I’m blogging here after what seems like an eternity. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit and photograph some amazing places. It’s been incredibly humbling to experience nature’s splendor first hand. Without further adieu here are my top 10 images from the year gone by. These include a mixture of personal favorites along with some that also ranked high as crowd favorites. Alongside each image, I’ve included a small write up of the image, and the story behind getting it. Hope you enjoy! Wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Iceland is high on every photographers list of places to photograph and when I got the chance to visit, I grabbed it with both hands. Winter is very interesting time to visit Iceland. The lush green landscape is replaced by a carpet of snow, yet a lot of waterfalls still fall upon the landscape with great fury. Here, I wanted to capture the sheer size and power of the falls. Hence I had my friend, Colby stand under the falls and shot many exposures while battling the never ending spray of mist fogging my camera lens. The trick was to find the right shutter speed which captured the texture of the water without rendering it too smooth.
Probably one of the easiest images I’ve made in 2016, but perhaps one of the most satisfying too. On this partially clear night, I returned to a small reflection pool I had found earlier in the day and tried to frame an entire sandstone monolith in it. The stars had just started to appear in the sky and they provided a nice compliment to the red tones of sandstone. I exposed the shot long enough to catch the rock formations well exposed, but also ensuring the stars didn’t streak too much. Here’s one occasion were breaking the rule of thirds helps.
Sparks at Sunset
This is a very special image for me. Conditions, composition and company. I had the best of all these three on the evening I shot this. A year ago, Marc Adamus took us all around the PNW in the pursuit of epic light. To get here on this evening, we drove all the way from Mt Rainier to Bend just so that we could have a shot at catching some nice light at this oft shot location. The water levels were lesser than imagined, and this allowed us to move closer and take newer perspectives of this lake that wouldn’t be otherwise possible. We landed on this garden of flowers growing all by themselves on a “rock island”. The light went off, and I took several exposures to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It was a trip where I learnt a lot personally, and probably came back with some of my most incredible experiences as a photographer.
River of Hope
It’s hard to express in words how surreal it was to be standing in a lush green rainforest at the height of spring knee deep in an icy cold stream. One of those rare moments in life when you blink a few times to see if what you’re seeing is real. Standing in freezing water, my feet were numb and lost sensation. As the sun rose through these trees in a lush rainforest, god beams started forming in the water. It took several tries to find the right set of brackets to get the entire dynamic range of scene in. In the end, I came away delighted at the fact that I got this image despite rather wet boots and sore feet.
Sometimes, these intimate microcosmic scenes are often a better representation of a place than a wider view. Here, I loved the arrangement of these tiny flowers amidst a sea of clovers. This image was taken at the amazing Redwood forests in Northern California. I don’t shoot a lot of abstract scenes, atleast not with much success. This image is quite special in that regard, for its simplicity and how it reminds of the scene I was standing in.
What year is complete without a gorgeous sunset from San Diego? On this evening, clouds had completely socked in the colored sky and for a long while it appeared that there would be no good light. Just as the sun started dipping under the horizon, a small gap opened up and lo and behold, there was a streak of color coming through which light up some clouds providing an excellent end to a stormy evening. The waves were weaving around the rocks and all in all, it was an awesome experience.
A search of fog and god beams proved futile, and those conditions were hard to come by. At the end of an exhausting day of exploration and hiking, my buddy Aron Cooperman and I trudged back up slower than the other guys who decided to high tail it to the car. We came across this scene where the last rays of the sun illuminated this Redwood while its neighbors were all in darkness. Given the fleeting nature of the light we had, Aron and I decided to shoot the scene with the lenses we had on. Aron went for a close up of the tree with his telephoto while I decided to go for a slightly wider view. Sometimes you miss the forest for the trees. In this case I was happy that I didn’t miss the tree for the forest.
Iceland is such a surreal place to explore, and while there are many iconic locations I managed to make images of, this one to me is pretty special. The sheer size of the glaciers that power the country is mind-blowing, and I couldn’t think of a better way to showcase that than by showing a human figure trying to scale the vast expanse of the glacier. This image was the consequence of a spontaneous action, and I didn’t realize how quickly I raised the camera to my eye and pressed the shutter. Trivia: The person is actually a crew member from a Jackie Chan movie that was being shot on the glacier 😉
I took this image during my trip to Iceland earlier this year. It wasn’t quite sunset yet, but the warm sidelight was lighting up some of the clouds and also making the peak glow. I found a reflection pool which was no more than 2 feet wide, but using the power of the wide-angle lens, I was able get the reflection of the whole mountain in it. This is a stitch of two horizontal frames for field of view. Another special feature of this image is that it’s not an image of an icon!
Pantheon of Dreams
Probably my favorite image from this year. Here’s why. I’m sleeping or at least doing my best imitation of it in a motel that brought live scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. Brrrng! My alarm goes off at 2 am. How did I get here? Just yesterday I was at the Oregon coast looking at imposing sea stacks and figuring if the waves would wipe my camera gear out. The short answer is that I was on an epic adventure with Marc Adamus and his spontaneity and unending desire to catch the best light where ever it may be was nothing but infectious. My wife and I meet the rest of the group outside. A quick look at the Satellites and Marc tells us that we were going to get socked in. My dream of getting the Milky way lining up perfectly behind the great Tahoma was to be realized on another day. Two hours later, we got back up and drove in the silent darkness up the great mountain. The crisp mountain air woke our senses up and we were off hiking in darkness, our headlamps leading the way. This summer was different from the past years. The flowers had decided to bloom much earlier, in June! As light gradually filtered in, all of us were in awe of the sight in front of us. Patches of wildflowers everywhere in the near foreground with a glacial river leading the eye to the beautiful mountain that we came to photograph. I wandered around aimlessly trying to find a cogent composition and at the same time, the sky began to erupt. It wasn’t a simple pastel pink. This was the full monty with hues of red, pink, purple in front of us and an almost surreal alpenglow emerging on the top of Rainier. The light kept getting better, and after what seemed an eternity it was gone. It is to this day by far the most insane sunrise I’ve ever witnessed in my life.