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My Favorite Photos From 2009

Ah yes… another year is coming to an end and it’s time to reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months. With photography, it’s pretty easy to look back on our work and pull together a collection of favorites. I did a similar thing at the end of 2007 and 2008. And each year, I’ve been reminded and encouraged to do so by two friends: Hitesh Sawlani and Jim Goldstein.

Hitesh always manages to remind me about the year end photo thing, and I adopted his monthly format that you see below. You can also see his 2009 post on his blog.

Jim also encourages this yearly reflection by hosting a group project on his blog. The idea is to look back on your year and create a blog post or Flickr set containing your best and/or favorite photos from the year. A lot of people participate in this thing, so it’s cool to get in on the action.

And with that, here are my photos that I feel are worthy of looking back on.

JANUARY

I kicked off the year with a photowalk up in Newport Beach with a few buddies and my Son. It was a decent photowalk… nothing huge, just a chance to get out and grab some shots.

Frenzy

Sunny Sailing Beach Photographers Cheese Popular Location Sunset at the Pier

In mid January, I took the Wife and Kids up to North Idaho to visit family (because ticket prices for Christmas time are outrageous). It was good to get back up there during snow season. Did a little landscape photography, skiing (with a camera of course), and relaxing (without cameras).

Dam... That's a Lot of Water

Rough Characters Winter Docks Winter at the Lake The Ride Up
Frozen Fields Take a Knee Casting Shadows Casting Shadows Reach

FEBRUARY

Went out on a spectacular photo excursion with fellow photographer Richard Wong. We made our way around the Salton Sea and I can honestly say that it is the most surreal place I’ve ever been. Just a strange mixture of beauty and decay all out in the middle of nowhere.

Salton Sea Sunset

Desperate for Attention Trailer Puke Poolaroid Environment Fail Salvation Mountain
Name Forgotten Old Green Trailer Once Upon a Time Underneath It All

Also did more photowalking with the pals up in West Hollywood. My good friend Bryan Villarin was also playing with his band at the Whisky A Go Go that night, so I got a little taste of concert photography.

Cab Plus Two Palm Trees

Broken Phone Bryan Mel's Drive In Smile The Scarlet Paradigm

MARCH

Had a couple of small photowalks in San Clemente and La Jolla while testing out the new medium format Kodak Ektar 100 film.

La Jolla Pier

San Clemente Pier I Stand Alone The Umbrella La Jolla Coastline

APRIL

Did a quick photowalk with a friend in Oceanside before heading up to the Grand Prix in Long Beach. Tried out some awesome orthochromatic film I got from my buddy the_wolf_brigade, but ultimately shot 100% digital for the race.

Beach Apartments

Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Pipeline 489 Shooting the Argus C3
Tires Surfboard Parking Oceanside Lifeguards Bailey at the Beach

MAY

My Brother came down to visit and we did the SoCal tourist thing for a few days — San Diego one day, Venice Beach and Hollywood the next. I also took the Wife and Kids on a short trip to the mountains for Mother’s Day for horseback riding and hot springs. Oh, and Memorial Day up at Lake Arrowhead with my Aunt and Uncle.

Do Not Climb on the Sculpture

The "Fly N Lion" Muscle Beach The Friendly Horse Photo of a Street Photographer Harry Perry Watch Your Head Los Calavera
My Bro Uncle Pat Wind-Blown Bailey

JUNE

Didn’t do a whole lot in June other than the San Diego County Fair. I had a couple of photos in the art display, so it was fun to check them out with the other entries. We probably spent half our day just looking at artwork.

Rides at the Fair

Polish Sausage Win Big Prizes Totally Fried Chevelle Chair in the Grass

JULY

Did the 4th of July celebration thing with my Cousin up at Lake Arrowhead… I’m still amazed at how many boats get on the water at one time. I also did a few solo photowalks in Pacific Beach and Point Loma with the TLR.

