2020…an unforgettable year. While we collectively all wish parts of the past twelve months would simply disappear, I hope we all can also find aspects to be grateful for. Looking back, I feel as though I am very fortunate. No lost friends or family due to COVID. My grandmother did unfortunately pass away from old age, my last remaining grandparent, known for her amazing culinary skills…I can almost taste the meatballs and homemade pasta and sauce. I was saddened our extended family could not come together to honor her. Missing the holidays with family was also difficult, but again, I am fortunate my family was all on the same page and understanding it was the right thing to do. From a photographic standpoint, I resisted travel when closures began at the end of March. I initially thought I should go out and take photographs like crazy, especially when the initial closures were first set to only two weeks. But as time wore on, I understood the serious nature of the pandemic and I stayed home. I worked on my website. I cleared the backlog of copyright registrations. I edited hundreds of images from years gone by, and I even revamped my image catalog in a more organized way. But mixed with all the productivity was a good dose of anxiety and depression. Canceling and rescheduling workshops was the least of it as I couldn’t ask for better clients who were understanding and helpful. But watching the civil unrest and political turmoil of our nation was an unexpected burden on top of a global pandemic. Thankfully, the outdoors proved to be a source of relief, a pressure valve to let off the pent up stress. So here goes, in some what of a chronological order, my favorite images from 2020. They are a mix of my favorite images as well as bookmarks of what the year held for me and my photography.
2020 started off early. I woke up well before dawn and drove across the border into Canada by sunrise. Little did I know this one day would be my only international travel for the year! Boundary Bay was a current hot spot for short-eared owls, and being a Sony Pro member, I had the opportunity to demo the 600mm f4 GM lens along with the A9 alongside my A7RIV. While more wildlife photography was a goal of 2020, it didn’t pan out entirely as planned as a spring fox trip was canceled due to closures. However, there are a few more critter pics in the post further on!
2020 was going to be the year of workshops. I had more scheduled than any of the previous half decade. The year started off strong with a wonderful California Coast workshop with perfect conditions capped with an amazing sunrise at a location I have personally wanted to get a “keeper” shot. February was spent in Death Valley leading two workshops with great conditions and clients alike. A panorama image I have had in mind for several years came to light as I made the 3:45am wake up to catch the milky way rising over Manly Beacon in the badlands near Zabriskie Point.
While the last few images were ones I had pre-visualized, the next two were my favorites of the year for the exact opposite reason. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing an image you have in mind, but it can be equally important to be open to the possibilities of something entirely unexpected. I have a handful of locations along the coast of California I like to show clients for their interesting rock formations but until recently, I hadn’t found any great spots in Washington. But while scouting for a fall workshop, I came across this beautiful arrangement of colors and patterns. The forest scene was right before the major closures in March up in Skagit Valley. I went up to fly my drone, but the heavy fog made that challenging. As I drove down random roads, I came across this scene near the Skagit River. The soft glow of sunrise in the fog was divine.
About twelve years ago, I really got into panoramas. One reason was to simply overcome the low resolution of most cameras out at the time. Another was the technical challenge of creating them. But over the years, I realize I hadn’t created that many panoramas…until this year progressed and I found myself stitching images on land and in the sky. Here are a few of my favorite panoramas from 2020.
My summer started with a quick trip out to Palouse country. Overall it was bittersweet as I had to cancel my workshop, but I did have a “first” while there. Stopping at the Palouse Country red barn south of Pullman, I saw bushy tails bouncing around. They were definitely too big to be cats and to my surprise, it was a momma fox with her two cubs. I photographed them for awhile as they played in front of a Palouse icon. I also spent many days hiking in the mountains, sticking with the iconic locations of Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park and its surrounding areas. By far, wildflowers under twilight while getting devoured by hungry mosquitoes was the most memorable. Backpacking to the glacier below Mount Shuksan was spectacular as well.
My spring Olympic National Park workshop needed rescheduling to the fall, and it went off without a hitch! For the two weeks prior, I scouted and had a private client along the way. Spending the extra time out on the peninsula was an unexpected surprise and one I am grateful for as I often don’t get out that way. Here are a couple of my favorites from those outings.
While visions of fall color chasing didn’t happen as planned, I did find joy in exploring the Methow Valley, Washington Pass, and some snowshoeing on Mount Rainier. Here are a few images from the end of 2020.
Despite the challenges of 2020, I look back and can find fond memories through photography. Getting out to explore and photograph nature truly was therapeutic against the stresses faced throughout the year. I hope you found some moments to look back and reflect on that brought you happiness as well.