A Photographer’s Journey: Best of 2015

As another year comes to a close I’ll again be spending time toady to look back on my photographic journey from 2015. This year was a much different one than years past for me. The Northwest’s drought and unusually dry summer put me into a ‘photographic funk’. The mountain wildflowers were early and short lived, lakes were low, and time was spent either under intense storms in the mountain ranges or under bluebird skies. With that said I was forced to challenge myself as well as take a photographic break for a period of time (more on that in a different post).  I continued to push myself to learn more, step out of my comfort zone, and look at different perspectives. Below I’m sharing my favorite 10 photos from 2015. 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 Teton Winter at Oxbow Bend – Grand Teton National Park, WY

Grand_Teton_Winter_Light_at_Oxbow _Bend_234

It’s become a yearly tradition for me to spend at least a few days in Grand Teton National Park. In February I decided to head to the park to see if I could find some mountain snow to explore (snow was a bit on the light side of things in the Pacific NW last winter). Having a fairly mild winter in the Tetons lent for an unusual spot of winter open water at Oxbow Bend. Filtered light throughout the early morning created unique shooting conditions mush later in the day than normal.

Cape Kiwanda Waves – Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, OR


One of my personal goals in 2015 was to spend more time photographing the Oregon Coast. My interests tend to be more oriented towards the mountains and lush green rivers and falls. I spent a chilly February day at Cape Kiwanda, experimenting with long exposures and waves. I enjoyed the warm pink glow at days end with an ethereal feel in the movement of the waves.

Springtime Comes to the Oneonta Gorge – Columbia River Gorge, OR


While not a unique find due to it’s easily accessed location, the Oneonta Gorge and falls has been on my list to visit and photograph for sometime. Many times over the past several years I’ve planned to hike into this beauty, but it never quite panned out. I’ll leave it at this: it’s a one of a kind place that is very much worth the cold and wet conditions to photograph.

Abiqua Falls Black & White – Scotts Mills, OR


One of my hands down favorite waterfalls that I’ve ever spent time at is Abiqua Falls. As the thundering creek pours into the basalt amphitheater you can’t help but be in awe of the raw power of nature. I’ve photographed the fall in color many times, so I decide on this trip with my friend Steve Cole to try a slightly different treatment. I spent time focusing on the column of water and the textures of the basalt that surrounds it.

Mark and Dan Falls – Willamette National Forest, OR


Earlier this year I stumbled upon some information that a series of gorgeous waterfalls lay tucked away in the middle of the Willamette National Forest. With a bit of luck, very hard work, and good company from fellow photographer Jeffrey Green we found what might be one of the truest definitions of a hidden gem I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

Canyon Creek Wildflower Sunrise – Mount Jefferson Wilderness, OR


Summer in the Pacific NW was certainly off from the norm this year. What in normal year occurs in a several week period in multiple locations for wildflower blooms seemed to appear everywhere throughout the Cascades in a period of about 2 weeks. I was lucky enough to time my visit to Canyon Creek right a peak bloom. If you time it just right it’s one of the best displays in Oregon.

Broken Top Best Friends – Three Sisters Wilderness, OR


Best friends sharing a perfect alpine morning in the wilderness. Ellie the adventure dog is my faithful backcountry partner on most of my adventures. There’s not a single time when I grab my camera bag or backpack that she isn’t running towards the door – ready to get outside!

Smith Rock Black & White – Smith Rock State Park, OR


I headed out to Smith Rock on a humid, hot summer day hoping for a perfect thunderstorm sunset. However, not a bit of sunset color appeared on this evening. The clouds and ominous approach of thunderstorms to the west made just the right conditions for this image in black and white.

Crested Butte Aspen Leaves – Crested Butte, CO


Walking through Crested Butte this past fall, I stumbled across a wood walkway with every color imaginable of aspen tree all around. Of course I grabbed my camera gear and began to explore the intimate scenes of fallen leaves that were unfolding all around. This first time I reviewed this image on my camera I knew it was going to be one of my favorites for the year.

Capitol Peak Clearing Storm – Aspen, CO

Capitol Peak Making of a Sunset Part 4

September and October brought fall color exploration in Colorado. With plans to visit several areas, only one had an ‘absolutely must see’ tag attached to it: Capitol Peak. I had wanted to visit this area for some time and had hoped for clouds, colors, and a sunset to conspire while I was here. Needless to say it was an incredible evening and light display.


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 2016 has in store and I’m ready for some new adventures, new images, and new friends. Happy New Year!

2 thoughts on “A Photographer’s Journey: Best of 2015

  1. Great selection Michael looks like you had a wonderful year! The last image of Colorado is my favorite, such beautiful light and colors! Best wishes to you and your family in the new year!

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