Honestly, 2015 was one of the most difficult of my life. My mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in the spring and that pretty much killed my desire to photograph much this year. Around the same time, I was downsized and let go from my job and was unemployed for nearly two months, and was afraid we would have to make the move to the Front Range to find a job. One would think the extra time to shoot photos would have been welcomed but it was not. I had all the time in the world to get out, but only felt like hiding at home like a bear in a cave during winter hibernation. Therefore, even more so than last year, I had an extremely hard time choosing my favorite photos for 2015 because there were not nearly as many to choose from. But, here they are, my favorite 15 from ’15:

#15 - Up, Up & Away!

#15 – Up, Up & Away!

#15 – Up, Up & Away!
I had so much fun last year at the Snowmass Hot Air Balloon Festival I definitely wanted to go again, and ended up hitching a ride with my buddy Jeff Stoddart. After some “adventures” finding a place to shoot, we wandered around the field where they took off and I got this inventive composition as several balloons took off. You can’t beat the colorful balloons rising in a blue sky with gorgeous mountains as a backdrop! I’ll definitely go again.

#14 - Pothole Storm

#14 – Pothole Storm

#14 – Pothole Storm
As most of my followers know, my favorite spot in the Colorado National Monument is up on the rim of Wedding Canyon near the Bookcliff viewpoint. I absolutely love the view of the monoliths and the numerous potholes that are found there. I took this image in late April as a spring storm raged over toward the Palisade area, while the sun shone in the Monument.

#13 - Fay Canyon

#13 – Fay Canyon

#13 – Fay Canyon
In March, we went to Sedona, Arizona. What a beautiful place on Planet Earth! The red rocks are absolutely amazing. We did a short 2.2 mile hike into Fay Canyon, which basically ends in a box canyon. When we reached the end, my ever-adventurous hubby climbed on higher and yelled “You’ve GOT to come up here and see this view!” Me, being not-so-adventurous, decided to follow him anyway and I was glad I did. From that vantage point, you could see out of the canyon and beyond into the valley. What a view! It was a beautiful, fun, easy little hike, one I would not hesitate to do again in a heartbeat.

#12 - Dallas Divide Sunset

#12 – Dallas Divide Sunset

#12 – Dallas Divide Sunset
In October, we spent several days in the Ouray/Telluride area, one of the most spectacular places in the state of Colorado. Fall this year was a bit muted compared to prior years, due to abundant moisture which caused some type of fungus or blight on many aspen trees (and as I later discovered, in the cottonwoods in lower elevations). I did capture one decent sunset shot from the parking lot pullout looking onto the Dallas Divide west of Ridgway. It was a popular spot – probably at least 50 other photographers were there right next to me.

#11 - Fall Creek Road

#11 – Fall Creek Road

#11 – Fall Creek Road
Fall Creek Road near Telluride goes to Woods Lake, which was lovely but very windy. This shot was taken near the switchback going up to the lake.

#10 - Mesa Wildflowers

#10 – Mesa Wildflowers

#10 – Mesa Wildflowers
The Grand Mesa is sort of hit or miss with wildflowers. Some years the wildflowers go nuts; sometimes not so much. The yellow flowers in the front are sneezeweed and are definitely the most prolific flower to be found up there. I used a Topaz creative filter on this one to give it a special glow and feel that I like much better than the straight-out-of-the-camera image.

#9 - Cathedral Rock

#9 – Cathedral Rock

#9 – Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock is likely the most photographed formation in the Sedona area, and with good reason. It is absolutely stunning, especially at sunset! I had done a fair amount of research and knew a spot I wanted to photograph from, where the rock would reflect in the river with a ledge of rocks in the foreground. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the fact that it was spring runoff down there (it was March!) and the view I had in my head was covered up with extra water! But, I made the best of it.

#8 - Twisted

#8 – Twisted

#8 – Twisted
Arches National Park is one of my favorite places to shoot, and I’m always looking for something different and unique. This spring, I found a very cool, twisted juniper tree near the campground and took a few shots. After deciding I didn’t like the light, I converted to black and white and loved the result. Lone trees are often a favorite subject of mine and this one turned out great. It netted me a 2nd place finish in my camera club’s black and white competition as well. I played more with black and white this year, as you’ll see later.

