I want to start this Blog with my First Image of 2015. New Year’s Day. We had an Amazing Snowstorm New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. This Hike was Southwest of Phoenix and although the Storm was over and it was starting to clear at 9:30 in the Morning, where we were, there was still Snow at 2000 Feet…That’s right…2000 Foot Elevation. And I wasn’t even topped out on the Ridgeline yet, and the Peak is way over to the Right, lol The Superstitions on the other side of Phoenix got hammered with this Storm, but we just saw a Hint of it here… Off-Trail Hike up to a Peak with Endless Views??? It was a Great Way to Kickstart a New Year….
A lot of Photographers are Selecting their Best 15 Images of 2015. So how do you define “Best”??? Best Technical, Best Subject, Best Light, Best Landscape, Coolest Wildlife Shot????
I’v decided to Share Images based on two Things…Favorite and Activity/Subject. And I’ve decided on the Word “Favorite” because the Images I Selected may not be my Best as far as Technical Aspects, or Images that Everyone Else liked the Best… But they are what they are, they are my Favorites, due to the Moment, the Memory, my Emotion and my Experience at that Time. They may be lacking in Subject, Composition, Light or Sharpness, but they make up for it for strictly Personal Reasons…. They are more about Content, Context and even Sentimentality more than anything… Because, in the End, it’s all about what makes me Happy and I hope that that is what comes through First and Foremost in my Images. I am Sharing my Life, Love and Passion for the Outdoors and my Experiences out there….So, even though I Love Photography, it’s not just about the Photography… It’s about the Experience and being able to somehow try to Capture It. I look back on these Images and some of the Others that didn’t make the “Cut” and I remember everything about that Moment in Time. And for me, that’s what it’s all About….It’s about Getting Out There….
Because I Shoot such a Diverse Range of Subjects and have so many Outdoor Activities that I enjoy, the thought of Selecting just 15 out of all those Activities and Subjects seemed really Overwhelming… So, I’m Cheating in a Sense. First, I’ve come up with 19 Images to Share…LOL How did I come up with 19? Really hard to pick just a Few of my Favorites out of all those Subjects, so I did it by Categorizing my Subjects and my Activities… I came up with 18 Categories, plus the Starter….LOL And I picked a Favorite from each Category. And still, it wasn’t Easy… There were several Images that “Fit” more than 1 Category, so they had a few different Chances, lol
And with all of that said, it’s been a Good Year for my Photography. I finally got to see some of my Images Printed for the First Time, and I’ve been Published for the First Time this Year as well…I hope that both of those Celebrations become Trends in the Future… It’s the Dream of many Amateurs like me….
And as far as my Outdoor Activities goes, it was also a Good Year, even as I sit here trying to Mend Broken Ribs… Things were also very different this Year. I didn’t go just Hiking much this Year and only did 1 Backpack Trip all Year… That’s got to be a Crime somewhere and I’ll be remedying that… But, I also visited some Places I have never been, or haven’t been to in Years…It felt Great to Explore New Places and Revisit some Great Memories in others….
I got to spend a lot more Time in Canyons this Year and a lot of that Time in Technical Canyons. It’s what I’ve been hoping for, for several Reasons. I’m certainly not getting any Younger, and neither are the Knees, so the Clock is Ticking. The Two Landscapes that I love the Most are Canyons and the Ocean…The Ocean is but a Memory these Days and that will change this next Year, but to be in as many Canyons as I was this Year, was just Heaven. I hope to Enjoy at least that many again this Year and hopefully a lot of them will be New to me… I would also really like to get to some Bigger Ones this next Year and I hope to work Hard and make that Happen…Technical Canyoneering also has me getting out my Comfort Zone on all kinds of Levels and that’s always a Good Thing…I’ve Achieved some things that I never would have thought were Possible for me and that’s Huge…There is absolutely no Feeling like it and I Experienced it a lot this Year. And I’ve also made some Amazing New Friends along the Way and it’s been Awesome….
And now that I’ve put you all to Sleep, how about if I Share some Favorites with you??? LOL
Scenic Drives…Getting to and from a Destination or just going for a Drive. It’s Amazing at Times that I can get anywhere at any kind of Reasonable Time…I tend to Brake for Photographs… On my way home from Utah on a Stormy Day, the Late Afternoon Light and Shadows near Marble Canyon was just too Good to Ignore….
Camping….Images from a Trip that involved Camping and they don’t fit into any other Category, lol We got the Remnants of Tropical Storm Andres this Summer and it Rained for almost 36 Hours. And when it wasn’t Raining, the Mogollon Rim had some Amazing Cloud Action and Fog….I have 3 Images in these Favorites from this Trip…It was very Cool….
Hiking…Dayhiking….My Birthday Hike last January in the Superstitions…The Weather left something to be desired…With a “slight” Chance of Rain, it Rained for 3 Hours. I waited it out for awhile under a Ledge and almost made it to the Top before I realized that even if I made the Top on this Day, I wasn’t going to be able to see Anything, lol It was completely in a Cloud. I didn’t have Rain Pants and the Temperature had Dumped almost 20 Degrees. So, wet and getting pretty cold, I turned around and headed back down. Of course, about Halfway Down, the Weather broke for good and the Light became Amazing in there…I returned to this same Hike 3 Weeks later and finished what I had started…I’m not fond of Unfinished Business….
Backpacking….This Image also qualified for a couple of other Categories, but since it was from my only Backpack this Year, this was a No-Brainer. I spent a lot of Time in this Area this Year. This may have been the only Backpack, but there was also Technical and Non-Technical Canyoneering to be had here as well….One of my Favorite Areas in Arizona….