Gangsta

Homeless, Names Unknown Car in a Cart Pacific Beach Perspective
Bobby The Modern DJ Shine Down

AUGUST

August was mostly family time. The kids were up in Idaho for most of the summer with the Grandparents, so we spent a lot of time with them when they got back before school started. I also met up with Jim Goldstein for a short time while he was down for a wedding — it was good to finally shake his hand and chat with him outside of Skype.

Rex

Bailey Biker Mom Venice Beach "Doctor's Office" I'm Broke

SEPTEMBER

Labor Day was the only real photo-op we had in September — with school starting back up and everybody getting into their schedules, we didn’t do a whole lot else.

Jake

Two Beers. All Set. Beers at the Beach Mikasa Friendly Gesture

OCTOBER

October was filled by a few family visits and whatnot… but nothing really major happened.

Don't Look Down

The Bartender Spin the Rex Backyard Bailey Chevelle

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

Either I didn’t take many photos in the last few months, or I just haven’t developed/scanned/processed anything. At any rate, I spent a lot of time hanging out with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

SO HOW WAS MY YEAR?

Honestly, I’m not totally impressed with myself this year. I didn’t do as much photo-taking as I would have liked, and I definitely didn’t do as much photo-printing either. I also felt a fairly large shift in my photographic focus this year. I spent more time just capturing the events and gatherings that I happened to be a part of rather than going out and looking for opportunities… sort of a passive approach I guess. I did a few photowalks and outings, but not like I had in the past.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… just a different thing. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so I can afford to drift with my focus and intent. But in general, I’ve keep the same passion for photography that I’ve always had — I’ve just been more relaxed about it. And maybe that’s what I needed this year to motivate me for something new next year.

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m not sure what the new year has in store for me. I would guess that I’ll be shooting more film and less digital though. I’m also hoping to get the color darkroom set up soon so I can fully utilize my collection of negatives (sucks not being able to print nearly half of my work just because it’s not b/w). I would like to focus more on printing before I fall too far behind on my archives and the whole situation turns into a lost cause.

The Darkroom

For equipment, I don’t plan on acquiring anything new… OK, maybe a large format camera of some sort, but no definite plans yet. And like I said, my darkroom is almost complete and ready for color and b/w developing and printing so I should be fine there (unless I do actually get a large format camera). At any rate, definitely no plans for new digital equipment.

Subject-wise, I’d like to focus more on street photography and street portraits. I did a good deal this year, but I want to get out and do more. Street photography with my newly refurbished rangefinder, and street portraits with my trusty TLR.

And as far as websites go, I do have a joint venture in the works that should launch sometime in January. But I’m sworn to secrecy, so that’s all I can say.

How about you guys??? How was 2009 for you? Is anybody else planning on participating in Jim’s project?

My Favorite Film After a Year of Shooting

I started shooting film right around April of 2008, and here we are a year later! At first, I basically bought one of everything and just tried all the different films available to me. Over time, I started leaning toward certain brands and even specific films. Now, I’m fairly picky about what I shoot — though I’m always open to trying out new films (or at least new to me).

Also in the last year, more and more people are getting into film and asking me which film to use. Of course, that kind of thing is dependent on what you’re shooting, which camera you’re using, what the light is like, what kind of mood you’re going for, and personal preference. But if you’re completely new to film photography, it’s nice to have some advice to start with. So here are 11 of my favorite films after a year of shooting.

BLACK AND WHITE FILM

A Dreary WorldIt's Lonely Out HereSpin Me!CruisersMetal and GlassTicket Booth

Black and white is definitely my favorite when it comes to film. Each film captures the scene a bit differently at varying levels of contrast, dynamic range, and tone representation. Here are five of my favorites.

