“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” ~ Ansel Adams
It is that time of the year again for me to share with you my 2016 Top Twelve Photographs of the Year. This is the 4th edition of this tradition that began in 2013, that was inspired by Ansel Adam’s quote shown above. Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984), is one of the most recognizable names in American landscape photography. His black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park, have been widely reproduced on calendars, posters, books and prints. He is revered by landscape photographers all over the world, and to this day continues to have and operate The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park http://anseladams.com/
When you shoot a few thousand images, as I do on an annual basis, it is difficult to cull it all down to ‘twelve significant photographs’ so, as in previous years, I determine my Top Twelve, and the order of the selections, by looking back at my Facebook page and noting how many ‘Likes’ I received when they were originally posted on my wall. I am fully aware that this is far from scientific and could be argued that it is downright arbitrary, but that is the method I have used and arbitrarily choose to continue to do that again this year:)
I was fortunate to have traveled and created opportunities to shoot in a wide variety of places in 2016. From my favorite venues such as Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, Bodie Historical State Park, and the Central Coast in California, this year I was also able to shoot for the first time along the Pacific North West Coastline in Oregon. There were a number of other memorable firsts for me this year ~ The Grand Teton’s National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and last but not least and a highlight of the year was a visit to the Patagonia regions of Argentina and Chile. It was also my first visit to the Continent of South America, and adds to my list of Continents that I have already visited – Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and North America. That makes it 6 of the generally recognized 7 Continents, with the outstanding 7th now being Antartica. I wish I could tell you that I have in an interest in making it to all 7, but I have no interest as of this writing to do so since cold weather to this day chills me to the bone!
So again this year I will count them down starting with Number 12, give you the Facebook vote count, say something about each image, and provide some basic EXIF data.
#12 (112) ‘In the Footsteps’ ~ Some fall colors in the foreground and the Grand Tetons basked in afternoon light, shot from the Snake River Landing parking lot in the Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming. This was the location that Ansel Adams shot one of his iconic black and white images, perhaps one of his most famous, entitled The Tetons and the Snake River, in 1942. Back then the Snake River bend created a beautiful leading line into the Tetons, where as now those trees have grown upwards a great deal and the shot is quite different, but still beautiful, especially with the fall colors. Adams was passionate about the natural landscape in which he spent much of his childhood, and would use his art to convince, or remind, others of it’s beauty. Still a worthwhile pursuit for any photographer even today!
Sep. 17, 2016, Snake River Landing, Grand Tetons National Park, WY; exp. 1/125 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 60 mm; ISO 100
#11 (115) ‘Light My Fire’ ~ This is what is commonly known as the ‘Horsetail Falls phenomenon’. What you see in the image below is Horsetail Falls light up by the setting suns’ light shining on the water that flows down this particular location for a few weeks in February in Yosemite National Park. It is one of nature’s most wondrous sites to watch how this phenomenon gradually develops high on top of the eastern side of El Capitan, where I am certain thousands of people drive by and do not even know that this waterfall exists! For this amazing site to occur, water needs to be present in the falls, the sunset needs to unobstructed by clouds in the western sky, which then lights up the falls and its spray to look like it’s on fire within the last few minutes of the setting sun. I have had the good fortune of being here three times over the last many years to view and photograph it, and this last time was simply the best!
Feb. 16, 2016, Yosemite National Park, CA; exp. 0.5 sec @ f/11; 70-200 mm lens+1.4x at 257 mm; ISO 100
#10 (116) ‘Lady in Red’ ~ Alpenglow at sunset reflected in the Merced River, at Valley View, or also know as Gates of the Valley, Yosemite National Park, California. El Capitan (Spanish for The Captain) is located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end, the granite monolith extends about 3,000 feet (900 m) from base to summit along its tallest face and is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers and BASE jumpers. Along with most of the other rock formations of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan was carved by glacial action. This is one of my favorite locations to shoot at sunset when the skies are completely devoid of clouds, and the alpenglow can be counted upon to give a photographer this beautiful reflection photographic opportunity!
Nov. 14, 2016, Valley View, Yosemite National Park, CA; exp. 2.5 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 28 mm; ISO 100
#9 (120) ‘Tranquil Solitude’ ~ I have shot this lone oak tree from this particular location, a ten minute drive from my home, so often that it has now unofficially been named My Oak Tree! Over the years I have been fortunate to shoot many an image here, always blessed with amazing skies that light up at sunset. This particular image shows a typical winter’s evening in Northern California, a place I have called home now for almost 14 years, when the hills begin to turn green again, a chill is in the air, and we are blessed with these beautiful skies. I love this spot because it allows me to be creative between photo shoots to exotic, far away locations, and enjoy this pastoral scene a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of city life. I also don’t take if for granted that one day this location will become a massive construction site for the continuous urban sprawl that we have become accustomed to and put it down as ‘the progress of man’!
