Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Year in the Books

It seems impossible that we were just saying "Goodbye 2010" and now Father Time is about to hand over the reigns to Baby New Year once again.  For the second year in a row, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a trip down memory lane and recap the major events in the 2011 leg of our photography journey.  So grab your camera, pull on your walking shoes and lets go!

January 2011

Speaking of New Year's babies, I started the new year off with one of my own.  My new Nikon D300s. After getting acquainted, we spent a few of our January weekends driving around the frigid Wisconsin countryside looking for photo ops.

When we weren't Horsin' Around with the local "wildlife" we were looking for landscape shots worth stepping outside of the heated car interior.  In the search we found ourselves at a "Dead End".

February 2011

February in Wisconsin is, well, February.  My camera and I still took the "scenic route" to the grocery store now and then, but most of the month's photo journey was spent in the warmth of the office both learning and blogging about our favorite dark room application - Lightroom.  One of the more ironic posts of the year occurred in February too when I proclaimed "Back from Yellowstone..." with this image of a bison which was actually taken around the corner just a few miles from our home.  Little did I know that later in the year we would actually find ourselves in the REAL Yellowstone National Park!

March 2011

March, as it often does, brought new opportunities to the photo journey.  First, I had the chance to attend a Wisconsin Badger hockey game at the Kohl Center.  This was my first attempt at shooting a sporting event.  It was while shooting in this fast paced, low light action that I began to truly appreciate the excellent noise processing of the D300s.
Later that month, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by renting a property in Eagle River for an extended weekend.  Being the "birding nuts" that we are, we were even more delighted when we met our neighbors.  A pair of bald eagles nesting in a tree just across the river from the rental!

We spent hours standing along the river bank in the cold March wind waiting for opportunities to capture these magnificent birds as they took turns sitting on the nest.  We weren't the only ones out and about though as witnessed by this capture of the elusive fisher.
April 2011

In Wisconsin, the March weather can go either way.  When April arrives, we start to take the melting icicles more as a sign of things to come rather than the taunt before the next big blizzard.

It was around this time last year that I captured two red-tailed hawks performing the "spring ritual" and thinking I'd just witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Well, when you start to pay more attention to the things around you, you find that "acts of nature" may not be as rare as you think - especially in the bird world.  These two Kestrels repeatedly enjoyed the romantic ambiance of our yard shed to the point that we dubbed it "The Love Shack".  These same two also took up residence in a nest box we erected in one of the trees and continued to educate us all summer long while they raised their new family.

May 2011

The snow is nearly gone and the spring rains bring life back to the sleeping greenery.  With deadlines bearing down on me at my "day job", it's starting to become obvious that this is NOT going to be a typical summer.  In between meetings and project tasks I made a quick day trip to our beloved Door County to open up the camper for the summer season.  It was on my return trip that I captured this Broad-winged hawk hunting from a power line.
June 2011

Yep, definitely not going to be a typical summer this year.  Under a heavy workload, the front porch becomes "the getaway" as we shoot the crazy antics of the hummingbirds under the shadow of our Buckeye tree.  How is it possible to pack so much personality into such a tiny package?

July 2011

Work, work, work and more work!  Drastic times call for drastic measures and in an attempt to salvage something of our summer, my wife and I convince one another to add a new, rather unconventional, tool to our respective photography toolboxes.  A pair of 2011 Hobie Outback Kayaks!
Selected specifically for their stability and hands free operation, these kayaks allow us not just to enjoy some much deserved downtime on the local waters, but also to move us and our cameras closer to the local wildlife.

August 2011

Hey!  Remember that campsite you pay lot rent on for the whole summer up in Door County?  You know, the one you haven't seen since you opened it up in MAY!  With mind and body on the brink of collapse and the project work starting to taper off, it's time to pack the gear and head "up the thumb" for a week. FINALLY!  With the flexibility of defining your own schedule comes the opportunity to take some long overdue landscape shots.

September 2011

Toward the end of August, we received an invitation to attend my wife's sister's wedding in Idaho.  It definitely wasn't a planned trip, but at the same time it was LONG overdue.  Throwing caution to the wind, we loaded up the back of the SUV, packed the parrots in the back seat and headed west.  It was an incredible trip with incredible photo opportunities...

...the Sawtooth Mountain range in Idaho...

...Mormon Row in the Grand Tetons ...

...and the incredible beauty of Yellowstone!

While we weren't able to invest even of a fraction of the time we'd have liked, the experience opened up a whole new realization as to how spectacular locations can make such a profound impact on your photography outlook.  We will definitely be going back.

October 2011

Looking through my Lightroom library I was surprised to find not a single image was captured in the month of October.  Catching up on project work after my two week hiatus and continuing to process vacation photos kept me from even taking the camera out of the bag.  We also started exploring the world of printing on the blog. 

November 2011

November was a HUGE improvement over October on the picture taking front.  Instead of no photos, I took 3!  All 3 were of our feathered children at their birthday celebration which was featured in the blog post on creating triptychs in Lightroom.
December 2011

It really is difficult to believe that another year has come and gone.  On the one hand I feel somewhat guilty for neglecting my camera in what was an incredibly busy year.  On the other, I look back at the things we've accomplished in our education together on the blog, the additions made to the photography toolbox and the amazing opportunities realized in a nearly 4,000 mile round trip across the country.

To put things in perspective, the image to the right was taken on December 26, 2008 with the Nikon D40x my wife presented me that Christmas.  Slow, blurry, and noisy as all get out, it was the 11th photo I had EVER taken with a DSLR. 

Some 3 years, 360 blog posts, and roughly 24,000 shutter clicks later, I can't even begin to express how much my life has been enriched by the addition of that magical whirligig called a "camera". 
So, with this last post of 2011, I'd like to once again thank my beautiful wife for her love and support as well as that incredible gift that started this journey those 3 short years ago.  I'd also like to thank all of you for your continued readership and contributions to the blog.  Without a doubt, I look forward to the coming year and continuing on this journey together.

See you in 2012!

Happy New Year


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