Two-thousand eleven is nearly done. I guess I’d say it’s been a very full year with its ups and downs like any other year. It’s been a great year for my photography, and I know I’ve grown as a photographer. Whatever we do, growing and improving should always be a goal. There is always something new, something we haven’t thought of before, or an angle or perspective we’ve not explored.

Kem was my most recent subject, a totally enjoyable shoot with many different poses, many different shots, lots of moving around of lights. Lynne was a huge help. I posted this shot on my Facebook page, too. While this wasn’t exactly what we were after (we were shooting full-length and 3/4 shots), it was there in my set of photos waiting to be seen. We knew her expression in this shot was great and it would be one of our final picks, but making it into a close-up wasn’t expected.

The year started off with a wonderful winter trip to Yosemite, my first visit to that wonderful National Park. I think it would be difficult for anyone with any reasonable skill at photography to not come away with several great photos. There are great photos everywhere. We went up to Tunnel View to shoot the valley as the sun set. We also had a full moon rising which made for a spectacular scene. With my camera on a tripod, I was shooting different photos and playing with some HDR exposures and some panorama shots, but at one point I noticed the colors on the LCD display.

The magenta was unexpected, and I looked up – naked eyed – to see that, yes, the sky really was magenta. It’s way too easy to become lost in the viewfinder and miss what’s actually around you. A good lesson, and I captured a good photograph, too.

I again attended Photoshop World in Vegas this year. As my skills improve and change, I find myself attending classes with different topics, looking for insights and inspiration to expand my boundaries. I’ll hopefully attend some other workshop or classes this year, but I’m still searching for the right one.

I continued to volunteer at Rochester Civic Theatre, mainly via my photography but occasionally working backstage or helping install some IT gear. I already have the list of shows for next season, and I’ve started – barely – on the posters to be unveiled in April. I’ve been shooting the show photos and head shots for several years now, but it’s still fun and still brings something new with each show. I’m thinking Chicago this spring will have a lot of the cool lighting I like.

I’ve also had an opportunity to shoot shows in Austin, MN at Riverland Community College. Besides the enjoyment of photographing a show, I’ve seen a couple shows for the first time.

I’ve had other interesting projects. I finally shot my The Elements personal project. I’m thinking of some other possibilities for the future, trying my hand at other abstract ideas. And I recently was able to shoot some cool sports shots. Have I mentioned how much I like creative lighting?

And in 2011, my sister and I lost our father. He lived a full and very long life, suffered with dementia for several years. So, while his passing wasn’t exactly a surprise, the timing, so soon after mom’s passing, wasn’t the best. What is the best?

But as the year closes, I begin a new journey of sorts, transcribing the box of letters mom wrote to dad when he was in Asia during WW II. Like photography, it’s a way of preserving some moments for the future. She wrote him every day, so there are many, many letters. Wish me luck.

I want to wish you and your family and friends all the best in 2012. Let’s hope for a safer and more peaceful world.