Tag Archives: top ten

The Votes are In! Your picks for my top dozen shots of 2017

Hi all,

I was flattered by the number of you that took the time to vote for your choice of my top shots of 2017.  It was the first time I had done a ‘reader’s poll’ and I wasn’t sure about how many folks would respond…guess I shouldn’t have worried!

So, how about the results?! 

#1  The vote for the top shot wasn’t even close, nearly half of my readers selected “Heavenly Hanalei” as my best image of 2017:

Milky Way over Hanalai Bay, Kauai

Perhaps no surprise, this was also my best selling print of 2017

#2  The voting for the next couple spots was much tighter, but “Frustration’s Child” took the second spot:

Mount Shuskan

It’s funny to me now but improvising when I took this shot resulted in a far better image than I would have captured if I had shot from the location I had originally planned to.

#3  This night image of a full moon shining on the caldera of the Kīlauea Volcano was also one of my personal favorites:

“Lunar Limelight” I have a copy of this one hanging by my desk at home.

#4  Hawaii’s beauty was popular with my readers:  this image Kauai’s Queens Bath ranked fourth:

Queen's Bath Kauai sunrise

“Fit for a Queen”

 

#5  was this colorful sunrise of Washington state’s Mt. Baker taken from Artist’s Ridge:

“Here comes the Sun”

#6 was an image from Rodeo Beach near San Francisco.  This spot had been on my ‘bucket list’ for years and I was blessed to be there on day with a killer sunset:

I always thought this looked like a shark rising vertically out of the ocean…can you see it?

#7 This adorable Alaskan sea Otter was my highest ranking wildlife shot of the year:

“Morning Prayer”

#8 Back to Hawaii for this dramatic view of lava, ocean and steam:

Lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii

“Vulcan’s Cauldron”

#9 was this peaceful shot of a humpback taking a deep dive in Alaska’s Inner Passage:

“Dive, Dive, Dive!”

#10  I would have ranked this image higher since it really ‘speaks’ to me.  Funny how different photos impress folks differently!

“Midwife”

#11  This Bald Eagle grazing the surface of an Alaskan stream took the next to last spot in our countdown:

“Strafing Run”

#12  Rounding out my top dozen from last year was this view from Yosemite:

“Artist’s Point”

So, there you have the best I could do last year.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and vote, I truly appreciate it!

2017 was great but 2018 has incredible potential.  I’ve got a trip to Patagonia planned in April that could be epic (at least it is in my dreams)…we’ll see.

Take care and remember, photography is about a lot more than pretty pictures!
Jeff

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My 12 Best of 2016

From Canada to the Carribean to Kenya, I was blessed with the chance to explore a variety of landscapes and exotic wildlife in 2016.  The only downside to this kind of  bounty is that it creates a challenge when trying to pick my favorite dozen shots from the year!

Its a great problem to have and below is my best effort to recap an incredible year.  I’ve included some of my best selling images as well as others that I personally love even if they haven’t sold a single print.  So, ready or not…here we go…

My 12 Best of 2016

# 1 “Midnight Run”

Racetrack Playa has long been on my bucket list and I finally got a chance to explore it last year.  Unlike some other icons that don’t quite live up to the hype when you finally get to visit, Racetrack was all I hoped it would be and more (although I could have done without the sandstorm)!  Check out this blog if you would like to read more and see photos from that trip.

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park Nevada

#2 “Sun Worshiper”

This is one of those shots that I wouldn’t have gotten if I wasn’t so persistant (or ‘pig-headed’ as my wife might say).  My son and I had a few hours to explore Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park on our way to Zion and we hiked out to the ‘Fire Wave’ even though it was ugly and raining.  I had just dropped my backpack when the sun burst thru the clouds and bathed us in glorious light for brief minute or two.  Ryan ran up to the wave and I got my tripod set up in time to grab an image or two before the sun disappeared.

My 12 Best of 2016

#3   “New Dive Buddy”

My wife Anita and I were diving near Pompano Beach when this Green Sea Turtle decided to tag along with us for a while.  It was wonderful to spend a few moments with this graceful guy in such a tranquil setting.  Here’s a link to a full article about this experience.

#4 "Mora Morning"

#4 “Mora Morning”

My wife (whom I clearly do not deserve) bought me a photo tour to Kenya as my Christmas present last year (I think I bought her a sweater);   The trip was really all about wildlife, but deep down, I think I’m a landscape photographer at heart.  Maybe that’s why I never missed the chance to capture some of the more incredible vistas…even if there was a leopard in the tree 50 feet away!

