It is always fun to look back over the year and realize all the places my camera has taken me and the memories of those journeys. Today I’m sharing with you my top 10 landscape images for 2012. They may not be the most popular, but for me took me places in my photographic journey that satisfied my soul to produce. This first image came from my first storm chasing journey. I captured this image on the eastern plains of Colorado about 45 minutes east of Denver near a town called Byers. I was trailing a storm heading east toward Kansas and noticed these incredible and eery looking Mammatus Clouds offset by the golden farm fields and the blacktop of Highway 36. I think everyone had headed inside to take cover from the tornado as I was able to setup my tripod in the middle of the highway to capture this image in the quiet stillness after this storm passed overhead.
Morning reflection was captured at Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness/Brainard Lake Recreation Area. It was at this spot that I realized how powerful a tilt-shit lens was and the amazing detail I was able to produce not only in the foreground but also in the distance using a small aperture. It’s definitely on my bucket list of lenses to purchase in the future. It’s a good thing that rental companies carry this type of lens so I can satisfy my fix until I have enough coin to purchase one on my own.
One of my favorite trips this year was down to the southwest Colorado for the fall colors. Night photography and long exposures was my first passion with a camera and what trip would be complete without some long exposure work. Ryan Wright, Chase Shipley and I went out to Ohio Pass and captured the golden aspens against the starry night sky. I was really excited with this image as we shot some long exposures while Chase drove his Escape on the dirt road below illuminated the golden color of these aspens. I have to thank Ryan for this great light painting idea!
During the same fall tour I did some scouting on my own and ventured down the Cimarron Road from Gunnison to Ridgway, Colorado. Sometimes just being out on your own and allowing me to take in all the wonderful fall scenery and explore back country roads. I found this scene down a dirt road which wasn’t posted and came upon this small pond with a growth of aspens surrounding it. Normally the mid day sun takes its tolls on images, but this day was slightly overcast and with a polarizer cutting the glare from the pond it made for a perfect fall reflection of aspen trees.
Ryan Wright and I have developed a nice partnership this year and finally broke ground in starting Colorado Photo Tours. I’m looking forward to the partnership with Ryan and being able to share the many wonderful locations in Colorado with other photographers. Hopefully we will see some of you in our tours this coming year.
I have been searching for the perfect stand of aspens during the fall and never seemed to find the right mix until this year. I think I always thought you had to stand right in front of the perfect set of aspens, but I’ve learned more and more that my 70-200 telephoto lens is a great landscape tool. I found this perfect mix along Owl Creek Pass and use the compression of the long lens to give this scene the look I was hoping for with a shallow depth of field.
I have found that December is a great time to visit the American Desert Southwest. Sunrises are later in the morning and sunsets happen earlier in the evening! The best thing about visiting this area is the tourist population is very low if not non-existant in my locations. Down near Page, Arizona in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area you will find Horseshoe Bend. It’s a highly visited landmark and even during this winter sunset, there was quite the crowd at the site. The one thing I’ve learned to love and use this year is large 4X6 filters. I highly recommend Singh-Ray Filters for their clarity and you won’t find color casts that you will in other less expensive filters. They are expensive, but worth the money.
Here is another landmark from my trip to the Desert Southwest and another crook in the river at Dead Horse Point outside of Moab, Utah. The sunrise shoot looking out over Canyonlands National Park created for some unique details. One of the things I’ve discovered while shooting landscapes in the desert southwest is there is an intricate amount of detail and textures and to properly create the visually appealing image the use of luminosity masks allow certain details to be exposed and transform the image. The image above and below I used luminosity masks to bring out some of the finer details of the image making an ordinary scene more vibrant. I still have a lot to learn and one of the things on my list this year is some more training in Photoshop to expand my post processing abilities.
What trip would be complete without some astrophotography at Arches National Park? This was the first time I have ever done any stacking. It’s not really hard, just got to get out a remote timer and let it run. The only issue was I didn’t have my timer so I sat there with my wireless remote and triggered 40+ images! It all worked out. Luckily the night was void of wind.
I’m adding a couple of images that haven’t made it to my blog yet this year. One of my favorite images this year didn’t come from my Canon 5D Mark II, it came from my iPhone. I upgraded to the iPhone 5 this year and find that 8mp can create some amazing images. Snapseed has been my favorite post processing tool in the iPhone and as you can see below it’s made for some amazing results. I actually have a Android based Samsung Galaxy SIII with an 8mp camera. I’ve compared the two and find that the image coming from the iPhone have much better image quality. This image below is of Monument Valley. I’m not sure if it was the hype of the place, but I just found it to be a pure tourist trap. Yes you see some amazing images from this area, but was just turned off right from having to pay the $10/per person entrance fee.
Finally a new one from Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona. I’ve always wanted to visit the slot canyons. It is during the summer months that you can that wonderful beam of sunlight in the canyons that you see in many images, but I found that even during the winter months there are many wonderful colors and images still to be had in the canyons. I’ll just say right now that it is worth it if you are a photographer to pay the extra money for a longer photographic tour of the canyon. The extra time really gives you a chance to take your time and capture the scenes properly instead of being rushed through with a normal tour. Here’s my first image from the Upper Antelope Canyon. I’ll publish a few more next year. I look forward to following up on some leads to some other canyons in the area for future trips.
There is a Best of 2012 Landscapes gallery in my online store and don’t forget there is a 30% sale going on right now.
Thanks for all the support this year. I couldn’t have done it with out you. I look forward to sharing my journeys with you next year.