#7 - Garden of Eden

#7 – Garden of Eden

#7 – Garden of Eden
And back to Arches with this one – one of my favorite viewpoints in the park, the Garden of Eden. I love this spot because the view is filled with fins, arches and the La Sal Mountains. I took this shot in mid February right before the sun sank below the horizon. The rock always glows a magnificent shade of orange, and I had some decent clouds as well.

#6 - All Aboard!

#6 – All Aboard!

#6 – All Aboard!
While my husband was taking a mountain bike ride on Engineer Pass, I made it down to Silverton, just in time to catch both trains! This was the 11:30 as it sat, unloading passengers. The conductor got out of the cab and was doing his post-trip check. I thought that human element and the black smoke against the bright fall foliage in the background was pretty cool.

#5 - Faux Falls Detail

#5 – Faux Falls Detail

#5 – Faux Falls Detail
In July, I had a job interview in Moab – of all places! (I didn’t get the job…) After my interview, of course I had to make use of my time and take some photos. I hadn’t been down to Faux Falls (which is near Ken’s Lake south of town) in several years so decided to go check it out. There are so many composition possibilities of the waterfall and stream, and I spent probably 2 hours walking around and shooting. This was one of my favorite shots of that day, a more intimate shot of the lower part of the fall where it dumps into the stream.

#4 - Sunbeams

#4 – Sunbeams

#4 – Sunbeams
In February while snowshoeing around Sunset Lake on Grand Mesa, the day after a fresh snow, the wind would occasionally come up and blow snow off the trees. I was in the right place at the right time to capture this one – the blowing snow created beautiful sunbeams in the trees. Converting this one to black and white was a no brainer.

#3 - Arches Lightning

#3 – Arches Lightning

#3 – Arches Lightning
Another shot from my “interview trip” in July. After I shot sunset near Balanced Rock, I happened to turn around and see that a storm was coming in from the southwest, and there was lightning! A lot of my camera club buddies go out shooting lightning but thus far I have been too chicken to try, except from the inside of the car. This storm was far enough away that I felt safe, so I gave it a whirl. I took probably a hundred images and only caught lightning in 3 frames, and this was the best one with multiple strokes! As I left the park and the storm got closer, the lightning really ramped up and I definitely did not feel safe to stop and shoot it. The storm followed me all the way home. It was an interesting end to the day, I must say.

#2 - Aspen Leaf

#2 – Aspen Leaf

#2 – Aspen Leaf
While driving around on the Grand Mesa, I found a great spot where I could backlight some aspen leaves. I broke out my macro lens for this shot. I like all the details of the veins in the leaf and the pleasing colors in the background.

And at long last, here is #1!

#1 - Straight Up

#1 – Straight Up

#1 – Straight Up
I drove up Kebler Pass in late September only to find many aspens had been hit with the fungus/blight. There were some nice pockets of color at the top, but the west side was very disappointing. I always hope to find some ferns up there that haven’t turned brown yet and thought I had found a spot and got out to check it out, only to discover they were browner than they appeared from the roadside. However, I took the time to look straight up – and found a shot I’ve been wanting for many years. I ran back to my car and put my wide angle lens on, found a log, and sat down to shoot this. The mid-day light happened to be just what was needed for this shot and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It is my favorite shot of the year, hands down.

My photographic year was fairly quiet as due to my dampened mood, I did not seek out places to exhibit this year. I did have three photos displayed at Tiara Rado Golf Course (in the clubhouse) as part of the City of Grand Junction’s “Hot Air Balloon” display there for three months, but that was about it as far as displays. I did get one large photo (September) and one small photo (July) in the Colorado National Monument calendar which is always great. I had a photo published in the March/April issue of “Colorado Life”, and I got the cover image for the October issue of “Colorado Lawyer”, the official journal of the Colorado Bar Association. I was very quiet in my internet groups but did receive one Editor’s Weekly Pick over on Nature Photographers Network (in the Weekly Challenge category for “Seasonal Transitions”). With all my “free” time during my period of unemployment, I did manage to get my photo library keyworded, which was a huge undertaking. Now that it is done, however, I find it much easier and quicker to find photos, and I’m now automatically doing that upon import. I got my money’s worth out of KelbyOne by watching a number of videos (most of them were pretty basic) and decided to renew again for next year (hopefully I’ll get into more advanced applications such as masks and layers).

I hope all of you had a great 2015, and I wish you great light and good luck in 2016!

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