Monday, May 28, 2012

Never Forget

Please don't forget what today is truly about.  We all have heroes in our family and here are some of mine.  So proud of their service and honored to have been able to call both of them Paw Paw.  Love and miss you both.

My grandfather Ben H. Darby Sr. US Navy, WWII Veteran

Brittany's grandfather (middle) Thaxter C. Still Sr. US Army, WWII Veteran

God bless our veterans and current service men and women.  Always remember to live a life worthy of the ultimate sacrifice our soldiers have paid.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sun n Fun n Thunder!

2012-03-31 -  Thunderbirds-352

It's that time of year again! This year the Thunderbirds came to town for the Sun n Fun Fly in and boy can they put on a show. Love seeing all of the aircraft during this week and it is definitely one of my favorite times of year. Special thanks to my father in-law Clipper & Terri for the awesome vantage point! This spot allows for some pretty good photos! Here are a few more, I have a ton but wanted to get a few up as a preview before I get lazy and don't get around to posting them until August. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 11 of 2011 (Part II)

Welcome back! I really hope you enjoyed Part I of my top 11 sets in 2011. Now it is time for the 2nd part of my top 11.

6. Summertime

2011-05-22 - Pool-13

Gotta love that summer weather! This past summer we had plenty of time in the pool with our little guy and even made our first over night trip to the beach with him and he had an absolute blast.

2011-10-14 - Riley Beach 1-211

The beach also yielded a couple of amazing sunsets. God created the beauty, and again, I was just a witness who happened to be there with a camera. Always thankful for those opportunities.

2010-10-14 - Beach Sunset-77

2011-10-15 - Beach Sunset-206

7. Halloween

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I always love this time of year but the excitement and anticipation just isn't the same as an adult. Fortunately, Riley has brought that excitement back to life and for the second year in a row we have had a blast with him in the "Pumpkin Patch" and on Halloween
. He brings joy to my life in more ways than I could ever count and I am so thankful for that.

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2011-10-19 - Pumpkin Patch-10

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2011-10-19 - Pumpkin Patch-365

8. Christmas
2011-11-27 - Christmas Card-69

Talk about special times! Riley's first Christmas was obviously very special to us all but this year definitely had some great moments as Riley was a bit older and could understand a bit more of what was going on. Our yearly Christmas card shoot which has become somewhat of a tradition was a great time!

2011-11-27 - Christmas Card-39

2011-11-27 - Christmas Card-58

2011-11-27 - Christmas Card-13

9. Basketball

2011-11-21 - UF v. Wright State-744

Basketball is one of the few sports that holds a special place in my heart. As most of you know I went to the University of Florida and lettered in basketball as a student manager. One of the best experiences of my life. I currently assist the communications department during home games as a spotter for the stat crew so I rarely get the opportunity to shoot our current Gator basketball team. Fortunately this year they traveled to Tampa and played in the St. Pete Times Forum. Great game, and a great shoot!

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2011-11-21 - UF v. Wright State-732

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2011-11-21 - UF v. Wright State-1082

10. Pop Sikes

2011-10-06 - Pop Sikes-5

This is the only set in the top 11 that I did not actually shoot but it is certainly worthy of sharing. Golf is an extreme passion of mine and I have been playing for quite some time. Over the years I have had the opportunity to play with my dad regularly and team up with him in many Parent/Child and team events. The alternate shot format in a Parent/Child is certainly a character builder but regardless of how bad, or good the tournament goes, at the end of the day it is a good time and valuable time spent bonding and enjoying my dad. Can't tell you how blessed I feel to have that opportunity. We have had some great success but really haven't had a major tournament win.

It isn't easy to have everything going perfectly at one time and be able to beat other great golfers and a competitive field. On October 6th 2011, dad and I played in the annual Pop Sikes Tournament that benefits the Florida Southern Men's Golf team. This is a tournament that my dad has won twice in the past (in the 80's) and is an important one for us to participate in and do our best.

The day went absolutely perfectly. We both played well and there was even a little bit of luck involved and we managed to WIN the event. The field was very strong and we won by one stroke. What a great day!

I knew we were "in the hunt" later in the round as my dad continuously told me to "just relax" and "keep breathing." Once that started I kept thinking "oh crap, we could win this thing" but stayed focused and savored the moment.

I will never forget that day and the amazing accomplishment I got to achieve with my dad on the course.

2011-10-06 - Pop Sikes-4

11. Zoo

2011-12-26 - Zoo-877

In late November I had already decided to do a "Top 11 of 2011" and thought I had all of the photos I needed for the blog post. That was until, we made our first trip to the Lowry Park Zoo. We enjoyed the day so much that at the end of the day we signed up for an annual pass and can't wait to go back. There were some great photo opportunities, but most importantly, Riley had a blast. Here are just a few of my photos from an amazing day.

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Toward the end of the day we stopped by an area where 2 young Leopards were housed and almost as soon as we got there, nap time was over, and play time erupted. It was so much fun to watch and photograph such beautiful young animals at play.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to peruse my "Top 11 of 2011" photos and for being a reader of my blog. There are some great things in store for this year and I look forward to sharing a lot of them with you in the coming year.

