How can it be possible that 2016 is now history? It FLEW by. So, it’s time again for my annual “Year in Review” where I post my personal favorite images from the past year. Here are my top 10, plus 6 “bonus” images (to see larger versions of the photos, just click on the photo):

#10 - Splash!

#10 – Splash!

#10 – Splash!
Thunder Mountain Camera Club had a “splash” class in July. Several members had stations with different techniques of shooting water and/or water drops set up for us try. One of them was a “drop” station, which was my favorite. The water was dripping at a constant rate and different backgrounds were placed to change the light in the water pan. It was challenging to get the timing right, but I came away with a few really neat images, and this one was my favorite. I can’t remember how we got the water blue, but I love the contrast of it against the reddish background of the water.

#9 - American Basin Wildflowers

#9 – American Basin Wildflowers

#9 – American Basin Wildflowers
For quite some time, I’ve wanted to make the trek to American Basin (near Lake City) to check out the wildflowers. This year, I finally did it. Although the weather conditions weren’t the best and peak bloom had just happened, it was still an amazing place to see in person. This was one of the first shots I made that morning, near the stream that goes over the road. Even though peak bloom had happened about a week prior, there were still a lot of flowers and it was just amazing to see this beautiful place in person, finally. I plan to go back, if not this year, then the next. We’ll see how wildflower season shakes out this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

#8 - Red Mountain Panorama

#8 – Red Mountain Panorama

#8 – Red Mountain Panorama
This year, I’ve played quite a bit with panorama shots. It’s so easy to create them in Photoshop, and the resulting image is more like what your eyes see, encompassing a much wider range of view. I went down to Red Mountain Pass the day after a light dusting of snow, and as I wound my way up, I found this viewpoint. It’s such a sweeping view, and the bright foliage and new snow was a great combination. It was the perfect view for a pano.

#7 - Mt. Garfield Claret Cup

#7 – Mt. Garfield Claret Cup

#7 – Mt. Garfield Claret Cup
Every spring I anxiously wait for the claret cup cactus to bloom. Their bright scarlet blooms are absolutely gorgeous and seem so out of place in this dry terrain. Last year I learned of a huge claret cup near Mt. Garfield (several camera club members have shot this cactus so I have to give credit to them) and managed to capture it at or near peak this year! In post-processing, I applied a “Georgia O’Keefe” filter in Topaz Impressions and voila! This image made the top 10.

#6 - Griffith Lake View

#6 – Griffith Lake View

#6 – Griffith Lake View
Fall begins a little earlier on the Grand Mesa than in the San Juans, which is perfect so I have time to hit them both! My husband graciously pulled off in what I call the “avalanche area,” which is above Mesa Lakes. It’s a tiny pulloff but big enough. There was no wind on this late afternoon, so I pulled out my 70-200 mm zoom lens and captured aspens reflecting in Griffith Lake with the Book Cliffs lined up behind. I think the compression caused by the big lens really makes this a neat shot as the Book Cliffs appear so much closer than they actually are.

#5 - Book Cliff Sego Lilly

#5 – Book Cliff Sego Lilly

#5 – Book Cliff Sego Lilly
My husband took me up into the Book Cliffs one evening in May, and we had fun exploring and hiking a little bit of the Sarlac Trail. On that trail, I found this beautiful combination of a white sego lilly and purple chainpod. I love sego lillies but find them very hard to photograph. Because the sego was still mostly curled up and I shot it from the side and had some nice lighting, I was very happy with this image.

#4 - Independence Rimlight

#4 – Independence Rimlight

#4 – Independence Rimlight
I spent quite a bit of time at Colorado National Monument this year, exploring new viewpoints and experiencing some really cool weather conditions, so it’s not a surprise images from the Monument are on the top of my list. I shot this one in August from the Grand View overlook area. I managed to capture the sun’s last rays on the rim of Independence Monument, as well as the rocks in the foreground, which contrasts nicely with the dark, stormy clouds. I was disappointed to find that the awesome juniper snag at this location (to the right of this image) has now disappeared – not sure if it was the victim of theft or if it simply was washed over the edge during a rainstorm. It was such a great foreground subject.

#3 - Gothic Sunflowers

#3 – Gothic Sunflowers

#3 – Gothic Sunflowers
I went to Crested Butte in mid July to check out the wildflower bloom. Unfortunately, while trying to shoot some ferns up on Kebler Pass on the way there, I fell and twisted my knee, which really hampered my efforts that day. However, I did capture this image of nodding sunflowers on Gothic Road that made the trip worthwhile and the pain in my knee subside for a few minutes!

#2 - Independence Light

#2 – Independence Light

#2 – Independence Light
Here is my second Monument image in the top 10. Again, pretty much the same perspective as #4 from Grand View, shot in late August. I got there in time to catch some very nice, warm light on the vegetation in the foreground, which I feel adds so much depth to this image. I also again captured nice rim light on the main monolith.

