Favorites of 2018

by Zoraya B. Stern  |  JAN 17, 2019  |  Musings

I’m starting a six week course called Fresh Start with Matt Kloskowski and I’m very excited about it! I find that I get most inspired when I’m challenged with specific goals in mind. I have finally updated most of my website and adding my second blog post because of his encouragement. It really is a good goal to look back and pick favorites before heading forward into a new year! So, here goes….

Nashville, TN

I started the year in Nashvile, Tennessee at the PPA Convention where I learned lots about everything photography, hung out with 2 great friends (you know who you are!), met one of my heroes Lindsay Adler, and of course lots of hands on with the camera. The 3 of us headed out to Broadway for some night long exposure practice. And, this was my favorite of this “honky tonk” place…music always playing….people and cars always going by….

Canon 60D / Canon EF-S 15mm-85mm f3.5-5.6


Brazos Bend State Park

The next 2 images were on a fieldtrip with my photo club to the Brazos Bend State Park just south of Houston. Never knew it was there! That’s why if you love photography, you should join a local club to do what we all love best…..take pictures! The fascinating thing that inspired me to take this photo was the tree….where the green begins is how high the water got during Hurricane Harvey! And then of course, all the interesting wildlife…..I just went there again with my family, so I’m sure I’ll have more to share in next year’s favorites!

Canon 60D / Canon EF70-200mm f4

Houston Rodeo

Living in Houston means February is the start of Rodeo season. And, this year one of my photog besties (yes, one of the ones that went with me to Nashville!) had extra tickets for me and we got to practice some action photography! My favorite was this panning shot I got of one of the barrel racers…..yes, she was going fast! And it wasn’t just any old rodeo show for the concert. It was an amazing concert with Garth Brooks! Look at all his fans!

Race: Canon 60D / Canon EF70-200mm f4

Concert: Canon 60D / Canon EF85 f1.8

Swim Action

I love to shoot swim photography….summer league, high school, club swim…..and even college club swim. Love this shot of my oldest son swimming for Texas Tech University in a club meet at Texas A&M. He was swimming towards a huge window wall…..the perfect light box!

Canon 60D / Canon EF85 f1.8



At the end of March, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary so he took me on one of his week long work trips to Singapore. It was a date night EVERY night of the week. But, during the day……(and some at night) it was a date with my camera. What an amazing city! The architect in me was fascinated with the city’s architecture and how beautifully it blended into its natural environment. My favorite structure was the Helix Bridge….here I hung out and practiced more long exposure photography with views of the bridge and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I loved the crisp white lines of all the interior balconies in the hotel and the spectacular view from the top…..the floating “boat” like structure. And, this garden city did not disappoint with its spectacular display of the many lotus and orchids.

Helix: Canon 60D / Canon EF-S 15mm-85mm f3.5-5.6

Marina Bay Sands: Canon 60D / Canon EF-S 15mm-85mm f3.5-5.6

Hotel Interior: Canon 60D / Canon EF-S 15mm-85mm f3.5-5.6

Panorama: Canon 60D / Canon EF-S 15mm-85mm f3.5-5.6

Flowers: Canon 60D / Canon EF70-200mm f4

High School Senior Swimmer

I don’t just enjoy action swim photography, but shooting high school seniors who are swimmers! It was the perfect opportunity to take what I had learned in one of the Canon walks at the PPA Convention and use it to create a handful of sports portraits for this senior. He was such a great client that he even indulged his mother and I with this crazy picture of him so handsomely dressed IN the pool. I mean, where else would you find a swimmer?

Studio: Canon 60D / Canon EF50 f1.8 Pool: Canon 60D / Canon EF85 f1.8

Beauty Portraits

Then, when a mom gifts her daughter a beauty photo session, you keep practicing with the lights and props. We definitely made a mess with all the glitter, but the 3rd shot was the charm! And, the film noir black and white……well, that was inspired by the “shadow” photo challenge I did in 2017 on Creative Live with Lindsay Adler. I’m telling you, if you haven’t signed up for some kind of photo challenge…..do it! You’ll never regret how much you learn and how much fun you'll have doing it!

