I see that I did NOT manage to obtain at least one goal from last year, that is:  posting more here on my blog.  It’s been almost a year since my last new post.  I intend to do better this year!

That said, it’s time for the annual year in review.  This year was in sharp contrast to 2013.  In 2013, I had a very hard time narrowing down my favorites because I had quite a year.  For 2014, I had a very hard time finding 14 favorites.  I seemed to miss the best weather, peak wildflower bloom and peak fall colors, plus I did not travel around nearly as much.

Let’s begin the countdown.  You will see a rather varying range of images this year, due to my experimenting with things other than landscapes and flowers.

baseball

#14 – Play Ball!

#14 – Play Ball!  I went to quite a few baseball games this summer and enjoyed watching our local minor league club, the Grand Junction Rockies.  One of my camera club buddies is also a big baseball fan and one evening she scored us tickets right behind home plate!  It definitely tested my skills since I’m not a sports shooter and don’t have a big enough or fast enough lens to really catch the action.  But, I had a lot of fun trying at the various games I attended.  The night I was behind home plate, if I leaned in close enough I could make the net disappear but it was hit and miss.  This was one that turned out.  I was amazed that I caught the ball suspended, with the seams visible!  This image earned me a weekly Editor’s Pick award on Nature Photographers Network in the POP (people, objects and places) category.

#13 - Colorado River Trail Sunset

#13 – Colorado River Trail Sunset

#13 – Colorado River Trail Sunset – The Colorado River Trail continues to expand, and late this fall the latest portion (an addition to the Monument View section) opened.  I got a bike this spring so I was excited to have a new place to bike and gawk at the scenery.  This section goes from the Walter Walker Wildlife Area all the way to Fruita.  Although I haven’t made it all the way to Fruita yet, I plan to work up to it this summer.  The second time I rode this section of the trail, I brought along my trusty little Canon S100 and shot this where the trail is nearly right on the river.  This is a great spot and I hope to get back there more times this year to shoot some sunsets.

#12 - Ferris Wheel

#12 – Ferris Wheel

#12 – Ferris Wheel – Last year I tried my hand at some night photography by going to the Mesa Co. Fair on opening night, which has fireworks.  I had a blast (literally!) and went back this year with the camera club outing, plus an extra night just to shoot the carnival rides again.  This ferris wheel is so cool because the lights change colors as it spins, creating a myriad of colorful designs.  This was one of my favorites, and this one also earned me a weekly Editor’s Pick in the POP category on NPN.  (A different image of the ferris wheel earned me a third weekly Editor’s Pick in the POP category.)

#11 - Professor Valley Cottonwoods

#11 – Professor Valley Cottonwoods

#11 – Professor Valley Cottonwoods – After the color in the high country had faded, I continued to chase colors in the lower valleys.  I went to Moab in search of color but unfortunately the extremely windy conditions had pretty much stripped the trees.  I did manage to find this beautiful scene in the Professor Valley on the scenic river road on the way back.  There was a storm front moving in but the sun peeked out long enough for me to catch this.

#10 - Mesa Cascades

#10 – Mesa Cascades

#10 – Mesa Cascades – I love to shoot waterfalls and cascades, so this cascade behind the Mesa Lakes Lodge captured my attention.  I spent a lot of time finding different compositions and enjoying the gurgling of the water as it spilled down the hillside.  I found the “S” shaped creek to be a pleasing component to the composition of this image.

#9 - Summer Sun

#9 – Summer Sun

#9 – Summer Sun – On my way back home to Kansas, I stopped at the Denver Botanic Gardens and took in the Chihuly glass exhibit and wow! I must say, I’m so glad I did.  It was absolutely amazing.  The glass glowed and sparkled in the sun and totally intrigued me.  This is an abstract close-up of one large piece called “Summer Sun,” a tree-like structure.  The shapes, textures and colors mesmerized me.

#8 - Incoming

#8 – Incoming

#8 – Incoming – This spring brought an incredible display of bloom out on South Camp Road (near the Colorado National Monument).  One afternoon while I was shooting some of the lovely primrose, I found some blanket flowers and noticed bees buzzing around.  I was lucky enough to capture this one as he came in for a landing for a sweet snack.

#7 - Fish Creek Falls

#7 – Fish Creek Falls

#7 – Fish Creek Falls – After the opening of my exhibit at the Steamboat Art Museum, I couldn’t resist making a quick stop at Fish Creek Falls for a little photo therapy.  As I arrived, some storm clouds moved in, eliminating some harsh shadows and providing even light while I shot.  This was shot from the safety of the footbridge across the creek.  It was near peak runoff and I couldn’t believe the volume of water coming over the cliff, or the resulting roar! It was deafening.

#6 - Rocky Mountain Iris

#6 – Rocky Mountain Iris

#6 – Rocky Mountain Iris – My husband and I camped in a little cabin on the Uncompaghre this summer, and while he and his buddy went mountain biking, I drove around and shot some photos.  I found a really nice grouping of Rocky Mountain Iris near a campground.  I loved the patterns of this iris petal and broke out my macro lens to get some nice close ups.

