Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 Year In Review

As a photographer, occasionally I have friends compliment me by saying "How is it that every photo you take is good??"  My answer is "Every photo I take isn't good.  Actually a good many of them aren't. :)  Every photo I show is good." 

This year, I was given a unique opportunity to make photos as media with and definitely used it to make many images that I'm proud of.  I had the opportunity to photograph tons of amazing concerts and games, including Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, 311, Brad Paisley, Jacksonville Jaguar games, the Gator Bowl, and tons of High School Football, where I had the pleasure of photographing Derrick Henry of Yulee, the new national high school career yardage record holder. 

Last year, I wrapped up the year on this blog by displaying some of my favorite photos of the year.  I thought I'd change it up this year and instead display some of the photos that I decided NOT to show this year. 

If you have any interest in viewing any of the events I photographed this year, click here, and it will bring you to all the stuff I did for 

Below are some of my "favorite" outtakes and bloopers for 2012.  Enjoy!

1. June 2,2012: Bartram Trail High School Graduation.  A couple of Bartram Trail graduates just before the ceremony.  Flash didn't fire.

2. May 10,2012: 1st Round of The Players at Sawgrass.  Used my "inside" settings, outside.

3. April 27,2012: Rise Against at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.  Accidently fired my flash; got the stink-eye from security.

4November 4, 2012: Detroit Lions atJacksonville Jaguars.  This is the bottom 90% of Mikel Leshoure, scoring a touchdown.

5. May 10,2012: 1st round of The Players at Sawgrass.  Finger twitched; accidentally fired a couple frames in Mick's back swing. Oops.

6. August24, 2012: Lee at Yulee.  I have no idea what happened here.  For the record, that's the Yulee High School Band.

7. August 3,2012: WWE Raw World Tour.  This is a photo of a couple of ropes.  In the backgroud Dolph Ziggler is putting the headlock on Zack Ryder.

8. May 10, 2012: Abbie's Birthday.  The decisive moment when Abbie realizes it's an Easy-Bake Oven.  Flash didn't fire. 

9. February25, 2012: Nease vs. Savannah Christian Prep.  This one is self explanatory

10. November18, 2012: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans.  Here's a "group photo" of a thousand people watching Andre Johnson catch a pass.

11. And finally...January 1, 2013: Set up downwind from the New Years Fireworks

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me throughout the year, especially my family and all of my new friends on the team.  It's been a fantastic year, and hopefully 2013 will be even better! 

Here's hoping that your best of 2012 will be your worst of 2013.  God Bless and Happy New Year!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

2011 iPhone Photo a Day: Project 365 - By The Numbers

2011 iPhone Photo a Day Project 365 - Vernacotola
Mosiac Created with AndreaMosiac. Click the photo to enlarge it.

On January 1, 2011, I began a photographic journey through the year that we in the photography world like to call a "Project 365". There are many different variations, but basically the idea is that you photograph and publish one photo for every single day of the year. This particular project did have one twist: All photos were to be taken with an iPhone. You can read the "official" rules (which I completely made up on January 1) here.

Click here to see the full collection

I took on the project after being inspired by Chase Jarvis' iPhone photo stream and his idea that "The Best Camera Is The One That's With You." I could not agree more with him. Inspiration in photography can strike you at anytime, whether you you stumble upon a scene or pattern that is visually compelling, or even when you are inspired by seeing someone else's photograph or other art. And if the only camera you have is your camera phone, then why not make the best of it?

After completing the project, I took some time to reflect back upon it, and think about what I've learned and how I've benefited from it. For me, one of the intentions of the project was to act as an exercise in seeing creatively. It certainly helped me in that regard. Since I was responsible for making a (hopefully) quality photo every single day with only my iPhone, I had to have my eyes open all the time for ideas. I also learned that sometimes the creative juices are just NOT flowing. Some days I really put some time and effort into the photo, and other days I just, well, mailed it in. There were also plenty of days where I was disappointed that I didn't think to take a photograph at time's where I had terrific opportunities to get a great photo for the day. For example, I was standing just 3 miles from the final launch of Endeavour on May 16 with a GREAT opportunity to make a killer photo of the day, and this is what I walked away with. A photo of the countdown clock, 14:30 after liftoff. I tried to convince myself at the time that it could be construed as symbolizing that my "15 minutes" of fame from the Waterway to Orbit photo were coming to a close, but really it was just a lame missed opportunity forced photo. :-)

