Just Rambling!


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.

I was asked to be part of the City of Grand Junction’s Hot Air Balloon art display at Two Rivers Convention Center. I have the six below images on display in the hallways of Two Rivers. Three are smaller traditional matted, framed photos; three are printed on 20X30 canvas. They will be up until sometime in mid June. If you’re in downtown Grand Junction, please be sure to stop in and check them out along with the other amazing artwork. All of the artwork is available for purchase if you are so inclined. If I can get over there in the next week, I’ll try to post a follow up showing the images actually on the wall. Thanks for your support of local artists in the Grand Valley!

Pile O Balloons
Flying Mountain High
From Colorado to the Moon
Double Delight
Reflected
03

Devil's Canyon image - Colorado Life Magazine Jan/Feb 2016

Devil’s Canyon image – Colorado Life Magazine Jan/Feb 2016

Colorado Life Magazine published one of my images in its January/February 2016 issue in the “Go – See – Do” section. The image is one I took while hiking Devil’s Canyon, a local trail in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation area. My husband Mike is the model, and he is seen looking into the little cowboy shack that is located near the far end of the loop of the trail. It was early December so he is clearly bundled up. I assume they chose the image due to that fact – the article suggests hiking this trail in winter due to its lack of snow cover. This is the second image I’ve had published in this magazine and am pretty excited about it. The magazine always has interesting historical articles, fascinating feature articles about all things Colorado, and gorgeous photography. I’m proud to be a part of it!

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!

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!

As is my tradition, it is time to count down my favorite images from the past year.  Since it is 2013, I’ll share 13 of my favorites with you.  Let me tell you – it was incredibly difficult to narrow the choices down this year, so I have 13 favorites and one honorable mention.  I had a spectacular photographic year, with trips to Arches, Canyonlands, Crested Butte (TWICE during PEAK wildflower bloom!), Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat (twice), Mesa Verde, Maroon Bells, and countless visits to my backyard gem, the Colorado National Monument.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Honorable Mention – Blue House Lights

deer

I went out once to shoot Christmas lights with 3 other members of Thunder Mountain Camera Club and finally figured out how to do them the right way.  It was extremely cold (temps hovered near zero the entire time we were out) but it was fun.  Dawn Morrow, the organizer of the outing, had pre-scouted some awesome places for us to visit.  My favorite place was the “blue house” on 26 Road right off I-70.  The next weekend, I went back and reshot a few things I missed the first time.  I got this shot that time.  I really liked the composition and how the lighting turned out.

#13 – Foggy Kissing Couple

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I’ve wanted to capture fog up in the Colorado National Monument and finally had a chance early in 2013.  It was eerie to sit and watch the fog move though the canyons, almost like a live being, and the silence was overwhelming.  I captured this image at one of my favorite shooting spots, the Monument Canyon view.  This image was selected for the CNMA annual calendar as a grid photo and was also selected by the Bank of Colorado for their 2014 scenic calendar.

#12 – Monument Rainbow

04 hdr

Several of my camera club friends started chasing lightning when the monsoon arrived.  I finally decided I should try, and went up to the Monument chasing a small cell that was throwing off a little lightning.  Unfortunately by the time I got up there, the storm fizzled…  I drove past Independence Monument, then Kissing Couple, hoping the storm would fire up again, but it didn’t.   A little past Kissing Couple, I decided to turn around.  I came around this corner and WHAM! This rainbow was right in my face.  Luckily, there was a spot just big enough for my car so I pulled off and started firing furiously.  The rainbow never did fully form, but in this context it really didn’t matter.

#11 – Aspen Leaf

Aspen 1 small

I had planned to visit Steamboat the first weekend in October and man, did I time that right!  I arrived on Friday and it was still snowing – AND colors were at peak!  What an incredible weekend I had – probably one of my most memorable.  It was made better by the fact I got to hang out with several photographers from Nature Photographers Network (Rod Hanna, Monte Trumbull, Ken Henke and Stephen Trainor).  They graciously let me tag along (actually, they drove which was great because an experienced 4wheeler – in snow to boot – I am not), we ate several meals together, talked shop, and shot hundreds of images together.  Rod has lived in the Steamboat area for decades and knows the area like the back of his hand.  He knew exactly where and when to go.  This image was shot literally roadside on the second day.  I spied the leaf lying in the snow and noticed the big water drops, so out came the macro lens.  I love how the leaf has all colors in it – green, yellow, orange and red.

