2017 Photo Review and Top 10

It’s been about 2 years now that I’ve been seriously taking photos with something other than my phone. I consider the photography year over, because I already sent off my order for my 2017 photobook. I did the same last year, so 2018 photography starts now for me.

In 2017, I took 8,545 photos. I edited about 900 of them. From that 900 I chose 30 of my favorites to have printed.

I went shooting 72 times this year.

Lately I’ve discovered a love of black and white landscape photos. Even though that was something that really only developed in the last few months, I chose it as a theme for my book this year. I also took many photos of flowers. For awhile there, I was taking photos at San Mateo Central Park several times a week.

My photography improves, and my artwork, which is based on my photography improves. I realized this year that light is the most important thing. I think I already knew that, but I changed my priorities to really looking at the light and I think my photos and art got much better because of that. Now I am drawn to birds and want to get a longer zoom than my 250mm for bird photos. I was also surprised to find out this year what a great lens that is for flowers. Maybe 400mm flowers too?

I went through my edited photos and chose my 10 favorites for this post. Happy New Photo Year!



Up until now, my longest available zoom has been 135mm. Then I was poking around on Amazon and I noticed that I could grab a 55-250mm discontinued Canon kit lens for less than $120. I felt I would be stupid not to get this, so I did.

Camera gear enthusiasts are an interesting bunch. I’ve been reading more blogs and videos about camera gear and photography this year and I can see how one could easily get sucked into a never-ending crusade to acquire the ultimate camera/lens combinations. I must remind myself that there is no real reason for me to do this, from time to time. I don’t aspire to be a professional photographer. (But if someone is offering some awesome job I may reconsider!)

Photography serves several purposes for me:

  1. It’s an art you can do outside! It entices me to go outside and walk around. Drawing and painting are my real artistic passions, but you must sit still to accomplish them. One cannot sit still all the time.
  2. Reference photos for my art. I only draw from my own reference photos when I draw realistically and since I learned more about photography it has really improved all of my painting. Taking pictures that capture interesting and beautiful light is the key.
  3. Documenting the things around me. I live in an amazing place with great weather almost year round (rain excluded) and an incredible array of plants, especially flowers. No matter what lens I use, I’m going to take more pictures of flowers and hiking trails than anything else because that’s what interests me most.
  4. Messing around with abstract photography. I get composition and color ideas from my abstract photos, and can see whatever the thing is that is “my style” in them.

None of these purposes require me to buy the most expensive gear.

Here are some photos from the new lens. It’s definitely going to be fun to use to capture more bird photos. And I was impressed with how great the flowers look at 250mm.


New Lens, Canon 50mm STM

Trying out my new lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. It’s a small lens and the lightest of any I own. It’s also not terribly expensive, making it a good candidate for hikes. A lot of reviewers recommend it for portraits, which don’t really interest me unless they are flower portraits, but I think it’s going to be a good walking around lens. Here are today’s best shots:


Flowers in the Rain

The exciting news around here is that I got a new camera. I have upgraded, with the help of santa, from my Canon EOS 40D to a new Canon EOS 80D.

I am in awe of it right off the bat. From the grip to the sound of the shutter, everything is pleasing. Of course, as soon as I get said new camera, it starts raining and is never going to stop! I know the rain brings with it the real beauty in its wake, so I can wait, but in the meantime, I did manage to shoot some raindrops during the sole non-rainy hour of the day.



Posing Egret & Flowers

This egret might be the same one I’ve photographed before. He likes to hang out on the shore of the pond where I can get pretty close to him.

Coy Egret

He seemed to be enjoying his modeling career today. First he puffed up his hair.

Egret Mohawk

Then he sang me a song.

Egret Singing

Then he did a funny dance!

Egret dancing

What a ham 🙂

I also saw a lovely peach iceplant flower.

Peach Ice Plant

And a sunbathing nasturtium blossom.

yellow nasturtium

I’m still in awe of my new 100 mm macro lens (which I used for all of these photos.) Really fun to play with the very shallow depth of field at f/2.8

spikey thingWhite flowers DOF



March Sunrise

I know we’re going to change our clocks this weekend, and unlike most people I’m looking forward to it. I’m an early bird and sometimes lately I’ve been waking up at 4:30 am but convincing myself to go back to sleep because it’s just ridiculous to get up then. However, next week, it won’t be quite as ridiculous when 4:30 becomes 5:30 and I will really be able to catch full sunrises. Anyway, I did pop out of bed ready to go at 5:15 this morning and caught a nice sunrise from Seal Point park.


Ah, super wide angle! This was taken other lens I bought myself. It’s the Canon EFS 10-18mm IS. I wanted a super wide angle for vistas and for hiking photos with lots of trees.

But I also wanted to try out the macro lens on vistas, and I have to say I really like the result. This lens just makes everything look so nice to my eye. Well worth the cost.


I love the view of the city at sunrise. Such nice warm, golden light and Turneresque skies.


In the morning at Seal Point, there are a ton of red-winged blackbirds singing their strange song. It sound a little like a digital ringtone to my ears.



New Magical Macro Lens Heaven

macro lensSo it begins… I have invested in new lenses for my camera. The camera (Canon EOS 40D) and the lens I have been using (Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS) were Christmas presents, so this is the first money I am investing in photography. I tried to resist, and held out valiantly for a few months, but with a job promotion and finishing paying off my student loans, I felt it was time to buy myself a present.

Or two. I’ll get to the other lens on another post, but for now I want to share my first day’s shooting with my new Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS. Oh, it is so nice. It feels nice. And looking at my photos from this afternoon, I’m pretty sure its main component is some kind of magic. Anyway, without further ado, pictures.


pink magicpink magic_1

Gah! Magic. Clearly, flowers are my thing and I love flowers and want to take photos of all the flowers all the time. But there are other things too. Like beehives!

Bees Nest

And raindrops on spiderwebs.

rain in the spider web

And flame colored ice plant that looks like it should be under the sea, but is growing on the earth.

ice plant flames

And budding pine cones. These are teeny tiny. Hello Macro Amazement!

pine cone bud

But mostly flowers. Can’t wait to see what else I can do with this new toy.