Top ten favorite images from 2014

2014 was actually a pretty good image making year for me. I don't really get out to shoot on my own as much as I would like so I'll fit in some shooting during workshops as circumstance allow. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the viewpoint) I had a number of workshops this year that were less than full. This makes it easier to do some of my own shooting…ah…I mean….setting up shots for the others to learn from. Yeah, that's it.

10. South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, OR

South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, OR

This is pretty much a straightforward wide angle landscape shot. Something I've done thousands of times: Pretty background, search for fun foreground, find composition, deploy tripod, set focus and exposure. Click shutter. Rinse. Repeat.
But this image is special to me because in making it, I used my 24mm f/2.8 wide angle lens for the first time in probably over eight years. I used to love using this lens on my old film cameras and I fell in love with it all over again.

9. Aurora along the Ingraham Trail, Northwest Territories, Canada


In 2014 I got to see and photograph auroras for the first time. And I came away with some amazing images. This might not have been the most amazing as far as the aurora is concerned, but it was one of my favorites due to its subtle colors, the nice grouping of trees, and the stars in the sky. It's quiet and contemplative and I just enjoy the feel I get looking at it.

8. Wheel fence and canola

Canola behind wheel fence

It seemed a banner year for canola in the Palouse in 2014. Or maybe my timing was just right. In any event, the field next to the famous wheel fence at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, WA had been planted with canola.
I've photographed this fence more times than I can remember but the canola really made it special this year. It was so good that my workshop group went there twice; once with overcast and again on one afternoon where we had blue skies with big white puffies and the light was fantastic. I managed to capture a lot of very nice images on both visits and this is one of my favorites.

7. Vista House at Crown Point, Columbia Gorge, OR

Crown Point, Oregon

This view is from the Portland Women's Center Scenic Viewpoint. It's a famous and popular view of this Oregon icon. I've been there many times for sunrise and have been rewarded with brilliant oranges, red and pink tinged clouds, and generally awesome sunrises. This morning with my workshop group was not one of those. It was overcast and rather drab. So after returning home and looking through these images, I decided to try running this through NIK Silver Efex Pro before hitting the delete key. Glad I did. I really like the feel of this.

6. Aurora above Prosperous Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada


On this night we arrived in time for sunset, which was about 7:30 p.m. Then we waited for dark. And waited. And waited. Our guide had viewed the aurora forecast earlier in the day and saw that the predicted peak time would be around 1 a.m. So we waited. Napped. Waited.
And then, sometime after midnight, the sky began to glow green. Ribbons formed and the aurora storm was overhead, twisting and reaching and changing colors. The most amazing thing I've ever seen in nature. I may not have captured the most intense moment (what with my jaw on the ground and all) but I did recover in time to capture a few images. This was my favorite from that storm.

5. Aurora over Prosperous Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada


This image was made a couple hours after the last one. I keep going back and forth over which aurora picture is my favorite. I think I've settled on this one. I really like that the entire sky is green. And the reds in the ribbon make for a wonderful accent. I've not printed this yet, but it screams to be put on metal.

4. A cute little snail in the Hoh Rainforest


On the day my workshop group and I visited the rainforest, we didn't have the best conditions for rainforest photography. So we went early in the morning, hoping to beat the contrast that the rising sun was about to bring to the forest. One idea I had going in to this shoot was to look for Banana Slugs in moss to photograph. Instead, we found this little snail on a mossy log in a shaded area.
And a cooperative little snail it was, crawling back and forth (sometimes with a little help with initial placement) and happily displaying its tentacles.
This was taken handheld using my Nikon D300 and 28-300 AF-s VR lens. This lens can focus incredibly close all by itself and is the most versatile lens I own.

3. Lake Crescent at sunrise, Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Anyone who's been on an Olympic workshop with me knows about this spot. I stop here every year. You see, I have this fantasy of low-hanging clouds over the lake with brilliant morning light streaming in from the side. I'd even settle for higher clouds, under-lit by crimson colored morning light. I'm not too picky.
This morning was not that. In fact, it was a little cool and breezy and the light was pretty much "meh". In fact, it was so "meh" that most of my group didn't even bother to get their cameras out. But I gave it a try anyway. After all, there were some clouds in the sky.
This shot ended up so monochrome anyway that I decided to just convert it to black and white and crop it into a panorama. And it turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the year.

Oh, and even if folks didn't bother with taking this shot, about an hour or so later they were able to photograph an amazing rainbow over Sol Duc Falls. Which really was the main destination that morning anyway.

2. Field of canola and rolling hills in the Palouse

The Palouse region

Near this field is a set of barns that I take my workshop groups to. And just up the road from those barns is one of the many gravel roads traversing the farmlands. This particular year there was a big field of canola adjacent to this gravel road.
Prior to my Palouse workshops I spend a day or two scouting around for canola and to make sure my old favorite barns are still standing. So I knew this field was there.
We made it to the barns on the last day of the workshop after a failed attempt at a Steptoe Butte sunrise. It was a cool, overcast, and slightly rainy morning and after the barns, the group was pretty much done and ready for a warm breakfast and to be on their way, so that's where things ended. But my friend Kim and I stayed to further scout the location with the thought of returning the next morning.
Getting out the compass we determined where the sun would be rising. This was going to be a great sunrise location.
So the next morning we returned. Just the two of us (we couldn't talk those remaining for the Lightroom portion of the workshop to come out). We had to wait nearly an hour after sunrise before the sun cleared the clouds. But when it did, oh boy was it nice.
This is one of my all time favorite Palouse images. But what made it one of my favorite images of 2014 was the experience of just simply hanging out and photographing with a good friend.

1. Sunrise on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Sunrise from Hurricane Ridge

I've photographed atop Hurricane Ridge many, many times. To me, the best images come not from a bright and clear morning, but from a morning when you're not even sure you're going to see the mountains, let alone be able to see ten feet in front of your face.
On this morning, the last morning my workshop group would have on Hurricane Ridge, we ascended into thick fog. When we reached the parking lot we couldn't see a thing. My thinking was that perhaps we could climb the steep hill behind the parking lot and maybe get a view over the fog. But as soon as we stepped out of the cars, the fog dropped and we could see the Olympic range hovering over a see of fog.
The fog kept moving in and out and the landscape was changing by the second. Then the sun rose and the magic really began to happen.
In the distance, the tops of ridges became islands of trees surrounded by orange light. Fog poured over other ridges like waterfalls.
Once the sun got a little higher and the orange light left, we still had surreal fog-scapes to photograph. The most difficult part was deciding which way to point the camera. This was one of the most exciting mornings I've had at Hurricane Ridge and this image has become my favorite from 2014.

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