The Top Five–Photos of 2020

For my final “Top Five” list of 2020, I’m looking at photos that were taken the few times we actually went somewhere, starting with this wolf we saw at Brookfield Zoo back in January:

One of the last places Bunny and I went was to the Fabulous Fox Theatre to see Riverdance in February:

We took a lovely walk around Creve Coeur Lake in November:

Later that month, we attended Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Because the event started earlier than usual, we had the added bonus of not just seeing beautiful lights, but also a carpet of bright yellow gingko leaves!

When we visited Cahokia Mounds in November, I thought this tree stump was really cool:

It wasn’t hard to choose these pictures, because I just didn’t have many pictures taken away from home from which to choose. But in a way, that made these moments more special, and helped me appreciate the beauty around me in a way I might not have otherwise!

The Top Five–Around the Neighborhood Photos of 2020

For today’s “Top Five,” I’m venturing out of the house…and into our neighborhood. We might not have been able to go places this year, but we spent a lot of time walking around our subdivision, from the 2-mile walks we took in the morning before school started every day the weather was amenable to evening sunset walks. The two ponds in our neighborhood are an especially good spot for a nice view, starting with this one in the early spring:

I really like this tree I started noticing while we were walking, and I think Bob Ross would have liked it, too…it looks like it’s led an interesting life!

I caught the evening light at just the right moment for this photo:

And I’m pretty sure the evening light caught me for this one!

One last sunset photo, near one of the ponds, but looking out toward the farmland that borders the neighborhood:

My only disappointment with this list is that there aren’t any snow pictures…I hope we don’t have to wait too much longer for a real snowfall!

The Top Five–Food Photos of 2020

Today’s “Top Five” continues in the home and focuses on food photography. If there’s anything I’ve done a lot this year, it’s cook. I already did a lot of cooking to begin with, but between not being able to go out to eat at all, and wanting to find something nice I could do for my family at home, I upped my cooking game (in my opinion, anyway). And while I was cooking a lot, I decided to work on my food plating and photography, too. I actually think I’ve improved a lot this year, so at least I learned something!

The first picture I chose is from the very beginning of the year, when I made Beef Wellington for Ryan’s 40th birthday on Epiphany:

We have had shawarma so many times this year. It’s always a pretty meal because it’s so colorful…this is my favorite picture of that dinner:

I’ve also done a lot of baking this year, including this lovely carrot cake:

I found a new recipe for potato-parsnip soup, and not only was it delicious, it looked beautiful!

And finally, a picture of the dessert I made to accompany our fancy Christmas dinner on Sunday. I love the colors and textures in this picture!

Food can be a tricky thing to photograph, so I’m going to keep working on improving my skills!

The Top Five–Around the House Photos of 2020

Continuing my series of “Top Five” lists to end the year, I’m moving on to photos taken around the house, a place we’ve all spent many more hours than usual in 2020!

To start off, a picture of my complete Ticket to Ride collection, as seen in February. I’ve actually added two more games since then (the newest board, plus the only other one from my collection that was missing), but I still love seeing how many different maps are/were in my collection!

This might not be the best picture ever, but it represents one of the few high points of the year for me…the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

I’m a huge fan of the Bésame Cosmetics “Love, Lucy” collection, and I really like how this picture of the lipstick I purchased turned out:

One day, I went upstairs for school and found this in my chair. It tickled me.

To the end the list as I began, a recent picture of an old Ticket to Ride game played with the clear trains from the edition I received for Christmas. The trains are so cool!

That’s just a small glimpse into our year as seen in photos taken around the house!

The Top Five–Photos of 2019

Time to take a look back at my five favorite photos from 2019! Notable this year is that a lot of my pictures were taken (or cropped) in “square” mode, since I’m using Instagram more than ever.

First, a picture from early in the year, when we enjoyed a snowy day in the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden:

Another winter picture, this time of two snow leopards at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago:

A spring photo featuring cherry blossoms in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Japanese Garden:

The Red Arrows in flight!

Fall at Forest Park’s Pagoda Circle:

And an honorable mention…a photo taken at the holiday flower and train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden just a few days ago!

Obviously, I have my favorite places to take pictures, but I like that I’m constantly finding new ways to highlight them!

The Top Five–Photos of 2018

It’s time for a look back at my top five favorite photos from 2018! They can be organized into two categories…pictures from our trips to Chicago, and pictures from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

First, a picture of the Chicago skyline from outside the Adler Planetarium in January:

And a picture of Lake Michigan from Glencoe Beach:

We were back in Chicago in May, and I loved the poppies at the Chicago Botanic Garden:

We visited Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time, and the dragon was a huge hit!

Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is always one of favorite events:

My children will accuse me of “cheating,” but I’m adding two bonus photos anyway…not necessarily because they’re great pictures, but because they have such great memories attached to them. First, this picture from our trip to Florida of Bunny at Diagon Alley, which is pretty much the happiest I’ve ever seen her:

And the picture I took of Chickadee the day we went pumpkin picking, and she got “baby porcupines” stuck to her boots. Two months later, and the memory still makes me giggle!

I’m already looking forward to the pictures I will take in 2019…I can’t wait to see what special memories I capture!

The Top Five–Photos of 2017

Choosing my “Top Five” photos of the year is one of my favorite more recent traditions. Of course, if I’m honest, the “Top Five” always turns into six, because I can never totally limit myself!

The first of my favorite photos came early in the year, at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Garden. Not only do I love the photo of the garden itself, I also love that is was covered in snow!

My next favorite photo is also from the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Climatron was lit up beautifully for the “Garden of Glass” exhibition, and I love the beautiful colors!

This picture from the Naper Settlement is beautiful to me both for the stunning green of the scenery, and for the women in period costume outside the log home:

Chickadee loves posing for pictures, and there was something special about her in her London shirt, holding an umbrella on a rainy day:

Back at the Missouri Botanical Garden for a lovely fall photo in the Japanese Garden during its 40th anniversary:

And a bonus picture of the Fab Five at St. Charles at Christmas Traditions…this is always one of my favorite spots for a family photo, and this year’s picture was especially amazing!

So there you have it…another year of my favorite photos. I can’t wait to see what kind of pictures I take next year!

The Top Five–Photos of 2016

Last year, I forced myself to pick my top five photos (ok, 10 total…five from my Canon DSLR, and five from my iPhone), that I had taken over the course of 2015. I thought it was a fun little project, so here are my top five (and only five…fine…five plus one, from either camera) photos from 2016.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is always one of my favorite places to take pictures, especially the beautiful Japanese Garden:

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Our town square (which is actually a circle, but I digress), is always beautiful, but especially at sunset:

Another favorite photo spot is Forest Park, especially the view outside the Art Museum in the spring:

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I took many pictures when we were in Chicago last May…this is my favorite lakefront/skyline shot:

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Back at the Botanical Garden, and the always-photogenic Climatron:

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And because I can never leave well enough alone, a bonus picture of a sea-lion, mid-wink, following the sea-lion show at the St. Louis Zoo:

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This list is a little different this year, because not one picture of our family made the cut. I did get a lot of great photos of the children in 2016, but really, they deserve a category of their own…it’s just too hard to choose!

Photo Editing

One of the challenges when attending the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is figuring out how to best use the photo op stops. Night time photography is still a challenge for me in general, and trying to photograph people and Christmas lights together is particularly frustrating. I keep trying though, and I can usually come up with at least one decent picture.

When I was going through my photos from our visit a few weeks ago, I came upon one that I thought was pretty good, but I decided to try out the “auto enhance” feature in Photos, just to see if I could cut back on some of the glow on the children’s faces. I really don’t edit my photos much at all, beyond cropping, but I have used the auto enhance occasionally in the past, usually with pretty great results.

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I was not prepared for the difference I would get just from that one edit. I went from a warm red glow, to an almost normal picture with the click of one button. Of course, you pretty much completely lose the effect of the Garden Glow, so in the end, it wasn’t a successful edit, but it was interesting to me to just how the editing program would try to correct and balance the colors and light!

The Top Five–Photos of 2015

I have been working hard on improving my skills as a photographer this year, mainly using our Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. There were five photos taken with that camera that really stood out at me, starting with this view of the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden covered in snow in March:

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This water-lily, also photographed in the Japanese Garden, is the best picture I’ve ever taken:

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I also love this picture of Bunny at Eckert’s pumpkin patch:

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And the gorgeous fall color in Forest Park:

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This picture of Chickadee at the Belleville Christkindlmarkt definitely captures her personality!

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And because I can never leave a “Top Five” list at just five, here are my favorite photos taken on my iPhone 6, starting with a selfie I took on January 2, after I finally got the courage to dye my hair a wild color(s):

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The tulips blooming in Forest Park in April were beautiful!

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And my favorite picture from our vacation to Charleston:

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Another shot in Forest Park, this time of the Apotheosis of St. Louis, complete with a halo:

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And one more from the Missouri Botanical Garden, this time from the Garden Glow in November:

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I’ve learned how to use different settings on our main camera, and I’ve learned when it’s better to use my iPhone to get the shot I want. My goal for the coming year is learn more about aperture and exposure, and hopefully next year, I’ll have even better photos to share!