#1 - More Twisted

#1 – More Twisted

And so, we are down to #1 – my favorite image of the year!

#1 – More Twisted
I went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in late August for sunrise. Although sunrise didn’t quite pan out as I had hoped, in exploring the Dragon Point overlook, I found this amazing, twisted juniper tree. I was lying on the ground, using my wide angle lens to capture this. I wish the starburst in the top of the branches were a bit larger, but it was the best I could manage. I took this later in the morning on my second stop at this overlook, so the light was harsher and I decided to convert it to black & white. While I was at this viewpoint that day, I saw at least 15 other people take a photo of this tree. Guess I wasn’t the only one awed by its twisted, gnarled trunk!

Here are 6 “bonus” images that almost made the cut:

#16 - View from Above

#16 – View from Above

#16 – View from Above
On the same evening as #5 was taken, while coming down from the top of the Book Cliffs, I saw this amazing layered view back into the valley. I made my husband pull over so I could take the shot before the light was gone. The lack of any vivid color naturally made it a candidate for conversion to black & white.

#15 - Desert Bloom

#15 – Desert Bloom

#15 – Desert Bloom
The spring bloom near the Rabbit Valley area was nothing short of incredible this spring. I made the trip out there several times and explored and found some great spots in the future for claret cup cactus photos. This image consists mostly of orange globe mallow, which were particularly profuse this year. It looked like an orange blanket in places – so beautiful and stunning to see in this normally arid place!

#14 - Ponderosa Flowers

#14 – Arrows at the Ponderosa

#14 – Arrows at the Ponderosa
We camped for a couple days near Pagosa Springs in May. Our campsite was surrounded by ponderosa pines. I captured this image of some arrowleaf balsalmroots framed by cinnamon colored ponderosas fairly early one of those mornings, while listening to an Abert’s squirrel chewing me out for being in his territory. I really liked the color of the pines framing the wildflowers and greenery.

#13 - Dallas Divide Sunrise

#13 – Dallas Divide Sunrise

#13 – Dallas Divide Sunrise
I headed to the San Juans a day after a light snowfall (same day as #8), hoping for a fabulous sunrise at Dallas Divide. Well, as it happened so often in 2016, it didn’t happen. I’m still pretty happy with this image though, because the foliage colors were spectacular even in the muted light, and after sunrise some nice color bounced around on the peaks and in the clouds.

#12 - Electric

#12 – Electric

#12 – Electric
I didn’t get out much to try my hand at shooting lightning this year, but on this night, I happened to be up at the Monument anyway when a storm rolled through the valley. I managed to capture this one really cool bolt as it struck west of Fruita.

#11 - Balanced Rock Fog

#11 – Balanced Rock Fog

#11 – Balanced Rock Fog
In early February, I headed to Arches National Park for sunrise only to discover it was totally socked in with fog. This was ok by me, so I had fun all morning shooting moody foggy scenes. After having lunch at Milt’s in town, the fog started to break up so I went back up. This image of Balanced Rock was shot shortly after the fog lifted. There’s still enough there to give it a little mood, but the sky was clearing out which contrasted nicely with the snow capped red rocks. I also like the little stump I caught in the foreground.

So there you have my personal favorite images of 2016. This year was better for me on the personal front (I started a new job, again), so I traveled more, hiked more, and shot many more photos than in 2015. In 2016, I made trips to Goblin Valley, Arches/Canyonlands (numerous times), Black Canyon, Crested Butte, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, the San Rafael Swell, Pagosa Springs, American Basin, and the Grand Mesa (multiple times). I hope to travel (and shoot) a lot in 2017.

As for personal accomplishments, 2016 was rather quiet. I exhibited several photos at Two Rivers Convention Center and Tiara Rado Golf Course, as well as participating with my camera club in First Friday Art Walks in June, November and December in downtown Grand Junction. Once again, I had two small photos selected for the Colorado National Monument annual calendar. I also led a Fall Walk & Talk into Echo Canyon on behalf of Colorado National Monument Association. And last, but not least, I had a photo of a cowboy shack in Devil’s Canyon published in the January/February issue of “Colorado Life.”

Jan./Feb. Colorado Life spread

Jan./Feb. Colorado Life spread

I was really lazy on the education end and spent no time learning any new processing techniques. I just renewed my KelbyOne membership so I plan to do something about that in 2017. I really need to learn layers and masks in Photoshop as I feel they would take my photos to another level.

I wish you the best in 2017 – happy image hunting, and may you be blessed with just the right amount of clouds and fantastic light! Feel free to leave any comments about my images, or ones you think should have been included.

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