My Top Ten Photos for 2010

Every year, Jim Goldstein, awesome landscape photographer extraordinaire and blogger challenges his readers to post their best ten shots of the year on his blog. I’ve received thousands of hits to my blog just from posting there, so if you want exposure, that’s one way to do it.  I highly recommend posting your best shots of 2010. After a long year of imaging, it is good practice to edit down to ten shots only. Not only does it force you to put your priorities in order, it also serves to show you how you’ve improved or even lost your way. You can also get a sense of what a photo editor feels like, sacrificing good images every day. I have a ton more images that I wanted to make the list, but ten is 10. I feel like my images have come a long way in a year and it looks like 2011 is shaping up to be the best yet. Here’s last year’s Top Ten for comparison. Wedding dates are starting book up a documentary project about the Space Shuttle will get underway and even a big commercial gig is looming on the horizon. Will this be the year we get to quit our jobs and become full-time pros? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank all the visitors to the website, blog, Facebook, MySpace, etc. Traffic is ever climbing and I can’t thank all of you enough for your time, comments, energy and for looking at my photos. I couldn’t do this without you guys.  Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2011.

So above and below are my ten best of 2010 in no particular order (click thumbnail for larger image):

This is the historic 60″ telescope at Mt. Wilson.
This is an engagement image from a session with our friends Kelly & Gavin.
I picked this image because of its timing. See anything in the fog?
The Getty Museum.
Crepuscular rays in the Bay.
This is the center of our galaxy from Mt. Pinos, California.
Union Station
Jupiter and Io with the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. This image is interestng because the Southern Equitorial Belt is missing and has since returned.

So there you have it. Like I said, there were a ton of hard decisions to make. I took a bunch of great baby shots and wedding shots that I love to death, but  I couldn’t pick so they  didn’t make it. Hopefully,  I won’t have moms and newlyweds after me for not picking their photos. To all of my couples and parents, sorry. Perhaps we’ll do a portrait Top Ten. Thanks again everyone for viewing and have an awesome holiday.

45 thoughts on “My Top Ten Photos for 2010

  1. Very unique style, Tom. Mt. Wilson looks like a really intriguing shot. What time does the observatory normally close? I went up there once but it closed just after sunset.

    1. Richard, I can’t thank you enough for the compliment. That night at the observatory was truly magic, I’ll never in my life forget the views of Jupiter through the 60″. In a weird way, it freightened me a little. I suppose its like climbing a tall cliff to jump in the water and then realiaing its much further down than it looked from the bottom. I had that sensation, but it was half a billion miles. Very exciting to see a planet in that kind of detail live in person. Stunning.

      The site closes to the public in the afternoon I think. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the scope and use it on four different occasions, each time was with a local astronomy club or organization. I attended sessions with the Antelope Valley Astronomy Club twice, once with the Mount Wilson Observatory association and one with the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (saw a volcano on Mars that night). They allow organizations and as far as I know, individuals, to rent the scope for half or full nights. Last I heard, the rate was somewhere in the realm of $500 for a half and $1,000 for a full night. Check out Eric Curry’s shot of the scope:
      60" Mount Wilson TElescope: Vision

    1. Art, I can’t tell you how glad I am that THAT shot is your favorite. I wasn’t sure if people would just dismiss it quickly and move on to the next thinking I was crazy or what, but people have been digging in and finding that bridge. I love the idea of hiding to complimentary colors even if its just for a second. Thanks for squinting long enough to look at that shot. The shot of the trees was taken a half hour before the bridge, both within 100 yds of eachother near Fort Point. If you ever get a chance to photograph San Francisco, do it.

  2. Nice collection! I like your candid people portrait observation shots, they are very introspective!

    Glad to find your site through Jim’s blog!

    1. Thanks, Chris. I could certainly find enough meaning in the faces of strangers to keep me interested for 10 lifetimes. Thanks for spending some time here, I hope you come back, a lot of cool stuff coming this year.

