I was asked by Ned to write a few words about the “Morning Mug,” our daily morning post of reader-submitted images, which celebrated its one year anniversary this past December 27…sort of. It was that day, in 2010 (before I began working for the site in April), in which Ned dispatched many of us via email to submit our photos to Sheepshead Bites. From the best that I can determine, this January 10, 2010 photo submission from Lisanne Anderson marked the official start of the “Morning Mug” feature.

The only criteria for “Morning Mug” was that the photos needed to be shot in Sheepshead Bay or one of its immediately surrounding communities — Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Marine Park, Homecrest, Midwood, Gravesend, or Gerristen Beach. It didn’t matter what camera you used, what the subject was, or where the photo was shot, just as long as it was in one of those neighborhoods, in a public place.

Since then, we’ve created quite a collection. In the words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and while we have a few years more to go before we amass 1,000 Morning Mugs, the anthology of photos that can be seen on the site is so impressive — an enchanting cross-section of thoughtful, diverse subjects, illustrative of just how much serious photographic aptitude abounds out here in Southern Brooklyn (which is to say that hipsters, much as they may think they do, most certainly do not corner the market on talent and creativity in Kings County).

My first thought, when Ned asked me to write this, was a resounding “Yes!” followed by an immediate “Oy.” I’d have to sift through 261 “Morning Mug” posts (by my estimates)… and choose my favorites? It is for this reason that I feel a disclaimer is necessary: your opinions may, and will, likely differ from mine, and while I certainly appreciated every single “Morning Mug” post, I narrowed them down to 36 images, which I feel are emblematic of the combined variety and flair of the photographers and residents of Southern Brooklyn.

I tried to steer away from images of swans, seagulls, sunrises, sunsets, the Bay, and the beaches at Brighton or Coney, but did not succeed. While many are unspeakably beautiful, these subjects comprise the majority of images we are sent, which makes sense given that we live in a coastal community. I thought, though, it would be more prudent to instead focus on that which is unique, extraordinary and truly singular. So, while I am proud to say that there is not a single photo of a swan in the collection, there is at least one with seagulls, quite a few of the Bay and the beach, and one, even, of Coney Island Creek.

Living in Sheepshead Bay and not photographing the Bay, after all, is like living in Venice and not photographing the Grand Canal.

While I am never without a camera by my side, and have been shooting for a few years, I still have so much to learn. What I am sure of, however, and knew even before I picked up a camera for the first time, is that there are beautiful images in our everyday lives and that, somehow, they must be captured, preserved and shared with others. That is why the “Morning Mug” is so great, because it is the designated salon for all of this artistic vision to formally coalesce. All we have to do is keep our eyes open, observe what’s around us, and not only be determined to capture the image, but be quick enough as well. The light is always changing, the scene is in constant flux — you’ve got to be quick, or else chance that it will be gone forever.

It is my hope that, in this New Year, many of you will seek to pick up cameras — by which I mean cell phone cams, point and shoots, digital SLRs, film cameras, and everything else in between — for the first time and submit photos to “Sheepshead Bites.” And, if you are already a seasoned amateur or professional, you will endeavor to better yourselves artistically, regardless of your skill level, as well as continue to send us your images.

The superlatives, for no reason in particular, are divided into four categories — “Effective Processing,” “Great Uses Of Harnessing Light,” “Compelling Subject Matter” and “Really Cool Stuff In General,” the latter of which is pretty self-explanatory. I hope you enjoy this small sampling of images by some of our neighborhoods’ most talented photographers as much as I enjoyed looking at them. They are truly terrific, and I think we all should feel pretty great about that.

As always, if you’d like for your photo to be considered for the “Morning Mug,” please send your image, or images — along with your name or the handle you wish to be credited with, and where the photo was taken — to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

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COOLEST PROCESSING:

Waves Of Warmth, Photo by Yuriy Semenov

Plumb Beach Never Looked So Good, Photo by Knightmare6

Purple Haze, All In My Brain, Photo by Izgil

The Kid’s Got An Eye, Photo by Ned Berke

Sheepshead Infrared, Photo by Knightmare6

On The Old Tracks, Photo by Rafi Greenstein

BEST USES OF HARNESSING LIGHT:

Ladies And Gentlemen… Brighton Beach, Photo by Robin Michals

A Blessed Thanksgiving To All, Photo by Yuriy Semenov

A Summer Place, Photo by Bill O’Rourke

Blazing Laserbeams, Batman!, Photo by Randy Contello

Got My Signals Crossed, Photo by Tinx Chan

Happy Trails To You, Photo by Boris Shekhman

Beautiful Brighton, Photo by Boris Shekhman

Very Orange, Photo by Stan Kaplan

Can You Believe It? Photo by Rachel T.

MOST COMPELLING SUBJECT MATTER:

Is This Really Brooklyn? Photo by Yuriy Semenov

United We Stand, Photo by Boris Shekhman

The Porcelain Berry, Photo by Robert Fernandez

Remember What The Dormouse Said… Photo by Laura Fernandez

Sand Flowers, Photo by Boris Shekhman

Fat-Bottomed Girls, Photo by Robert Fernandez

Religious Imagery, Photo by Randy Contello

Man On The Jetty, Photo by Yura Dashevsky

A Garden Full Of Whimsical Delights, Photo by nolastname

Coney Island Creek, Photo by Lisanne Anderson

Lost In The Mist, Photo by John H.

Dead Wood, Photo by Vlad S.

Egging Spring On, Photo by nolastname

Trashed History, Photo by Lisanne Anderson

REALLY COOL STUFF IN GENERAL:

A Little Bit Fruity, Photo by Yuriy Semenov

Knapp Street Sunrise, Photo by nolastname

Knapp Street Sunrise II, Photo by nolastname

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Photo by Boris Shekhman

Rosy Reflections, Photo by the combined efforts of Robert Fernandez and Ned Berke

Stick In The Water, Photo by Yura Dashevsky

Sunrise Over Sheepshead Projects, Photo by Tinx Chan

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