I've certainly learned a lot about "iPhoneography" over the past year and I used plenty of photography apps throughout the year for the project. Some of my favorites were Photogene, TiltShiftGen, Instagram, Hipstamatic, CameraBag, Camera+ and InterCam. Sometimes I would fall behind posting the photos by 10 or so days, and ExifWizard was invaluable for helping me keep my days in order. I have heard plenty of people say that camera phones are beginning to advance to the point where they can be your primary camera. The iPhone is fun, but I don't think I'm ready to trade in my DSLR yet. There were plenty of times where I would have loved have quickly dialed in my aperture or shutter speed or ISO without resorting to trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to trick the phone into certain settings. I also missed the optical zoom capabilities of a traditional camera, shooting in raw, and more control of light. FWIW, these flashlights work as fantastic constant lights when shooting w/ a camera phone.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the year, and see some of the stats and patterns that developed from the Project 365 project, so below is a look at my "2011 iPhone Photo a Day: Project 365" - By The Numbers:

[To view the photos, click the corresponding numbers to the right.]  
Photos taken at or near my home: 136
Photos taken at or near my place of work: 47
Photos with me: 10
Photos with Jenn: 11
Photos with Abbie: 38
Photos with Nicholas: 39
Photos with Christian: 30
Photos with ALL 5 of us: 01
Photos with our dogs: 05
Photos with other animals: 09
Photos with the moon: 03
Photos with food or drink: 43
Photos with bridges: 22
Photos with computer or TV Screens: 14
Photos with God's Rays: 04
Photos with Sunrises: 03
Photos with Sunsets: 13
Photos taken outside the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra area: 30
Photos taken from the drivers seat: 29
Photos taken at a sporting event or venue: 20
Photos referencing Star Wars: 04
Photos referencing Toy Story: 05
Photos referencing BOTH Star Wars AND Toy Story: 01
Photos referencing Limp Bizkit lyrics: 03
Photos with members of Limp Bizkit: 01
Photos using Hipstamatic: 37
Photos using Instagram: 46
Photos taken with an iPhone 3g: 166
Photos taken with an iPhone 3gs: 04
Photos taken with an iPhone 4: 118
Photos taken with an iPhone 4s: 77
Top 11 words used in captions: [I suppose it's appropriate for a photography project that the top noun is "Light"]  
1. the 39
t2. light 14
t2. a 14
t2. it 14
5. of 10
t6. day 09
t6. in 09
8. on 07
t9. eat 06
t9. to 06
t9. up 06
My Favorite Photos  
Your Favorite Photos [based on comments and likes]  
Photos not taken by me:
[I missed 3 days, and rather than lying about it and posting a photo from a different day, I found other people that had taken a photo on that day. The photo with Christian that Jenn shot was wayy better than mine for that day and I just couldn't pass it up]
Earliest in the Day: 12:29:22 am
Latest in the Day: 11:59:54 pm

I've been asked if I plan to continue the project for 2012. For now I think I'll just use my iPhone to make phone calls. And play Words With Friends of course! I'm glad I completed the project and I really had a great time putting it all together, but I'm also glad it's complete. Good luck to anyone who attempts a Project 365 in the future, it is certainly worth trying at least once!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 - It Was a Very Good Year

One year and two days ago, I blogged that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to blog more.  Well...that was my last blog post before this one.  My original plan was every time I photographed an event or anything of interest, I'd share a few photos on the blog and write a few sentences about it.  Simple enough, right?  Apparently not.  I also resolved in last year's blog to lose 15 pounds and, well, lets just say that I already know what my resolutions are for 2012.  :)

I had the opportunity to photograph so many amazing events and experiences this year, but since I didn't blog about any of it during the year, I am fining myself one full vacation day in order to take the time to put this blog post together.  So here is my trip down memory lane for 2011.  I hope you enjoy checking out these photographs as much as I enjoyed making them.

