It has become an incredibly fun yet challenging tradition to look back on my photography for the year to identify what I think are my best or favorite photographs of the year. This year will be especially difficult since I was probably more prolific this year than any year of my lifetime as a photographer. It was an amazing year, to say the least! I kicked things off in January with an incredible trip to Death Valley National Park with my friend Kane Engelbert and ended it with a trip to Antarctica in December. I am quite fortunate to have been able to photograph as abundantly as I have this year. I suppose it makes some sense to do this in chronological order, so here goes!
First up is one of my favorite images I captured in Death Valley. It was captured in mid-day sun in incredibly windy conditions. I just loved the flow implied by the blowing sands and the color contrast between the dunes and the mountains beyond.
Hopefully Chris Murray will forgive me for including yet another dune image here, but man, there's something magical about spending time in the dunes. I can appreciate his point in the above linked article in OnLandscape about it being an over-photographed subject, but I don't really care. I think they offer a patient and mindful photographer an incredible amount of flexibility and creative freedom for expression and to execute lots of ideas. This photo was actually captured the same day as the first one from just 100 yards or so away, albeit at blue hour. P.S. there will be more dune photos below!
I'd like to include about 3 more images from Death Valley, but I think one more is quite enough. The above image was taken on my very first day in the Park on a very long hike into a remote section. I was pretty stoked to find this little scene as I felt the color contrast was so evocative! Death Valley is now a place I would love to revisit on a perennial basis! If you'd like to see more of my work from my one and only trip to Death Valley, you can find them here.
Even though I live just 2 and a half hours from Canyonlands National Park, I have yet to scratch the surface of that place. I'm so glad my friend Kane invites me to go on trips to the southwest with him, where we explore new angles and perspectives of some incredible scenery.
Next on my list would be a couple of photographs I was able to capture on my very first visit to White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Over the course of just three days, I was able to capture some of my best work of the decade. The above photo was just an incredible scene to witness and actually was in the top 10 in scoring in the International Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. What makes White Sands so incredible is the fact that all of the sand is white gypsum, which reflects light like no other. Really quite spectacular to see it happen in real life.
Another image from White Sands has to be on this list of my best photos of 2022. This one was taken on my very first evening in the Park, where I joined my good friend Wayne Suggs for beers and burritos! I have not seen many displays of sunset light that are finer than what we were able to witness on that incredible evening.
Sorry for all the dunes, but this black and white rendition from White Sands had to make it on the list as well. I don't capture a lot in Black and White, but when I do, I really enjoy the process. I hope you appreciate this one too. While I think I could probably include at least two other photographs from White Sands on this list, it might feel a bit repetitive, so I'll leave you with these three; however, if you want to see my whole body of work from that magical Easter weekend, you can check it out here.
Just a month after visit White Sands, I took a 12-day trip to Utah to photograph a variety of locations and subjects. While I felt like this particular trip didn't quite yield all of the photographs I'd hope it would, it was still a huge success and a ton of fun!
On my trip to Utah I spent some time in an incredible desert canyon full of cottonwoods, flowing water, and massive sandstone cliffs. I really enjoyed my time down there and can't wait to revisit.
I also spent quite a lot of time in the Hanksville area of Utah exploring canyons, lookouts, and awesome bentonite formations and had a really great time photographing them all from both the ground and the air.
Utah has quickly become one of my favorite places to make photographs due to the large diversity of subjects that can be found there. From mountains to deserts to huge canyons, it has something for everyone!
Perhaps one of my favorite evenings from this trip to Utah was exploring this far-fetched location near Escalante, where I found cottonwood trees growing from huge sandstone potholes. It was really peaceful and quite enjoyable to just wander these rocks, looking for interesting photographs.
I was also able to spent quite a lot of time exploring some slot canyons in Utah which I found to be exhilarating and exciting. I made a lot of fun images there, but the one below is perhaps my favorite.
If you'd like to check out my full gallery from that trip to Utah, you can find it here.
Speaking of Utah, I also spent an incredible weekend this summer photographing some rare conditions of some amazing desert canyons and badlands with my great friend Kane Engelbert. We experienced multiple rainbows, an intense thunderstorm, and a trip up to Cedar Mesa that was cut short by mud that I'll never forget. After we turned around on a sketchy muddy dirt road, we got out of our trucks to evaluate the situation. The whole mesa had been drenched earlier in the day by a deluge of storms, and the air was filled by the smell of sage - a quite intense and unforgettable evening!
Capturing this double rainbow was an incredible way to kick off this trip and was one of the most exciting images I've made in a long time. It was only to be topped by the very next evening when we were treated with another rainbow while exploring some aerial scenes not too far from here.
I know what you might be thinking at this point. You're a Colorado landscape photographer - where the heck are all of the Colorado photos!? I'm getting there, I promise. On Labor Day I decided to go on a solo adventure after a rough bout with COVID-19. I had to take it easy but found my legs and lungs were at almost 100%, so it was not too hard to climb a few peaks and capture some fun photographs in the process. Perhaps my favorite from that trip of mountain climbing was this black and white image of a storm.
