Another year is in the books and this is the time I go back and look at the previous 12 months and pick out some of my favorite photos of 2018. This wasn’t a terribly productive year as my landscape and nature photography goes. I spent a lot of time working on my weddings, families, and senior portrait business and that kept me very busy. It was a blast doing all that but there wasn’t much time left for sunrise or even sunset landscape shoots.
I did have some great opportunities for photos over the past year. I went back to Yosemite National Park in February to attempt to capture the Horsetail Firefall. Even through conditions didn’t allow for that to occur this year, I had a wonderful time camping in Yosemite Valley.
A few weeks after I returned from California, I visited probably the most epic place I can think of. My wife and I visited Iceland for an 11 day adventure. This was a dream trip. Iceland is “Candyland for photographers” as photographer Nick Page described. This statement is extremely true. Everywhere we went on the island was epic and had great potential for photos. That probably explains why about 10 of the photos on this list were taken there.
My wife also made headlines in the photography world when her guest blog post, “Playing 3rd wheel to a camera“, was published by Petapixel. It was a fun article about tips for significant others who live with and travel with someone who loves photography. I highly suggest you give it a quick read and perhaps even share it with a photographer’s spouse you know.
Over the summer, I had a wonderful time meeting and photographing a lot of great family sessions, a few senior sessions, some beautiful weddings. I also had a great time meeting a lot of you, who follow my work online, all around Door County at events in Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor, Sister Bay, and Egg Harbor.
Enough talk. :). Without further ado, here are my top 25 favorite photos of 2018. I must say that even through I didn’t take as many landscape and nature photos as in previous years, it was still extremely difficult to choose only 25. The photos here are posted in chronological order by date taken, not in order of my favorites. It was difficult enough to narrow it down to 25 so it would be darn near impossible to rank them.
Past the Light
I spent a lot of time early in the year watching for freighters as they came in to Sturgeon Bay for their winter layup. here is the Mesabi Miner making her way past the North Pierhead Lighthouse.
Winding Through Winter
The famous Winding Road at the very top of the Door Peninsula. I have plenty of images from this road, but none with a lot of snow. That changed in February when I made my way up there on the morning after a fresh snowfall.
Tunnel View Night
Taken during my first morning waking up at Yosemite. In February the Milky Way core begins to appear above the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s early in the morning though. This one was taken at about 4-5 AM.
This shot was one I noticed one day while checking PhotoPills at lunch on day. I saw that at around 9PM the tail end of the Milky Way would like up almost perfectly with Upper Yosemite Falls. Later that evening I made it out to make this image.
My final evening in the park. I gave up on the Firefall event since it wasn’t happening and decided to go to Valley View for sunset. The light reacted very well with the clouds and El Capitan.
I was hoping for snow! And the final night in the park delivered! I woke up to a some fresh snow in the valley, and all over my tent. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make some nice winter images. This image shows Yosemite Chapel with Yosemite Falls in the background.
Iceland! I have seen so many pictures of Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss and I knew I wanted to go there too. It was rainy and wet, but that only means I had the whole place to myself. Which is unreal at such a popular photo spot.
After people started arriving at Kirjufellsfoss, I no longer had the place to myself. So I ventured down a path to see what I could see near the banks of this small lake. I love reflections and this location delivered.
Being in Iceland, we also hoped for Aurora Borealis activity. It happened nearly every night we were on the island, but for 6 nights straight it was overcast. Then finally the sky cleared and the Auroras came out. I knew the perfect place. The Diamond Beach on the southern coast of the island gave me a lot of opportunity for neat photos.
Auroras at the Beach
“The sight filled the northern sky; the immensity of it was scarcely conceivable. As if from Heaven itself, great curtains of delicate light hung and trembled. Pale green and rose-pink, and as transparent as the most fragile fabric, and at the bottom edge a profound and fiery crimson like the fires of Hell, they swung and shimmered loosely with more grace than the most skillful dancer.” – Philip Pullman
Another shot from the same night as the previous photo. Also from the Diamond Beach. This shot was looking east down the beach with ice in the foreground and the beautiful ribbons above.
It was a late night watching Auroras. But I was in Iceland and wanted to take every opportunity for photos. So for sunrise I went back to the Diamond Beach.
Stokksness is a black sand beach with the epic Vestrahorn mountain in the background. This particular location is a playground for photographers. I could have spend an entire day at this one location taking photos.
Windy Day at Stokksness
It was windy and cloudy while at Stokksness but those are my favorite conditions for photos. I love how the light came out to hit the mountain in the background past Vestrahorn.