Beginning January 1, I shot a photo every day of the year (well, almost every day) with my iPhone and posted it on my iPhone Photo a Day photostream on my Facebook page.  I plan to detail this project more in a blog post in the near future.
James Vernacotola Photography: iPhone Photo a Day 2011

January 20
The grand opening of NASA's Greenest Facility, the Propellants North Administration and Maintenance Facility at Kennedy Space Center.  I was honored to be invited to this event when they asked to use my photo in the new facility.
James Vernacotola Photography: NASAs Greenest Facility

February 24
My parents and I took a semi-spontaneous trip down to Titusville to view and photograph the final launch of Discovery.  The photo on the top/left was shot by my dad.
James Vernacotola Photography: Discovery STS-133

February 26
The Rugged Maniac 5K in Bostwick, Florida.
James Vernacotola Photography: Rugged Maniac 5K Jacksonville

April 06
My co-worker Laura asked if I could photograph her bathroom remodel so she could enter it into a contest for This Old House Magazine.  She did not win the contest, but shortly after, she was contacted by This Old House who wanted to feature her remodel in the magazine!  They did use their own photographer, but I was certainly happy to help Laura get her great remodel noticed.
James Vernacotola Photography: This Old House Bathroom Remodel
May 07
The first annual Tim Tebow Classic Invitational Golf Tournament.  Pictured below in order is: Tim Tebow, Adrian Peterson, Urban Meyer, Maurkice Pouncey, Fred Taylor, Fred Durst, Scott Van Pelt, John Lynch
James Vernacotola Photography: Tim Tebow Classic Invitaional Golf Tournament

May 10
Endeavour STS-134 launch.  I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the final launch of Endeavour.  An absolutely amazing experience.  The photo on the bottom/left was shot by my dad.
James Vernacotola Photography: Endeavour STS-134

July 04

James Vernacotola Photography: July 4th Fireworks in Jacksonville Beach

July 29
Shortly after the renovations to Friendship Fountain in Downtown Jacksonville were completed, I took an evening drive to town to shoot a few photographs.  I entered one of the photos into the 2011 Florida Travel & Life Photo Contest, and was able to shed my self-imposed "One Trick Pony" status when it was chosen as the winner in the Cityscapes Category and featured in the magazine!
James Vernacotola Photography: Downtown Jacksonville at Night

August 13
Night Photowalk in St. Augustine with the Jacksonville Photography Meetup Group.  It's no secret that night photography is my favorite type of photography.  Check out the Photo Contest I mentioned above.  The photo on the top/left received an honorable mention in that same contest.  :-)
James Vernacotola Photography: St. Augustine at Night

August 27

September 11
A few photos I shot from my seat while enjoying the sights and sounds of freedom with my dad at opening day on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

James Vernacotola Photography: Titans at Jaguars, September 11, 2011
October 1
Scott Kelby Photowalk in Downtown Jacksonville
James Vernacotola Photography: Scott Kelby Photowalk Jacksonville

  October 15
I had the privilege of again photographing the Race For Fetal Hope 5K/FunRun/Expo, benefitting the Fetal Hope Foundation, and again I had a fantastic time.  I already have my calendar marked for the 2012 Race For Fetal Hope on September 29.  Please consider marking yours as well.
James Vernacotola Photography: Race For Fetal Hope 5K

October 16
I photographed many amazing events this year.  It's hard to choose my favorite but this one is certainly on the short list.  As soon as the Race for Fetal Hope was over, I jumped on a plane to meet my parents in Pittsburgh where we attended the Jaguars-Steelers game.  Thanks to the help and generosity of my brother-in-law, Brett, the trip is certainly one we will never forget.
James Vernacotola Photography: Jaguars at Steelers, October 16, 2011

October 27
My first high school football game.  Flagler Palm Coast at Sandalwood, photographed for  Thanks to Karl Schweinfurth for showing me the ropes.
James Vernacotola Photography: Flagler Palm Coast at Sandalwood Football

While photographing around town for, I had the opportunity to photograph many talented local musicians.  Pictured below, among others, are members of The Shifters, Radio 80 and Hipp Street.
James Vernacotola Photography: Local Jacksonville Bands

  I also had the opportunity to photograph many events at Nocatee, including the Farmers Markets and Christmas Tree Lighting Party where I had the opportunity to meet many very nice people. 
James Vernacotola Photography: Nocatee

December 03
An airplane makes an emergency landing on Interstate 295 South, just before the off-ramp to Interstate 95 South. 
James Vernacotola Photography: Airplane Makes Emergency Landing on I-295 Jacksonville

December 20
Just when I thought my photography year was winding down, I was honored and surprised to discover that my Waterway to Orbit Endeavour STS-130 photo was selected as an Honorable Mention in the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest.  Of 20,989 amazing entries from all over the world, there were 3 winners and 11 honorable mentions.  Wow!  It's been a really cool couple of weeks, watching my photo pop up on so many national websites.  It amazes and humbles me that after almost two years, this photo still speaks to so many people.  Thanks so much to Keith Garrett for encouraging me to enter the photo into the contest. 
 James Vernacotola Photography: National Geographic Photo Contest Winners 2011

Finally, thanks to everyone who has supported my photography, and thanks sooo much to my family for putting up with me over the past year!