Six days later, I embarked on a 32-mile backpack with my friend Mason Cummings to a location deep in the Weminuche Wilderness Area that neither of us had ever been to or seen photographs from before. Our goal was to photograph some of our favorite mountains in the San Juan Mountains from vantage points never before seen. While we did not have the most spectacular weather conditions, we were able to climb an obscure 13,000 ft. peak and make some images from there that I was quite happy with, including the one below.
Then, 20 days later, I embarked on a 10-day journey to photograph fall colors in Colorado, my favorite time of the year, and something I have been doing every single year since 2016. This year's journey was perhaps my favorite of all time as I explored a lot of new territory creatively but also some very new locations that I've always wanted to visit. I also experienced some of the most incredible conditions at my favorite Colorado fall color location in the San Juans with my best photography friends, a moment I won't ever forget. Choosing some favorites from this trip is not something that I find to be easy because I created a massive body of work in that 10-day span; however, here's where I landed!
I've been photographing The Castles for a long time and I'm not sure I will ever top this photograph from here. The conditions were incredible rare, with low fog, incredible fall color, and snow-topped peaks. It really is not possible to beat this from this location.
As a Colorado 14er fanatic, I have always wanted to photograph this vantage of Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn Peaks, and there's probably no better way to do it than with storm clouds and dappled light on the glowing aspen trees. Yes please!
This image was a total surprise. I had no plans for a location this particular evening and just started hiking up a random closed forest service road to see what I could find. Much to my surprise, the road opened up after a steep ascent and presented with me with two incredible views and image opportunities. The first one is the image above, which showcased some of the most incredible gap light I've ever witnessed. The second was a massive 400mm telephoto panorama scene just left of this one featuring a sprawling forest as far as the eye can see all topped with the La Plata Mountains basked in glorious sunset light. Are you kidding me?
One of the best aspects of this trip was that I did a ton of experimentation and slow photography, a style of image making that I highly recommend for all landscape and nature photographers. This approach to making images has really opened up the world to me and has helped me improve my images tremendously.
While this set of trees was something I found in 2019 and later returned to this year, I found the light and conditions this year to be much more favorable and I really enjoyed making this black and white rendition.
I also have been really enjoying using my telephoto lens to pick out small vignettes of nature and at the end of this I'll share some statistics of my best images from 2022 that might surprise you!
Earlier I mentioned witnessing some absolutely incredible light and conditions from my favorite perch in Colorado for fall color and the above photo was just the beginning of that, but still represents my favorite moment from that incredible evening.
If you enjoyed those fall color photographs, you can see the whole gallery from that mind-bending trip here.
Just four days after returning from my fall color trip, I embarked to the Oregon Coast to teach for Out of Chicago (Out of Oregon) for a week. It was a really great trip and despite spending the majority of my time teaching, was able to eek out one of my personal favorite images of the year while there, which was this fleeting moment of time at sunset on the beach near Newport, Oregon.
In November I was all set to go on another fun trip to photograph slot canyons in Utah with my friend Eric Bennett when I received a phone call from Muench Workshops asking me if I'd like to take a trip to Antarctica at the end of November to try out as a workshop instructor for them. I quickly rearranged my entire life and schedule, unpacked for Utah, and embarked for Buenos Aires and then Ushuaia, Argentina, where we departed aboard the M/V Sea Spirit across the Drake Passage and into Antarctica. It was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. While I spent most of my time teaching eager workshops students my style of photography and way of seeing the world while helping them hone in on their own settings and compositions, I was able to create some great photographs while doing so, or at least I think they are pretty great! A few of them certainly rose to the top of my best of 2022 list.
Since I have never been to Antarctica before, I really had no idea what to expect. Penguins? Sure. Icebergs? Of course. Huge mountains? WHAT? Yes! I was so happy to photograph this legendary landscape in my own way. One of my goals of my images from Antarctica was to showcase the sheer massive scale of the place while placing wildlife in their element and prominent as a part of the landscape. I hope it works for you.
While there were many other favorite images from the Antarctica trip, I still think these are my top picks. I'm definitely curious which ones you like though, and if you want to see the full gallery, you can check it out here.
In 2022, at least so far, I have 411 images that I rated highly in my Lightroom catalog. The statistics of my lens choices and focal lengths may surprise you!
|Lens / Focal Length||Count of Images|
|Mavic Air 2S||48|
I spent over 70 days in the field this year, which I'm sure contributed to my success. The more opportunity for failure the better! It was also interesting that I didn't make a single image in the months of March, June, or August! I'm certainly hopeful that in 2023 I'll be able to focus a bit more on Colorado again, but only time will tell. I'm currently working on a project for Atlas Obscura and Visit Colorado which I'm excited about, and we will see what comes of my time with Muench Workshops! Thanks for checking out my photographs, and if you have any comments or thoughts, I'd love to read them below!