels pouring over Ali’s head. They help to show the raw power these horses have. Finally, Ali’s head is just turned slightly so she is looking at the camera, as if she was posing.
Picture 3: Goalie View
Every winter we shovel and groom our pond into the neighborhood ice rink. This image is from a beautiful, crisp late February afternoon. The kids and their friends had been skating and playing hockey all day (note the amount of snow on the ice). I wanted to try to get an image of the kids using the back light of the sun to create the long shadows and silhouettes of the skaters.
What I will also remember about this photo (and several others that I took just like it) is the trust I had in these nine year old kids to actually shoot and skate accurately. What you can’t tell here is that I am crouched down just to the left of the goal. Any misfire of the puck, or lost edge of their skate in my direction would have been very painful for me. I will also admit however, that I can’t skate nearly as well as these boys and more than likely my fears were born on me projecting my ability to skate onto these boys. In truth, I was in more danger on my skates, then next to the goal for this shot.
Picture 4: Newlyweds
This picture was taken at my nephew’s (Doug) wedding to his long time girlfriend (Val). They are beautiful people on their own, but together, on that day, they redefined beauty. This picture captured that beauty moments after they were married, as they walked down the stairs of the church into a gorgeous, sunlit New Hampshire summer day. The picture itself is very busy, and to those who do not know Doug or Val, it may be too busy. But what I love about this photo is that amongst all of the craziness, Doug is just staring at his new bride. The look on his face is nothing but pure joy and all that mattered to him at that point was that he married his the love of his life.
Picture 5: Ready for “The Whit”
Around these parts, hockey is a big deal and no where is it bigger then at The Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire, where the nationally ranked UNH hockey teams play. Seating about 5,000, “The Whit” is a great place to watch a hockey game, and for Ben, an even better place to play one. In mid-December his team played a tournament there. This picture – another one taken with my iPhone – is of Ben and a couple of his teammates looking out over the ice.
I really like two things about this picture. First, the angle at which I held phone (about waist level) makes Ben, especially in his pads, look bigger than he is. Second, the lights shining down on the ice. They provide a great backdrop, both literally for this image and metaphorically for Ben and his teammates preparing to play at The Whit.
Picture 6: Emma in Portsmouth in the Rain
This picture is all about the story and a personality. One night this summer, we took the family out to dinner in Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth is about 15 minutes from our home in Stratham and is know for its restaurants, shopping, and historic downtown area. After eating dinner, we started walking to a bakery to get some desert and came across a t-shirt store. We all stopped to read some of the t-shirts in the window. After about a minute Emma (age 5 at the time) had enough and just started walking down the sidewalk again. I quickly took out my iPhone and snapped this image as she walked away from us, to the bakery. She was done waiting for us.
Please note a couple of things: 1. She is wearing gold shoes. 2. Her right hand is in her pocket, her left is holding the umbrella – she had no intention of turning to see if we were following. She was off and if we wanted to get desert with her, we were going to have to catch up. I’m not sure how she was going to pay for it, but I love how spunky she was that night.
Picture 7: Robin
The story with this one isn’t really about the picture, it’s where I was when I took the picture. But first, the image: I really like the clarity of the Robin here especially with the blurred background. It’s still a bit noisy to me and I wish the bird popped out more, but the fact that you can clearly see the eye ring, the yellow beak and the red berries was a big win for me. It was my best nature shot of 2010, more of which I hope to take in 2011.
But, as I said, this isn’t about the picture, its about me. Just outside of my bathroom window (perhaps 10 feet away) is a berry bearing tree. As I was washing my hands one day, I noticed dozens of birds foraging on the berries that can be seen in the picture. But I knew that in order to take a picture of all of the birds, I would have to remove the window screen, which obviously required me to open the window, thus scaring them all away. Knowing that I would have to wait for them to return, I did just that. I left the window about 4 inches open and sat on…wait for it…the toilet. There I sat, on the toilet, for a good 15 minutes with my lens sticking out the crack in the window waiting for the birds to return. Needless to say, I got more than a couple of strange looks from my wife and kids. Eventually, the Robin to the left returned. She was the only one that did and she stayed around just long enough for me to capture this image.
So, the moral for me was this, you never know where you are going to be when you capture a “best of” picture.
Picture 8: Swasey in the Morn
The picture to the left is of downtown Exeter taken (with my iPhone) from Swasey Parkway just after sunrise. It was captured during one of my weekday, morning runs. I chose this picture because A. I love how the still water reflects the buildings and trees along the shore, and B. I really enjoy running. I wasn’t really born to be a runner, I plod more than run. And I don’t run just for the exercise, although I need to and always feel healthier when I am running consistently. I also don’t run socially. In fact, my wife will tell you that I don’t normally like to run with her, which is too bad because she is my best friend. What I really enjoy about running, which this image best represents, is the solitude. The opportunity to be alone, which as an introvert, I crave. I enjoy temporarily being free from my responsibilities as a husband, father, friend, educator and co-worker. It is the time when I allow myself to think freely and uncluttered by the demands of the day. Running provides for me what John Spencer suggests all introverts need:
We need space, mental, emotional space to recover our sense of self that can feel stolen by high levels of social interaction.
That space for me is found in the 45 minutes I run in the morning, about 10 of which I get to see what I have shared in this image.
Picture 9: View From A Plane
Taken with my iPhone (another ProHDR image), this image was captured somewhere over the midwest on a flight from Phoeniz, AZ to Manchester, NH. There are a number of things I like about it, the redness of the wing, the layers of the atmosphere, the colors from the sunset and the whiteness of the snow covered Earth below. I also think the contrast between the red wing and the white Earth is remarkable as well.
But, what I really like about this photo is how simple it was to take. Using my iPhone and the $1.99 ProHDR app, I was able to capture the colors of sunset from 30,000 feet quite remarkably. Also, when you consider that I simply pressed my iPhone up against the small window of an airplane and held it still for about 10 seconds, well… that’s pretty cool.
So, nothing too deep here, just a cool picture taken with a phone!
Picture 10: Kids Black & White at Stratham Hill Park