2017 was another memorable year for me photographically - in spite of the fact that I had to give up three planned shoots due to a move which wreaked havoc with my schedule. I'm looking at the 2018 calendar now and hoping to plug at least one of those locations back into the rotation.
Reviewing the images which were made over the last 12 months is an opportunity for me not only to revisit the places I've worked, but it's also a wonderful reminder of people I've met and/or traveled with along the way.
First up is Bryce Canyon National Park, where I spent a week in early February and was fortunate to arrive on the heels of a substantial snowfall. While this resulted in closures of some areas I'd hoped to photograph, since it was snow I was after, this was a fortuitous turn of events.
Below you'll see one of my favorite images from that trip. I was fortunate to have a lovely sky at daybreak; after making that photo, I continued to work in the same general area for as long as possible before the sun got too high in the sky. This was the last shot of the morning. I liked the way the rocks framed the tree; it's a different way of capturing the hoodoos, and the patch of snow adds emphasis to the tree and also provides context regarding the time of year. I had some reservations about making this picture (i.e. harsher light than I would have preferred) but liked the composition so much I forged ahead, utilizing HDR in order to properly expose both the rocks and snow.
I ventured back to the Colorado Plateau in March, where I visited both Petrified Forest National Park and the slot canyons near Page, Arizona. Lower Antelope Canyon was a spectacular - but challenging - place in which to work. One must deal with time constraints, significant contrast/exposure issues, and the necessity of shooting around a lot of visitors! Work fast, work smart.
Just a few weeks later, I chartered a plane and pilot in order to photograph the Teton peaks from the air as the sun set. While it was a beautiful early April day with temperatures in the 50s at the Jackson airport, the landscape was still in winter mode. This was perfect, since snow covered mountains were what I was after. However, we encountered quite a bit more cloud cover than had been forecast, particularly at the western horizon - which quashed my hopes of capturing alpenglow on the mountains as the sun went down. Still, the clouds made possible some interesting compositions.
Spring comes late to the Tetons, and is short-lived. However, I find it to be the loveliest time of year - both in the Park and on the western side in Idaho's Teton Valley.
Wildflowers dot Grand Teton National Park with color.
Meanwhile, over on the Idaho side, the landscape is lush and green, which contrasts beautifully with the peaks still covered with snow.
I was back in my home state (Illinois) in June, and made sure to set aside time to work at the Chicago Botanic Garden: one of my favorite spots.
Then it was back to the Tetons at the height of summer. One of the great things about that time of year is monsoonal moisture: when it works its way into the region, it can create spectacular skies over the mountains in the afternoon. On the day this photo was made, though the forecast called for a high probability of afternoon storms, initially it didn't appear Mother Nature was going to cooperate. I hung around the barn for a few hours.....waiting. Finally, some dark clouds began to build in the distance - but they weren't positioned properly to make a photo at this spot. I moved to a location a mile or so away where I was able to make an image incorporating those stormy skies over the Cathedral peaks. After spending 30-45 minutes there, I looked in the direction of the barn and saw that the clouds had shifted: it might now be possible to make an image there after all! Racing back, I was somewhat astonished to find not a single tourist in sight. Not only did I now have the incredible skies I'd hoped for, but I had one of the more popular places in the park to myself. For just a few minutes, some light peeked through an opening overhead and brightened a few of the snow-covered peaks.
I'm partial to Mount Moran, and am always looking for different ways to shoot it. On this late-July morning, it wasn't an unusual location (quite the opposite, since Oxbow Bend is very popular with photographers) but rather the conditions which gave me something interesting. Though most of the sky was clear, there was some nice cloud development over the Tetons as the day broke. Fortunately, they held together. I waited until the sun cleared the opposite horizon far enough to bathe the mountains in warm light - but before the trees came out of the shadows - to make the picture.
Autumn in the Tetons was unusual this year. The snow came early, while the color, such as it was, arrived late. High winds ended up knocking what little color we did have off the trees in quick order.
Not to worry! I was scheduled to be back in my beloved New England to photograph the "show." While the color there was also off (very late), the usually reliable areas in the White Mountains of New Hampshire were beautiful, as always.
Moving on to Acadia National Park, I fought challenging conditions the entire time (remnants of a hurricane followed by days of wind) but was able to create some images in spite of it. I made this one during a downpour with the help of my trusty umbrella, which shielded the fern and maple leaf from the heavy rain and therefore kept them from moving.
Back in Idaho, I was pleased to discover a location very near my new home which is loaded with potential. Since arriving in the Gem State, I've been searching for a place within a half hour drive (or less) at which I can work on a regular basis (i.e. as often as the conditions look as though they might be conducive to making a photo). I had such a location in New Hampshire - a large tidal pool on the Atlantic coast at Rye. I'd had no such luck near my first house in Idaho.....but struck paydirt shortly after moving a few months ago. I found a derelict, fire-scarred buck and rail fence in BLM acreage less than three miles away. (The fire-scarred part is a little disconcerting; three miles is a little too close for comfort when it comes to wildfire.)
I've been up there dozens of times already. At this time of year, it has possibilities both at sunrise and sunset - and of course when skies are stormy it could be viable any time of the day. I'm not sure whether it will work as well during the summer months when the sun moves much further to the north; we'll see. The sky can be the main focal point, or I can go in tight and focus on the character of the poles. Lots of creative options. I'm certain you'll see more from the "neglected fence!"
Earlier this month, I traveled to Québec City to add to my Christmas Project portfolio. This was a favorite destination when I lived in New Hampshire; though it's now not nearly as easy to get there, it was worth the effort. Dressed for the holiday, the old city is more charming than ever.
I'm anxious to get out in the field in 2018! Thanks for visiting the website; I appreciate your interest.
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.