Reynisfjara is a beach in southern Iceland that has little black pebbles rather than sand. Your footsteps make an unforgettable sound as you walk down the shore. At the far end of the beach stand Reynisdranger seastacks. Yet another epic location for a photoshoot.
The mighty Skogafoss. This huge waterfall is hard to describe. It’s a LOT of water falling over a cliff. It’s very accessible too and you can walk right up to is and listen to the crash and roar of the water. If you visit during the day, the mist from the falls will surely treat you with a rainbow.
Under the Auroras
Our final night in Iceland once again delivered in the Aurora category. This is a random roadside barn that makes for a cool rustic scene with a sky of green.
Ah Cave Point. My favorite place to take photos in Door County. There is so much opportunity here for cool photos. This image was taken in June on a perfect summer morning. I timed this shot right as the sun peaked over the horizon.
Anderson Dock Sunset
Another of my favorite places in Door County. There’s just something about this “barn” that makes it a great photo location. This is a stitched panorama is about 9 shots put together to give a wide view of the particularly epic sunset.
I have been asked many times if I have any pictures of Sunflowers. I was always saddened to say no. Until this summer. I shot a senior session and we went to a sunflower field and I knew I had to go back to get some photos of the flowers.
Every hear my wife’s family gathers together for a summer campout in Lake Wazeecha, Wisconsin. One morning my wife and I both woke up super early and decided to go for some coffee. With our cups in hand we also went around the lake for a few photos. This summer was extremely hazy in Wisconsin due to smoke from wildefires as far away as California. The smoke made for a couple of weeks of spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
Cave Point Sun
Another visit to Cave Point. Since I’ve been there so many times I try to do something different every time. This morning in late August had the sun rising to line up perfectly with this scene.
Anderson Dock Waves
In late September I headed up to Ephraim with a new camera to do some testing. The wind was extremely strong so I though some long exposures of waves crashing ashore at Anderson Dock would be pretty cool.
Untitled in Autumn
I have a few shots of this road in the Autumn but none that I really loved. I wanted a shot looking right down the middle of the road at peak color. On the morning I went up I had absolutely perfect lighting as the sun shone on the leaves to really bring out their colors.
On a side note, most pictures of the road contain some unfortunately placed power lines crossing over the road. Usually these don’t bother me at all but this time I took the liberty to remove them from the final image.
First Snow at Cave Point
The year’s first snowfall came in early November. The next morning I went to Cave Point yet again. I love how the fresh, puffy snow stuck on the rocks and many of the branches of the cedar trees. The best part about visiting Cave Point in the winter is that, more often than not, you will be all alone. That’s unheard of in the summer months.
Trees on a Hill
My wife’s family is from western Wisconsin. I’ve obviously visited the area quite a bit since we met. However, I have no images of the area. This year I had a few open hours one morning to go out and explore. This was a great morning for some photos because hoarfrost developed over the night. Outside of Menomonie, Wisconsin I found a stand of 4 trees on top of a hill that made for a very cool minimalistic composition.
Looking Ahead to 2019
With 2019 fast approaching, I am looking forward to what this new year will bring. I am considering a few resolutions for the upcoming year in regards to my photography.
The first is that I am considering scaling back my print sales a bit. I will still be setting up my booth, but mostly likely only at major events around Door County. I think I need to take a summer and spend less time on the weekend in a booth. It’s a lot to have a weekly commitment when you consider my Monday through Friday day job. By scaling back my print sale schedule, I’ll have more time to recharge my batteries, so to speak. This will give me more energy to go out at sunrise/sunset to make more photos, I’ll be able to take a few days here and there to explore more of Wisconsin, and I will be better able to serve my weddings and portrait clients. I really do believe I will be a better photographer for it.
The second resolution I have is that I hope to change up my style a little bit. Well, maybe I won’t change my style, but I am definitely going to try new things. I want to practice more minimalistic compositions. I love taking epic photos of grand landscapes, but I want to focus my creative energy looking for photos of smaller landscapes that focus on single leaves, trees, rocks, and things like that. With this new approach, when I head out to Cave Point, Peninsula Park, or Anderson Dock for a morning shoot, you might not even recognize the spot. We’ll see how that goes. It’s good to try new things!
There is a lot too look forward to next year! I can’t wait until a year from now when I will look back to take a look at the photos I will have taken. Thank you for checking out my favorite photos of 2018 and I hope you have a great 2019!