|Rio Grande Sunset in Big Bend|
2014 has been a great year for photography. I have had the opportunity to see many neat places, visit several national parks, get out locally on a regular basis, and caught some great light.
My photography year always begins at sunrise on New Years Day and the tradition of greeting the sunrise of a new year with camera in hand continued. It was crisp and clear as it always seems to be. Although, as I type this on the morning of December 31st, it looks like 2015 will start off with freezing rain and break the decade long streak of clear.
|Milky Way over Big Bend|
In March I was off to Big Bend for a week. I had started doing more night photography and specifically seeking out the dark sky of the new moon looking to make nightscape images-think landscapes at night under the Milky Way. I planned the trip specifically for a dark sky week and I had several images I wanted to get. It turned out to be a mostly clear sky week with only a few days along the river with good sunset light.
|Bluebonnets in North Texas|
April brought wildflowers to Texas and I went out on four consecutive weekends chasing bluebonnets. The first three times, I found some flowers but had either complete overcast or clear sky. With less than ideal conditions we explored several possible new areas and may have added a few potential locations. Finally on the fourth attempt the light happened and I was able to get a few good images of bluebonnets with a big sunrise.
|Beaches of South Walton|
May took me to the Florida panhandle for a few days on the beach. I am much more a desert or mountain person but I find there is some quiet locations around the small town we go to that lets me get out and photograph a different kind of landscape.
May also saw me with a trip out to Albuquerque, NM for a few days. It was not a photography trip, but I always take a camera and managed to see a nice sunset one evening at Mesa del Sol with a view to the Manzano Mountains. I love the views out here and it is easy to see why it is called the Land of Enchantment. I am glad I did not miss any left turns as I would have hated to miss that light. :-) Even just this one afternoon and I was ready to spend a week driving around the state.
|Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque|
|Stonehenge II in Texas Hill Country|
June also had me on a drive through three Midwestern states and I used it as a chance to stop and see a small waterfall. A great way to breakup a long drive and get a nice image to boot. This is a very under-photographed part of the country and I like being able to see it and find images in locations most people just fly over.
|Nolan River Nightscape|
Late summer had me on a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin where I got to spend time along the bluff country of the Upper Mississippi River. This is an amazing area where the bluffs along the river are over 500 feet tall. I know that people are saying-but wait the Midwest is flat.......
|Bluffs along the Upper Mississippi|
|Lonely Lost Mesa by night|
The end of September took me out west (finally) and I spent a few days in Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks. Both are some of my favorites and I always enjoy getting to photograph here (despite the crowds).
Zion Canyon is famous for how the Virgin River has carved out the Navajo sandstone. We actually got to see it in flash flood stage in a full rage. Yet three days later the water was back to normal and I got to wade the Narrows.
I waded the Narrows. I went further upstream than in the past to Wall Street and for a while had the place to myself. Standing knee deep in the cold waters of the Virgin River in a 30 foot wide 1000 foot deep canyon is certainly a great experience. Seeing it with the light reflected off the towering cliff walls is magical. Without a doubt the Narrows is one of the top ten hikes in the entire park system. It was wild to think that just three days prior this would have been had several more feet of water flash flooding through here.
|Grand Canyon with my LG G3|
Hopi Point, Yaki Point, Shoshone Point, etc are all great locations but the clear sky did not give me the light I was hoping for. I saved my favorite location for my last morning and went out to Lipan Point for one last chance. There are three views of the Colorado River here and I was hoping I would catch some clouds and dramatic light. It ended up also being clear. Those are the breaks I guess and it does make me appreciate the good light even more.
My favorite image from the trip actually turned out to be a snap from my phone. This was a clear crisp fall morning and while taking a break from the "real" camera snapped this shot of first light hitting a dead tree to send out to friends via email.
|Santa Elena Canyon|
This was another trip timed for the Milky Way and night images. In fact I went specifically to do one image of the Milky Way over Santa Elena Canyon. The canyon is the crown jewel of the park and seeing sunrise here is one of those bucket list type items. I never miss doing a sunrise here and have seen some epic ones. However I also hoped the Milky Way could be photographed rising out of the Canyon. I went out there my first night and as soon as it was dark enough for the Milky Way I had it. No waiting, no dozens of images. Literally just needed 5 minutes. Planning was everything and it paid off with the shot I wanted!
|West Fork Fall Colors|
November finally brings fall color to north Texas and I spent every weekend chasing color around the area. We have a long slow color change and I saw the the first yellows of late October, through the peak at Thanksgiving until the last changers in the week before Christmas. I spent each week visiting a stretch of the West Fork of the Trinity River photographing the changing colors. I had days of clear, fog, clouds, and mist. Each day was different and each week brought changes in the color. See my post from December 21st for the changes week by week.
|Big Falls of the West Fork|
Finally to end the year I took 4 days between Christmas and New Years to go west to Guadalupe Mountains National Park again. I arrived in a snow storm. There was some 6" of fresh snow. I had never seen this much and was out trying to capture the fleeting magic before it melted away. In all I had four great days of snow, freezing fog, 60+mph winds, and some great light. It was an epic trip in just four days that will be several blog posts when I get to them.
|El Capitan in Winter|
I drove home in freezing rain on the 30th and am sitting here drying gear as I type this.
It was quite the year. I made several images that joined the portfolio. I visited several of my favorite parks and discovered a few new locations. I also spent a lot of time working on night photography. Modern digital cameras have opened up a whole new possibility for photography at night and I now plan my trips around the new moon to chase nightscapes if it is clear.
Tomorrow morning the year begins again and I have my gear packed to head out for sunrise even if it looks like rain (better pack the Gore-Tex jacket). My calendar already has a spring trip to Big Bend on it. I know spring is just 6 weeks away in the desert and I am looking forward to it even though we just finished fall last week. Then it is bluebonnet season and then summer new moons........ this is going to be fun. Hello 2015!