I wish you all the best in 2012 and look forward to seeing you back here soon!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top 11 of 2011 (Part I)

First and foremost, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope your New Year's celebration was fun and safe. I actually spent the evening helping my wife and her co-workers move a pharmacy. No, really. The store she works at is being completely torn to the ground but the pharmacy will remain open at an out parcel in the same shopping center. It was quite a move but I actually enjoyed being able to help as well as getting to know the people she works with a bit better.

I have decided to post my favorite 11 photo sets of 2011 as a small recap of my year taking pictures. It almost took me whole first month of the new year to get this post off of the ground but I'm finally (almost) ready to share. In total I shot an approximate total of 23,445 frames. Thank God for the digital age or we'd live in a shack, or worse yet, I'd live alone in one.

For those of you who know me, there may be a glaring omission to my top 11 of 2011 - UF Football. I just completed my third season shooting for the University Communications department and as with the first two years, I had an absolute blast, got some amazing photos, and learned a ton about myself and the art of shooting sports. Without sounding too obnoxious, I feel like I have improved and look forward to joining them again next season.

So, where are all of these "great" photos you took this season, you ask? They're here, but I can't share them as freely as one may think. The photos belong to me, and they also belong to UF. We will work on this during the off season and I hope to be able to share more in the very near future. I respect the University and those I work with and I will not do anything without their permission. Hey, even if I never get to share with my readers, I've got it pretty damn good and I'm going to do my best to be a team player and STAY on the team. ;-)

As I began to type and caption these photos I realized that I had WAY too much for a single blog post, so I have broken the post into 2 parts.

On to the photos - I hope you enjoy!

1. The Blue Angels

2011-04-02- Blue Angels-491

Absolutely love shooting any air show but the event is always just a little more special when the Blue Angels are involved. We had a perfect vantage point from my Father in law's back porch and I took full advantage...

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2011-04-02- Blue Angels-483

2. Storm Watcher

I have always been intrigued with the weather. Even had my own weather station until our local Red Tailed Hawk exerted his territoriality on it (honestly just wish I got a photo of it). I have yet to chase a storm or see and photograph a tornado but I will. Until then, I'll just keep watching, and shooting storms from my office window...

2011-06-30 - Storm-107

2011-06-30 - Storm-107-2

3. 2011 Players Championship

I have had the amazing opportunity to help shoot The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL for the past 3 years for the Florida Times-Union. Honestly it would take a full post to explain how and why I got involved but I'm truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with and learn from such amazing photographers and editors. They always give me odd looks when I'm so pumped up to walk up and down that course for 4 16 hour days and even into the face of thunderstorms but I just can't get enough.

This year was by far the most exciting tournament yet.

2011-05-15 - Players Round 4-104

2011-05-14 - Players Round 3-320

2011-05-14 - Players Round 3-334

2011-05-13 - Players Round 2-131

The tournament literally came down to the final shots and David Toms needed to make a birdie on the 72nd hole of the tournament to force a playoff. I managed to get a great vantage point as that putt rolled in and his reaction was priceless.

2011-05-15 - Players Round 4-580

2011-05-15 - Players Round 4-581

I absolutely KNEW that one of the 2 photos above would have made the front page if David would have won. Time would tell. After that putt dropped David and K.J. Choi headed to the first playoff hole, the infamous island green on #17. Toms missed a short putt and Choi managed to make his par and this shot of his celebration made the front page instead. The setting sun coming through the gaps in the bleachers hit him perfectly as the putt dropped. The light was absolutely perfect. I was just a witness with a camera.

2011-05-15 - Players Round 4-662

4. Fisheye

I take my camera out in the back yard all of the time. There's usually something going on and it usually involves our son Riley playing. I had grown a bit tired of the standard (boring and flat) shots of him having a blast so I decided to try something different and bring out my fisheye lens for the fun. The images were great and Riley LOVED how close I got to him and how close he was able to get to the camera during the process.

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Otis even got in on the fun.

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2010-10-05 - Riley Fisheye-195

5. 2011 Daytona 500

Attending the Daytona 500 with my dad has turned in to a kind of family tradition for us. We aren't HUGE race fans but the second we went to our first race we were hooked. The people watching, the power, and the speed is just too good to pass up and I love it.

The pre-race flyover never disappoints.

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2011-02-20 - Daytona 500 -191

This Daytona 500 marked the 10th anniversary of the death of a legendary driver and my favorite at the time, Dale Earnhardt. I will never forget that day and lap #3 will never be the same.

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and of course, with any Daytona 500 there's always plenty of excitement.

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Also love watching the unique celebrations of the winner of the race. This one was even more unique as it was the first time a rookie has ever won the 500 and this rookie did it at the age of 21.

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2011-02-20 - Daytona 500 -705

Hope you enjoyed Part I of my top 11 of 2011. Stay tuned for Part II coming very soon!