Your votes have been tallied and I’m proud to announce YOUR choices for my Top Ten Photos of 2019! I truly appreciate all of you who took the time to provide your input. It’s always enlightening to see other folk’s perspectives… it really helps me reset my parameters and refine my work going forward.
With that said, this year’s vote had a landslide, run-away winner:
#1 “The Lavender Fisherman”
I probably took a couple thousand shots of this quaint fisherman in China’s Li River over a three-hour stretch and when the sky briefly turned this wicked lavender color, I knew I was seeing something special. Then a flock of birds photobombed me as I pushed the shutter and I knew THIS frame was going to be the ‘ONE.‘
This image was my personal favorite shot of the year as well, so it was nice to know that we were all perfectly aligned!
By nature, I am a planner. I can’t stop myself from trying to meticulously research and plan shots out months in advance. But no matter how many hours I invest, there always seems to be a surprise or two when I actually set up the camera. In this case, the PhotoPills app allowed me to know that Polaris would line up behind Pine Tree Arch when I visited Arches National Park in late March. What I didn’t know was that Polaris would be so high in the sky that I’d have to do a contortionist impression to get low enough to get the shot. Fortunately, I’m still pretty limber for an older guy!
A full moon helped illuminate the Arch and some LLL (Low Level Lighting) further enhanced the more interesting shadows. This image is a combination of over 20 separate four-minute exposures taken over an hour’s time and processed in Sequator which allowed me to show the star trails around Polaris.
#3 “Red Planet”
I’m proud of this image because I had to invest some serious effort in finding the location. I’d seen internet images taken from this impressive viewpoint at Arches NP but none of the photographers provided directions. An afternoon on Google Earth helped me figure out the general area and after an hour or two tramping around in the desert, I found the exact spot. If you want directions, click this link to an earlier blog which will tell you how to get there.
My hard work got me to the right place but the wicked storm at sunset complete with a rainbow was just plain dumb luck!
PS: I also took a self-portrait in the same spot. I’m of a split mind which one is better: The one with me in the shot or not? What do you think?
#4 Diamond in the Rough”
I still owe you folks a blog about Diamond Beach…the spot in Iceland where huge chunks of ancient glacier ice wash up on a volcanic black sand beach. I spent 3 or 4 hours there taking long exposures trying to create interesting surf perspectives without getting too soaked by the freezing North Atlantic. In the end, I did get wet…but it was worth every chilly minute!
#5 “Orbit City”
Ok…so not a landscape shot, but most of you agreed that this waterfront view of Shanghai was worthy of the top 10. Anita and I took a boat sightseeing tour on the Huangpu River and I (of course) brought my camera. Five stitched shots resulted in this futuristic panorama that George Jetson could have called home.
Ice caves present the photographer with a host of technical challenges, but my God, the images you can create are absolutely otherworldly. This shot was one of my personal favorites…perhaps because of the emotional impact the experience had on me as much as the image itself. Check out my blog for more about Ice Caves.
#7 “Vahalla’s Kaleidoscope
The sensuous beauty of the Northern Lights can’t be fully conveyed in any photograph. The way the lights move and shimmer can be bizarre, entrancing and beautiful. This image is from Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula where I was fortunate to find a perfectly calm ocean inlet that provided this killer reflection.
#8 “High Desert Drama”
This was the third shot from Arches National Park to make my Top Ten. Partition Arch isn’t often featured in sunrise shots…maybe that’s because it takes an ‘interesting’ night hike to be there at dawn. I think that is really unfortunate because the expansive view of the desert floor and distant mountains through the arch during a crisp sunrise is truly mind-blowing.
My only wildlife shot to make your Top Ten was this full-frame capture of a Bald Eagle bearing down at me in Alaska’s Chilkat State Park. Look at that stare…this guy was ticked off and giving me the evil eye.
#10 “Odin’s Goblet”
Aldeygarfoss is an isolated and massive waterfall in northern Iceland that has pounded and worn down the surrounding basalt columns over the eons into what is now a huge sunken amphitheater. The vista is expansive and truly magical in the winter when the area is frosted with snowfall.
So, there you have your choices for the Top Ten. 2019 was an exciting and fruitful year for my photography and I was blessed with the opportunity to visit some awesome sites.
And how about 2020? Well, it certainly has promise! Utah in the Spring (Grand Escalante and Capitol Reef), Alaskan Grizzly Bears in the summer, Machu Picchu in the fall plus some other trips here and there. Moss won’t be growing under my hiking shoes this year!