  1. ILFORD PANF PLUS
    This one is my favorite film of all. It’s a medium contrast low speed (ASA 50) film that goes nicely with old cameras. I love using this film in my TLR on a sunny day because it allows me to open up the lens for a shallow DOF.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. ILFORD HP5 PLUS
    This is my go-to film for any time the sun isn’t shining. Also a fairly medium contrast film, but with a faster speed (ASA 400). Awesome dynamic range with great looking grain. A very versatile film, capable of being pushed to ASA 3200 and pulled to ASA 100 with decent results.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. ILFORD DELTA 3200
    I like this one for indoor shooting because of its fast speed (ASA 3200), though it does have some very pronounced grain. The contrast on this film tends to be higher than the PanF or HP5.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  4. FUJIFILM NEOPAN 400
    I’m not a huge fan on non-Ilford films (in case you haven’t noticed), but nothing beats the serious high contrast on the Neopan (ASA 400).
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  5. ILFORD XP2 SUPER
    This film is a bit different than the others since its not really a black and white film. The XP2 (ASA 400) is actually a C-41 film, so it needs to be processed as if it were color film. This is handy for folks who want to shoot black and white but don’t have access to anything but standard color developing.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

COLOR FILM

Over the CanLow Tide SunsetWinter DocksTake a KneeSan Clemente PierLa Jolla Pier

Though black and white is my favorite, color is quickly growing on me. Color film usually renders a scene in a very different fashion than a typical digital image. Like black and white films, the various color films have differing levels of saturation, contrast, and grain. Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK PORTRA 400VC
    The Portra VC (Vivid Color) films are very strong in color saturation and well suited for toy cameras and such — though I assume they’ll work just as well in a “real” camera. I have yet to try the Portra 160VC, but I’ve got some waiting to be loaded up in my TLR.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM REALA 100
    This one is fairly slow (ASA 100) as far as color negative films go, and the results are nice and sharp with little sign of grain. Color accuracy seems to be very good, and the saturation and contrast look great without being overdone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. KODAK EKTAR 100
    This may become my favorite color film due to the extremely fine grain and color accuracy. Also a low-speed color film (ASA 100), this stuff loves the sunshine. You can also read my informal review of the 120-Format Ektar 100.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

SLIDE FILM (XPRO’D)

Flying and FloatingJessWarp SpeedI'm So Hot I'm RedDarkness Creeps InI'm a Survivor

I don’t usually shoot slide film because it’s expensive to buy and develop, and it tends to be very finicky about exposure. But the stuff is great for cross processing! Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK EKTACHROME OR ELITECHROME
    This film gives that classic green-shift when cross processed, but a lot of it can be white-balanced out to give the photos a more neutral tone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM VELVIA 100
    The Velvia 100 gives very different results from most other xpro’d slide film. It has a very strong red-cast with hints of purple or yellow depending on the lighting.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. FUJIFILM VELVIA 50
    The Velvia 50 is quite similar to the Ektachrome, but with a more subtle green and more prominent blue-cast. I haven’t shot too much of this, but I really should do more.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

Drop us a comment and tell us what your favorite films are, and let us know why! Feel free to leave photos in the comments to back up your comments.

My Favorite Photos from 2008

The “yearly roundup” of best photos seems to be standard protocol for photography bloggers, so here we go! I did a similar thing last year, but with just 10 photos. This year, I took way more photos (somewhere around 12-13K) so there was no way I could keep it down to just 10 — plus I uploaded around 1000 just to Flickr in 2008.

Hitesh had a good idea for breaking things down by month, so I figured I would give that a try. Each month, I picked around 4 or 5 of my favorite photos (though some months have a few more). I’m also writing this article as a project entry for Jim Goldstein — there’s still time to participate if anybody else is interested.

JANUARY

January was a slow month for photography. We had a few family visits and we spent most of our free time hanging out at the beach, going to the zoo, and partaking in various other family activities.

Feet on the Beach
Into The SeaGorilla GazeMormon Temple

FEBRUARY

February was a little more active with photography stuff. I upgraded from my Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D (6MP) to a Sony a700 (12MP). I was also participating in the February Challenge. I took a ton of photos at the La Jolla photowalk, which had a great turnout.

