Category Archives: Top Shots of the Year

Your Votes are In: Winners of the Top 10 for 2019

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”

“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!

#2 “GodsEye”

Polaris under Pine Tree Arch

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”

A Rainbow, Rain and Red Rocks at Arches NP

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?

Self-Portrait of a Lucky Man

#4 Diamond in the Rough”

Dawn at Iceland’s iconic Diamond Beach

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”

“Orbit City (home of the Jetsons)”

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.

#6 “Motherload”

“Motherload”

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

“I’m not in Kansas anymore…”

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.

#9 “Incoming!”

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!

Cheers!
Jeff

Vote for your Favorite Photo from 2019

Ok, ok…I know this post is late. It is nearly February and I’m just getting around to wrapping up 2019 by picking out my best work of the year. No good excuse, other than January has been positively frantic.

But with that said, this annual post is always one of the most popular of the year…many of you enjoy sharing your opinon of my work. So, listed below, in no particular order, is a selection of the candidates for your review. Just pop me back a response to this blog and list your top 10 picks by Feb 14.

  1. This Bald Eagle had landed on a dead tree that was home to a bunch of small Swifts at Chilkat State Park (a few miles south of Haines Alaska). They took exception to his presense and positively swarmed him. While he was distracted, I was able sneak up pretty close to the action. Finally the eagle had enough and took off. By then I was all ‘dialed in’ and captured a nice series of shots as he soared away in frustration.
#1 “Incoming”

2. This sunset at Arches National Park provided one of the most majestic panoramas I’ve ever witnessed. The dramatic dark storm clouds, pouring rain, low-angle light and a fortuitous rainbow were something to behold.

#2 “Red Planet”

3. I spent an hour laying on the cold sand while my camera captured this shot of Polaris and the surrounding star trails under Pine Tree Arch. I wish I could say it was relaxing but I had heard stories of rattlesnakes slithering up to people for body heat in the desert at night and and I’d be liar if I said I was able to keep that thought completely out of my mind;)

“God’s Eye”

4. A lone hiker dwarfed by Seljalandsfoss…one of Iceland’s most photographed icons.

“Perspective”

5. Green River Overlook at Canyonlands NP at sunset. Telephoto view of this vibrant, colorful and tortured landscape.

“Harsh Reality”

6. It is a humbling experience to stand in the darkness with this massive sandstone monument before you and the Lyrid meteor shower streaking miles over your head. In this self-portrait, Double Arch near Moab, Utah is illuminated by the moon and some small LEDs.

“The Seeker”

7. Early morning, no wind, violent clouds. Perhaps not the colorful sunrise I had hoped for but a soul-pleasing vista all the same. Lake Eden Vermont

“Violent Calm”

8. The riverside view of Shanghai is a colorful, futuristic, effervescent  vision that George Jetson would have appreciated.

“Orbit City”

9. Iceland’s Vestra Horn greets the dawn. Black sand beaches, icebergs, dramatic mountains, pounding surf….I honestly think it would be hard to create a bad image here.

“High Drama”

10. The fishermen of China’s Li River are surrounded by some of the Earth’s most incredible landscapes. I spent a few hours photographing this old veteran and was blessed by a purple sunset that had me thinking of the artist formerly known as Prince…

“The Lavender Fisherman”

11. I had the chance to photograph Ice Caves for the first time in 2019. Images like the one below are why I’m not going to wait another 60 years to do it again!

“Bond…James Bond”

12. The King of Wings in New Mexico’s Bisti Badlands is one of the largest and most impressive wings you will find anywhere. Easily 8 feet tall and over 20′ feet in length, it arrogantly defies gravity with an elegant arrogance. The soaring raven and the orange light of sunset provided warmth to otherwise barren landscape.

“Long Live the King!”

13. The northern lights are a spectacle that is beyond words…even pictures can’t truly capture their essence. Here is my best effort: a long exposure taken inches above a calm Icelandic tidal lagoon that provided a perfect mirror for Odin’s heavenly antics.

“Valhalla’s Kaleidoscope”

14. Double O Arch features one of the most expansive and iconically American vistas anywhere. I used some Photoshop wizardy to put my silhouette on top of the Arch since the Park Services discourages that kind of behavior.

“Man with a View”

15. The ‘Sun Voyager’ or Sólfar is a large stainless steel sculpture on Reykjavik’s shoreline. The artist, Jón Gunnar Árnason intended it to symbolize the promise of new, undiscovered territory. It is incredible and truly sings to any photographer.

“Ragnar’s Ride”

16. The Lake Apopka Nature Trail is nearby conservation area that I like to visit and photograph Florida wildlife. This osprey entertained me over 30 minutes by unsuccessfully diving two times trying to catch a sushi breakfast. I got a kick out of photographing his third, and finally fruitful effort.

“Third Time’s a Charm”

17. Only 50 miles away from world-reknowned Mesa Arch, Partition Arch provides a beauty all it’s own. It’s more challenging to reach than Mesa and you have to hike in the dark for an hour or so…but views like this are a sweet payback.

“High Desert Drama”

18. A black sand beach littered with fragments of glacier ice…that’s Diamond Beach on Iceland’s southern coast. I could spend days here running back and forth between the different chucks of ice looking for compositions…

“Diamond in the Rough”

19. The Bisti Badlands are already down-right weird during the day, which means after dark it becomes an absolutely different world. One of my favorite places on earth to photograph at night.

“Forbidden Planet”

20. Aldeygarfoss is located in Iceland’s northern highlands. A magnificent setting for a waterfall that has a carved a basin through standing basalt columns. Iceland is truly filled with an embarrassment of photographic riches…

“Odin’s Goblet”

21. Another image from my memorable trip to Iceland last winter. Wild clouds frame Eystra Horn as the mountain boldy struts it stuff overlooking a frozen marsh in the foreground.

“Calling Ansel”

22. Ancient volcanic gravel swirl in the ceiling of the Kotlujokull Glacier Ice Cave while a buddy of mine strolls towards the entrance with a tripod over his shoulder.

“Motherload”

And there you have your 22 options. Have fun and just pop your responses back to me over the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing your decisions.

Cheers!
Jeff

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