I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!

God Bless and Happy New Year!


James Vernacotola Photography: New Years Eve 2011 Fireworks

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - Year in Review

Blogging is tough. It's been 7 months since my last blog entry, so one thing I've learned is that I am not a writer. I'm a father, a husband, an IT professional and a photography supergeek, among other things...but not really a writer. That being said, I still like to try and exercise what little writing skills I have every so often, and wrapping up this year w/ a blog post seems to be a perfect opportunity.

It's been fantastic year. One of the best years of my life for sure. Jenn and I were blessed with our third child, Christian, I weigh 15 pounds less than I did 365 days ago (that number was 30 back in July, but I sort of fell off the wagon a bit :), I had the privilege of photographing the 2010 Race for Fetal Hope 5K, and I shot a photograph of a Space Shuttle launch that went viral across the internet, around the world and back, was published in a major magazine, and is now adorning the walls of space agencies throughout Europe and the US, as well as many homes around the world.

I have many things to be thankful for, and many people to thank. Here is just a small list of people who helped make this a fantastic year for me:

Brian Barquilla, Jerry Bonnell, Mike Buresh, John Gaughan, Keith Garrett, Ian Garrett, Sue Gunter, Michael Klesius, Mitch Nahley, Mark Pettus, Eric Rousseau, Caroline Sheehan, Rob Simmons, Jim Snyder, Thomas Von Deak, Georgi Wick and mostly, thank you to my beautiful wife Jenn, and my kids, Abbie, Nicholas and Christian for supporting me throughout the year.

I also want to thank my sister, Michele, who is mostly responsible for me shooting the Space Shuttle Endeavor photo. Quick story: Michele and her family live in the same neighborhood as
me, and she decided she wanted to come and watch the shuttle launch with me from the top of the Palm Valley Bridge. So we set up a plan to text each other at 4:00 am early Feb 7 morning and I would go pick her up to go view/photograph the launch, which was scheduled for 4:39 am. We were on the bridge, tripod/camera ready, when the launch was scrubbed due to weather at 4:30 am and rescheduled for the next morning at 4:14 am. That night we had a Superbowl party at my house, and of course we had a few drinks and stayed up late. As Michele was leaving she asked, "Do you still wanna go tomorrow?" and I said, "Of course, I will be ready!". Well 3:30 am came quickly, and Michele sent me a text that I slept right through...then another text, then another text etc...finally she sent enough texts to wake me up and I had to rush to go get her and get to the bridge. We got there with a few minutes to spare...just enough time to take a couple test shots and watch/photograph the launch. There was only one other person on the bridge that night. So, thank you Michele for making that photo possible!

It's gonna be tough to top this year, but I will try. Resolutions for 2011: Continue to grow as a husband/father. Continue to grow as a photographer. Blog more. Lose those 15 pounds I gained back (and maybe some more :)

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and a fantastic 2011! God Bless.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Check out "Waterway to Orbit" in Air&Space/Smithsonian Magazine This Month!

Air & Space/Smithsonian Magazine
My Space Shuttle photography has definitely provided me with a fun couple of months, but the coolest thing so far just occurred this week. My Waterway to Orbit photo is featured in the June/July issue of Air and Space/Smithsonian magazine, as well as on their website! They also threw in an article about one of the shots I took of the Discovery STS-131 launch. I'd like to thank Michael Klesius of Air and Space/Smithsonian for writing such thoughtful articles.

Waterway to Orbit in Air&Space/Smithsonian Magazine

Congratulations to Our "Name the Photo" Winners:

Congratulations to Libi Huey and Chris Kemper for helping us name the Discovery STS-131 Launch Photo "Dawn of Discovery." They each received an 11x14 Metallic Print of "Dawn of Discovery" as well as a $50 print/merchandise credit at! Thanks, Libi and Chris!

