“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams
It is that time of the year, once again, for me to share with you my Top Twelve Photographs of the Year 2018. This is the 6th edition of a tradition that began in 2013, inspired by Ansel Adams’ quote above. Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984), is one of the most recognizable names in American landscape photography. His black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park, have been widely reproduced on calendars, posters, books and prints. He is revered by landscape photographers all over the world, and to this day his extended family continues to own and operate The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park.
2018 was a unique, outstanding and productive year. There were several milestones: a photographic journey to Yellowstone National Park in the winter, my first visit to India including shooting the magnificent and uniquely colorful Holi Festival, an opportunity to shoot the lava flows on the Big Island this year, as well as my first visit to the Canadian Rockies. In all, a rundown of all the locations photographed in 2018: Yosemite National Park (4), Yellowstone National Park, Death Valley National Park, Big Sur Coastline (2), Mt. Shasta, Big Island Hawaii, Kauai (2), and my first trip to India.
When you shoot a few thousand images, as I do on an annual basis, it is difficult to cull it all down to ‘twelve significant photographs.’ So, as in previous years, I determine my Top Twelve, and the order of the selections, by the amount of response the images received on social media. Again this year I will count them down starting with Number 12, its title, some background about each image, and some basic EXIF data.
#12. Here Comes the Sun – I have wanted to photograph in the Canadian Rockies for some time. When the opportunity arose I was able to be joined by two of my favorite photog compadres, Eric Emerson and Michael Heathman, and so this bucket list item was finally accomplished. This particular location is Moraine Lake, a glacially fed lake in Banff National Park, 9 miles outside the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 6,183 feet. The Tower of Babel is this quartzite spire rising 1,476 feet above the North end of Moraine Lake, with the summit reaching a height of 7,743 feet. We were incredibly lucky to be given beautiful morning light, an unseasonal dusting of snow, and these magnificent reflections in the lake.
September 18, 2018, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada; exp. 0.3 sec @ f/11; 16-35mm lens @ 16mm; ISO 160
#11. Star of India – On our last evening in Agra, we shot the sunset from this location with the Taj Mahal in the background. This location, not accessible to most other tourists, we were brought to by our excellent tour guide, Harsh Agarwal. He also brought his sister-in-law, who made this shot very special. After all, it was originally built for a princess! I feel obligated to write a seperate blog post about my India adventures, a truly magnificent magical mystery tour! The tour of India was organised by Ken Lee, and I would highly recommend you check out his web page for a trip to India, as well as other several other unusual and exciting locations.
February 27, 2018, Agra, India; exp. 1/60 sec @ f/16; 22-105mm lens @ 35mm; ISO 500
#10. Designs by Sandstone – These eroded sandstone ridges near Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, have always caught my eye. This image from a late afternoon shoot in early January, 2018, I did not develop until I ‘accidentally’ found many months later. This is why I have a hard time cleaning out my files until many, many months have gone by after the initial shoot. I did write a blog earlier this year about this remarkable journey.
January 9, 2018, Death Valley National Park, CA; exp. 1/160 @ f/11; 24-105mm lens @ 55mm; ISO 100
#9. Spirit In The Sky – I intended to drive home nonstop after a visit to Ashland, OR, until I saw Mt. Shasta. There were many forest fires in the area at the time, which gave the illusion that it was floating in the sky. Mt. Shasta is a potentially active volcano at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. At an elevation of 14,179 feet it is the second-highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth-highest in the state. The mountain and surrounding area are part of the Shasta–Trinity National Forest. I pulled off the main highway to capture this image just outside a town called Weed, a name apropos in so many ways…
July 9, 2018, Mt. Shasta, CA; exp. 1/50 sec @ f/11; 70-200mm lens @ 155mm; ISO 100
#8. On The Edge – A sunset at ‘my oak tree’ 10 minutes from my home, that highlighted the smoke that enveloped this area due to the worst forest fires in the history of the state of California. When I shot this image there were 16 major fires actively burning in the State. To the south of this location, the Ferguson Fire prompted Yosemite National Park officials to close the popular Yosemite Valley for the first time in 20 years, during the peak tourism season. We are all hoping for a return to normal winter conditions and look forward to some heavy snowfall and rain in the next 4 or 5 upcoming months! The color of the setting sun was created by the low lying smoke from all of the State’s ongoing fires.
July 31, 2018, Folsom, CA; exp. 1/30 sec @ f/8; 24-105mm lens @ 105mm; ISO 400
#7. Joy – This is what I feel when I arrive to photograph this location in Yosemite National Park. Around this time of the year, mid-November, the fall colors.of these trees are saturated by the early morning light that also seems to add a magical element to the reflection of Half Dome in the perfectly still Merced River. I was here this time with my son Dean J Grenier and his partner Christa Belle, who had never previously visited this magnificent national park. I always feel especially grateful to see this kind of beauty when I am taking special guests to Yosemite so they get to experience the classic and unique majesty that I have discovered and grown to love over the last many years.