#5 "The Joust"

#5 “The Joust”

Yeah, I might love landscapes, but when your Land Rover turns the corner and two muscular Orix are scrapping for the rights to a harem of females, I had my camera up and ripping off shots with the rest of them.  These two guys were cracking their spike-like horns together, grunting and wheezing with excitement…maybe I should have shot a video instead!

#6 "Nothing Ventured"

#6 “Nothing Ventured”

One challenge for any photographer is to capture something new and unique in their shots.  This is nearly impossible when shooting iconic locations that have been photographed thousands of times before.   Mt. Rundle, as seen from Two Jack Lake in Canada’s Baniff National park is one of those places.   My son and I had spent two weeks getting systematically rained out of every single sunrise and sunset when the gods finally smiled and this scene appeared thru a breaking morning storm.  It was one of those moments when everything came together and allowed Ryan and I beat the odds and capture a truly magical moment.  I’m really proud of this image…it became my best selling print of 2016 and it is one of my all-time personal favorites.  See my full blog from last year about how it all came together.

Antelope Canyon

#7    “Sandstone Supernova”

I’ve photographed Arizona’s Antelope Canyon many times now but I’m still amazed every time I crawl down into that narrow crack in the red sandstone.  Technically, it is a difficult place to photograph but the resulting images can be amazing.  Everyone should experience this insane place at least once in their lives.

#8 "Birder's Delight"

#8 “Birder’s Delight”

2016 may be the year I finally came to understand ‘birders.’   To be honest, I’ve always looked at birders as nice but ‘unusual’ folks who delighted in talking thousands of photos of little grey and brown birds.  Well, my two weeks in Kenya introduced me to a world of colorful and exotic birds that anyone would be crazy NOT to pick up a camera and start snapping shots!  This shot of a Lilac Breasted Roller (I think) is possibly my all time best effort at capturing a bird in flight.

#9 xxxxx

#9    “Ringside Seat”

This is one of those photos that I would think is a photoshopped ‘creation’ unless I had been the one who actually taken the shot.  A killer rock perch above a dramatic waterfall with a perfect little island right behind it just looks too cool to be real…but it is!   Ryan and I arrived at Jasper’s Sunwapta Falls with an idealized idea of what we wanted to photograph but once we got there we just couldn’t find the right spot.  We searched for quite a while before Ryan found it.  This shot is the result of his persistance.

#10 “Here we come!”

This is probably the most popular shot I took in Kenya (which is saying quite a lot since I took over 35,000 photos)!  These four lion cubs were just walking right down the middle of a dirt road early one morning in Masai Mora National Park.  That one to the left looks like he was shouting out cadence..”Hup, one, two three four, Hup…hup!”  Actually, he was just yawning:)  Check out their dirty little feet… clearly they had been up early playing in the mud…just like youngsters!

#11

#11    “Postcard Peaks”

I was so excited when I first got to Lake Moraine that I immediately headed right to the famous ‘rockpile’ where you get this elevated view of the ‘Ten Peaks’.  To get there, I left the trail and hopped across a series of slippery logs floating in the water next to the parking area then scrambled up a steep rocking incline to the top.  Here was a 55+ year old guy carrying thousands of dollars of photo gear in a heavy backpack and I remember wondering if this was really a good idea.  The funny thing was that when I got to the top, I saw that if I had stayed on the trail from the parking lot a bit longer I would have seen that there actually was a nice, paved walkway to the top that was being used every other tourist in Alberta….

#12 "Mirror, Mirror..."

#12 “Mirror, Mirror…”

I’ll finish with my favorite wildlife shot of 2016.  I was watching a group of cheetahs trek across a small stream when one stopped at low spot in the surrounding bedrock that held a small puddle of water.  I was shooting ten frames per second and luckily managed to capture this moment when the cheetah seemed to gaze at its’ own relection before lapping up an evening drink.  The reflection was just perfect and the way the cheetah looped its tail and arched her back was nearly poetic in its gracefullness.

There you have it…the best I could do in 2016.  Photography was good to me last year.  It challenged and motivated me to seek out and enjoy the beauty of our earth.  I hope you enjoyed my photos and perhaps they will inspire you to get out there and explore a bit as well!