Dec. 4, 2016, El Dorado Hills, CA; exp. 3.2 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 40 mm; ISO 100
#8 (122) ‘Homeward Bound’ ~ “The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.” – Douglas Adams. It had been a desire of mine for several years to capture the Milky Way arch, and I finally did so at South Tufa, Mono Lake, June 2, 2016! For a technical point of view, this is 7 different images taken with my camera on a tripod, beginning at the left side of the Milky Way and then rotating the camera and shooting another image several times. I then ‘merge’ the resultant 7 images in a function of Adobe Photoshop, creating a final image that looks like the one below. Some fun facts about The Milky Way – the Galaxy measures some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter, it is home to planet Earth, the birthplace of our humanity. Our Solar System resides roughly 27,000 light-years away from the Galactic Center (far right). The Milky Way has between 100-400 billion stars; but when you look up into the night sky, the most you can see from any one point on the globe is about 2,500, which on a new moon night and the accompanying dark skies, and a mere mortal like me looks up at the sky, I would swear that I was looking at all 400 billion stars in the galaxy! It is overwhelming, humbling and I strongly recommend that you experience this at least once in your lifetime!
June 2, 2016, Mono Lake, CA; exp. 3o sec @ f/2.8; 16-35 mm lens at 19 mm; ISO 6,400
#7 (138) ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond ~ Closed out 2016 with this image, shot during a couple of days that I spent with my son in the Big Sur area mid-December. This is Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California, and the phenomenon that occurs annually during the time of the Winter Solstice. The best light for this happens mid-December to mid-January, when the setting sun shines through the Keyhole, provided there is a cloudless sky on the western horizon at sunset. I always find this to be such a fun shoot. You must arrive early as the parking lot at Pfeiffer Beach, privately managed, is small and fills up quickly. The beach is crowded with lots of families and photographers. It is not difficult to get a spot to shoot from as most photographers move around as the setting sun moves around and gives you different looks as it pours in through the Keyhole. I leave you with this thought for the New Year ~ ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’ ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dec. 19, 2016, Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, CA; exp. 1/6 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 60 mm; ISO 100
#6 (144) ‘Mountain Light’ ~ One of my favorite images from the Patagonia trip, shot at sunrise on a cloudy morning, with the magnificent, and distinctive three granite peaks of the Paine mountain range or Paine Massif. The Torre del Paine National Park, encompasses numerous mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. In the foreground are the omnipresent dead, silver colored trees, still standing from accidental fires that ravaged the park at various times going back to 1985. To me this was one of the highlights of our Patagonia photo shoot, as the scenery and the views of this magnificent mountain range on this particular morning was simply spectacular. The early morning light was special and the hundreds upon hundreds of dead, silver colored, gnarly trees added a great deal to the setting, providing ample foreground material to make any composition interesting.
Oct. 31, 2016, Torre del Paine National Park, Chile; exp. 1/8 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 28 mm; ISO 160
#5 (150) ‘Touching’ ~ I set off to capture the supermoon at Yosemite National Park, set to rise on November 14, 2016. The moon’s orbit around Earth is slightly elliptical so sometimes it is closer and sometimes it’s farther away. When the moon is full as it makes its closest pass to Earth it is known as a supermoon. At perigee — the point at which the moon is closest to Earth — the moon can be as much as 14 percent closer to Earth than at apogee, when the moon is farthest from our planet. The full moon appears that much larger in diameter and because it is larger shines 30 percent more moonlight onto the Earth. Due to some miscalculations that I made as to the time and precise location of the moonrise, I was unable to capture that particular event much to my disappointment. However, the next morning, quite frankly by accident more than precise planning, I was got to photograph the setting full moon. I was able to get into a position where I had the moon setting upon these burnt pine trees, which was an interesting juxtaposition of the moon sitting on top of the charred remains of the tree trunks. It was a beautiful sight to see, one that will not be visible again this close to Earth until November 25, 2034. Fairly good chance most of us will be long gone by then:)
Nov. 15, 2016, Yosemite National Park, CA; exp. 1/400 sec @ f/11; 400 mm lens+2x at 800 mm; ISO 200
#4 (182) ‘Stuck in the Middle’ ~ The waterfalls, streams and rivers in and around Yosemite Valley typically have an abundance of water flowing in spring time, a result of the winter’s snow beginning to melt and the run off begins. It is a wonderful time of the year to visit Yosemite. This is an image that I shot, precariously hanging off the edge of the bridge over Cascade Creek in early March. The lone tree growing, seemingly out the middle of these two rocks caught my eye, and I wanted to capture the chaos of the raging waters around the stillness of the rocks, with the lone, bare tree stuck n the middle. I tried a number of camera setting and settled for this one, trying to freeze the movement of the water and show a sense of the turbulence and power of the rushing water juxtaposed against the stillness that these two rocks provide with the lone tree growing in the middle of this natures chaos.
