There’s a tradition of going over favorite photographs at the end of the year. Somehow people narrow it down to 10. I’m still choosing from a set of 14. Here my favorites from 2017, 1-5 are pretty much in order. After that they’re something of a tie.
Photo #1 is from the first day of the big storms that battered us here in the Santa Cruz Mountains last winter. There was a break in the rain and wind. I’m able to see across the valley from a vantage point steps from my home. I rushed for my camera and tripod as this low rain cloud passed through the trees.
Photo #2, Wispy Clouds Over El Capitan. It really shouldn’t be any surprise that most of my favorites are from Yosemite. This was from a trip in April. Part of the trip was scouting for spring flowers (I mostly struck out). But then there was this moment of opportunity along the Merced River.
Photo #3, Sunrise at Walton Lighthouse, Santa Cruz, California. I don’t know if there’s a lot of story behind this one. The clouds looked like they were going to provide interesting color, the sun was going to line up at an interesting angle, and some gunk got in my lens providing some interesting lens flares. OK the gunk has been there for a while.
Photo #4, Trees, moon, and Half Dome at sunset from Olmsted Point, Yosemite. Two of my favorites from this year were shot from within a few yards of this spot.
Photo #5, The Milky Way Sets Over Olmsted Point and Half Dome as the International Space Station Passes Overhead. Ok, I think that’s the International Space Station. It could have been any satellite really. At first I thought it was a passing meteor but then I realized it appeared in several frames. That’s too long for a meteor. The resulting image is a composite of several frames shot to provide more moments with the ISS. Yes, this is shot just a few yards away from Photo #4 above.
Photo #6, Super Moon over Santa Cruz. I gathered some friends for the moonrise. It’s amazing how several people will get different compositions from essentially the same scene! A big lesson was learned with this photo — watermark everything. This photo went viral and it showed up on every California tourism site with thousands of reshares etc. Dopey me, the way I published it on Instagram didn’t include my watermark. Thankfully the nice folks at @vististantacruz cited me by name.
Photo #7, Valley View, Yosemite. A lot of my photos involve being cold and maybe wet. This was one of those times and 100% worth it.
The rest of the photos are in there but the order is less important…
Photo #9, That 395 Shack and Alpenglow. This is an often photographed scene along Hwy 395 south of Mono Lake. Debbie and I waited for sunrise in some pretty intense cold (I mentioned that a lot of my stories involve being really cold right?). As the sun rose the Sierras lit up.
Photo #10, Redwoods and Pescadero Creek, Portola Redwoods State Park, California. I’m surrounded by redwoods daily. This scene was special to me because it was at the end of a backpacking trip through the Santa Cruz Mountains. We went from Castle Rock State Park to Portola Redwoods SP and passed through Saratoga Gap. I brought minimal photography gear, but I did bring a tiny tripod.
Photo #11, Milky Way Over Tanaya Lake, Yosemite. For just a moment the lake was still and the stars reflected like a mirror.
Photo #12, Tree, Snow and Mist. Yosemite. This could easily fall into the “brave little tree” variety of photos, but I like it. Shot from Tunnel View on a cold and snowy day.
Photo #13, Merced River, Half Dome, Sunset. Yosemite. This was a pleasant surprise. Debbie and I were trying to make it to Mirror Lake and our plans went sideways — as they often do. When it was obvious that we weren’t going to make it we setup along the Merced and hoped. The rest played out beautifully.
Photo #14, Jack O’Neill Paddle Out, Santa Cruz, California. This is more an emotional attachment and a moment than anything else. This was the guy who invented the surfing wetsuit and changed everything in the process. I’ve been to a few paddle outs but I have never seen one this big. The Coast Guard flew low over the surfers. It was a combination of memorial and party.