Jeff

 

 

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My Twelve Best of 2014

Every year I publish a “Top 12 Photographs of the Year” article and every year I swear that it seems to be the most difficult blog I have to write.  Well, actually, the writing isn’t that bad…but picking out just twelve shots…man, that’s a challenge.   I struggle for hours trying to whittle down the list and inevitably, I have to ask my wife and son to both come over to the monitor to help me with the last few selections.

Ah well..you don’t want to hear about writer’s anguish…you want to see photos.  So, in no particular order, here are my personal favorites of the year!

#1)  Moonlight on my Shoulder

2014  Roadtrip  June 30 00512_crop

My son Ryan and I hiked out into White Sands National Monument this summer and enjoyed a killer sunset together.  Once it started getting dark, we headed back to the car as the moon rose and the sands turned to an intense shade of blue.  After a few minutes, I glanced behind me and caught Ryan taking this last, pensive glance at the surreal scene.

 #2) “Beaufort Bruisers”

2014 Alaska 091614 03062

A highlight of the year was a ten day photo adventure to the Arctic Circle.  On that trip I watched and photographed these two young polar bears while they had a good natured but rambunctious rumble near the village of Kaktovik.  Gazing at these magnificent apex predators from the nearby deck of a small boat was a rush!

#3)  Gotterdammerung2014 Alaska 091814 04301skew

I got the opportunity to fulfill a childhood wish in 2014 by seeing and photographing the Northern Lights…and it was all I had hoped it might be.  In this shot, I love how the road on the bottom right reflects the green of the Aurora while the sliver of a river to the left mirrors the deep red in the sky above it

#4) Shock and Awe

2014  Roadtrip  June 28 01284_-Recovered crop

I’ve stood on this bridge in Zion National Park with dozens of others photographing the Watchman at sunset more than a few times.  But standing at the same spot at midnight without another soul in sight while gazing up at the glory that is the Milky Way was a whole new and amazing experience.   Sometimes I am truly awed and shocked by the beauty of our universe.

#5) Target Acquired

Hummingbird Photography: A 6 Step Guide with Hummingbird Photo Tips If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you already know that I have an unbridled fascination with Hummingbirds.  This shot displaying the full wing and tail extension of a Ruby-Throated hummer captures some of the dramatic energy that captivates me.   I photographed this little jewel in my home ‘hummer studio’ that I set up every year right outside the window where I write this blog.

#8) Moonbow

2014  Yosemite  April 16 00011_

Before 2014, I didn’t know that you could seen a rainbow at night.  But in February, I stood before Yosemite Falls under a full moon and shook my head in disbelief as I captured this shot.  One of the things I love about photography the most is that it encourages me to learn and see more of the world!

#7)  Leviathan

2014 Georgia Aquarium February 15, 2014 00076 Copyright

One big ticket item on my ‘bucket list’ is to swim with whale sharks.  I haven’t had a chance to make that dream a reality yet, but seeing this whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium was a taste of things to come.

#8) Georgia on my Mind2014  Georgia Waterfalls  May 13 00326__HDR NIK crop

If someone asked a random group of 1,000 photographers to name their favorite waterfall in North America, I’m willing to bet that Minnehaha Falls would probably not be mentioned by any of them.  But I think this secluded cascade in the mountains of northern Georgia is one of the most photogenic waterfalls I’ve seen anywhere.  Even better, since it isn’t well known, you will probably be the only one there to enjoy its beauty.

#9) Heaven’s Arch

Milky Way captured at Bryce Canyon during a new moon.

Milky Way captured at Bryce Canyon during a new moon.

I was able to capture the full arc of the Milky Way at a spot along the Navaho Loop Trail on this moonless, cloudless night.  It almost looked like one end of the Milky Way was shooting stars out of Thor’s Hammer….

#10) Good Morning Sunshine!2014 Beach 03 September 00770

This sunrise at Melborne Beach in Florida was blessed with one of the most magnificent sunbeam halos I’ve ever seen.

#11)  Lighting the Way2014 June Acadia (178)

Bass Harbor Light is one of the East Coast’s most iconic locations for photographers.  And with good reason:  A lighthouse perched on a rocky cliff, reflecting pools, huge multi-colored granite blocks, crashing surf…what more could a photographer ask for?
As much as I love this spot, it took a number of trips over five years before I was lucky enough to catch a sunset that was equal to the setting.