Mar. 8, 2016, Cascade Creek, Yosemite NP, CA; exp. 0.3 sec @ f/11; 70-200 mm lens at 91 mm; ISO 100
#3 (258) ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ ~ This is one of my favorite locations to visit, just hangout, and photograph in Yosemite National Park. It has many names – River Bend, Housekeeping Bend, as well as Camp 4. It provides a wonderful view of the magnificent Half Dome, with many different faces, colors and features dictated by what happens in the various seasons in Yosemite. This was shot February 18, a day after a snow storm swept thorough the area, when I was in the Valley intent on shooting the Horsetail Falls phenomenon that can occurs about this time every year. The title of this image derives from what I feel every time I stand at this location in Yosemite National Park, with the Merced River in the foreground and the magnificent Half Dome in the background. I have many a fond memory of this location in just about every season, and always look forward to visiting it every time I am fortunate to be in the Park.
Feb. 18, 2016, Yosemite NP, CA; exp. 2 sec @ f/2; 16-35 mm lens at 17 mm; ISO 50
#2 (261) ‘Perfectly Still’ ~ This is one of my favorite images from my trip to Patagonia in the latter part of the year. I had never been anywhere before in South America, but always wanted to visit the Patagonia region, that encompasses parts of Argentina, as well as Chile. This was shot in Torre del Paine, Chile, with the Cuernos del Paine and Almirante Nieto mounts reflected in Lake Pehoé at sunset. Patagonia is famous for its prevailing winds, so strong that a gust can knock you down to the ground and often. That is not conducive to reflections, to say the least. So two quotes come to mind about this image – ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ ~ Albert Einstein, and ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ ~ Ansel Adams. It took an unusual effort for me to make this image, but I also had a lot of fun doing so!
Oct. 29, 2016, Torre del Paine, Chile; exp. 2.0 sec @ f/11; 24-105 mm lens at 40 mm; ISO 50
#1 (323) ‘Both Sides, Now’ ~ The early spring months in Yosemite National Park are a great time to photograph reflections in the Valley. It is a time before the snow that accumulates during the winter months begins to melt and eventually begins rushing down the various waterfalls that end up in the Merced River. This image was captured the day after a small snow storm passed through Yosemite, creating these beautiful clouds around the dawn wall of this iconic land marks in the Valley. I shot this from one of my favorite locations to view the magnificent El Capitan, and its reflection in a very still Merced River (with the aid of a polarizer). I dedicated this to one of my all time favorite singer songwriters, Joni Mitchell, who is recovering from a brain aneurism suffered early last year. Get well Joni, your songs are very much a soundtrack of my youth, wishing you a full and speedy recovery!
Feb. 18, 2016, Yosemite NP, CA; exp. 1.3 sec @ f/22; 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm; ISO 50
And there you have it, my fourth annual Top 12 Photographs for the 2016 year. Also, a continuing tradition, a few observations in closing – 1. Six of the Top Twelve images voted on in 2016 were shot in Yosemite National Park (a first), my own Granite Cathedral, where I go to converse with God:), 2. nine of the twelve were shot in California, (another first), 3. two were from Patagonia, Chile, 4. the remaining one of the twelve was shot in Wyoming, and 5. five of the images were vertical compositions (another first). It is interesting for me to compile these images every year and be reminded of the wonderful accomplishment I was privileged to be allowed to complete by traveling to these beautiful locations, as well as what excellent tastes that the followers of my Facebook page have, and how much these people help in my selection process at the end of each year. So a big thank you to all these people for taking the time to do so – greatly appreciated!
In conclusion, and as always, I owe a great deal of gratitude to the many people who support my photography by purchasing my images in print form, as well as the hundreds of Likes and Comments that so many people take the time to stop by and leave on my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/
Looking forward to 2017 and wishing everybody a Wonderful New Year!