Friday, January 13, 2012

2011: Year in Review

The new year has begun and it is a good a time as any to look back at 2011 and review some of my favorite images. What follows are ten images, all made last year. I have a difficult enough of a time choosing my "favorites", so this list is by no means my "Top 10" in the truest sense. Instead, I will list them in chronological order with a reason or two as to why they made the list. How's that sound? And all of these images are on sale currently at my website. 50% traditional photo paper prints sizes 13x19, 16x24, 20x30, 24x36, and 30x45 until January 31, 2012.

10. "Dawn of a New Day" - Death Valley National Park, California

This image was made during the first sunrise of 2011. Back at camp, the alarm sounded at 5am and the sky was clear. Still, there is no excuse to sleep in. The conditions cooperated as clouds rolled in and ignited at sunrise. They stuck around for maybe an hour and then were gone. One might think "how lucky", but luck can only get you so far. Leading up to this sunrise, I had been in the eastern Sierras for a few days. Only upon hearing that the Badwater basin was still flooded, did I make the decision to head to Death Valley. A sunset and sunrise were spent scouting the area around the main parking lot. No strong images were produced, just the knowledge that this area was not very photogenic. More scouting during the day led to finding this area. A sunset on New Year's Eve 2010 was spent here and was quite nice. But it all came together on New Year's Day; the fourth session at Badwater. Persistence can lead to being rewarded.

9. "Golden Shores #2" - San Gregorio State Beach, California

Great light, unique wave action colliding with the heavy outflow of a wet winter, and being waist deep in water with drift wood banging into your tripod and legs. Seascape photography at its best. Enough said.

8. "Gateway to Another World" - Davenport, California

The coast of Santa Cruz County is so rich and diverse for landscape photography, I am constantly amazed at how many images can be made at a single beach. Despite visiting this beach and walking through this arch countless times, I had never stopped to seriously photograph it. Until this year.

7. "The Bride's Veil" - Yosemite National Park, California

Inspired by an image in the Ansel Adam's Gallery in Yosemite National Park (not an Ansel Adam image however), I was excited to find this specific vantage point with classic Yosemite conditions. I had this romantic notion that it would require some actual effort to find this vantage point, but the dedicated pull out and crowd of people kinda gave it away. Oh well, it is still a beautiful view!

6. "Forgotten Coast" - San Mateo Coast, California

Nestled in a secluded section of coast, these amazing sandstone formations really got me excited about finding something "new" again. Even though new images can be made anywhere, finding a new landscape certainly is fulfilling. Besides, who simply wants to live their photographic life simply going from icon to icon? Getting outside, exploring, and discovering the unknown (at least a personal unknown) can be much more rewarding.

5. "Guiding Light" - Davenport, California

This is a familiar location, but I put a spin on it for a completely different look and feel. Nothing ground breaking, but a reminder about how different light and a different mood can reveal a new image. Never think of photography as a grocery list where items get checked off once you've photographed them.

4. "Falling Light" - Santa Cruz, California

Yes, I am a sucker for icons, too. And I've always wanted an exploding sky to compliment the most iconic rock in my hometown. Let's hear it for Santa Cruz! :)

3. "Eye of the Alabama Hills" - Lone Pine, California

I've only been doing landscape photography for about three years. Night photography intrigues me. In California, there are a lot more clear days than cloudy. And the light at night, if nothing else, certainly is predictable. This image was my first star trails image I am happy with. By no means, am I 100% happy with it, but it represents one of the building blocks to (hopefully) better things to come.

2. "Reclamation" - Lee Vining, California

My first visit to Mono Lake was around sixteen years ago as an undergraduate in college. My future room mate was big into astronomy and volunteered at the Mono Lake Committee. The clarity of the night sky was amazing! We once took a canoe out on the lake in the dead of winter, creating a path through the layer of fresh water ice which floats atop the salty, brine filled waters. These early memories of Mono Lake make it more dear to me and I was excited to finally get great light on my final trip of 2011.

1. "Strength of Conviction" - Convict Lake, California

"You can't always get want you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need" - The Rolling Stones
I very much wanted a blazing color image of clouds igniting with fiery skies above Convict Lake on my recent trip. But as the blazing skies laughed at me from everywhere BUT above the lake, I was getting a bit disappointed. But one of my resolutions for this year and every year is to expect less and be happy with what I am given. Instead of having preconceived notions of what I want, only to be disappointed if things don't turn out my way, I want to live more in the experience, and less in the photographic results.