  3. Beautiful and varied collection! I, too, love the first telescope photo and the photo from the Getty Museum is so poignant! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. I’m kind of blown away your macro work right now. Thank you for commenting, especially on the Getty shot, I really love that one. Your work is amazing. I’m very inspired as I’m still trying to find my style and yours seems so well defined. Amazing colors without that oversaturated feeling and killer composition throughout. Wow. Just ‘liked’ you on Facebook, I sure hope we can continue the conversation.

      1. Thanks so much for your compliments, Tom! It’s funny that you say my style seems defined because I’ve been thinking for the past few months how I have no specific style and how I need to “find” one. I guess the view is different from the outside looking in! I checked out your profile on FB. (BTW, do you have a page there?) Do you actually know Neil deGrasse Tyson??? That would be so cool! He’s on my friends list too, but only because he accepts requests from random fans like myself. 🙂 I definitely look forward to seeing more of your work and checking out your blog!

  4. Great Work Tom. Liked all the photographs especially the engaement one. Well I m very new to photography and got a Sony Cybershot DSC H50 Camera. Can you tell me how I can use it maximum to get the best shots and what are its limitations.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Somedra, I took a 50,000 photos on a Sony DSC-S50, an ancient little dinosaur cybershot and I loved it. I then upgraded to the DSC-V3 which is awesome, I have no doubt that you can produce amazing images with your camera (15X zoom is a nice feature to have). Also, keep in mind that if you ever buy a DSLR, chances are you can only afford one or two lenses, so you’ll lose the capability of simply switching to macro and you’ll be limited by the focal length of whatever lenses you own.

      My point is: It’s not about your gear and it is all about your gear.
      1. It’s not about your gear. You can take AMAZING photos with what you have. If you don’t think so, watch this video:
      2. It’s all about your gear. You must know the gear you have inside and out. Read the manual. Then, read it again. Then, go take photos of something you love on every setting the camera has and compare them and see what you like.

      Remember, limitations can be awesome. For instance: Haiku poems are great. Black and White photography is very special because it takes a much better composition when you can’t rely on color to tell the story. Though your camera may not be able to take 8 frames per second or have interchangeable lenses, you can certainly kick some ass.

      There’s a much more important lesson to learn here that is evident in the iPhone Fstoppers video: nothing is more important than light. The quality of the light falling on your subject is the most important element in photography in my opinion. Composition, instinct, technical ability and choice of subject are all important, but no where near as important as the light. Everyone sees the same world that you do, you have to show them what they already know from a different angle or in different light.

      I can’t tell you everything about light in one session, but try this: Bounce flash. Take two photos, first, take one of someone you know with the flash of your camera on automatic. Second, hold a mirror or reflective surface (even white paper works) at a 45 degree angle in front of your flash and bounce the light on to the ceiling when you take the shot. Compare these two. The second photo should have a much softer look because the light source became much larger. That’s one small part of the equation.

      Also, try these natural light tricks:
      1. Open shade. Shoot your subject on a sunny day in the shade, just outside of the sunlight in to the shade. Center them on a background darker than than their face, zoom in most of the way, then back up and take a great portrait.
      2. Find a white wall in your town that gets direct sunlight. If you stand someone near one of these walls (preferrably in the shade) and allow the wall to light them, the light will be very soft.

      I have to get to editing some photos, but feel free to email me if you have more questions at

      1. Thank you sooo much! I still need to throw together a top 10 for 2011, we had a great year. I hope you have an awesome New Year and thanks for the visit!

  5. These are few of top photos and are very very good. They are the pictures which will be on top forever.I like all the pics but the first picture and the Union Station are really awesome. .The shadow effect on the wall in Union Station picture is really very appealing. You have clicked awesome pictures and look very natural. As photography is dependent on the reaction of the chemicals on the film to light, it is easy to deduce the importance of light conditions when taking photographs. As light is as important as indicated, one must also be aware that light can be reflected off certain objects, it can be absorbed by others, and it can be refracted by others.You have used the camera very well..Great..!! Thanks for such a post. 🙂

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