Last year I took my son’s suggestion and for the first time asked my readers to vote on my top shots of the year. Your response was overwhelming and wonderful…so we’re doing it again! Listed below, in no particular order are a couple dozen of my personal favorite images from last year. Let’s take a quick look at them and I’ll give you details on how to vote at the end of the blog.
- “Close Encounters”
I sell a LOT of Manatee images. I don’t think it’s because they are really better than my other work…it’s more of a niche thing. The simple fact is that few photographers have the chance to photograph them as often as I do (I live only a couple hours away from the warm Florida springs that attract Manatees every winter). So maybe I’m a bit jaded when it comes to my manatee shots, but even so, this image of a curious young woman and a friendly manatee strikes an emotional chord in me.
2) “Bucket List”
This view of Mt Fitz Roy near Laguna Capri in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park had been on my bucket list for a long time. It was worth the wait.
3) “Badass Badlands”
This star trail image of the famous ‘Stonewings’ in New Mexico’s Bisti Badlands was a technically challenging shot. Twenty-five separate four minute exposures, taken over a hour, painstakingly blended together in Photoshop. But I’ve nearly forgotten all that… what I vividly remember is that while the camera was shooting, I laid down on top of a small bluff, used my backpack as a pillow and listened to the mournful sound of nearby coyotes as they sung back and forth to one another.
4) “…my Kingdom for a Horse!”
Long exposure dawn shot of Patagonia’s Lake Pehoé in Torres del Paine National Park. The landscape is nearly cruel in its beauty…which is matched by the insane wind, weather and sense of wonder.
6) “Leading Lines”
Lights from a passing tourist tour boat created these magical lines of light along the Seine in front of Notre Dame. I’m naturally drawn to photographing the beauty of nature untouched by man but how can I not make an exception with a view like this?
7) “Gaucho Gump”
This shot of Route 23 leading up to El Chaltan in Patagonia reminds me of the famous Monument Valley scene in ‘Forest Gump’ with Tom Hanks jogging down the highway.
8) “”Ripley’s Revenge”
It really only takes a glance to see why this bizarre and otherworldly spot in the Bisti Badlands is known as the ‘Alien Egg Nursery.’
9) “Monet Moment”
This image of Claude Monet’s pond in Giverny conveys peace and serenity. The reality is that a half million people visit every year. Photography can be wonderfully selective.
10) “Divine Light”
St. Basil’s in Red Square at night is breathtaking and it really isn’t all that difficult to create a beautiful image. But it is challenging to find a new or creative perspective that hasn’t already been done a gadzillion times…this was my best effort.
You might be feeling a sense of deja vu in this blog. But no, the fact is that there are a number of Mount FitzRoy images in this list. And with good reason…I’ve never seen a more photogenic and dramatic set of peaks. Anywhere, Ever. Period. This is one of the many incredible vistas you can indulge in when you hike the Mirador Del FitzRoy Trail during Patagonia’s autumn.
13) “Out on a limb…’
14) “Tatooine? Altair IV? Vulcan?”
I love color and will be the first to admit that when I set up to take a shot, I don’t often envision it in black and white. In this case, that would have been a mistake. The “Conversing Hoodoos’ in the Bisti Badlands.
15) “Judgment Day”
Courthouse Mountain (Chimney Rock) is a massive hunk of granite in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. The stone is a boring grey, but at sunset it can explode in dramatic shades of reflected crimson sunlight. Golden aspens and green pines carpet the rolling valley in the foreground. Truly something to see.
16) “Pink Paradise”
This morning started out miserably. You couldn’t see anything more than 50 feet away but I stood in the rain, taking long exposure shots of Lake Pehoe trying to find something to justify the fact that I was cold, damp and getting cranky. Then, over 90 seconds it all changed, The low clouds came alive in this wild shade of pink and the clearing skies welcomed a massive double rainbow. It didn’t last long, but I had time to capture this panorama.
17) “Good Morning Sunshine”
Its hard to describe how gentle these homely giants are. Peaceful and serene, I always enjoy my visits with the Manatees.
18) “Mauve Mayham”
Rio de las Vueltas cuts a deep curve in the foreground south of VitzRoy. The wind here can be simply incredible…I had to physically hold my tripod down to keep it from tipping over…wild!
19) Impression of a Gateway
The pathway to Monet’s home in Giverny.
20) “Mars Attacks”
I was lucky to capture the planet Mars (top left) as a cloud passed underneath reflecting its red light. Some low level lighting illuminated the dramatic landscape in the Bisti Badlands while the luminous Milky Way drifted silently overhead.
21) “Over the Top!”
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a target rich environment for any photographer. Personally, I was amazed at the ‘special shape’ balloons…everything from the head of Vincent Van Gogh, to Darth Vader, Flying Pigs, Scarecrows….limited to nothing in your imagination. Magical.
22) “Patagonian Juxtaposition”
Fall colors, mountains and glaciers…there aren’t too many places in the world where you can capture all three in a single image. Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate, Argentina.
23) “Foxy Lady”
South American Grey Fox relaxing after breakfast.
24) “From Hell’s Heart…”
The Bisti Egg Nursery sprawled beneath Mars and the Milky Way
25) “Sepia Sunrise”
FitzRoy from the southeast at sunrise.
So, there you have my top 25 images from the year. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is simply to pick out your ten favorites and email your choices to me at Jeffstamer @aol.com by Feb 1st.
I have a two week trip to Iceland coming up early in March, so I should be able to get to post the results before I leave.