2020 Year In Review

Enjoying a quiet moonlit night in the Snowy Range of Wyoming

This year was unlike any other I have experienced. The first 2.5 months were not so bad and I packed a lot of travel into a very short amount of time. Ending 2019 in Oregon for a couple weeks and being able to see my dad was a blessing. Mid Dec 2019 we were learning of what was happening in China, hoping it would stay there. That wasn’t the case. I arrived back home just after new years and got to spend some time with my family before embarking on a journey to Eastern Europe where I spent 8 days in Tallinn Estonia with a friend. While traveling back home we had a layover in Amsterdam and before getting on our plane we were asked if we had been to China or been in contact with anyone who had been in China. I’ll admit that I kind laughed it off at the time. I mean, modern science/medicine had taken care of all the deadly viruses, right? Wrong!

I was home for a couple days before taking off to Texas with my family to see a concert and visit friends on Feb 8th. Travel was easy, no restrictions and we Uber’ed all over Dallas that day in total freedom before arriving at American Airlines Stadium for a concert that was sold out. 20k people less than a foot apart for 4 hours… It was amazing and one of the best times I had with my family this year. Next up was Bandon, Oregon to teach a 4 days photography workshop on Feb 20th…Still no restrictions. We had great weather and really enjoyed our time on the southern Oregon Coast.. March 6th-9th we took off to Delaware for a little east coast time. No restrictions but there was quite a bit on the news about it… We got home on the 10th and it was only a few days later the world came to a screaming halt……And you know the rest of the story… Well here we are, 2020 is over and 2021 has begun.

I would be lying if I said 2020 was a horrible year for me…it wasn’t. Aside from not being able to host our workshops and not being able to eat out in restaurants, things weren’t all that bad. I work from home since I am self employed, the work I do do doesn’t involve many if any people and I got to spend more time with my family (Wife and daughter). We did have to cancel some travel plans, I have not seen my dad since Feb 2020 and I am really missing the beach.

All this being said, I did get to travel stateside and do quite a bit of photography on a personal level. This is one of the true joys of being a landscape/astro photographer. Since April I have been to Kansas x3, Nebraska x2, Iowa x2, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota. So needless to say, I don’t let the grass grow under my feet.. People always say, “how can you do that?” “I wish I could do that.” Well, here is my secret. I travel alone, I pack my food before I leave and put it in a big cooler, my car gets about 50-60mpg and I sleep in my car 3 nights for each night I stay in a hotel. Trips that are 3 nights or less don’t require a hotel. I travel cheap and keep expenses low. This helps me pass on the great deals to those of you who purchase prints.

So like last year’s blog post I am going to do the same thing this year. I will showcase a couple/few images for each month of the year and talk a little about them. There is no way I could pick 10 or 12 images that would properly tell my yearly story. Without further ado, let’s get to the photography!

January

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 64, F/9, 3 seconds

“Monks Alley” AKA St. Catherine’s Passage

Tallinn Estonia – Built over 700 years ago and lined with predominantly 15th-17th century residences. It has a wonderful medieval atmosphere and was last restored in 1995. As I mentioned above, I like to travel alone or with very few people for photography trips. It was only a friend an I on this trip but one of the reason we decided to travel to Estonia in the winter was because of how few people were there. I had seen images from a friend who traveled here the previous year and that was what sparked my interest. The stonework and evening light played well with each other and the lack of people walking down the alley made it pretty easy to capture a great image like this.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 31, F/11, 20 min single exposure

“Viru Gates”

If you look up Tallinn Estonia on the internet, I can promise you an image just like this will come up. This might be the most popular structure/view in Tallinn. The Viru gates, entrance into Old Town, were built in the 14th century and the 2 towers you see here are part of the orig structure. The main tower of the gates was built from 1345-1355. Just to my left was one of the most beautiful flower markets I had ever seen. The flowers were bursting with color and they had a little bit of everything to offer us. It’s hard to believe from this image but on the day we were here it was actually quite busy with people. It rained most of the time during our trip but this was a very nice day and I think all the locals came out as well. Why don’t you see anyone in this image, you ask? It’s a 20 min single exposure. In order to make sure none of the people were showing I had to shoot a super long exposure in the middle of the day. I used a 15 stop ND Filter, the lowest ISO on my camera and an F stop of 11 to allow me a long enough exposure that all the people would disappear.

February

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 180mm, ISO 31, F/14, 0.6 seconds

“Splash”

I was so happy to get back to one of my favorite spots in the world. While visiting the beaches near Brookings, Oregon I found this unique overlook that gave way to a view of a secluded beach. You’d have to do some canyoneering to get down there. I used a long lens and shot several images as the waves came up and hit the rocks. This is only one small portion of the beach. I was fortunate enough to capture this wave just at the moment when it hit the rock and exploded. It’s hard to tell from this image but the splash is between 10-15 feet tall.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/10, 25 seconds

“Port Orford Pools”

During my Oregon Coast workshop, one of the evenings we visited the beaches of Port Orford, Oregon. Port Orford has always been a special place for me since the beginning of my travels to the southern Oregon Coast almost 20 years ago. It’s a gorgeous beach with very few people and nice views of the sea stacks. On this particular evening we visited during low tide which helped to create these pools of calm water in the sand. The tide was actually in the process of coming back in but we were able to take advantage of a wonderful sunset while the pools remained calm.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 200, F/3.2, 0.5 seconds

“Fire in the Hole”

Bandon, Oregon is a photographers dream….Shhh…don’t tell anyone… Actually I think the cat is out of the bag now and the dedicated ones are willing to travel to photograph its beauty. I joke about this because years ago it was rare that I would ever see anyone on the beaches of Bandon and now now there are more people. Lucky, the beach is rather large and expansive so you’re never close to people if you don’t want to be. Also, I do most of my work there in the late Fall and Winter so there are even fewer people. The southern Oregon Coast is far enough from any major cities that most of the people who live in those cities use their time to go to closer beaches..

