In early December I visited Death Valley National Park. There are amazing photo opportunities in the desert. I especially enjoy the sand dunes.
This first photo was taken at Zabrinski Point. I used my zoom to focus on patterns in the landscape. Another photographer with a client walked up behind me. He saw what I was shooting and commented that it looked like a tooth.
This colorful scene was taken in another area of the park, along the Artist’s Palette drive.
The area of the desert that calls to me above others are the dunes. One of the days was overcast and gave way to rain showers. I was walking on the dunes this day in the late afternoon. As I walked across the undulating dunes, I imagined I was walking on a turbulent ocean, frozen in time. It almost made me sea-sick.
The photos below were taken the following day, as the sun rose, casting long shadows in the sand.
I found this clump of green (below) in a shadowy bowl between the crests of dunes.
One of the things I am learning to appreciate as a photographer is finding interesting photos close to home. When I stay local, I can explore places in depth and return to the comfort of my home. I would like to give a shout out to Alexander Kunz, who does this often, finding interesting scenes around San Diego. However, I also went on several road trips over the year to revisit places and explore some new ones.
Here are twelve of my favorite photos and memories of 2021.
These first two shots are from a place I hike often, though rarely at 5am. In early January I visited twice at sunrise. On both days, we had a layer of clouds with a break on the horizon which allowed the sun to light-up the underside of the clouds. On the first visit, I was shooting with a wide zoom lens. I decided to come back two days later with a mid-range zoom. What a great start to the year!
In March I saw a cold storm system was heading for San Diego with a forecast for snow in the local mountains. I went out each of the three days looking for photos. On the first day, I drove the Sunrise Highway in the Laguna Mountains while the storm blew through. I captured this scene of a bent Yucca with the snow blowing.
In May I took a three-week road trip to the Pacific Northwest. My first stop was Olympic National Park, where I spent five days as part of a photography workshop with Eric Bennett and TJ Thorne. What I loved about this workshop is that we camped in the rainforest and spent time finding our own compositions with help and feedback. One evening we went to an area of the forest beside the river. Even though the river was not visible, it created a break, letting the evening light filter into the forest.
Below is another photo from a different evening. I love how the trees in the forest often grow out of decaying logs and the new tree’s roots reach around the fallen giant.
My next stop were the Redwoods on the northern California Coast. Every day I went out hiking in the morning and evening. After a few days we started getting a mystical fog with rays of light penetrating the forest. The moment of the photo below was stunning and I knew so immediately.
One day we had a rainbow in the fog which we called a fogbow.
The redwoods of northern California are very close to Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor on the southern Oregon coast, so I ventured up there several times. I came to one particular location at sunset exploring and looking for better light each time. I wasn’t planning to stay past sunset even though I knew this was a great spot to shoot the Milky Way. However, on my third visit I ran into another photographer who convinced me to stay. We waited in the chilly darkness for the Milky Way to rise and get into the position. I was tempted to get up and go several times. In the end I stayed until 1:30 am and was happy I did.
I didn’t take many photos or travel much again until October when I went to Utah looking for fall color in the desert. Some of my favorite photos, however, were in the barren badlands.
On the way home from Utah I stopped for a few days in Zion National Park. I love the teardrop shape of the pool of water in this one.
I had one more trip in December of 2021 to Death Valley National Park. Here is my current favorite from this trip, taken as the sun rose over the sand dunes.
To see a complete Best of 2021 collection, click here.