Top 10 Photos Of 2012

My friend and fellow photographer Jim Goldstein is not only a great photographer, he invites people to share their work through his annual round-up of everyone’s best images from the previous year. I’m not one to participate in many “Best of…” lists, but it’s an honor for me to be included in Jim’s list as there is some stunning images shared on his site. If you would like to join in with your best images, follow the instructions on this post.

I picked my image for a few different reason. Most are because, for me, the images were technically difficult or rewarding to shoot. Some were just opportune moments and then there are fun or wonderful memories for me alone to enjoy. I hope the images tell you a story of the different locations where they were shot all over the world. And how beautiful our world and life can be.

For this year’s entry, I submit to you, my viewing audience, my 10 favorite images from 2012 in chronological order. Click each image for a larger version if you like.

Dinner For Two - Velas Vallarta

Shot in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at the Velas Vallarta Resort, this image was not set up for me, but for a lucky couple. It was too perfect of a setting to not shoot while before they showed up. I used a reverse graduated neutral density filter (3 stop) to hold back the sun on the horizon while metering for the foreground.

There was a lot of work in Lightroom on this one to balance the light and I have been very happy with the result. It was hard to not sit down and soak up the setting before the intended guests showed up.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO100, 10mm, f/6.3, 1/60

Sunset From Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, India

Another shot that was technically hard, and another image to use the reverse graduated neutral density filter by Singh-Ray, the sunset in India is often a time when no filter can be used, simply because the haze mutes the brightness of our star. I wanted to ensure the ancient fort and the massive city of millions was well exposed and this filter helped with that.

Shot with a tripod and patience. What appear as ants on the sand hill below are Indians playing soccer and picnicking. What you can’t experience in this image is the call to Muslim call to prayer which had just started while I was instructing one of my photo tour guests on the use of the filter.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 100, 10mm, f/9, 1/10

Resting Tiger, India

A Bengal Tiger relaxes in the heat of the morning as she is surrounded by about 12 jeeps full of tourists eager to glimpse this beautiful creature. She soon got up from her spot and proceeded to walk to a water hole while the vehicles all jockeyed for the best photography position.

I have other pictures I enjoy more, pictures where she is walking through the jungle, but nothing captures her grandeur like a nice close-up. Shot in Ranthambore National Park, India, while leading a photo tour.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 250, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320

Layers - Oman

Oman was a fun and exciting trip with my girlfriend taken in the heat before summer. In this image, the sun was getting ready to set and I simply stopped by the side of the road as the layers in the mountains were too gorgeous to not shoot. We spent a week in the country and were happy to find so many stereotypes purveyed by popular US media were not the case.

The people we interacted with were kind and warm, one of them even driving 8km out of their way, and back again, to bring us jumper cables. Then he climbed under the car and beat on the started, refusing my offer to compensate him and instead accepting a handshake and “Shukran” for his effort. It is a county to which I plan to return and explore more.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 100, 235mm, f/9, 1/800

Sabrina Being Dangerous

Traveling with my daughter is almost always fun. No so much when it gets very hot (as it was for us in Jordan in the summer) but even then she plays along with my silly ideas. I picked this image because I love her and traveling with her. We were fortunately enough to be guests of Jordan and shown the many wonderful sites the small country has to offer.

Amazingly stable in an area of unrest (they have welcomed decades of refuges from Iraq, Syrian and Palestine) this was my third Islamic country for the year (UAE and Oman being the others) and another place to which I will return for more lasting memories.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 800, 15mm, f/18, 1/60

The Treasury At Night

Petra in Jordan is one of those places people talk about being a “Once in a lifetime” trip and I pray it is not for me. I want to go back and explore for a couple of days. The architecture and hiding places. The majesty. The colors. In this photo Sabrina and I were granted special permission to go inside The Treasury, something that is not allowed these days, to get a shot I have had in mind since booking our trip.

The shot is taken after the Petra By Night cultrual event which is well worth the price of admission. While many shots show the outside of the The Treasury at night, I was very happy with the results from this unique angle.

Canon 7D, EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 640, 10mm, f/6.3, 30 seconds

Breaching Humpback Whale, Alaska

Talk about unforgettable, watching humpback whales breach and bubblenet feed in the chilly waters of Alaska was a jaw-dropping gorgeous trip for Sabrina, my girlfriend and I. We went of separate trips (one week with my daughter, one week with my girlfriend) over the course of two weeks while I shot and taught photography aboard two great vessels run by InnerSea Discoveries.

These boats only hold 80 guests and bring nature up close and personal. Shot of renting a 20′ runabout, this is the best way to view whales in Alaska. Not to mention the delicious food and inspiring locations we visit. This was my first time photographing humpback whales and I’m severely hooked. We’ll be heading to Hawaii in April for another photo themed cruise if you want to join us!

Canon 7D, Canon 400mm L, ISO 200, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/4000

Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

I love Southern Utah. Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce….so much great country to explore! I joined fellow Puget Sound photographer Michael Riffle and his wife for a few days of shooting in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in beautiful weather in October. Not only that, I was lucky to borrow a Nikon D800E and 14-24mm lens for the trip. I was in landscape photographer heaven and this trip was unforgettable.

Up early for each sunrise and up late for some start photography. One image is just not enough, so here are some more from that trip. While I love traveling internationally, Southern Utah makes an undisputed argument for never having to journey far to see world class landscapes that could fill a lifetime of exploration. I hope to return here in 2013.

Nikon D800E, Nikon 14-24mm, ISO 50, 14mm, f/7.1, 1/13

Lava Lake

I consider Hawaii to be international travel. While the money is the same and they mostly speak English, the land is so different from mainland USA that it seems a world away. That and the resurgence of colorful Hawaiian culture makes the islands feel warm and inviting. So warm, they even have lava, which is one thing you can see here and in few other places.

This was a special trip shared with my girlfriend and the chance to witness the island being created while flying over P u’u O’o, an active, sputtering hot spot on the edge of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, was a highlight for me. Located on Hawaii, The Big Island, this channel into magma beneath the surface is best viewed from a helicopter, thanks to Paradise Helicopters. If I could, I’d also include an image from our time SCUBA diving with manta rays.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 1250, 170mm, f/5.6, 1/6400

Above The Sunset

My last favorite shot from 2012 is not from some exotic destination nor far reaching corner of the planet. In late 2011 I fell in love with an amazing woman who happens to live not in Washington, but in California. As my schedule permits, I am able to fly down the coast and spend time with her often and while the regular flights might seem monotonous after a while, I have always been awed by what I see out the window when passing geography I have seen dozens of times already. In this case, I picked a window seat knowing the sun would be setting close to touchdown in Southern California and I was rewarded with an amazing display. After the sun set below the high clouds at around 20,000′, there was still sunlight beaming below. You know how you see clouds just catch fire when on the ground? It’s equally amazing from the sky. Below the clouds is Channel Islands National Park, an area we plan to explore together in 2013.

Canon 1D X, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 640, 170mm, f/7.1, 1/320, Seat 3F


It is true that picking just 10 images from a whole year of images (I shot more than 30,000 images in 2012) can painful. But it’s also fun. And I thank Jim for putting on this event to help me appreciate what 2012 brought to me in photographs.

I also want to thank those who helped me get to and take these photos, including, Velas Vallarta, Jordan Tourism Board, Mahfouz – our tour guide in Jordan, InnerSea Discoveries,, Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau and Paradise Helicopters. And the two best travel companions I can ask for on many of these trips, my daughter and my girlfriend.