Favorites of 2016- Eight of My Favorite Landscape Photos from 2016
December 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment
The Journey | Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming | February 2016
Each year for the past several years I've posted a "Best of XYZ" featuring my favorite photos for the year. I realize photography is so subjective and what I might consider my "best" images may not appeal to everyone and I also have some kind of emotional attachment to certain images based on my experience at the time. So rather than "best of..." I'll just call these my favorite. Since it's the end of 2016 I'll do my eight favorite landscape photos followed later by my eight favorite wildlife photos. And since it's so subjective, I've just listed them by month. The image above, The Journey, was taken in February. We had probably missed the best light as the mountains and sky were painted in beautiful warm tones. We tried to find a foreground of interest and ironically, my favorite shot ended up being with the road running towards the mountains. One month later, I photographed Fox Trax along the Madison River just outside Yellowstone National Park. I'd seen tracks of many different animals in this area though never seen the animals that made them. But when I had one of the best sunrises of the year, I was thrilled to have these fox tracks as a foreground along the river's edge. Both images were taken handheld with a Canon 5D Mark III. The above image was taken with a Canon 24-105L lens at ISO 800 and f16 while the image below was taken with a Canon 17-40L lens at ISO 400 and also F16. In order to get the fox tracks prominent enough in the frame, I actually lay on my stomach in the snow to frame this image.
Fox Trax | Gallatin National Forest, Montana | March 2016
Also in March, on another winter trip to Grand Teton National Park, I was fortunate enough to photograph the scene below. A low layer of clouds prevented the beautiful clouds over the mountains from displaying the beautiful colors I hope for but once the sun was high enough, it painted the mountains, which I think was even better. The second chance to photograph the scene led to the title of the image. Again I used a Canon 24-105L lens but shot at 55mm, using an ISO of 400. I started out on a tripod but as the light changed quickly, I went handheld to move more quickly and work several compositions.
Second Chance | Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming | March 2016
As the year went on, photo opportunities slowed but Badlands National Park in South Dakota presented so many great photo moments that it warranted two trips, one in April and the other in June. I expected more flowers in June but didn't find a lot though loved the way this scene looked and spent some time trying different compositions to come up with one I liked that also conveyed the moment. Once again shot with my handy landscape set up of the Canon 5D Mark III and 24-105L lens, I was not using a tripod here either. As in Fox Trax above, I need to get down on my belly to make this image work so used a beanbag support to balance the camera.
Desolation and Beauty | Badlands National Park, South Dakota | June 2016
Yellowstone didn't present a lot of photo opportunities for me this year. I hope for some beautiful wildflower displays but they didn't materialize, except on Mount Washburn. As the flowers failed to come in down low, one morning I decided to drive over Dunraven Pass and see how the flowers were on the slopes of Mount Washburn. I wasn't disappointed and was especially happy to find the lupine and geranium providing additional color alongside the usual yellow. Camera setup was the same as in the previous photos and I again shot handheld. When I have enough light and a fast enough shutter speed, or don't need a slow shutter speed such as around water, then I'll shoot landscape handheld so I can explore compositions quickly and react to changing conditions.
Mountain Gardens | Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | July 2016
My wife and I made our almost annual trip to Glacier National Park at the end of July/early August. We spent a lot of time hiking and why not when most of the best scenery is away from the roads. This is one of those images that has a strong emotional impact for me as the photographer since my wife is the hiker and it was a great day together. Of course, the incredible scenery doesn't hurt either.
Hiking Glacier | Glacier National Park, Montana | August 2016
I love to photograph sunrise or sunset with the sun to my back, when conditions allow because it usually allows some light into the foreground while retaining the color and detail in the sky. It's not too common that the color extends from horizon to horizon but when it does, it's opens up more possibilities at sunrise or sunset. Looking to the west, at sunset the canyon and falls would be in deep shadow making it difficult to get into detail in the lower half of the frame and would require two exposures blended together. But this is a single image thanks to great morning lighting. This was handheld at ISO 500 and f11 at 47mm. It was recently ordered as a 16x24 metal print and looked stunning! There's not much that replicate the experience of standing on the edge of a canyon with thousand foot drops all around and the only sound is of the crashing water and birds singing.
Below a Red Sky | Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | October 2016
And finally, if you read what I wrote about this photo back in November then you're probably not surprised to see it end up here. I was actually torn between this one and another of the Na Pali coast taken from a helicopter but this was a more intense experience. I had seen photos taken from this overlook prior to our trip to Kauai and knew I wanted to photograph from here. But no photograph could prepare me for the view I'd see as I stood at the cliff edge 4,000 feet above the ocean below. With the clouds blowing off the nearby peaks, the light was constantly changing and I didn't stop taking photos for an hour, each one different, until finally the light was gone. I don't think any photo can capture the grandeur of this scene. I did use a tripod for this photo and shot at 1/15 at f16 and ISO 400. The image was recorded at 24mm. Thanks for reading and be sure to watch for my eight favorite wildlife photos of 2016 coming next week!
Kalalau | Kauai, Hawaii | November 2016
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