New 15% Off Coupon Code:

Thanks to everyone who has purchased photos from us over the past couple months! I'd like to extend to you a new 15% off coupon code that is available for all purchases on The code is " airspace15 ". Be sure to enter the code in the purchase process, and it will automatically reduce the cost of your purchase by 15%. Feel free to share it with your friends, and you can use it any time between now and Saturday, July 31. If you have any questions, comments or issues, please feel free to email me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New STS-131 Space Shuttle Discovery Photo

04/05/2010 6:21 am - STS-131 Space Shuttle Discovery launches into orbit in the minutes before dawn, leaving a beautiful reflection through the light fog on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ponte Vedra, Florida, 115 Miles from the launch.
Space Shuttle Discovery STS-131 Launch

This is the second time I've written this blog post. I wrote the first one about 4 days ago in notepad on my laptop while sitting on the couch watching TV. When I was almost done, I started getting tired so I set the computer down on the ottoman and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I picked up the computer and guess what I saw?? That's right, the ole' "your computer was recently updated and needed to be restarted" message. Apparently if you use notepad and don't click save, the computer just deletes it. Lesson learned. So anyway, as you are reading this, try to imagine that you are actually reading a much more thoughtful, witty and well composed blog post, because that last one was perfect, dangit.

So how do you follow the most popular photo that you've ever shot? In my case I went out and shot the exact same photo again. I was interested in seeing the difference between a night launch and a pre-dawn launch. While the components of the two photos are very similar, the differences are amazing. It's cool comparing the two back and forth. (use the right and left arrow keys).

I want to thank everyone who emailed me with your positive comments about it. For some reason the second one has become quite popular in Japan, as well. The photo has been retweeted over 1000 times, largely in Japan, and I'm now being followed on Twitter by 古田真治, 山 ミヤエ, and 小椋 淳一! That's awesome! Remember we ship internationally as well! :)

Now the business:

Name the Photo Contest:

Since Jerry Bonnell of APOD was nice enough to create such a catchy name for the STS-130 photo (Waterway to Orbit), a few people have asked me what I'm going to name the STS-131 photo. I will admit that my creativeness doesn't extend far past photography, so I have no idea. That's why I've decided to enlist everyone's help in naming the photo. I've set up a post on my Facebook Page that you can respond to with your idea, or you can email me your idea at My family and I will choose the name on Monday, May 3, and whoever is responsible for creating it will receive an 11x14 print of the new STS-131 photo, and a $50 credit for prints and merchandise at Feel free to enter as many names as you like, and this is open to everyone, including relatives of mine.

Thanks to everyone who has purchased photos from us over the past couple months! If you have any questions, comments or issues, please feel free to email me!

Thanks again!

James Vernacotola

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Waterway to Orbit Prints Now Available!!

I'm excited to announce that the print version of the Endeavor Space Shuttle photo known as "Waterway to Orbit" is now available! Thank you all for your patience while I pulled the site together. You can now purchase these prints (8x10 and larger) directly from my website.

Purchase Prints:

Click Here to Purchase Prints

Purchasing is easy; simply navigate to the photo in the "Waterway to Orbit" gallery, click on the “Buy” option to the top right hand side of the page and choose “This Photo”. You will see a pop up box with all of the sizes available and the prices next to it. Choose a product to add to your cart and follow the directions for purchasing.

In addition to the prints, there is also merchandise available if you are interested; coffee cups, mouse pads, t-shirts, etc.

I've also replaced the photo on the page with the previously unreleased, un-cropped version of the photo to the site in order for you to receive the best photo possible. Cropping will be necessary if you choose 8x10 or 16x20 and some select merchandise. For all other print sizes, cropping will not be necessary, although it is available if desired.

I plan to add other photos for sale in the near future. If there are any in particular that you are interested in, please contact me and I will move them to the top of the priority list.

15% Coupon Code: thankyou15

As a "Thank You" for your patience, I would like to offer you a 15% off coupon code for your purchase. Feel free to share this coupon with your friends and use it for any purchases between now and Saturday, March 6. Don't forget to apply the coupon during the checkout process, in the "Payment Info" step. Be sure to keep it all lowercase as the entry blank is case sensitive.

12x18 Print Giveaway:

You may notice that the photo on the purchase page is slightly different than the one that has been circulating. I've been ordering test prints from the vendor and tweaking the exposure on the photo in order to get the most desirable exposure for print. Of course, that has left me with a ton of test prints. I've created a Facebook page where I plan to give away three free 12x18 prints. I will do this by a random drawing of everyone who has become a member of my page, on March 13, 2010. [anyone related to me is not eligible to win, and this offer is only available to those who live in the lower 48 Continental United States]

Click Here to Join my Facebook Page

I sincerely appreciate all of your interest in my photo and I am truly honored by all of your praise and recognition.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concern or feedback.

Warmest Regards,
James Vernacotola