Weekly Photo Challenge: Year-in-Review Photos

I reviewed my photos of the past year, but found I  had a difficult time narrowing my selection of  “favorites”.   Finally, I decided that my criteria needed to be not which ones I liked the best, but which ones could tell the stories of that month.   I could have chosen 12 favorite flower photos — I’m sure that I took at least one flower photo in each month. Or I could have focused on the woods and creek where I often take my camera walks, showing the seasons ranging from icy to record-setting heat waves in the spring, to dry drought conditions throughout the summer, and ending with foggy and soggy autumn days until we came back around to the deep snow we have presently. Or I could have chosen the new techniques that I learned this year and showcased what I see as my improvement as I resolved to take a photo every day without relying on the “auto” settings on my camera for aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Instead, here is a quick journey through my year, photographically.  Turns out, that is exactly what the last Weekly Photo Challenge of 2012 is all about.

I spent much of January in the mild, warm weather of southwest Florida. Walking the beach nearly daily, sometimes as much as 8 miles at a time, I photographed life at the shore: birds, tropical flowers, shells, fish and other sea creatures. Everything in nature at the shore looks so interesting to me, especially when seen through my camera lens. And nearly every evening, there was a beautiful sunset to photograph. I even tried night photography, though it wasn’t exactly what I would call “successful”.

In February, I returned home to the cold. But, there were still birds to photograph as well as plants, trees, and life along a different type of shore — the creek bank near my home. I even found a colorful shell. There was a sunset or two to shoot — and at the end of the month, the earliest of spring flowers started to bloom. I also discovered some things on my walks that weren’t natural — like the remains of a 1978 Lincoln Continental and a small, hidden ravine in a nature preserve that was filled with empty, rusting trash cans. Also on my walks I ventured away from nature photography to look for design patterns in concrete and other structures — my first foray into abstract photography.

March was absurdly warm — I even wore sundresses a few times. That’s crazy for the Great Lakes region in March. But it made for wonderful walking weather, with all of the wild flowers and trees blooming. Some of my favorite non-floral finds were a skeleton of a box turtle and a fallen tree that was still alive despite its upended roots. I was crazy enough to crawl out on that fall tree — over swampy water of unknown depths — to shoot pics of the red buds.

The great weather continued in April, with avid gardeners starting their plantings early. Color was everywhere! I began venturing into the world of post-production editing, taking little baby steps using programs like Pikmonkey and Snapseed. Though limited, both are easy to use and allow you to do fun things with your photographs. I continued with abstracts, trying a few arrangements inspired by (and I hope not insulting because of their amateurish nature) artist Andy Goldworthy. Rock Rainbow and Dandelion Clock were so fun to do and were instantly my favorites.

May flew by quickly. Flowers were everywhere, but my favorites were in the ditch across the street from me. I got some pretty funny looks from people driving by as I sat in the weeds with my camera. May was also the month my son graduated from college and moved away from home to begin a career in the Air Force. Big changes for both of us!

June made me long for a road trip, but we stayed close to home for the summer. Most of what I shot had to do with home renovations we did so they were not published here. But, I did get some good abstracts by shooting tile and marble with a macro lens. The hummingbirds, which had been buzzing around since the beginning of May, finally made my feeders regular stops on their never-ending feeding frenzy. Other delights of the summer were the neighbor’s cat — “S’s Cat” as I don’t know his name — who was always willing to pose for a few snaps if he thought he might get into my house. Dream on, S’s Cat! While June brought the start of the drought, we still had enough produce from the farmers’ markets that I could experiment with canning. Pickles, green beans, corn, beets and jam! Yummy!

The drought continued and everything began to dry up. Watering bans were established and firework shows were cancelled. A few rogue flowers, however, seemed to open up whenever I had my camera. Pictures that weren’t too interesting as-is became inspirations for abstracts and digital art. I was really pleased with my creation titled “Universes”.