Wide Open
The Place to BeSimply Religious
Table for OneHostile Takeover

MARCH

March was super busy. We had two big photowalks (Venice Beach and Laguna Beach), lots more family gatherings, and I managed to go back home to North Idaho for Easter and a bit of skiing. March was also significant because I started shooting film with a camera my Dad gave me… and it’s been all downhill from there.

Jess
Abused and IgnoredGraffiti Artists
RadiallyThe Rail

APRIL

April was a little more relaxed than previous months. I spent a lot of time photowalking by myself in various towns in San Diego County. I was also going full steam ahead with the film camera, and learning the ropes. The kids were up in North Idaho with their Grandparents, so my wife and I got to hang out and pretend to be childless.

Cove
My SunshinePatrick
CruisersUncle Pat

MAY

May was pretty laid back, not much different from April. Family visits, trips to the zoo, hanging out at the beach, etc. One exciting thing that happened was I picked up my first medium format film camera — my 1956 Minolta Autocord TLR. So yeah, the film saga continues.

The Dock
Chrome SpokesThe Lifeguard
Watching Over the RosesWalking on Water

JUNE

The start of Summer was certainly busy. I went on two more group photowalks: Hollywood Blvd and Huntington Beach. The Hollywood photowalk was also a photographer’s rights rally, so it was pretty interesting. The one at Huntington Beach was just a few good friends, but we had a great time as usual. I also did a few solo photowalks down in Little Italy of San Diego. Again, lots of film photography — and I picked up a “Polaroid” (it’s actually a Minolta InstantPro) to add to my growing collection of cameras. I believe June is also when I started shooting 110 film (as did my son).

It's Lonely Out Here
3 CopsWarp SpeedO's
Subway ShuffleBig White BoxesMetro Timetables
Darkness Creeps InThe Wind CatcherThe Guys at Huntington Beach

JULY

July was a slower month for some reason… I seem to go in cycles, on and off about every other month. No group photowalks in July, just some solo stuff in Little Italy and Ocean Beach.

Surfer and Board
Battling Fuel PricesI'm a Survivor
Ford Mustang SVT CobraCup-O-Barbie

AUGUST

August was again busy. Two more group photowalks: Newport Beach and Long Beach. Plus a solo photowalk at Mission Beach (yes, we have lots of “beaches” around here). August was also the month that I got my Diana+ and I’ve been shooting way too much medium format since then (not that this is a bad thing).

Flying and Floating
Rescue BoardGhosts of Queen MaryWavehouse Surfer
My HefferMerry-Go-RoundCommodore

SEPTEMBER

September stayed pretty busy even though Summer was officially over. I did two more group photowalks with just one or two other photographers. One was all over San Diego with Richard Wong including Border Field State Park, Coronado, La Jolla, and the Torrey Pines Gliderport. The other photowalk was at Santa Monica with my pal Bryan.

The Watchman
On The Other Side of the FenceYou Can Trust MeMarlin
To the WestKiller Whale EncounterI Poop Little People and Ride Away

OCTOBER

I kept somewhat busy in October. We did one group photowalk at Venice Beach — which always makes for some good photo ops. I also had jury duty for two weeks and I ended up being an alternate juror. So at the end of the trial I just had to be “on call” while the others deliberated. That gave me three full days to wander around downtown San Diego with some black & white film loaded up!

A Dreary World
Over the CanLow Aircraft #2Moving with the Music
I'm So Hot That I'm RedVj Day StatuePurple Skies

NOVEMBER

November slowed way down compared to previous months. No photowalks, solo or group. Lots of hanging out with family as we approached round 1 of the holidays. I also got my darkroom up and running in November, so I spent a lot of time in there rather than doing other things — well worth it though! You can see some of my prints on Flickr.

Analog Fruits
Winter BeachThe Little Mermaid
Down the HillRyan

DECEMBER

December was also pretty slow for photography. I don’t know what happened, but I got so busy with things and I hardly had time to pick up a camera. I did get one shot that I really like though…

My Girls