Matt Payne Photography | My 16 favorite photographs from 2017

My 16 favorite photographs from 2017

December 31, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

2017 was a pretty amazing year

Despite all of the unsettling political events, I still consider 2017 to be a good year. I sold almost all of my Nikon gear except for the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 lens and switched to the Sony Mirrorless system by picking up the Sony A7RII, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8, Sony Zeiss 55 f/1.8, and the Sony FE 70-300. The reason I did this was because I really wanted to reduce my overall pack weight for backpacking adventures here in Southwest Colorado. It was well worth it, as I did several trips that were made a lot easier by the significantly reduced weight. I did several trips this year, including a rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, a three day overnight trip to Hunts Mesa in Arizona, a backpacking trip to Vestal Basin, a backpacking trip to Verde Lake, a backpacking trip and climb of Phoenix Peak, a backpacking trip on the Colorado trail, a backpacking trip to Sunlight Basin to climb Jagged Peak, a backpacking trip to Bisti Badlands, and a 5-day excursion to photograph fall colors here in Colorado. I was challenged to use smaller prime lenses, which forced me to focus more on composition. You can read more on my switch to Sony for backpacking and use my weight and cost calculation tool HERE.

I'm hopeful that 2018 will be just as eventful. I'm quite excited for my trip to Iceland in March and hope to get more backpacking trips under the belt as well. 

In order of the date they were taken, here are my sixteen favorite photographs from 2017:

1. Star trails over the Colorado River, from the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Nocturna Grand CanyonNocturna Grand CanyonDeep within the Grand Canyon, I found one of the most amazing locations to photograph the night sky. This particular photograph represents two hours of the Earth's rotation with a thousands of stars acting as the timekeeper. The tranquility and awe imbued into this view will forever be fused into my memory. There's no doubt in my mind that the Grand Canyon deserves a place as one of the greatest wonders on Earth.

Sony A7R II / Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 / f/2.8 / 14mm / ISO 3200 / 30s x 200+ exposures

2. The Milky Way over the Colorado River from the bottom of the Grand Canyon NyctophiliaNyctophilia"Nyctophilia" - Noun - a love or preference for night and darkness. After an adventurous day of rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, I hiked up a steep and uncharted ridge to view the night sky in its full glory.

Sony A7R II / Zeiss Loxia 21 f/2.8 / f/2.8 / 21mm / ISO 6400 / 20s

3. Monument Valley at sunrise from Hunts Mesa - Arizona

  Dawn at Monument ValleyDawn at Monument ValleyOur ancestors enjoyed this view of Monument Valley for generations. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to witness such a powerful scene atop Hunt's Mesa in Arizona.

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/14 / 168mm  / ISO 100 / 1/6s

4. Sunrise at Hunts Mesa w/ an amazing sunstar courtesy of the Loxia 21

Sunrise at Hunts MesaSunrise at Hunts MesaThe desert landscape of Monument Valley seen from Hunts Mesa is a marvelous one. My incredible friend Kane Englebert invited me on a two day trip to photograph Monument Valley from Hunts Mesa and it was a spiritual experience to say the least. The way that hte sun cast light upon the walls of the huge sandstone monoliths was incredible.

Sony A7R II / Zeiss Loxia 21 f/2.8 / f/11 / 21mm / ISO 100 / 1/25s

5. Milky Way panorama over Mexican Hat - Utah

Milky Way arching over Mexican HatMilky Way arching over Mexican HatMexican Hat is a huge rock formation in eastern Utah - when I saw it I knew it would make an amazing scene at night. I decided to photograph a large panorama from a hillside west of the rock formation at blue hour and then blend in the Milky Way from a couple of hours later from the same location. Hope you like it!

Sony A7R II / Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 / f/2.8 / 14mm / ISO 3200 / 30s

6. Columbine flowers at sunrise at Vestal Basin - Colorado

Vestal Basin DawnVestal Basin DawnMy journey up to upper Vestal Basin at 1 AM with minor altitude sickness in cold temperatures yielded a very memorable sunrise looking out across the Grenadiers. The Columbine were in bloom, making for an incredible display by Nature.

