Top 10 Favorite Images from 2015

First, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016. For everyone, I hope 2015 was a great year and that 2016 will be even better. As I do annually, at this time of year I look back at the year in review. In 2015 I traveled to California, Washington, and Colorado. The new views and venues provided unique photographic opportunities. From some of these places came some favorites, but I still have a fondness for my home state and as such many of this years favorites come from Nebraska.

Previous year’s favorites are available from these posts: 2012, 2013, 2014

As with every year, with each selection I consider the technical and aesthetic aspects, but also if they hold any special memory or meaning for me. The following images are in no particular order.

After an intense day of rain a beautiful rainbow appears over a canyon in the west area of Mesa Verde National Park.
Colors Across the Canyon

I love capturing rainbows in nature, especially full rainbows. While driving through Mesa Verde during a storm, I noticed that the western sky was clearing up near sunset. Perfect conditions for a rainbow. I patiently waited and hoped for the beautiful band of colors to appear and I was not disappointed.

Clouds gather above the tops of the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park as the last warm glow of sunset grazes the peaks.
Serenity and Peace

Rocky Mountain National Park has a special place in my heart which is probably why there are two images on this list from that park. Besides visiting there several times with my family I have taken two long treks through the backcountry and climbed Long’s Peak. On my last trip through Colorado due to tire issues I only spent one day and night visiting, but it was enough to witness this beautiful sunset across the Rockies, complete with Long’s Peak on the far left.

A young elk calf pauses in Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, the fur glowing in the warm morning sun.
Feeling the Warmth of the Morning Sun

I watched this young elk calf and mamma drink from the Big Thompson and run through the tall grass in Moraine Valley for a good 30 to 45 minutes. I captured many images of the two of them and it was very hard to choose a favorite. I ultimately settled on this one because I really loved the light on this one.

As the sun sets in the west in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the last glow of the day skims the canyon walls to the east.
Sunset Over the Black Canyon

I have read about Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on multiple occasions and it was always on my short list of places to visit. This summer I spent three days exploring this beautiful park and photographing the canyon walls. On my first evening I captured this image of the majestic canyon as the last warmth of the sun hit the canyon walls and illuminated the clouds in the distance.

The city of Seattle stretches out into the distance from the vantage of the Space Needle.
A View of Seattle

In choosing this image this is really more about an emotional connection than composition, light, or subject. Growing up I had a lot of family in Seattle including my grandparents. I would often visit and every time I came they would take me to the Seattle Center and to the top of the Space Needle. As an adult, I had last visited Seattle in 2000 so it had been quite a while since I had been there. On a short trip in November I took the opportunity to once again go to the top of the Space Needle one night to see the lights of the city. It was a nostalgic and enjoyable experience for me and this photo will always remind me of that.

At Arbor Lodge State Park in Nebraska City, a fallen fiery red and orange autumn maple leaf rests in the grass as the last of the evening sun skims across the park causing it to glow one last time.
A Final Moment

A yearly family sojourn to Southeast Nebraska’s Arbor Day Lodge State Park in the autumn always yields some great apple fritters and some great fall photos. This bright orange maple leaf on the verdant grass glowing in he setting sun caught my eye and I spent almost an hour photographing it’s beauty from various angles.

On a clear night at Niobrara State Park, I setup on the railroad trussle converted to a footbridge near the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers. Using a flashlight I lightpainted the bridge while exposing for the stars. In the distance the lights of Niobrara can be seen glowing on the horizon.
Through the Night

I rarely do any night photography, but on a clear night in rural Nebraska where the lights of civilization are few and far between, I take the opportunity. In this case, I used a bit of light painting on an old tussle converted to a foot bridge. It was a bit of fun and different from my norm.

Clouds form in the evening over Ft. Robinson State Park in northwestern Nebraska. Originally, a U.S. Army fort it has a checkered history in regards to the conflicts with Native Americans in the late 1800s.
Fort Robinson Twilight

For the last couple of years I had wanted to go hiking at Fort Robinson in Northwestern Nebraska and climb the bluffs that dot the landscape. On this evening stormy clouds had just passed through and the last light of the day tried desperately to get through. Stillness prevailed with the exception of the occasional breeze and birds chirping in the distance.

A burrowing owl watches for prey on the Oglala Grasslands from a fencepost.

After last years adolescent burrowing owls, I have been on the lookout for more of these big eyed critters. While driving through the Oglala Grasslands I spied this adult flying between posts. He couldn’t have posed more perfectly for me.

Glorious Finale
Glorious Finale

During a short trip to Southern California I made it to the Pacific. It was the first time since 2009 I had seen the ocean. I took the opportunity to kick off my shoes and wade in. As the sun began to dip into the water I enjoyed a beautiful sunset and captured the waves as they crashed to shore.

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