Photos…I take them every day. Sometimes with my iPhone, other times with my Sony mirrorless camera, but without fail, I take daily photos. That means by the end of the year I have quite a collection.
Reflecting on the year seems to be the stock practice for the new year. For me, looking back over a year’s worth of photos is the perfect way to review the year. In both 2020 and 2021, I selected a photo for each month that I considered “best” and made my decisions simply by deciding which photo was best for each month. But this year, as I looked through my photos, I found that there were months where there was no best…for complicated reasons. So instead, this year, while I tried to select a best of the month, I let the months that didn’t have a photo that resonated simply stay blank. With a ruthless elimination process, I finally came to 12 “best of” photos and one bonus photo–more to come on that.
It seems that everyone loves a sunset photo…but honestly, sometimes sunset photos can be quite boring, each one indistinguishable from the next. My sunset photos are almost always at the beach–who can resist that ball of fire sinking into the ocean? I love when I am able to catch a bird in the sunset, and the bird almost always turns out to be a seagull since they are so common. I was delighted in January to have captured this sun, just barely above the horizon with a pelican stretched out in flight above. I love that you can see not only the wings, but also the bill in its long, oversized glory.
February was a bonanza month for me. Poor planning for my week off meant that airline prices were sky high, leaving us to scramble for a drivable adventure. We ended up exploring Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks and then continued on to Yosemite. As a Southern Californian, snow is not a part of my repertoire. Where I live it doesn’t snow, you have to go TO the snow. While we brought clothes and coats for cold weather, it seemed too much to hope for snow (and maybe a bit too scary since we are not experienced chain users or snow drivers). But when we woke up that first morning in Yosemite, the forecast was for snow and it wasn’t long into our drive into the park when we needed to stop and put on those chains that were still in their original packaging. As the morning went on, snow fell gently around us, decorating our hats and scarves and creating a magical hush as the world around us was coated in a frosting of white. As an inexperienced snow photographer, I experienced the challenges of the white and gray, struggling to find the contrast and definition in my photos. And photos while the snow fell also meant dealing with movement usually only present in action photography. Here’s on of my favorites.
And that bonus photo I referred to earlier was channeling my inner Ansel Adams. For much of the morning, Half Dome was not visible. Thick clouds created a monochromatic gray of the sky, obscuring most of the iconic peaks. But when the sky cleared enough for sunlight to penetrate, Half Dome appeared in all its glory–and who can resist a black and white filter when talking about Half Dome and Yosemite?
Spring brought a trip to the desert and another visit to Joshua Tree National Park. A decision to try our hand at night sky photography brought us into the park as the sun was beginning to set. Joshua trees have such a distinctive shape. Unlike the simplicity of cactus, Joshua trees seem to reach a multitude of bushy arms into the sky. I love the way the sun is peeking out, almost like a jewel below the Joshua tree.
Regular walks on the beach create many opportunities to see native wildlife–especially sea birds. I often see egrets, osprey, pelicans, seagulls (of course), and the usual variety of shore birds like sandpipers and whimbrels. It’s not often that I see a heron, and definitely not up close and in flight. This one flew in close, landed and searched for food for a while and then took flight–all when I had my camera in hand! I love the curve of the neck and ruffle of the brilliant blue feathers.
I’m lucky to teach at a school with a garden–and even more fortunate to discover that we have artichokes as landscaping between classrooms. I catch myself looking for photo worthy garden moments–and who can resist the green of an artichoke in the morning sun?
I spend a day every week at our local university where I direct the writing project. To counteract the sitting that comes with office work, I frequently head out for a walk around the campus. This is a place I have known for many, many years and even so, it is constantly changing and often surprises me. This photo I took in June was one of those surprises when I discovered an area formerly used by cars had become a pedestrian zone and was now painted with brightly colored polka dots. Might it be like following the yellow brick road and walking into Oz?
Summer is tomato truck season in California. I’m lucky (or unlucky) enough to drive up highway 5 a couple times a year through the central valley to visit family in the northern part of the state. For me, one of the highlights of the summer drive is photographing tomato trucks. Sometimes it’s possible to catch a stretch of several tomato trucks in a row. This last summer you can see that I caught a few–separated by another truck. It can be challenging photographing through the car window–and avoiding having a photo marked with the bugs that inevitably end up squished on the windshield. I really love the movement in this photo, along with the mound of ripe, red tomatoes visible in the truck bed.
I love a great surfing competition and this past summer we watched the annual Oceanside, CA longboard contest. Longboard surfing is so different from a typical surfing competition. Instead of the sharp turns and quick action, you get long rides with lots of walking the board…and plenty of hang ten action if you stay aware. The other bonus of this competition is being able to watch from the Oceanside pier that allow a much more close up view of the surfers.
Some of our best beach weather comes after school has resumed. September is an amazing month for beach going in these parts. Some people surf, some people play, and some people use the beach for fishing. I love the lines in this image–the poles in front and behind, the horizontal line of waves, and the surfer off in the righthand corner.
In October, we found ourselves in Columbus, Ohio for a family wedding. Before the festivities began, we spent a bit of time exploring the city and caught the glorious reflections of the sunset over a bridge. This was one of those times that accidentally turning around presented the most amazing photographic opportunity! I do love a sherbet colored sunset.
There’s something wonderful about an artist who is able to use the landscape around to bring a vision to life. Borrego Springs is well known for its large metal sculptures scattered around town. My personal favorite is this sea serpent/dragon that extends across the road into the distance. As the sun set in the west, you can see the light on the eastern mountains, creating highlights and shadows in the distance.
The Bubble Man (@ibubbledesign on Instagram) is a regular fixture at our local beach. He seems to be the pied piper of bubbles, drawing a large crowd of children every time he starts making bubbles on the beach. He loves to do bubbles at sunset, when the light creates an array of colors through the bubbles. Some days when the conditions are right, the bubbles are magnificent. And sometimes the magic happens and you get a bubble, the sunset, and a bird who flies by at just the right time.
So here is my best of 2022. Twelve favorites and a bonus in black and white. Which is your favorite? How would you select your best of 2022? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.