Sony A7R II / Zeiss Loxia 21 f/2.8 / f/13 / 21mm / ISO 100 / .5s

7. Milky Way over Vestal and Arrow - Colorado

in·fin·i·tes·i·malin·fin·i·tes·i·malWhen I realized that the Milky Way would line up directly above my two favorite Colorado mountains - Vestal Peak and Arrow Peak - at 2:30 AM, I set my alarm for 1:00 AM at my 12,200 foot campsite to climb to 13,000 feet to witness it. I have a much crazier version of this shot on my website that is a vertirama but it likely does not work on Flickr haha.

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA / f/2.2 / 55mm / ISO 10,000 / 10s

8. Sunset over the Grenadiers from near Verde Lake - Colorado

Grenadier MagicGrenadier MagicSunset blazes above Vestal and Arrow Peak as seen from deep within the Weminuche Wilderness Area atop a small but mighty 12,000 ft. peak north of the Grenadier Range. Hard to believe I have climbed both of these beasts when you see them from this vantage point!

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/11 / 103mm  / ISO 100 / 13s

9. Needle Mountains view from Knife Point - Colorado

Needle Range view from Knife PointNeedle Range view from Knife PointThe Needle Mountains of Southwest Colorado are some of the most impressive mountains in North America, without question. This view includes 14er Sunlight Peak, 13ers Pigeon, Turret, Animas, and Monitor looking down at No Name Basin.

Sony A7R II / Zeiss Loxia 21 f/2.8 / f/13 / 21mm / ISO 100 / 1/160s

10. Sunset explosion over the Cimarrons and Uncompahgre Peak - Colorado

Blazing above Owl CreekBlazing above Owl CreekSomtimes to get the photograph you really aspire to obtain, you have to do more than get out of the car. You have to do research. You have to look at weather reports. You have to hike. You have to scout. I did all of those things and got lucky enough for it all to come together at the last minute.

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/10 / 70mm (panorama) / ISO 100 / 2.5s

11. Mount Sneffels at sunset from Ouray County Road 7 - Colorado

Mount Sneffels at SunsetMount Sneffels at SunsetThe mighty 14er Mount Sneffels at sunset with fall colors below.

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/11 / 130mm / ISO 100 / 1/30s

12. Dueling seasons - from the middle of nowhere on CR265 between Paonia and Hotchkiss - Colorado

Dueling seasonsDueling seasons

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/13 / 113mm / ISO 100 / 1/4s

13. Beam of light at sunset from above Silver Jack Reservoir - Colorado

Beam of Light above Silver JackBeam of Light above Silver JackUpon arriving at a high perch above Silver Jack Reservoir near Ridgway, Colorado, I witnessed one of the most interesting light displays of my life - this narrow but intense beam of sunlight lit up the entire horizon below the clouds and terminated at Chimney Rock, all above a wonderful display of changing aspen trees. What an amazing sight to behold.

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA / f/11 / 55mm / ISO 100 / 1.3s

14. 5-hour star trail from Bisti Badlands - New Mexico

Bone PortalBone PortalI decided to head to Bisti Badlands with my friend Todd to execute my longest star trail to date. This photograph represents five hours and eighteen minutes of star movement across the heavens.

Sony A7R II / Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 / f/2.8 / 14mm / ISO 3200 / 30s x 500+ exposures

15. Supermoon rises above 13ers Pigeon and Turret - Colorado

Full moon over Pigeon and TurretFull moon over Pigeon and TurretI decided to look at Photopills to see where the “supermoon” was going to rise. I found that it would rise right between two of my favorite Colorado Peaks, 13ers Pigeon and Turret. Of course, PhotoPills did not let me down, but the clouds were in the way. I thought it was all a loss, but then the moon appeared in all it’s splendor!

Sony A7R II / Sony FE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 / f/9 / 188mm / ISO 400 / 1/4s

16. Sunrise over Durango from Smelter Mountain - Colorado

Sony A7R II / Contax/Yaschica Vario-Sonnar 35-70 f/3.4 / f/11 / 35mm / ISO 100 / 30s

That does it for 2017! I'm hopeful for another solid year of photography filled with new locations, adventures, and opportunities. Cheers, friends!


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