This is a little late, January kind of got away from me, but I wanted to share a recap of my year. This was the first full year that I've really focused on improving my photography, before this point I was a very casual photographer often going months at a time without even picking up my camera. It was in the fall of 2016 that I realized how therapeutic it can be through the entire creative process, and it quickly grew from a casual hobby to something of a passion. I also have done more traveling this past year than I ever have before. I've been to 32 states (14 of which I'd never been to before) and spent 59 nights away. It's particularly been interesting since I quit my job last may to focus on myself and my own projects (both with photography and programming). So I thought I'd go through this past year month by month using my favorite photos from each month (when they were taken not necessarily when they were posted) as the subjects.
The photo for this month is at the top of this post. Kind of fitting because I think it's still my favorite photo of the year (or at least a close runner up). I'd wanted a photo like this for a while, a cool lake leading up to a snow capped mountain, and I finally saw it with the waning sunlight hitting the peak while driving through Olympic National Park in Washington State with my sister. We were in the Seattle area for a long weekend and made the most of the time there, but this was actually taken only a few hours after landing in Sea-Tac.
This month spent a few days up at my parent's cabin in Upstate New York, but was home for the most part. I love the island I live on, mountains and deserts are amazing but there's no comparison for an ocean sunset (or in this case a bay sunset - close enough). This was taken a few hours after a snowfall stopped in early February. The names I choose for the photos I share are usually either the name of the place or some combination of the way I was feeling when taking the photo along with how the photo makes me feel. For instance this one is called "Stuck" because it was at a point in my life when I was feeling kind of trapped, I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life but hadn't figured out what yet and didn't think I could quit my job to figure it all out (which is what I wanted to do). You can also kind of see it in the way the overcast sky traps the colors of the sunset at the horizon, yet the pinks and purples still manage to push past that barrier. It's also called this because I had accidentally driven my car off the parking lot pavement and into the sand (it was all covered in snow) and literally had to get my car unstuck after I took this photo.
This month I went to the Southwest for the first time with my father. It has since become my favorite part of the country. I've wanted to go to Horseshoe Bend for years, so it was a kind of surreal experience finally being there. I'm showing two photos from this month because they kind of go together. It was drizzling on and off on the walk to the edge of the canyon and for a few minutes a rainbow appeared. I was glad I had my camera out at the time because it was gone a moment after I took that shot. Then I was at the edge, where I found a good spot and waited there for nearly an hour while the light changed to make sure I wouldn't lose this key spot - It was a Saturday night and it does get pretty crowded there that time of day.
I realized when going through the photos for this post that I never posted anything I took in April. I had taken a few but nothing all that interesting and I was probably more involved with going through my photos from my southwest trip at the time. I had also given in my two weeks notice to my job in the middle of this month so I was focused on finalizing things there. I did spend another weekend up at my parent's cabin with some friends (I go there several times a year because it's a really convenient getaway).
I have two photos again because they were taken at the same place, and although my favorite is the first one the second one was much more popular on social media. I still like both but I think it's interesting when a photo I love isn't as well received as one I thought was good, but not as good. I was in Tennessee for my sister's graduation staying at this cabin. The first photo I planned the night before, rolled out of bed before sunrise, opened the window, and took the shot. Then I went back to bed. The next one I just wanted a cool glowing cabin night shot and the moon happened to be in the perfect spot to make a "moon-star" - I guess. My last day at my job was the day I left to come here, so it felt like the start of something new and that's kind of the feeling I had when taking these. The very end of this month was when I began my road trip around the country.
This month is difficult to choose my favorite or best photos for, most months are to some degree, but I spent so much time driving around the country and taking photos nearly every day. The first image here is from Yellowstone National Park, a multi-shot long exposure of the Yellowstone River that I took my first time seeing it. It ended up being one of my most popular photos on social media in 2017. The second image is of Mount Shasta in northern California. I was driving around this mountain for nearly an hour on my way to San Francisco and as the light was getting better I decided that I had to stop and find a composition for it. I'm really happy with how it turned out especially being it was unplanned and from the side of the road. The third image is from Tennessee towards the end of my trip. I didn't expect one of my favorite images from this trip to be from the same half of the country I live on, but it was. I love the smooth waterfall and reflections creating those leading lines, and it was just a nice picture to close out my trip (I think this was basically the last one I took).
I stayed home for most of the summer after I got back from my cross country trip. I drove for Uber for a while to make a little extra cash but wanted to focus most of my energy on photography and some programming ideas. This image was from the north shore of Long Island in the early part of the month. Just a simple golden sunset, kind of the way I'm feeling at this point.
I love this shot, it's of the Fire Island Lighthouse about 10 minutes from my home. Lighthouses to me have a powerful yet calming feeling to them, guarding the sea. I've shot this one several times, but this was the first time I planned out a trip there before sunrise to this particular beach. I like to incorporate little details in my images that you might not notice at first glance whenever I can. In this one you can see the moon directly above the lighthouse, it's very small here because I'm using a wide angle lens but it's presence adds a bit of depth to the image.
By September I was getting the urge to go somewhere, and that somewhere was once again my parent's cabin (on my way up to Maine). A few miles away on top of Mount Utsayantha I got this image. I've been to the top of that mountain several times but this was the first time at sunset. After a few days there I left for Maine, but that was technically in October.
Here I am in Maine, or rather here are 2 pictures I really like that I took in Maine. The first one was just outside Baxter State Park on my way back to a hotel. I was trying to get a shot of a full moon that was setting but by the time I found a good spot to pull over it was gone, and this was there. Even though I've seen a lot of similar images I didn't want that to stop me from trying one out myself. The next image is from Acadia National Park, this was one of my favorite parts of the park, Otter Point I think, that I had scouted out in the afternoon. The rock I'm standing on felt much more precarious when I came back around sunset to shoot this, but it was worth it.
So this is in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. I never really think to explore other parts of New York because I live here, but that can be a mistake. There are some really awesome things to see around in my home state. I spent a few nights again at my parent's cabin (for a total of 4 times this year) and then set off for a couple of days chasing waterfalls. I love this particular image because it feels so much different than most of the others I've taken and I think it really captures the mood of the place. It worked out pretty well because the path in this photo is closed at that time of year so I was forced to take the path overlooking it. If that hadn't happened I wouldn't have seen this.
The last month of the year and the only photo I posted that was actually taken in December. I came here specifically for a shot involving that concrete wall thingy but the scene had changed a lot from what I remembered. I was happy with the composition I ended up with, and the contrast between the snow and that red algae (at least I'm pretty sure that's algae) was really cool. I honestly almost didn't share it because the focus is slightly off from where I wanted it to be and I didn't realize that when I was there. I'm starting to learn to be okay with minor imperfections as long as it works as a whole.
It was a great year for me, in fact I can pretty easily say this was my best year yet. I've done a lot of things that I've wanted to for a very long time, and I've never felt better about the path my life is on now. Thank you all for the support, and have a great 2018!
I'm starting to sell prints of some of my images, currently 5 of them shown here are available on my website here. If there are others you are interested in please let me know.