#12) Morning Wind

2014 Alaska 091214 00105

The ancients called it the “Morning Wind” and it has amazed mankind since we first looked toward the heavens.   As I stood on the banks of the Chena River near Fairbanks last fall, this Aurora weaved and swayed in a sensuous dance that simply awed me.

 

Well there you have it.  2014 was a truly a wonderful year for me.  I was blessed to have the chance to travel and photograph some truly amazing sights and I am excited to see what 2015 will bring.  Thanks for reading my blog and sharing these adventures with me over the past year!

Jeff

Posted in Best Photos of the Year

My Top Ten Photos for 2012

I’ve always enjoyed looking at photographer’s ‘top ten’ shots of the previous year.  What I never truly appreciated was just how difficult it is to cull down a year’s worth of labor into only ten moments…it was painful!  I had to bring my wife in to help me make the final decisions and while we did get the list down to ten, we gave up trying to rank them.  So, here is my/our first effort (in random order): Hope you enjoy!

Firefall

This shot is the namesake of my website and one of my first published pieces.  I had preplanned to be in Yosemite during the short window when the ‘Firefall’ phenomenon occurs in February, but I was just plain lucky that the weather also cooperated.  The fading sunlight backlighting this ephemeral little waterfall off the side of El Capitan really makes it look like it is ablaze!  It is one of those things you just have to see to believe…you stand there in wonder forgetting to hit your shutter. Put it this way, landscape photographers (as a rule) aren’t honestly the most outgoing and spontaneous of people, but on this evening, when the firefall faded away, the dozen or so photographers capturing this scene actually broke out into applause.  An incredible evening…one that you don’t forget.

 

 

 Perfect Reflection

Okay, well we didn’t rank the shots, but this might really be my favorite:)  I can’t tell you how many shots I’ve taken of Yosemite, but this one speaks to me in a way that is unique.  El Cap reflected in the perfect morning stillness of the Merced River.

 

 Godrays

I love this shot of the Smokies…but it isn’t dramatic and its subtlety might be lost on some.    To me though, these ‘godray’s filtering down on the misty ridges of the Smokies truly capture the essence of this magical place.

 

Sunflower Island

If I had seen this shot a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed that the location was less than ten miles from my home!  One of the things I most appreciate about photography is that it forces you to look a the world differently and more intently.  Sometimes, it helps you ‘see’ things for the first time, even if they have been right in front of you for years.

 

 

The Fire Within

It’s a mantra to me that great shots are the result of planning and preparation.  This one was an exception to my own rule.  My wife and I stopped by Old Sheldon Church on the way to Charleston after a suggestion by a new friend.  We just happened to get there in the mid-afternoon when the sun was barely high enough to stream thru the ruins but not so low that the light was blocked by the massive live oaks.

 

 

Morning Breath

I was surprised that only two wildlife shots made in into my top ten this year but this one certainly catches your eye!  The elephant seals at the rookery just north of San Simeon are impressive (and LOUD).

 

 

 

 

“Take me to your Leader”

Clingman’s Dome in the Smokies is an unparralled location for sunrises and sunsets….sometimes.  I made the long drive up to the ‘dome’ four times during my trip there last fall, and with a single exception, the peak was fogged in every single darned time I got there.  It was insanely frustrating.   Oddly enough, this shot of my wife Anita turned out to be one of my favorite shots of the year:  because of that fog.  Sometimes, you just have to put aside your ‘pre-visualized’ shots and go with the moment.

 

Evening in the Valley

As you crouch in this little valley among the Calla Lillies in Big Sur, would you really be all that surprised to see a Hobbit somewhere in the viewfinder?

 

 Sunburst at Newfound Gap

Possibly the most impressive sunrise I’ve ever witnessed in the Smokies.  This sunrise just exploded out of an overcast sky for a couple of brief moments.  I was ecstatic that I hadn’t packed it in and headed back down the mountain like most of the photographers who had gotten frustrated by the cloud cover. Just Glorious.

 

 

Peek-a-Boo!

When my typically non-expressive teenaged son looks at a shot and says: ‘That is incredibly precious’, I know I’ve got something good!   This little fella showed up at my house on Thanksgiving looking for goodies.

So there you have it…my best of 2012.  Wow…it is wild to take an entire year and reduce it to just ten images…kinda puts things in perspective.  Anyway, enough retrospection: On to 2013!

Jeff

 


 

 

 

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