2011 Year In Review

As the final hours of 2011 tick away, I look forward to new photography opportunities in 2012. 2011 was a year of mixed blessings for me, but I think that each encounter and opportunity helped me grow not only as a photographer, but as a person as well. I like to think that as each year of my life passes, I make better decisions and take advantage of most of the opportunities and beauty that God makes available in my journey. As I reflect upon the year that was, I thought I would share some of my favorite images from this year. Click on an image to view larger.

Sunrise at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

One of the things that I came to realize during 2011 is that I have improved my ability to “see” things. By that I mean that I look at nature differently now. I find myself spending more time looking for better angles, spending more time with a subject, and slowing down my workflow when making photos. I used to be in the mindset of “hurry up and take the shot”, thinking that I should move on quickly because I might be missing something. In 2011, I found myself worrying less about what I was missing and concentrating more on what I had right in front of me. This is a good thing.

Gulf Sunset

In wildlife photography, I did a credible job of increasing the number of birds on my life list. This year I added American Widgeon, Canvasback, Great Horned Owl, Cape May Warbler, Nanday Parakeet, Black Tern, Wilson’s Phalarope, Egyptian Goose, Clay-colored Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, Redhead, Eurasian Widgeon and Common Loon. Unfortunately I don’t have respectable images of all these species to share. I get very excited when I see a new bird in the field, but then I kick myself when I get home and find that I don’t have a decent image of my find. Some of that frustration is because the glimpse of the bird is fleeting, or the conditions extremely poor for a good photo. The real frustration comes from having all the right conditions and plenty of time and still missing the shot.

Common Loon with Shrimp

In June Faith and I made a trip to the St. Petersburg area to visit her father for Father’s Day. While we were there, we took advantage of the Black Skimmer colony that nests on the beach each spring. I was very fortunate to have stopped by for some photography just a couple of days after the chicks started to hatch. I got some of my most memorable images of 2011 from this day.

Black Skimmer Family

In 2011, I met several new friends as well including Jess, Susan, Trisha, Kathy, Mary, Tom, Chris, Eric, Brian, Michael, Roni, Sally, Varsha, Lana and many others. And what year would be complete without a visit from the UK by Graham? We had a great time with Hank and Linda at Blue Cypress Lake in March.

Osprey at Blue Cypress Lake

Unfortunately, 2011 was also the year that we lost a very dear friend, Klaus Peter. His passing in August has left a hole in our lives that we notice every time we go out with the camera.

Faith and I traveled to Chincoteague, VA for a family reunion. It was a great time to visit family and I made the most of the photography while I was there.

Sunrise over Chincoteague Channel.

We also took our annual week’s vacation at Indian Rocks Beach where we enjoyed a quiet, relaxed pace for a week. The photography wasn’t half bad either!

I Hope This Wasn't Important!

I even ventured out of my comfort zone to snap a few pictures when our nieces visited us in July.

Emily, Amy, Torey and Faith

I made my first trip to the Butterfly Rainforest at the University of Florida this year and had a fantastic time! Thanks Nancy for letting me tag along.

Gold-banded Forester

I made a few trips to Fort DeSoto this year, but I think my visit in April was by far the best. All the birds were in their breeding colors, and as you might imagine, they were breeding too! That was a fun time with Klaus, Dan, Alan, Dennis, Kevan, Linda, Jess and Rich.

Royal Terns

Jess let me tag along on a trip to Flagler County to see the Least Tern colony there. While we were there we stopped at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for my first visit to their rookery. I’m already looking forward to going back up there for both the Least Terns and the Alligator Farm.

Snowy Egret Preening

I hope 2012 provides as many opportunities as I had in 2011. We have a trip planned for the Oregon coast this summer, and I’m really looking forward to that. It will soon be time to start planning this trip. As far as goals for the new year go, my focus will be on improving my photography by taking better pictures in camera and spending less time post processing. I will also work on slowing down and focusing more on what is right in front of me.

Happy New Year!

Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve


  • Dina J

    December 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Well said! All beautiful pictures and really sums up your year.

  • Donna Faylo

    December 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    A beautiful recap of 2011, along with amazing photography. Looking forward to the upcoming 2012 photo adventures.

  • Susan Brown

    December 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Wonderful and moving recap Michael, I am honored to call you friend! It was so great meeting you this year and look forward more fun and adventures in 2012. And maybe get to meet Faith on an outing or two? Wishing you both a happy, healthy New Year filled with lots of new possibilities, blessings and discoveries :^)

  • Debbie Tubridy

    December 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Wonderful re-cap of the year there Michael!
    Such wonderful images and reflective memories as well.
    Thanks for being our friend – it truly is an honor!
    Happy New Year to you and Faith and we hope to do some shooting with you in 2012!

  • Karen King

    December 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    What a blessed year you have had! The photos are amazing!! So nice meeting you this year. I look forward to seeing all your new photos in 2012!

  • Jess Yarnell

    December 31, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    You did very well with sunrises this year! I hope your Beast finds you soon in 2012. 🙂