It has been an interesting decade - to say the least. I thought it might be fun to look at one image from each year that I think is one of my best (even if it is not my 'favorite') from each year. Helping to critique my images is Richard Strange - outright one of the finest landscape photographers I have ever met, and someone I consider a dear friend, though we have only met in person once - shooting together in Grand Teton National Park. My guess is that it was 2007, and we were all jockeying over an impressively handsome Bull Moose over by the overpass next to Dornan's. If you don't follow his work on Facebook - do.
This is probably my favorite puffin image of all time. I took it with my wife on Machias-Seal island, a disputed island between the US and Canada. I wrote about Maine Puffin Viewing in the following articles:Maine Puffin Viewing - Part I of IIThe Atlantic Puffin - Maine Puffin Viewing on Machias Seal Island, Part II of II
The one important difference from when I did these articles in 2010 is that Norton's of Jonesport is no longer going to Machias-Seal Island. If you want to go out now, you have to go out of Cutler. The ride on the ocean is much shorter, and while I loved the Ed Norton's wife and daughter, Captain Andrew knows his stuff. I wish they left a bit earlier in the morning.
OK, to the nitty gritty! What do I like about this image? A lot. The first obvious think is the symmetry of the puffins. They are perfectly aligned in the frame, following the rule of thirds. I am also partial to the use of depth of field in order to single out my subject, but leaving your eyes to wander across the page following the other birds.
I love Death Valley - I believe that it offers views that are unlike anywhere else on earth - in their diversity and seemingly alieness of them. I have been to Death Valley more than any other park, once you exclude the Greater Yellowstone Area and Acadia (which 12 hours away is in my back yard). First things first, shooting on the racetrack is difficult - I am not just referring to the nearly 2 1/2 hour drive through sharp stones either. Once you get there, if there is any precipitation on it, you are not supposed to go out there at all. Sadly, you see foot prints all the time, ruining the pristineness of the ocean bed for others. Second, there really is not any magical sunsets to be had - unless you are super, super lucky as the sun sets behind the canyon walls about 40 minutes prior to sunset...so you need lots of clouds in the right place.
What do I like about this image? The sense of movement, for one. They only recently figured out how these guys fly across the floor. I also like the texture of the floor and the use of lines and symmetry to emphasize the movement I mentioned earlier.
Sadly, my Drobo died and my backups on my portable drives were corrupted. It appears that I have lost all of my images from 2012 - which also includes my time in Canyonlands and Wyoming. This is a wonderful time to shout for off-site backups for the things you really care about. Most of my favorite photographs from Death Valley were taken while assisting Steve Kossack on his various workshops out there. I would go back to Death Valley tomorrow if the right opportunity presented itself. It is impossible to become ‘bored’ with the park.
I love the Yosemite. I have hiked the entire John Muir trail, though it took three years to do it. You can read about them here: The Loop Complete (2015)Fire in the Yosemite (2014)Hiking and Photographing the Yosemite Sierra High Camps 920 (2013)
What do I like about this image? In my opinion, the image has it all. It has great, natural color and strong leading lines that bring you from the rocks and grass below to Lembert Dome far off into the distance. The image has solid detail throughout, and you get a sense of the texture on the rocks below all the way up to the Dome.
It is not surprising, I hope, that I am sharing two radically different images of Lembert Dome, one year apart. In 2014, Yosemite had a terrible fire that cut our loop short. The starting off place is always Tuolumne Meadows. Tuolumne Meadows is the only high camp that you can get to by car. From there, you either hike to Glen Aulin or Vogelsang.
What do I like? Well, for one, the color. Yosemite was on fire - and while was not good, the ash and debris in the area made for some of the most amazing and syrupy skies I have ever seen. In addition, we had a moon rising out of the East as the sun fell behind us. Compositionally, we continue to follow the Law of Thirds, with Lembert Dome sitting in the top 1/3 quadrant.
Bermuda's Horseshoe Beach - this was taken after a slight hike looking for interesting rock structures in the ocean. This is one of my all-time favorite photographs.
I like this photograph for a variety of reasons - the first is the strong foreground leading up to the rock wall and ocean. I used a tilt shift to exaggerate the rocks in the foreground, making them appear larger. I also dragged the shutter so that I could get an element of movement and time in the photo.
This photo was taken on one of my trips to the Grand Canyon, assisting Steve Kossack on one of his workshops. In addition to following the law of thirds and exposing the photograph properly, I was also fortunate enough to witness a rare Total Cloud Inversion or TCI. While I initially really liked this image when I took it in 2016, I have to say that it completely came alive when I re-processed the photo for this article. Using Affinity Photo's Tone Mapping Features (Read Richard Strange's Article on using Tone Mapping here)
, the tree line really came alive. To see the original, take a look at the one I initially shared in 2015 in the article I posted on the Grand Canyon, titled "Photographing the Grand Canyon, North Rim."
The treeline looks like I clubbed it with my neutral grad card - and it completely got fixed using the tone mapping feature without taking away from any other aspects of the picture.
Acadia has become one of my favorite haunts over the last decade - we started going there with the dog, probably in 2007 or 2008. The lighthouse is so iconic that it has been etched on the New Hampshire state quarter. While I have photographed this lighthouse on many - many - occasions, this is the first sunrise I have ever gotten there that was not completely fogged in. While that is also a beautiful event, showcasing exactly why lighthouses are located where they are, I have to say that I like being able to see the whole area a bit.
In addition, I like this photograph because I shot the image from a very low angle on the rocks - capturing the reflection of the lighthouse in the shallow pools that occur after the tide has gone out. It yields an image with something to look at everywhere - foreground, middle ground and background.
I first started going to the Tetons in 1996. My dad took me out there to celebrate my finishing graduate school. In all of the years I have photographed the greater Yellowstone region, I have never had so many great photographs in a week. This image is from Schwabacher's Landing, a popular viewing angle of the Tetons. While I indeed had a grand bull moose later in the week near here, this sunrise was one of those rich magnificent sunrises that you don't get to see that often. For folks who are wondering if the colors are real - take a good look at the greens in the foreground. See how perfect they are? That is how you know that those colors were "real, and they are spectacular." Please don't mind the quote from Jackie Chiles.
Richard Strange also commented that both this image, and the one below from Signal Mountain, uses layering. The sunrise at Schwabachers is best as they are pretty much equal. But the Signal Mountain photo also uses it - though it is not as strong a feature because the trees are the main feature and over powers the other layers.
While the photo of Schwabacher's Landing above was probably the image that people would like 'best,' this is actually my favorite image that I have ever taken in the Tetons. You don't see many photographs from Signal Mountain. This was technically a very difficult photo, and I was using two Neutral Density Cards stacked to equalize the shadows and the highlights in bringing out the trees.
To see more photos from our last trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone, you can see more here.
This image was taken last year - and while I have a few photographs that I really like from 2019, I think this is my favorite. I like the soft and simple colors. I like the long leading lines and symmetry of the space. Richard Strange also pointed out that the image uses the tool of vanishing points. For example you see it where the cliffs come together at the glacier bottom with the waterway winding it's way back to it.
To see more photos from our trip to Alaska, take a look at our articles.Global Climate Change - What Can We Do?Admiralty Island National Monument Grizzly Viewing
That’s the end of my story. I hope you enjoyed it and thought that the photos were worth sharing. If you like the article, please pass the link to others. We depend on the word of mouth. We are a small site in a world of amazing imagery - and I am so thankful to everyone who visits and (hopefully) contributes.