Monday, January 3, 2011

Best of 2010

View from the Steese Highway
(Click any photo to view on Flickr)

So everybody's doing these 'best photos I took this year' posts, I might as well do one too. Here are what I think are the best photos I took in each month of 2010.

January - saw a bit of snow cover on Mt Magazine for a week or so. Walking down the trails on the west end, I popped out of the fog at a viewpoint to see that the top of the mountain was above cloud level, and the river valley was replaced by a sea of white puffiness.

Mt Magazine

February - I got a narrowband filter for minimizing light pollution and played with a little astrophotography. This shot of the Orion, Horsehead, and Flame nebulae was the result of an hour of taking 3 minute exposures from the abandoned charcoal plant west of Paris. If you get creeped out by hanging around by yourself in dark, empty places, astrophotography is not the hobby for you.

Orion, Horsehead and Flame Nebulae

March - field trip to the Houston NASA center, and the hotel we stayed in was right down the beach from the Kemah Boardwalk, a little amusement-park spot out on a pier. This HDR shot was taken from a dock about half a mile away as some late afternoon clouds passed over.

Kemah Boardwalk

April - another HDR shot, I saw this band of cloud over Short Mountain, with the Sun's backlight making the edges glow. 'Don't shoot into the Sun' is one of those 'rules' of photography that I usually have good results when I break it.

Short Mountain

May - I went waterfall crazy. Lots of tramping around in the woods on rocks and soggy ground, lots of good waterfall shoots to choose from. I like this low angle of Eden Falls, near Ponca, better than the more typical, obvious shot.

Eden Falls

June - dawn at Fort Smith National Historic Park with a nice white canvas wagon to reflect the soft light. The cannons were nice in the light too, save the bird crap.

Fort Smith

July - I got some great macro shots of dragonflies in a swampy area, but this takes the cake for sheer technical difficulty. Specialized equipment (camera attachment to telescope and solar filter) and precise planning (the event was only visible from a small stretch of highway near New Blaine, and was over in less than 1/4 second) combined to get this shot of the International Space Station transiting the Sun.

International Space Station and the Sun

August - moving to Alaska! The entire drive up was pretty incredible, as was as a late-month trip up the Steese Highway through the White Mountains north of Fairbanks (see top of this post). But this visit to turquoise-colored Bow Lake (on the Icefields Parkway in Canada), with the falls in the back fed by Bow Glacier, and the crescent Moon hanging above, stands out as one of the more spectacular moments of the year.

Bow Lake, Bow Glacier (and falls), Crescent Moon

September - saw my first aurora. This was taken over a wash of the Chena River, where I could get a mirror reflection from the water. A satellite flare just happened to pass through the field, leaving the streak in the middle.

Aurora and Iridium Flash

October - a late night trek up Murphy Dome with some friends yielded a few minutes of clear skies and aurora shining through the full moonlight. These arcs of aurora seem to be rising from this tree like a ghostly fire, with the Big Dipper shining through from behind.


November - a drive south on the Richardson Highway through the Alaska Range to the small town of Paxson. The setting sun (in early afternoon!) put a subtle glow on the top of this mountain, highlighted by the fact that the rest of the scene is mostly colorless. This is the best thing about shooting in snow, the soft colors that get drowned out other times of the year.

Alaska Range

December - standing in the treeline on the edge of the frozen Salcha River, at 20ºF below zero, watching a Timber Wolf feed on a carcass buried in the snow. Everything is so quiet and still in winter that it could hear my camera shutter click each time I took a shot, and looked over in my direction.

Wolf Encounter

Now let's see what 2011 turns up.