Studio: Canon 60D / Canon EF50 f1.8

Summer Swim

Summer time means a whole lot more swimming with summer league resulting in a whole lot more action swim photos! So, if you’ve ever shot swim photography, you know how we’re always going for that “Olympic” looking shot? Well, I’m always trying. And, I was especially trying this past year because I was going to be entering a photo contest that had People / Sports as a category. I have 4 kids who have been swimming on a team since 6 years old or younger so, I do also enjoy shooting those “6 and unders” at their first meets when “diving” off the blocks. And this shot beat out any “Olympic” look contender. The cuteness factor with sheer determination said it all! Proud to say that this one did take 1st place in that contest.

Canon 60D / Canon EF70-200mm f4



At the end of the summer in August, I took the opportunity to visit my son who was participating in a study abroad program through Texas Tech University at Maynooth University in Ireland. Well, at least that was my excuse…..because, I had never been to Ireland! I spent 4 days on the west coast of Ireland exploring the Cliffs of Mohr. WOW!!! What awesome and majestic beauty. I spent time photographing the beach in Lahinch, the small town where I stayed, and got this silver monotone shot one stormy afternoon with the lone lifeguard in bright red walking down the beach. One day I hiked by myself from the Cliff’s Visitor Center all the way to Doolin….only a 5 mile hike that should have taken about 1 ½ hours……I think I spent 6 hours because I couldn’t take enough pictures…..so many that I’m STILL processing! I had to include this one of a cow…..there were cows on the cliffs! Lots of cows…..and just beyond that grassy hill was a HUGE drop to the Atlantic Ocean. However, there was an electric fence that kept the cows away from the edge…..and, on a side note…..DON’T touch the fence, it really, really hurts (speaking from personal experience). During my visit on a separate day I got the opportunity for some one on one mentoring with another amazing photographer, George Karbus, who not only provided great insight with constructive critiques of my past work on composition and post processing techniques, but also took me to some amazing spots for these great landscape shots of the Cliffs of Mohr. Although his plan was to take me to shoot some amazing sunsets at the cliffs, the weather was not very cooperative. But, he didn’t realize I was also in search of a great “weather” shot for yet another category for the contest. A beautiful storm complementing the sunset behind it…..shot from the cliffs! And, this one took 1st place! I would highly recommend him to anyone interested in doing a photography workshop while visiting the Cliffs of Mohr! And, he even posed for me in this shot as the waves really started to show off so I could get a silhouette shot…..another category I was planning on for the Woodlands Photography Club Annual Photo Contest. And, yes…..proud to say this won 3rd place in that category!

Cliffs: Canon 5DMarkiii / Canon EF24-105mm f4 Beach: Canon 5DMarkiii / Canon EF70-200mm f4

Children Photogrpahy

Back to school, fall weather (well, not really….no such thing in Houston), and upcoming holidays brought more families to have their portraits taken…..and throughout the year I enjoyed them all, but my favorites usually end up being of the children…..it’s that cuteness factor again!

Girl: Canon 60D / Canon EF85 f1.8

Boy: Canon 5DMarkiii / Canon EF85 f1.8

Creative High School Seniors

Again, I will mention how important it is to stay inspired and not fear trying new things. I love the challenge every time! So, what do you do with a senior who is not interested in a sport nor anything in the fine arts? Instead, his passion is in forensics. And coupled with being intrigued with black and white photography…….well, you take that experience from the shadows challenge from a year ago and set up a film noir “detective” shot for this guy! Ooh we had some fun!

Boy: Canon 5DMarkiii / Canon EF24-105mm f4

Or, how about showcasing a singer as a silhouette while providing the backdrop with my DIY light painting tools? And, yes, light painting was something I also learned from past photo challenges! And now, I’m being asked to teach a second light painting class at The Woodlands Photography Club this coming spring 2019!

Girl: Canon 5DMarkiii / Canon EF24-105mm f4

Thank you for reviewing my photography in 2018 with me!  Now, I'm ready to embrace a new year.  Happy New Year to you!

Thank you for visiting and please comment to share your own experiences if something speaks to you!

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