Non-Technical Canyoneering….Don’t need a Rope or Harness to do these Trips, but these are still Canyons and definitely worthy of my Time…This is a Favorite from Utah last March…A Sweet Slot Canyon that Sucks you in…
Technical Canyoneering….Just an Amazing Experience. Beauty and Adrenalin come together…This Image is Technically terrible, but it is still my Favorite Image in this Category this Year, simply because of what it was, what it meant and how it made me feel….This Trip to Ouray, CO was really my first REAL Experience with Class C Canyons and I jumped right in, lol Before I Rappelled this Fall, I had Experienced Waterboarding in a smaller Fall for the First Time… It was a Shock and left me with a Sense of Vulnerable Reality… It left me facing this Rappel with some Seriously Conflicting Emotions. By the Time I got down, got Off Rope, cleared the Bottom and stopped to look back at what I had just done, I think I had run through every Emotion that is Possible to Describe…. It left me Exhausted, Exhilarated and with an indescribable Sense of Accomplishment that I normally have only felt while Bagging Big Peaks….This Image brings that Moment back like nothing else could….And so, it is here…. That, and this Fall was just Beautiful….
Birding…. Toughest Photography that I do… And sometimes, the most Rewarding. This Image of a Scott’s Oriole was from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. One of the few Times I exercised extreme Patience to get Shots of these Birds that were coming and going from this Tree…The Best Opportunity I’ve ever had to Observe and get Decent Shots of Orioles. I spent over an Hour sitting near this Tree, waiting and getting a couple of Shots each Time they visited….My Patience was Rewarded….The Species, the Amazing Color and the fact that I actually got this really Sharp, makes this my Favorite Bird Image this Year….
Wildlife…. Wildlife Photography can be a Struggle in Arizona, although I’ve had some Moments here. But the Winner this Year comes from Colorado. I’ve seen Images of Pika, but have never seen one and I just thought they were Adorable. On my Hike in August, along with some Tips from a Friend, I finally figured out where to find them and I got to see them for the first Time. They weren’t just Adorable, they were Squeaking Adorable! The Audible just added to the Cuteness! And I got a Shot I can be Happy with…This was a No-Brainer for my Favorite this Year….
Landscapes…. The Big Picture…. This was another Image from the Mogollon Rim during Tropical Storm Andres in June… I Love the Layered Look. Couple that with the Clouds, the Colors, the Fog, all at Sunset, and this is an Instant Favorite….I took this Shot 20 Feet from my Campsite. Luckily, it had quit Raining for about 30 Minutes. Then it started right back up again for another 8 Hours….lol
Intimate Landscapes… Not the Big Picture, but not exactly Macro Either… A smaller, tighter Landscape, usually featuring a more Distinct Study of a Subject… What can you say about this one? I’m a Sucker for Reflections and my Wonderful Canyoneering Teammates were nice enough to not Disturb the Water until I was Done… The Mogollon Rock Features can be so Amazing in Colors and Textures….
Macro… For those pretty Small, but Significant Moments…. This Female Western Pondhawk decided that a fellow Photographer’s Pant Leg would make a Good Perch… Sometimes you could swear that they really are Smiling… Even though I would never Encourage it, it’s Touching to see such Trust and it makes this my Favorite Macro Image this Year….
Just Because Category… Sometimes, even though it may not be Completely Natural or Wild, it’s very Worthy of some Camera Time just for the Fun of it… During a Canyoneering Weekend, one of my Friends brought a Bottle of Don Julio and some Brand New Shot Glasses to Camp. I just couldn’t resist playing around with it. Considering that I do very little of this Type of Photography, I think it turned out pretty well…lol
Black and White… Sometimes it’s just Great in either Color or Black and White… Another from Tropical Storm Andres… That Trip became all about the Weather… Most of the Trees withstood the High Winds that accompanied this Storm… This one has seen it’s Share of Storms….
Spring… It’s usually about the Flowers isn’t it??? Maybe not my Best Technically, but I just Loved everything about this Image. The Colors, the Shapes and the Composition….
Summer… Summer means Green…. And Lush is always Good too! Who knew that Arizona was more than just Cactus??? From a Backpacking Trip in June….
Autumn…. Fall Foliage at it’s Best! This was a Toughie and I think that my Friends and what they liked the Most became the Tie Breaker! Having a Composition that included a Waterfall really puts this in my Favorites Column anyway! One of the few Times I actually had a long enough Exposure that I broke down and used a Tripod… It was worth it…lol
Weather… I had quite a few Images that fit into this Category, but probably my most Satisfying Image was actually an Accident…. I don’t have the Equipment to Shoot Lightning during the Day, but I managed to Capture some inadvertently anyway. Went out to Shoot a Stormy Sunset and came away with a Daytime Lightning Shot…. And it certainly didn’t hurt that it was at the Height of the Color during Sunset…. Accident or not, I’ll take it! Sometimes, it really is all about Luck….
Sunrise/Sunset… It seems fitting to end the Year with an End of the Day Shot….Just one Example of an Arizona Sunset… The Sky just lit up in Cherry Reds on this Night… I’m so glad I went out, even if it was just to the Local Urban Park…. Another Amazing Finale…
It’s been an Amazing Year… Time to start working on making 2016 even Better! Happy New Year to you all and a big Thank You from me for all of your Support, both in Photography and in my Adventures! Good Friends can be hard to come by, but I’ve been pretty Lucky the last few Years….