November 18, 2018, Yosemite National Park, CA; exp. 1/40 sec @ f/11; 24-105mm lens @ 24mm; ISO 100
#6. Perfection – This image, shot 5 minutes apart from the above, made me give it the title ‘Perfection,’ because the fall colors, the Half Dome reflection, and the early morning light was just that – perfect! In the 6 years that I have been compiling and writing this annual blog, I have never had this phenomenon occur previously: 2 images back to back from the same shoot let alone within a few minutes of each other! It was a beautiful morning to remember, indeed…
November 18, 2018, Yosemite National Park, CA; exp. 1/20 sec @ f/11; 24-105mm lens @ 55mm; ISO 100
#5. Jurassic Park Redux – This image was captured on my second trip to the island of Kauai in 2018. I was there to visit my Aussie cousins, Michael and Sharlene Roosmale-Cocq. This is a sunset shot at Kalalau Valley, one of two of my favorite places on Kauai. The other, Ke’e Beach, is still not accessible by road due severe highway damage caused by massive rains that hit the island in April 2017. During the time of this visit we were fortunate to be spared the wrath of Hurricane Lane, although the island was lashed with howling winds and rain for most of our visit. I managed to find this particular location, that I had never shot from previously, and did for the first time because it was the only place I could find to be sheltered from the howling onshore winds prevalent at Kalalau Valley this evening. All’s well that ends well. Mahalo!
August 24, 2018, Kalalau Valley, Kauai, HI; exp. 1/60 sec @ f/14; 16-35mm lens @ 16mm; ISO 400
#4. Higher Ground – This is Moraine Lake again, shot from a high point that gives you a great overview of this magnificent landscape. We were told that it is extremely rare to be able to see and photograph snow here at this time of the year because the inroads to the location are typically closed when snow falls in winter. My 16mm wide angle lens could not capture enough of the grandeur of the landscape so I stitched together 3 separate images to create a panorama that gives a complete view of the lake and its surroundings.
September 17, 2018, Lake Moraine, Banff, Canada; exp. 01/13 sec @ f/11; 16-35mm lens @ 16mm; ISO 160
#3. Primal Scream – This was one of my first shots of lava entering the ocean around the Kapoho Bay area, Big Island, Hawaii. Getting there and back on the boat that took us out there was challenging, with rough seas and tropical downpours. It was thrilling to see the lava, which is molten rock generated by geothermal energy and expelled through fractures or fissures in planetary crust or in an eruption, usually at temperatures from 1,300°F to 2,300°F (700 to 1,200 °C). There is something primal and prehistoric about seeing lava, and my ride home was very emotional, exaggerated perhaps by getting soaked in a tropical downpour! A few weeks after this memorable experience, an explosion occurred in the same location which hit one of the tour vessels, ripped a hole in its roof and caused severe injuries to some of the people onboard. We felt very fortunate indeed to have been able to experience the thrill of this site and return home unscathed.
June 13, 2018, Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii; exp. 1/500 sec @ f/5; 150-600mm lens @ 150mm; ISO 6400
#2. This Heart of Mine – At the time this image was shot, the Hawaiian Islands braced themselves for the effects of the massive Hurricane Lane that ended up impacting certain areas of the Big Island. We spent our time in a condo right on the beach in a small town on Kauai, named Kapa’a. I captured this image on the beach right in front of where we were staying, and got in place to shoot when I began to see color in the sunset sky. Picking the right shutter speed allowed me to smooth the seas and give the sky a little more definition, with the colorful heart shaped rock n the foreground being the icing on the cake!
August 20, 2018, Kapaa, Kauai, HI; exp. 1/1.3 sec @ f/11; 16-35mm lens @ 16mm; ISO 400
#1. Before The Deluge – This image was captured two days after the one above in the same location. It was a dark and foreboding evening, with strong offshore winds and heavy gray skies but I still wanted to see what I could create in these trying conditions. I was sure that there would be no color for this evening’s sunset so I chose to go to the long exposure using a ten-stop filter. In the end, using the effects of the long exposure I was able to create a sky and ocean that was more photogenic than what actually existed. I have to admit that the heart shaped rock in the foreground was arranged to provide an item of interest, but only realized the significance of it being heart shaped when I downloaded and started reviewing my images. I think it is my favorite image of 2018 and it pleases me that it was also voted #1!
August 22, 2018, Kapa’a, Kauai Hi; exp. 120 sec @ f/11; 16-35mm lens @ 16mm; ISO 320
And there it is, my sixth annual Top Twelve Photographs for the 2018 year. Also, a continuing tradition, a few observations in closing: 1) The top two images voted on in 2018 were shot in Kauai, 2) four of the top five images were shot in the Hawaiian islands, 3) two images from Yosemite National Park, and 4) two new locations were represented this year – Banff National Park, Canda, and Agra, India.
I always feel privileged and fortunate in looking back at the end of each year to see where I have traveled to and the beautiful conditions I was given to photograph and be creative. I’d also like to express a big thank you to all those who expressed their support on my Facebook page, for taking the time to do so – it is greatly appreciated! As always, I also owe a great deal of gratitude to the many people who support my photography by purchasing my images in print form, and attending my workshops. Last but not least, the wonderful and talented photographers and friends of mine that I travel and live with during these photographic journeys throughout the year – again, my deepest thanks!
Looking forward to 2019 and wishing everybody a wonderful New Year!
DECEMBER 31, 2017