#5 - A Grand View

#5 – A Grand View

#5 – A Grand View – One of my favorite viewpoints in the Colorado National Monument is Grand View.  It offers great views of not only Independence Monument but also the Kissing Couple.  On this spring day, I headed up to the Monument hoping to catch some great clouds and storm light.  It’s always incredible to watch storms move in over the Book Cliffs and into the valley from up on the Monument.

#4 - Mesa Aspens (black & white)

#4 – Mesa Aspens (black & white)

#4 – Mesa Aspens – I didn’t snowshoe a lot last winter; in fact, I didn’t even go until late February/early March.  These two clusters of trees caught my eye because of the strong vertical lines as well as horizontal lines created by the shadows.  A conversion to black and white was a no brainer with this scene as there was little color anyway and aspens in snow just look cool in black and white, don’t you think?

#3 - Mesa Garden

#3 – Mesa Garden

#3 – Mesa Garden – I found some great pockets of wildflowers on the Grand Mesa this summer, one of them right off the highway just north of Land’s End Road near a lake.  This year, there was a brilliant display of rosy paintbrush, sneezeweed, lupine, and I even found some elephant heads.  This combination of brilliant colors captured my eyes immediately.

#2 - Red, White & Blue

#2 – Red, White & Blue

#2 – Red, White & Blue – I shot this on July 3, as I was headed toward the west side viewpoints to find a place to shoot the Fruita fireworks show from the Monument.  Even though I knew I was losing out on any good parking spots, I couldn’t tear myself away from this brilliant pre-fireworks light show!  This view into Wedding Canyon is my favorite spot in the whole park and I often just sit here, gazing in wonder at the views.

And now, for No. 1!

#1 - Mesa Aspens

#1 – Mesa Aspens

#1 – Mesa Aspens – I did have one great day shooting fall foliage, up on the Grand Mesa, which put on the most fantastic display I have seen since I moved here.  The day I went up, there was a storm front coming in, which pretty much killed all the color over the next few days so I’m glad I got out.  I did a bit of exploring on the southern side of the Mesa and came across the Old Grand Mesa Rd., which had some of the most beautiful groves I have seen, including brilliant orange aspens.  As the clouds spilled in, it provided even lighting in this grove.

So there are my favorite images of 2014 – perhaps not the most technically or compositionally correct, but ones that touched something within me personally.

Now for my highlights from last year and goals for this coming year.  2014 began with a solo show at Aspen Photo Art Gallery here in Grand Junction, as well as a piece being on display at the Monumental Art Exhibit at City Hall.  I attended the majority of First Friday Art Walks with a couple of pieces on display each time at Aspen Photo Art Gallery.  In June, I had five pieces on display at the Colorado Nature Photography Invitational Exhibit at the Steamboat Art Museum.  This exhibit contained images from ten other amazing Colorado based photographers – Todd Caudle, Rod Hanna, Joshua Harding, Jason Hatfield, Jack Brauer, Scott Fricke, Monte Trumbull, Anne Rusk, Rich Voninski and Jim Steinberg.  I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was to be included with these amazing artists!  I also exhibited some images with Thunder Mountain Camera Club at City Hall later this summer and at the United Way office.  One of my images made it into the GJ Daily Sentinel’s annual “Behind the Lens” issue; I have 4 small images included in the 2015 Colorado National Monument Association calendar; and Brown Trout has licensed one of my Kansas images for the 2015 “Wild & Scenic Kansas” calendar.  As I noted in the photos above, I received three weekly Editor’s Pick awards from Nature Photographer’s Network, and I was thrilled to learn my “Dead Horse Rainbow” image (taken in 2013) was picked as one of 25 finalists in Outdoor Photographer’s American Landscape photo contest. I had a very busy year!  I also feel I broadened my horizons a bit by trying my hand at shooting something other than flowers and landscapes.  I went to the Fruita Rodeo one night and enjoyed trying to shoot the fast action of the cowboys, bucking broncs and barrel racers, as well as shooting numerous baseball games, three fireworks shows, carnival rides at the fair, and Christmas lights.

My goals for this year are pretty much the same as last year.  I need to re-organize and keyword images after my devastating hard drive crash.  (Thank goodness I had recently backed up my photo data.)  I plan to set aside more time to learn post-processing techniques and have signed up for a KelbyOne account.  KelbyOne has tons of instructional videos on Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.  When I feel more comfortable with Photoshop, I’ll then dig into the Tony Kuyper series of videos and Photoshop actions on luminosity masks.  Really looking forward to that!  I hope I can snowshoe more this winter and hike more this spring, summer and fall.  I want to travel more, and time my visits right this year so I catch peak wildflower blooms and fall foliage.

Thank you to everyone who follows my work and for your continued support.  I’ll try to be more active here on my blog this year and share some of the things I’m going to learn along the way!  I wish you all great light and stellar images for your 2015!

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