#10 – Lupines & Aspens

Lupines small

We went to Crested Butte twice during peak wildflower bloom.  It was nothing short of amazing, but the locals said it wasn’t that good…  I thoroughly enjoyed it though!  This was taken up on Kebler Pass, near the top close to the Horse Ranch Park area.  Although I couldn’t quite capture the beautiful sidelighting I saw, it still remains a favorite of mine for the year.  I really liked the strong vertical lines created by the aspens and the lupine spikes.

#9 – Mesa Co. Fair Ferris Wheel

Night Ferris Wheel fb

Thanks to Thunder Mountain Camera Club, and especially Dawn Morrow, I expanded my photographic horizons a bit this year with some night photography, which I had never really tried.  In addition to Christmas lights, and attempts to shoot lightning, I also tried my hand at the Mesa Co. Fair and the midway after dark.  Again, several camera club members attended and we had a blast first shooting the rides as it got dark, and fireworks after dark.  I really liked this image – it just looks fun!  I posted this on Nature Photographers Network in the POP (People, Objects & Places) category and received an Editor’s Weekly Pick, which was exciting for me.

#8 – Crested Butte Sunflower

Sunflower

I loved the color combination of yellow sunflowers and purple lupine and tried to shoot the two together as much as I could.  This was my favorite wildflower image of the year.  The lupines provided such a pretty background to this happy, cheery sunflower.  Sunflowers, of course, are my favorite flower.

#7 – Maroon Bells

Bells 1

This fall I decided to brave the crowds and headed up to the Bells, just shortly before the government shutdown.  I left home at around 3 am and arrived at the parking lot, to discover there weren’t many spots left.  I grabbed one and waited, hoping it would warm up a little.  Finally, after watching dozens of photographers heading down toward the lake, I decided I should go too.  It was terribly cold, and unbelievably crowded.  I knew it would be bad, but didn’t realize HOW bad until I witnessed it in person.  I was standing literally elbow to elbow with hundreds of other photographers, and vying for space where tripods wouldn’t show up in my shot.  (Actually, I had to clone out a tripod in this shot near the rocks.)  Sunrise over this location was incredible.  It is a photographic icon for a reason – it’s drop dead gorgeous with the dramatic peaks and a mirror lake in the foreground.  After the sun rose, I hiked up to Crater Lake, which was very windy.  If I ever do this again, I’ll get there even a bit earlier and stake my spot out on the lake shore sooner.  I was pleased I got what I did and made the best of it.

#6 – Mesa Arch Sunrise

Mesa Arch

Yet another highly photogenic icon spot I can cross off my bucket list!  I’d been here numerous times, just never at sunrise.  Silly me, I decided to head there on a day when the temps were about 5 degrees BELOW zero!  The good news was I didn’t have to fight so hard for a spot.  Although there were 5 photogs set up by the time I arrived about 10 min. before sunrise, I managed to get some decent shots.  It really is quite amazing to witness the underside of the arch glowing as soon as the sun peeks over the horizon.  Again, it’s an icon for a reason.

#5 – Flat Tops Fall

Crosho Rd 1 small

I couldn’t have timed my trip to Steamboat better.  Fresh fallen snow AND peak color combined for the most amazing day of photography I’ve ever had.  This was shot on the road up to Crosho Lake.  What caught our attention was the combining lines of frosted evergreens and vibrant foliage.  Although not touted as a prime fall foliage location in Colorado, I was amazed.  The Flat Tops are gorgeous, as is the Buffalo Pass area, Hahn’s Peak, etc.  You owe it to yourself to check it out next fall.

#4 – False Kiva

False Kiva 4 HDR1small

Once again in May, I went to the spring fling event put together by my friend and fellow NPN’er Bret Edge.  It was a small group this year, but we had a grand time shooting sunrise at Canyonlands, eating lunch together, then meeting up again in the evening.  The evening location was False Kiva, which involves a hike down the cliff on an unmarked trail.  I would not recommend trying to find it on your own, but would suggest you find someone who has been down it before and go with them as it looks like you could easily get lost in the rocky sections in places.  We ran into a French photographer who was coming back, and he told us (in his very snotty French accent) that “Ze light is gone.”  We all chuckled and kept trudging on.  Although the light wasn’t the best when we arrived, it did burst through some clouds right at sunset!  Shutters were clicking away wildly.  The clouds in the background were the perfect backdrop for the sunlit cliffs and formations.  This alcove and ruin is absolutely amazing, almost spiritual.  I almost didn’t go on this hike as I thought it would be too much for me, but with some gentle encouragement and not so gentle arm twisting from Bret and the others, I decided to go for it.  Am I ever glad I did!  It was a tough hike, but blessedly it wasn’t very long so it was totally doable.

