A Photographer’s Journey: Best of 2014

As another year comes to a close I’ll be spending a little time toady to look back on my photographic journey from 2014. I spent more days behind the camera, more nights camping in the backcountry, and more miles under my feet exploring this year than ever before. I strived to continue to learn more, step out of my comfort zone, and make new friendships. Below I’m sharing my favorite 10 photos from 2014. Some are my favorites because of striking beauty, some have a personal story to tell,  and some pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I happy to once again share my top images in Jim Goldstein’s annual blog project. It’s an incredible gathering of photographers from around the world that Jim puts hard work into each January to showcase their best works from the past year. Please be sure to check out the other great posts once it’s completed in early 2015.

Grand Morning – Grand Teton National Park, WY

I timed my annual trip to Grand Teton National Park to coincide with the wildflower blooms in the park and meadows near Antelope Flats. I was amazed by the depth and fullness of this year's bloom. I spent two of my mornings photographing the area, the second providing soft morning light and light cloud cover over the Tetons.

I timed my annual trip to Grand Teton National Park to coincide with the wildflower blooms in the meadows near Antelope Flats. I was amazed by the depth and fullness of this year’s bloom. Spending two of my mornings photographing the area, the second provided perfect soft morning light and light cloud cover over the Tetons.

Willamette Valley Poppies – Willamette Valley/Junction City, OR

I discovered this field of poppies while driving from the coast range back to Salem. I new I had to return and spend time studying and photographing them. Surprisingly difficult to photograph, I found this particular composition fitting to frame the flowers.

I discovered this field of poppies while driving from the coast range back to Salem in early summer. I new I had to return and spend time studying and photographing them. Surprisingly difficult to photograph, I found this particular composition fitting to frame the flowers.

Mossy Grotto Falls – Columbia River Gorge, OR

Mossy Grotto Falls, as it's fondly referred to as, is a verdant green waterfall tucked away snugly in small canyon of the Columbia River Gorge. This was my "white whale' for 2014. I set out to explore this part of the Gorge in 2013, but had poor luck in finding it. I set out to find this spot in 2014 and I was blessed enough to find it and spent a morning all alone photographing it. If you do happen to stumble upon this hidden gem, please be very respectful of the area due to it's delicate nature.

Mossy Grotto Falls, as it’s fondly referred to, is a verdant green waterfall tucked away snugly in small canyon of the Columbia River Gorge. This was my “white whale” for 2014. I set out to explore this part of the Gorge in 2013, but had poor luck in finding it. I set out to find this spot in 2014 and I was blessed enough to find it and spent a morning all alone photographing it. If you do happen to stumble upon this hidden gem, please be respectful of the area due to it’s delicate nature.

Zion Narrows Glow – Zion National Park, UT

Zion National Park is famous for many beautiful vista's, but The Narrows may be it's most famous. This image holds a special place for me. I was able to share the experience of this hike with my father and my wife. It was the first time my dad and I had hiked together in a little over 3 years (if you know my history we hiked fairly often before I moved to Oregon). It was awesome to take my dad on an adventure and spend a week exploring the southwest.

Zion National Park is famous for many beautiful vista’s, but The Narrows may be it’s most famous. This image holds a special place for me. I was able to share the experience of this hike with my father and my wife who had never been before. It was the first time my dad and I had hiked together in a little over 3 years (if you know my history we hiked fairly often before I moved to Oregon) and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. It was awesome to spend a week with my dad on this adventure. I may be a grown adult now, but I’m still impressed by my dad. He not only did around 5 miles in The Narrow, but the day before completed the trip into the Subway…and the guy’s 62!

Ellie and Me at Broken Top – Three Sister Wilderness, OR

While this image doesn't capture a bold sunrise or  wild cloud patterns, it did capture my heart. It's a self portrait of myself and our Australian Shepherd, Ellie at our campsite at Broken Top. I'm never really 'solo' on solo backpacking trips, Ellie is always right there with me. She patiently waits while I spend time working on my photography, she never complains, and excitedly leads the way on the trail. I'm excited to see what adventures we'll get to experience in 2015!

