“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams
2018 was another great year for photography. I revisited some places, like the Sand Dunes and San Francisco and explored some new places, like Yosemite National Park. My gear stayed roughly the same although I did add some ND filters to my bag. I think my tripod made more of an appearance this year and that resulted in some better photos. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I move into 2019.
Interestingly, I struggled with coming up with 12 photos this time. I think my standards are ahead of my work and I have better sense of what makes a good photograph.
#1 – Sunrise with a friend
My first photo came as a result of a failed super, blue, blood-moon attempt. The clouds didn’t cooperate with shooting the moon as it was setting behind the Rocky Mountains but turning around, toward the sunrise left me in awe. I typically enjoy having people in my photos. I feel they help give the image scale and aid in telling the story. It’s usually my son or, as happened here, just innocent bystanders.
#2 – Sunset on San Francisco
Just a few weeks later I was off to San Francisco. This city has proven to be an endless playground for my camera. I’ve been there multiple times in the past few years and it never lets me down. During this trip I was treated to a bridge to bridge sunset cruise. Just as we left the Golden Gate Bridge and were heading towards the Oakland Bay Bridge the sun was setting behind the heart of the city.
#3 – Frozen Bear Lake
While my partner was in Antarctica I decided to subject myself to some arctic weather by heading up to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. I had the idea of staying up there to shoot the moon too but I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. I found that by myself it’s really hard to just hang out in the cold. I did, however, bring the one lens he didn’t take to Antarctica. Bear Lake did not disappoint from a photography or temperature standpoint. I remember the uneasy feeling of hearing the ice crack and thinking that if I fell through no one would even know.
#4 – Sand dune lines
For my son’s spring break we headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is one of my favorite spots to shoot. That fact that two of my 12 images this year were taken on that trip is not an accident.
#5 Sand dune lines 2
#6 – The Three Graces
Working full time and having a child means that my photography trips typically coincide with my family trips. Luckily, when traveling with the grandparents my partner and I were able to slip away for some photography. The Three Graces on the Oregon coast made this short excursion totally worth it.
#7 – You lookin’ at me?
My son and I ended that same trip with a road trip to San Francisco. Down on the wharf I got some nice photos. There’s something about this photo that just resonated with me and made me put it in this collection.
#8 – Natural Bonsai
There’s a small, relatively unknown state park just south east of Castlerock called Castlewood Canyon. It’s a very unique park and fun to visit over and over. In the canyon there are large boulders and we came upon this tree. It took multiple visits to get this shot. During the first visit the sun was too low and the tree fell in the shadows. I knew that if I returned earlier in the day the sun would be lighting up the tree.
#9 – Snake vs. Fish
On that same trip to Castlewood Canyon I had a once in a lifetime experience. I had found a nice little waterfall and pool to shoot. My tripod was set up, my VR was off and I was in manual mode taking a pleasing 1 second exposure. Just as I finished I heard this splashing sound behind me in the same pool of water. To my surprise I was witnessing a garter snake taking down a brook trout. I frantically adjusted my camera settings to capture this amazing encounter. I tracked the snake as it wrestled the fish into more manageable spot. This is my favorite shot in the group but another image was featured in the Photography issue of Colorado Outdoors magazine.
In October my partner and I took our moms to Yosemite National Park. I have visited most of the national parks here in the United States but Yosemite had still managed to remain elusive. But we had the trip set and arranged three nights in the coveted Yosemite valley.
You can find countless articles online talking about how this or that location is over shot. Go find your own beautiful location, they say. Get off the beaten track. While that’s great advice there’s a reason why some of these natural beauties are so popular. Entering Yosemite valley is unlike anything else that I’ve experienced. My partner and I had done some research ahead of time and so we were prepared with certain planned photo opportunities but there was so much unplanned photography too.
#10 – Cloud cap on Half Dome
Our first stop was to head to Tunnel View, which did not disappoint but as we got to our lodging low clouds were colliding with Half Dome just as the lighting was getting really good.
#11 – Valley mist
Before visiting Yosemite you can’t help but admire all the wonderful shots Ansel Adams had taken there. You know you’re not going to get that lucky on a single weekend trip but you secretly hope. Not having any first hand familiarity with the park we convinced ourselves to get up before dawn and just head out. The first night was cold and a little rain had fallen on our tent. But we got up before dawn and headed up to Tunnel View for some morning light on the valley. We were presented with more than we could have hoped for and shot for about a hour as the sun rose on the dawn wall and clouds danced around the valley trees.
#12 – Half Dome from Glacier Point
An idea I had while we were there was to drive up to Glacier Point for sunset. This is a spectacular destination and puts you about 1000 feet straight up from where we were staying. The views of Half Dome and the valley are stunning. I was running around with my tripod and filters capturing everything I saw but I really like how the tree and Half Dome frame the valley in this shot. The soft blue hour colors are really pleasing as well.
I definitely felt like I learned a lot this past year. It’s becoming more natural for me to observe the entire scene the in frame. I’m not only looking at my main subject but I’m more aware of how the elements at the edge or in the background/foreground fit into the image. Using the tripod definitely helps with this. It slows me down and makes me more deliberate in every decision I make.
Each time I write this I wonder what the upcoming year will have in store. I typically don’t have the means to plan lofty photography trips. I try and fill my time with a variety of activities and just bring my camera along. I have a new camera bag (Lowepro Fastpack BP 150) which will hopefully make it easier for me to bring along my tripod. Ultimately, my goal is to get out and have some fun while blending the creative with the technical through my camera.
If you’d like to view all 12 of these images as an album you can visit my Flickr page and see my Best of 2018 album. The EXIF data on Flickr should contain the GPS locations of each shot.
Previous year albums can also be found on my Flickr page:
Let me know what you think of my progress.