#3 – Ute Canyon Sunrise

Ute Canyon

Those who know me well know that I’m really not a morning person.  However, when properly motivated, I can get up early for a photo shoot.  I shot this from the Ute Canyon overlook in Colorado National Monument.  On my way up here, I had already witnessed a morning rainbow so I knew something special was going to happen.  The light and clouds combined for a gorgeous shot of Ute Canyon, which is a really fun hike as well.  This year I also started using NIK HDR Efex on some of my images, including this one.  The program is awesome because you can totally control all the sliders and make it look as garish, or as natural, as you’d like, while boosting the saturation, contrast and making clouds pop.  (Since I prefer a more natural look, I really dial back a lot of the HDR elements.)  I also used HDR on the False Kiva image as well, which really made the sky look incredible.

#2 – Pothole Sunset

Pothole sunset

On yet another outing with the Thunder Mountain Camera Club, we went up to the Colorado National Monument in early May for a sunset walkabout and shoot.  Naturally, the group had fun exploring the rim of Wedding Canyon and shooting from the Book Cliff View areas.  A rainbow appeared just shortly before sunset, then the light show exploded!  We were all speechless as the colors reflected and changed.  What incredible pinks and purples!  The potholes had just a tiny bit of water in them too, which definitely added interest to the scene.  This image has been selected as one of 50 pieces to show in the Monumental Art Exhibit, which will be at the Grand Junction City Hall from January 10 through March 31.  I’m very proud this image passed muster with the jurors and will be a part of this show.  I also used HDR on this image to make the clouds and colors stand out a bit more.

#1 – Dead Horse Point Rainbow

Dead Horse Rainbow

Finally, we’re down to my favorite image of the entire year!  In late August I decided to head to Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.  I was dismayed when it started to sprinkle on me on the way there, but the clouds seemed to be breaking up.  When I got there, I was very happy to see I’d have enough clouds in the sky to make the view more interesting.  As the sun started to rise, I was absolutely ECSTATIC when the short little rainbow appeared!  I only saw one other photographer there and I’m sure he was stoked too.  (I almost did a happy dance but was afraid I might fall over the edge!)  Sunrise at DHP is always amazing, as the sun hits the different levels of cliffs and lights them up in succession.  It really is quite a spectacle, one that was enhanced by the great rainbow this day.  I also used HDR on this one as well with what I think is a very natural look to the finished image.

I joined Thunder Mountain Camera Club this summer and have had a blast!  I love the networking with other local photographers, the learning opportunities, the competitions, and especially the outings.  We went to the Monument, Grand Mesa, the county fair and several locations for Christmas lights.  Hanging with new people has challenged me to try different things and techniques.  I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

2013 was an awesome year for me.  I received two Editor’s Weekly Picks from Nature Photographer’s Network for my Mesa Co. Fair image in the POP photo category and my Horsethief Ranch image in the Weekly Challenge category.  In November, my portfolio was chosen as NPN’s Gallery of the Month, which includes the cream of the crop of photographers on the forum.  I feel very honored I was chosen.  The Colorado National Monument Association selected 5 of my images for their annual calendar (which is their big fundraiser for the year), and one of those images was used for the large photo for June.  (This was the first time I got a large monthly photo.)  I received an Honorable Mention in the “Behind the Lens” contest sponsored by the Daily Sentinel for my Horsethief Ranch image.  The Mesa Land Trust used my Horsethief Ranch image on their printed and internet invitations to their annual open house.  The Bank of Colorado selected Foggy Kissing Couple for the large January photo in their annual scenic calendar.  Three of my images were selected by Thunder Mountain Camera Club to be entered in PSA competition, and one of those images received an Honorable Mention from PSA.  I was asked by Larry Bennett of Aspen Photo Art Gallery to exhibit my images, which will start in January.  And last, but not least, Pothole Sunset was selected by the jurors of the Monumental Art Exhibit to be one of 50 pieces to exhibit at City Hall beginning on January 10.  Yes, it has been a good year for me, and I hope I can somehow top next year, but that’s going to be a tall order!

I don’t really like resolutions, but I do have a few goals photographically this year.  I need to continue to broaden my horizons, try new things, and keep learning and improving.  I believe my involvement with the local camera club will help in obtaining these goals.  I must go through my catalog of images and DELETE, DELETE, DELETE!  My poor hard drive is groaning from all the weight of the thousands of images I’ve shot in the past 3 years.  I’d like to break out my “how to” books and learn more post-processing techniques for Photoshop and especially for my new NIK suite of programs.  I’ve used the HDR a little and love it!  I also need to keep submitting images for consideration in calendars, magazines, contests, etc. and learn how to better market myself and my images.  Again, I have a couple of “how to” books that I’ve browsed through, but really need to dig in and read them.  Last, I hope to start posting more on my blog this year.

