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MY FIVE FAVORITE LANDSCAPE PHOTOS OF 2019

2019 marked my second year as a full-time landscape photographer. Traveling the world alone and with family/friends made for some amazing memories. Here are five of my favorite landscape photos from my travels last year along with the stories behind them.

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS

Geothermal areas add an extra dimension to any landscape. At Hot Creek, outside Mammoth Lakes, the ground comes alive with rising steam in the early morning light.

HOT CREEK | MAMMOTH – CALIFORNIA

For my birthday, I planned a trip with a friend to visit a small section of the Eastern Sierra. My buddy is not a morning person, so on a crisp spring morning I headed out around 3:00 am to one of the spots on my list. My jaw dropped a bit as the warm glow of the rising sun started painting the clouds and mountains in the distance.

After capturing a few images I sat back to enjoy the start of a new day.

SEA-ING STARS

While watching the waves crashing on the rocks in Shark Fin Cove, I noticed the reflection of the sun in a small pool. Moving into the right position allowed me to capture the two star bursts and the energy of the Pacific Ocean.

SEAING STARS | SHARK FIN COVE – CALIFORNIA

One of the rules of photography is to never shoot directly into the sun. However, if you are careful, you can create wonderful images by breaking this rule. The starburst patterns you see in this photograph from Shark Fin Cove, near Davenport, California, are the result of light diffracting through the aperture blades of the lens.

I was very excited to notice the reflection of the sun in the small pool on the lower half of this photograph. The moment it caught my eye I let out a gleeful giggle and started snapping the shutter.

ENDLESS COAST

The beautiful golden glow of sunset belies the howling winds that nearly knocked me off my feet several times.

ENDLESS COAST | POINT REYES – CALIFORNIA

Before I moved to California my knowledge of the state was quite limited. The landscapes that came to mind were beaches, mountains, redwood forests, and Yosemite. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve had the opportunity to explore some of these landscapes.

Point Reyes is a peninsula north of San Francisco that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. At the westernmost tip is a lighthouse that has been in operation since 1870. I had planned to photograph the lighthouse on the night I captured this photo of the coast, but as I neared the location I found the road closed. Undeterred, I drove as far as I could, parked the car, and started exploring.

The first thing I felt as I stepped out of the car was the wind. I stumbled several times just getting my equipment from the car as the winds blew at a sustained 30+ mph and gusted harder. In these conditions it is very difficult to use a tripod to keep the camera steady. However, the tripod functioned quite well as a walking stick on the steep hillside. The lesson here is to be flexible with your plans and thankful for the chance to be outside.

PAINTING THE EARTH

Death Valley is a place known for extreme landscapes. However, amid the desert dunes, salt deposits, and arid mountain peaks, lies Artist’s Palette. This unique location is alive with the colors of the various minerals that have made their way to the surface.

ARTIST PALETTE | DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – CALIFORNIA

In February, my girlfriend and I made a long weekend trip to explore Death Valley National Park. One of our favorite places of that trip was Artist Palette. Tucked away on a one-way road is this gem of a landscape.

Created by deposits of various minerals that have made their way to the surface this area of the park comes alive in the evening light. We were fascinated by not only the colors but also the textures of the various sections.

SLOWING TIME

Falls Creek Falls in Washington is a lush and beautiful place to spend hours hiking and exploring the landscape. However, with only 30 minutes to spare I was given the challenge of capturing some of its beauty.

FALLS CREEK FALLS | WASHINGTON

In July I had the pleasure of visiting Oregon to attend a wedding. The couple had taken the time to suggest some cool hikes and sights around the area. One of the spots on their list was Falls Creek Falls.

My girlfriend and I visited this spot on the day of the wedding, which meant we had to hustle. We had a little time to spare, so with 30 minutes on the clock I set out to capture this beautiful location.

Usually when I’m working to capture a landscape I like to spend time researching and hiking around to get a feel for the place. However, in this case, with a deadline (being late for a wedding) I needed to focus. I think this is why this photograph is one of my favorites of the year. It was a new challenge and experience that helped me to grow in my craft.

THANK YOU

Thank you for letting me share some of my favorite landscape photographs of 2019 with you. I hope you enjoyed the photos and stories. Have you visited any of these locations? If so, I’d love to see what you’ve captured in the comments below.

Also, if you liked the work in this article be sure to check out my other two recaps: My Five Favorite Astrophotography Images of 2019 and My Four Favorite Panorama Photos of 2019.

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trail.

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