While this image may not capture my typical bold sunrise or wild cloud patterns, it did capture my heart. It’s a self portrait of myself and our Australian Shepherd, Ellie at our campsite at Broken Top. I’m never really ‘solo’ on solo backpacking trips, as Ellie is always right there with me. She patiently waits while I spend time working on my photography, she never complains, and excitedly leads the way on the trail. I’m excited to see what adventures we’ll get to experience in 2015!

Deschutes River Double Fall Color – Deschutes River Trail, OR

I set out this fall to explore a handful of new fall color locations. Excitedly I headed east towards Bend  after finding out I had been excused from jury duty. I spent an perfect fall day walking along the Deschutes River Trail hoping to find fall color in the aspen groves, needless to say I was not disappointed. What began as an almost cloudless day quickly changed about a hour before sunset. The result: double fall color along the Deschutes.

I made it a point to set out this fall to explore a handful of new fall color locations here in Oregon. Excitedly I headed east towards Bend in early October after finding out I had been excused from jury duty. I spent an perfect fall day walking along the Deschutes River Trail hoping to find fall color in the aspen groves, needless to say I was not disappointed. What began as an almost cloudless day quickly changed about a hour before sunset. The result: double fall color along the Deschutes.

Sunset Glow Over Tumalo Falls – Bend, OR

I made it a point to return to Tumalo Falls near Bend to capture the fall colors that surround the canyon walls. In good years the colors are spectacular. Unfortunately I was disappointed in this year's fall colors, but noted light cloud cover hanging over the falls and decided to stay put. The result was more than I expect with a sunset glow of pink, orange, and yellow painting the sky.

I made it a point to return to Tumalo Falls near Bend to capture the fall colors that surround the canyon walls. In good years the colors are spectacular. Unfortunately I was disappointed in this year’s fall colors, but noted light cloud cover hanging over the falls and decided to stay put and see what would happen. The result was more than I expect with a sunset glow of pink, orange, and yellow painting the sky above.

Boardman Tree Farm Repetition – Boardman, OR

An unexpected stop on a road trip resulted in one of my favorites from 2014. Making my way out of town on my way to Utah, I noticed the yellow glow of the Boardman tree farms on the horizon. I couldn't pass this by without a stop. The man made planting patterns mixed with the yellow glow of fall colors made for a special opportunity to photograph.

An unexpected stop on a road trip resulted in one of my favorites from 2014. Making my way out of town on my way to Utah, I noticed the yellow glow of the Boardman tree farms on the horizon. I couldn’t pass this by without a stop. The unique man made planting patterns mixed with the yellow glow of fall colors made for a special opportunity to photograph.

Bonsai Rock Sunset – Lake Tahoe, NV/CA

My wife and I decided to head towards Tahoe as a small side trip while making our way north from Death Valley. With intention only to see the lake briefly and start heading back north, I noticed the sky setting up for a beautiful sunset. Needless to say, we stayed and were not disappointed.

My wife and I decided to head towards Tahoe as a small side trip while making our way north from Death Valley. With intention only to see the lake briefly and start heading back north, I noticed the sky setting up for a beautiful sunset. Needless to say, we stayed and were not disappointed.

 Thunderstorm Sunset at Coffin Mountain – Willamette National Forest, OR

Last, but not least. This is my favorite image from 2014. Everything came together perfectly on this evening in July. I'd spent time scouting the location  two nights before this shot was taken and hoped to catch a good sunset with all the afternoon thunderstorms in the Cascades. Weather forecasts looked good and I headed up again. No wind, clouds almost to the horizon, and peak bloom. Perfect.

Last, but not least. This is my favorite image from 2014. Everything came together perfectly on this evening in July. I’d spent time scouting the location two nights before this shot was taken and hoped to catch a good sunset with all the afternoon thunderstorms in the Cascades. Weather forecasts looked good and I headed up again. No wind, clouds almost to the horizon, and peak bloom. Perfect.

Thanks to everyone who showed their support this year, to new social media followers, more new friends made on the trail, and especially my wife, Kiersten, who continues to support my passion as a photographer. I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store and I’m ready for some new adventures,new images and new friends. Happy New Year!

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6 thoughts on “A Photographer’s Journey: Best of 2014

  1. Superb set of photos, Michael! And I agree with your comment about photographing that poppy field. It was not easy to find a good composition, and you did a much better job of it than I did.

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