Top 10 Favorite Images from 2014

As mentioned in yesterday’s post that included a slideshow of 118 images from 2014, today I’m presenting my favorite images of 2014. With each selection I consider the technical and aesthetic aspects, but also if they hold any special memory or meaning for me.

To view my selections from previous years click on the corresponding year: 2012, 2013
To view all the images from this year: 2014

A young owlet tilts his head in curiosity in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
What’s Up?

For three days I photographed this parliament of burrowing owls in the Badlands National Park. Cautious but curious and of course cute, I woke up every morning and headed out to their burrow to quietly watch and capture their activities. Besides giving me some great entertainment and images during that time on the last day my daughters were able to join me in watching them from afar. My youngest daughter’s favorite animal is the owl so she was especially taken with this family. She named this one “Who-ey”. A quite appropriate name.

Above a bend in the Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, clouds glow purple and orange as the sun just begins to rise above the horizon.
Little Missouri Sunrise

One morning in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota the sky was quite overcast. The east was still fairly clear and I hoped that the clouds would not obscure the warm light of the rising sun. As dawn approached I waited patiently and was rewarded with a glorious sunrise over the Little Missouri River. The colors and sunrise seemed to last forever, so much so that the next image was taken about a mile down the road in a clover field during the very same sunrise. Normally, I’m thrilled when I get one good sunrise shot in a day, but on this day nature smiled upon me and gave me two.

Clouds from a passing storm are illuminated by the brilliant warm hues of the rising sun above a field of wildflowers in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Brilliant High Plains Sunrise

Sunrise…. still glowing. 🙂

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the few areas in the west where free-roaming horses may be observed. The park maintains a herd of anywhere from 70 to over 100 wild horses so that visitors may experience the area as it was during the open range era of Theodore Roosevelt. Here, the wild horses stop at a cliff overlooking a small stream at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
The Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is known for many things, but top among the list is the wild horses that inhabit the park. Allowed to roam freely as they were during the time of Theodore Roosevelt these horses are often found in fields and near streams. I watched this herd as they moved across a field of wild clover before settling on top of this great cliff. There I was able to capture this group portrait.

Celestial Witness
Celestial Witness

Besides being much different than my normal landscape of the Great Plains and Rockies, Joshua Tree National Park in California is an otherworldly location filled with haunting trees and a desolate landscape. The dry sky makes for great star photography so what better way to capture the mood than with a star field landscape

An ominous storm hovers over a two track in McKelvie National Forest. The clouds slowly roll through dropping rain over the sandhills while lightning lights up the sky and the sound of thunder fills the air.
Into the Unknown

In the sandhills of western Nebraska two track roads are common. When I travel down these roads I rarely (okay, never) see another person. Here is a place of contemplation and solitude far outside the bustle of daily life. I watched this storm move across the plains for about an hour, the thunder occasionally breaking the silence of the sandhills.

A crow taunts a Bald Eagle in high tree near his nest. Amazingly, the eagle ignored this visitor as he swooped by his head several times. Eventually, the crow tired and simply sat on this branch every so often chirping his indignation.
The Taunting Crow

Near Merritt Reservoir I found a Bald Eagle’s nest complete with a little eaglet. For a couple days I watched the family of eagles fly around the large dead tree where they had built their home. One afternoon a crow taunted this Bald Eagle. I watched as the crow swooped down over the eagle’s head several times before landing on the branch above his head.

The Niobrara is one of the most popular rivers for canoeing and tubing in the United States. On a beautiful spring sunrise, the river lazily meanders into the east as the sun rises in the distance.
A Niobrara Sunrise

The Niobrara is a beautifully scenic river that lazily snakes through Northern Nebraska. This stretch of the river as seen from a cliff high above was particularly beautiful on this clear spring morning as the sun crested the horizon to the east.

Prairie Grass Abstract
Prairie Grass Abstract

Desoto National Wildlife Refuge has always been one of my favorite places to photograph. This past autumn I took some time to just take a stroll along a couple of the trails in the park. It was overcast for much of the morning, but for about 5 minutes the sun break free from the clouds and illuminated this field of prairie grasses. They burst out with an intense golden hue and briefly the area was filled with warmth and color.

A Great Blue Heron At Schramm State Recreation Area in Nebraska
Schramm’s Great Blue Heron

Schramm State Recreation Area is another favorite photographic location of mine. Whenever I want to get away for even just an hour and watch nature I often choose Schramm. On almost every occasion there is a Great Blue Heron that is hanging out at the ponds at the park. I’ve occasionally try to get shots of the Heron, but as Schramm is a busy place he is often startled and takes off before I can setup. On this day the heron stood perfectly still, the blue of his features complimenting the warm hues of the late afternoon sun. From across the pond we studied each other until it was time for me to go.

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