14 Favorites From 2014

This is something I started last year and plan to make it an annual tradition.  Throughout the course of the year, I make a lot of images.  With digital photography, it is common for the vast majority of our photos to sit on our phones or computer hard drives and never be seen by others.  This is just one small way to rescue a small fraction of those photos from anonymity.  

In the year 2014, using various cameras, I took approximately 19,202 images.  That probably seems like a lot, and maybe it is.  Some of those photos are from close to home (i.e. in the 'backyard'); many are from various photo shoots (weddings, senior pictures, family portraits, etc.); a large portion are from my sons' sporting events; and a majority are from my travels, such as family vacations or photography trips.  

I believe that photographs are the best way to capture the natural beauty of the world around us and to document the most important events of our lives.  The images we create are of but a fleeting moment in time, but are a way of freezing that moment to be shared for generations to come.  An expression of our creative vision within the small frame of a camera's sensor in a way that may never be conveyed in many volumes of a book.

So, without further ado, and before I wax any more philosophical, the collection of photographs below represent my 14 favorites for the past year.  It was not an easy task weeding out 14 from over 19,000 images, but it was a good exercise for me to review the year's imagery to see where I've been and how my photography has progressed.  These are not necessarily my best images from the year, but they are my favorites.  Many you may have seen already, either in my blog pages or on social media or photo sharing sites.  Drum roll please...and in no particular order:

Grinter's Sunflower Farm

Mountain Stream

Hiding Out

Ready to Launch

Kansas Schoolhouse

Krug Park Autumn

Fall Color

Foggy Road

Kansas City Skyline

Canyon X

Agathla Peak

Dune Color

Road to Nowhere

Christmas at Union Station

Thanks for looking and have a great 2015!

House on Fire Ruin

Wrapping up the trip on our last full day in Bluff, our goal was to make a visit to one more of the very popular and fantastic Anasazi ruins.  House on Fire ruin is one of many located in Mule Canyon on Cedar Mesa to the north of Bluff.  This is another very well preserved ruin and is located a short approximately one mile hike into the canyon.  

This ruin gets its name from the unusual erosional patterns in the sandstone roof that appear as flames when illuminated by reflected sunlight.  We arrived here in the late afternoon, but I'm thinking that the early to mid-morning might be a better time to get the best light for this effect. Nevertheless, as the sun ducked behind the ridge to our backs, this was still a spectacular scene.

The hike in was quite scenic, as the trail followed along a small stream.  Lots of wildflowers and other vegetation complemented the rock formations along the way.  Fall color was also apparent in some of the leaves along the trail.

If you look carefully, these handprints in the sandstone can be seen near the ruins.  Luckily, Bob knew just where to look.  Otherwise, we may have never noticed these.

One last look down at the trail before heading back to Bluff for our last night.  Our trip was almost over at this point.  I hope you have enjoyed reading along and seeing some of the images I captured along the way.  Check back for a final wrap-up and to see what's next...

Face Rock & Honeymoon Arch

It seems that every rock formation in the Monument Valley area has a name.  Now, a few weeks later, it's difficult to remember them all.  Harry, our guide, for the tour, could rattle them off easily, having long ago committed each one to memory.  The passage of time, and the forces of wind, water, and ice, have left their mark on this grand landscape.  I felt it a privilege the opportunity to experience it first-hand, taking in these iconic views and making a few images, both in the synapses in my brain as well as the card in my camera.    

There's certainly no shortage of interesting shapes that have been carved into the Shinarump and Moenkopi Formations, the de Chelly Sandstone, and the underlying Organ Rock Shale.  Oh yeah, the rock formations have a unique nomenclature as well.  Those crazy geologists...!  Enjoy some images of a few here, and don't forget to click on the image to see it full size.  All of these were taken on our tour of Mystery Valley.  Glad to have you along for the ride...

Face Rock

As soon as you see Face Rock, there's no doubt why it is named as such.  Whether from a distance or up close, the unique shape of this rock is quite telling, having been carved by the hands of a great Sculptor.  The mid-afternoon sun was harsh, but a few nice puffy clouds in the deep blue sky made a nice backdrop for these images.  As I hiked up close to the base of the rock formation, I noticed a particularly wispy cloud taking shape right overhead.  From this angle, the cloud gives the appearance of smoke coming from the top of the rock.

Face Rock Smoking

Being a sucker for lots of vivid color, I don't do a lot of black and white conversions of my images.  However, I thought this one might be a good candidate.  The blues have been toned down in this one to provide a more dramatic scene and make the rock and 'smoke' seem to pop off the page.

From the images above, you can see that vegetation is sparse in this arid climate.  Believe it or not, the image of this colorful leaf was taken near the base of Face Rock.

Touch of Color

There are several natural arches in this area and we got to visit a couple of them.  I'm sure there is a story behind the names for these, but I'm not sure how that story goes.  Both of these are known as pothole arches, formed by chemical weathering from water that accumulates in depressions on top of the formation and gradually eats through the underlying layers of sandstone.  

Stout Arch

Honeymoon Arch

As the day drew to a close, we were sure to set up on a bluff overlooking Mystery Valley to capture a sunset scene of this vast open space.  From the petrified dunes capped with saucer-shaped rocks in the foreground to the buttes and mesas in the distance, there is little doubt that we were in the backcountry.  

Mystery Valley Sunset

And another black and white of this great landscape...

The sun had long settled down for the night, but the high clouds were still showing some nice color that just begged to be captured in this image.  

More to come...