Dryness continued and the only flowers available to shoot were ones that I bought at the grocery store. Fortunate for me, most of them look rather thirsty and the price was often reduced. The mosquito-pit — aka our pond with the broken pump — still managed to sustain a few waterlily, which were beautiful to shoot. Finally the rain came, ending the worst drought this part of the country has seen since the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.

An unplanned trip to the Panhandle of Florida brought me back to the beach soon after Hurricane Sandy. The damage was still evident, with huge piles of sand plowed to the sides of the roads, much like what we see in the North following a snow storm. The rain rejuvenated flowers at home and many gardens had a second season before the fall.

The leaves started falling later than usual it seemed, although the trees that didn’t make it through the summer had already lost their leaves. I’ve heard that the real damage to the trees will be evident over the next few winters if the trees have been weakened too much to withstand wind, snow and cold. Leaf collection is a never-ending fall task for those who live in the woods, but I always had time to stop to get a few snaps of the last rose of summer or the beautiful colors of Fall.

Frost and fog were the subjects of my nature photography in November. I began using Photoshop Elements and learning lots from my mistakes. I experimented with creating painted looks for my photographs, sometimes just enhancing them a bit, other times creating an image that doesn’t seem to resemble the original. This kind of second chance to create a work of art is fun! As I do more of these, I am beginning to envision the type of photo that I want as my starting point, rather than just “playing” around with different filters. I think that means I’m making progress with learning the software!

And so we come to the end of the year. Where did it all go? In December, I continued to learn more things with post-processing and began to learn how to apply textures to my images. I’ve taken a lot of holiday-themed photos. With Photoshop, I created a daily holiday banner for my Facebook page – a sort of electronic version of an Advent Calendar. I’m not sure that too many of my FB friends noticed that there was something different everyday — or maybe they did because of a high annoyance factor in their newsfeeds yet were polite enough not to mention it. Regardless of whether others noticed, I had fun doing it. For Christmas, my dear sweet husband gave me a Lensbaby with several components of the Lensbaby Optical Swap system. I think I heard him mumbling this morning as I stood with the door to the balcony open, snapping shots of the light bouncing off the snow on the trees, that he had created a monster. Should I tell him that he did that when he gave me my camera three years ago? 🙂

With this post, I’ve officially blogged every day this year – 366 days.  With the exception of four days — one day too busy, one day too sick, two days just plain forgot — I took at least one photograph daily in 2012.   Thank you for reading my posts throughout the year.  I’m honored that you’d spend a few of your precious moments reading what I have to say or seeing how I look at the world through my camera lens.

I’ll be back in 2013, but I may not be posting daily.   You can expect some photographs, some writing, maybe more on recipes and cookbooks. Musings on other things of life.  I plan to continue my Sunday Quote series (I may already have 52 quotes collected!) and I hope to start a series where I feature other bloggers.

Happy New Years! May you have a safe New Years’ Eve and a healthy, happy, prosperous 2013.

Be sure to check out others “2012 in Pictures” submissions to the Weekly Photo Challenge.  If you don’t already, consider participating in this or future challenges.  It’s lots of fun and there are lots of great photogs posting amazing images.

9 responses to “Weekly Photo Challenge: Year-in-Review Photos

  1. What a year! These are glorious reflections of nature and so inspiring! Congratulations!

  2. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: my 2012 in pictures « What's (in) the picture?

  3. Congratulations! Blogging every single day is such a challenge, and you always came up with something beautiful and inspiring, well done! Happy new year and best wishes for your new blogging projects whatever they may be.

    • Thank you, Smithereens! Seemed like I was forgetting to do something the few days I haven’t blogged since Jan 1. I don’t think that I’ll be too infrequent of a poster.

  4. Beyond amazing. A well celebrated, magical 2012. beautiful images!

  5. Pingback: Weekly photo challenge: Our 2012 in pictures « The (Urban-Wildlife) Interface

  6. Beautiful photos. Such a wonderful way to remember the year.