I hope all of you had a great year, and I wish you another successful photographic year in 2014!

Over Memorial Day weekend, we traveled to the Gunnison-Crested Butte area.  (My husband was a participant in the Gunnison Half Growler Mountain Bike Race.)  He raced on Saturday, so Sunday we decided to take a short hike up to the Dillon Pinnacles at Blue Mesa Reservoir, drive to Lake City, then go check out North Clear Creek Falls, which is purportedly one of the most photographed falls in Colorado (although I have my doubts this is true due to its rather isolated location).

When we arrived at the falls, I found a viewpoint I liked, set up my tripod and camera and started shooting away.  Unfortunately, a portion of the safety railing kept showing up in my frame so I had to do something.  Since I’m short and moving the camera up a bit was not an option (because I wouldn’t be able to see through the viewfinder to compose), I shortened the front tripod leg a bit and leaned the tripod over the railing a tiny bit.  Bingo, that did the trick!  I was shooting away happily and decided I wanted my 10-22 mm lens, which was still back in the car.  (I was shooting with my 24-105 mm.)  My husband ran back to the car to get it.  Now, I don’t know how this happened, but while fiddling with the focus ring, etc. on my lens – suddenly, the lens fell off my camera, over the railing!!   My heart stopped – it was around a $600 lens after all…  My first thoughts were “Oh **** (insert your favorite expletive here), it’s going to roll all the way down into that deep gorge, never to be seen again, and I’ve just lost my very favorite lens!!”  When I was forced to take a breath again, I looked and the lens had stopped in an indentation a few feet away from the railing.  By this time, my husband was coming back from the car with the other lens.  I had to have him climb over the railing (because I’m scared of heights and there’s not much real estate between the railing and the edge of the gorge) and retrieve it for me.  Very lucky for me, the lens was not scratched, and when I put it back on the camera, it functioned perfectly.  There was another couple there at the same time, and later the husband came by and said he saw what had happened and he witnessed “the look of sheer terror” on my face.  (I can laugh now, but I was scared!)

N Clear Creek Falls1

North Clear Creek Falls (before the lens fell off!)

This isn’t the first time I’ve had moments of clumsiness with my equipment.  Just a couple weeks ago, I went to Moab for the Spring Fling gathering of the Rocky Mountain Nature Photographers.  Sometime during that day, my camera caught the edge of a rock and chipped my polarizer.  (I didn’t even notice it until I was shooting later that evening.)  I’ll have to order a new one because the chip can be seen in my images, depending on the angle of the sun coming in through the lens and to some extent my subject matter (some things mask the chip better than others).  I was able to use the clone brush in Photoshop to fix it well enough in this image so it’s not so noticeable.

False Kiva

False Kiva

Back in October, when I was hiking in Dominguez Canyon, I decided to follow the creek rather than the trail to see if I could find any little cascades or intimate scenes.  After the bushwhacking, I got back on the trail and some time later I stopped and realized my polarizer was GONE.  It had come unscrewed from my lens, which was really unusual since I almost always have trouble taking the thing off the lens!  I tried to backtrack my steps and fortunately found it.

Dominguez Canyon - one of the last images I took before my polarizer fell off

Dominguez Canyon – one of the last images I took before my polarizer fell off

And of course, my ultimate faux pas was back in 2010 when I was shooting out in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  I was shooting this character-filled cottonwood in a pasture and decided to switch out the 10-22 mm with my 35-80 mm lens.  I laid the 10-22 lens down under my tripod, changed the lens, kept shooting, then walked off and left the 10-22 lying there!  I didn’t shoot any more photos on the way back so I didn’t realize until several days later that it was gone.  It was nearly a month before I had the chance to travel back to that spot to see if by the grace of God the lens was still there.  During that time (late May/early June), the area saw windy conditions and several bouts of thunderstorms with heavy rain, wind and hail.  When I finally made it back, believe it or not – the lens was right where I had put it!  I cleaned it up and it worked perfectly.

Lone cottonwood in a Chase Co. pasture

Lone cottonwood in a Chase Co. pasture

 

THERE you are!!

THERE you are!!

Obviously, I’m a photographic klutz.  I try to keep track of my equipment, but sometimes I get distracted and perhaps am not as attentive as I should be.  I really need to work on that…  All I can say is, good thing the Canon lenses I have are pretty tough.  Knock on wood, I haven’t hurt the glass itself in either lens.

Have you ever had equipment emergencies, such as dropping or leaving them somewhere?  Lost filters, batteries or memory cards?  Tripod legs fall apart while you’re shooting (I’ve had that one, too!)   Feel free to share your experiences with me, it will make me feel better to know I’m not the only moron out there 😉

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