By Bruce Stambaugh
I had the grandiose idea to post photos I had taken in 2011 in four categories, people, floral and fauna, scenery and weather. As I sorted through the nearly 4,000 imagines I had taken this year, I quickly realized that the task was too daunting, especially given the limited time I had.
Instead, I chose to select a picture for each month of the year. Most were taken near my home near Millersburg in Ohio’s Amish country. Others were shot while on vacation or out of our area. What I assembled turned out to be an eclectic collection that ends up serving both as a through the lens summary of my year and a representation of each of the original categories.
Here, then, are my pictures of the month for 2011.
Bird lover that I am, I enjoy feeding and photographing birds. This female American Goldfinch posed nicely for me on a porch post while waiting for an opening at a feeder.
Though this shot is of another bird, this chilly female Eastern Bluebird served as model for both the birds that I love and the weather that I watch. With the stinging, horizontally blowing snow on a late February day, she sought food and shelter and found both in the hollowed out log peanut feeder that hung on our back porch.
I chose this shot as a symbol of how the year unfolded. Taken outside a café in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, I couldn’t help notice the irony of the dark gray shadow of the white window lettering on the back of the chair inside the shop. The rest of the picture is busy and blurred with multiple reflections, much like my 2011 life experience.
Inscribed on my grandfather Stambaugh’s tombstone is the simple yet profound phrase, “He liked people.” Well, so do I, especially family. Whenever family gathers, like my daughter’s family did at Easter with us, we try to get a family photo. But with young children, getting a perfect picture is a challenge. I thought this imperfect one to perfectly represent that point. The middle child, the long-haired lefty on the left, distains set up shots about as much as me. His older brother enjoyed Davis’ tantrum while the boys’ father tried to settle number two. The granddaughter ignored the silliness and played with a toy, while our photogenic daughter stayed focused on the camera as best she could.
Yep, another bird picture. It wasn’t the subject matter as much as the color that made this the May pick. Plus, it’s a rarity to have a male Baltimore Oriole and a male Red-headed Woodpecker on a suet feeder at exactly the same time. Fact is, neither seemed to mind the other since they continued to feed for several minutes.
June was a beautiful month, save the occasional severe weather. After a long, chilly, wet spring, June’s warmth and sun brought out beautiful flowers and insects, like these Sweet Williams and this Tiger Swallow-tail butterfly.
I felt this picture embodied the year we had in northeast Ohio as much as any photo I shot. Precipitation records were broken throughout the state in 2011. Severe thunderstorms, like this one with its foretelling shelf cloud, pelted northern Ohio all spring and well into the fall. Flooding, damaging tornadoes and microbursts, hail and blinding snowstorms were all a part of the year’s complex weather.
Notorious as a hot, humid and often dry month, August fooled us this year. As lovely as June was, August was even nicer. I thought this shot of my Amish neighbor cutting golden oats between lush alfalfa and emerald field corn best represented the month’s congeniality.
Like millions of other global citizens, September 11 is a special day for me. Mostly out of the desire for peace, I consider this day personally sacred. I tend to use the day for reflection and prayer. I thought the sunset on the 10th anniversary needed no words of explanation as to why it was September’s choice.
Every photographer knows when he or she has taken the shot. On a foggy fall morning, I was fortunate enough to capture this shot two miles east of our home. I still smile when I see it.
Our church community is an important ingredient in my life. On the first Saturday in November, Millersburg Mennonite Church held a benefit auction for two couples in our congregation who either have adopted or are in the process of adopting children. Of course, the cost of that process is high. All the items in the auction were donated. Needless to say, the auction was an all-around success.
We began this venture with a bird. I figured we might as well end it that way, too, especially when this male Eastern Bluebird came calling at the sunflower heart feeder and basked in the Christmas Day afternoon sun.
People, floral and fauna, scenery and weather all play important parts in my life. I feel fortunate to be able to regularly photograph shots representing each category. If I just happen to stumble upon some scene, bird, flowers, cloud or person that requires that I shoot a shot, I consider myself a happy and blessed person.
Happy New Year everyone!