In February the sun set at the right angle to shine its light through this opening in the rocks. The water also pounds its way through the rocks when the tide is coming in. When I saw what was happening I had to get a shot or at least try. This image is the result of knowing my camera, understanding the histogram and being able to use the correct shutter speed to keep the details in the water. Not only was timing crucial, I also had to make sure that I was exposed properly so that I could capture as much data without blowing anything out so I could properly process it when I got back home. A shot like this would not work well as an HDR because of the water moving. Trying to take several exposures to blend later would have been a lot of work too. In the end I decided on shooting it properly with one shot. Exposing for the highlights allowed me to capture all the data I needed to work with. When the water comes through the hole it can totally block out the sun before pushing out like you see here. It was a tricky image to shoot and I welcomed the challenge.

March

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 98mm, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1 second

“Moon, Venus & the 7 Sisters”

This year was filled with great things to see and photograph in the night skies. With Covid taking over the USA and things shutting down, it was time for me to stay close to home. By that I mean here in Colorado. With the uncertainty of everything going on I stuck very close to home. So close that I actually shot this image from my deck in Littleton, Colorado. When I was done I just went back inside. It was kinda nice but it doesn’t make for a great story and that’s life… I roll with the punches.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 16mm, ISO 8000, F/3.2, 15 seconds, 36 images stacked for Noise Reduction

“Rustic Nights”

I had learned about this barn about a year earlier and I kept looking at it on google maps trying to understand why I hadn’t seen any other images of it. It sits out in the middle of a field, nothing else around it and it faces north. This means that it’s in the perfect location to shoot the Milky Way over it. With a little planning from PhotoPills I was able to nail down a window of about a week that it would be good to go shoot it. I kept an eye on the weather and when I saw a good opening I went for it. Sure enough, middle of the field far far from anything or anyone else and right on time the Milky Way was rising into the perfect position. This was shot in March and I still have not seen any other images of it. I hope this barn sticks around for years to come…It looks like it has some good bones. I am looking forward to shooting it again this year. Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are just to the left of the tip of the barn.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 20mm, ISO 3200, F/2.8, 20 Seconds, 36 images stacked to reduce noise

“Spring Milky Way”

I always get a little giddy when late Winter, early Spring come around and the galactic core of our Milky Way shows itself just before sunrise. Again, I shot this image very close to my home on the first day of Spring at 4:30am. It was bone chilling cold as I was looking for a composition. I don’t generally shoot night stuff so close to my home so I had to doing a little scouting. I came across this fence that was going to have to work. During this time of the year if you don’t already have a place picked out or you’re late getting there, the sun will come up and the milky way will be gone. Again you can see Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on the left side of the scene.

April

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 70mm, ISO 64, F/5.6, 1/200th second

“South Platte Snow”

Colorado seems to get more snow between Feb and May than it does between Nov and Jan. I can work with that. I prefer the snow over clear blue sky days anyway. During these snowstorms the skies are not always great but the snow creates lines and shapes that we can’t see otherwise. Not wanting to sit in the house and not being able to go much of anywhere I decided to head over to the State Park near my home. Never did I realize when I moved to Colorado that I would spend so much time at a State Park. Chatfield State Park is a 2 min drive and an easy “go to” spot when I just need some time outside to shoot. As I was driving around I looked back and this bend in the river caught my eye. I also liked how even in a snowstorm I could still see the warm colors of the bark on the tree on the left.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 95mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/100th second

“Tree in the Fog”

This is another image from Chatifield Lake State Park. We have lived here in Colorado for almost 8 years now and on one hand I can count the times that I have seen fog in Colorado. I’m not sure if it’s just our location, but it doesn’t happen very often. When I entered the park and saw how thick the fog was I got excited. I already had in my head what types of shots I could get and was hoping for. Pre-visualization can be very important when doing photography. If you already know what you’re looking for or hope to achieve, it can make the shooting part of it easier. I was sure hoping to find a single tree like this and I did. The fog didn’t last long and as soon as I finished shooting this it started to burn off. The next image (below) was shot 3 min later.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 68mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/160th second

“Morning Burn”

May

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 100, F/6.3, 1/20th second handheld

“Backroads Sunset”

It’s now May, I’ve been in the house and very close to home for 2 months and cabin fever is setting in. I need to get out…I need to explore…I need to scout places i’ve been collecting on Google maps. After careful consideration I decide to take a solo road trip over to Eastern Colorado for the day. Exploring the back country roads and checking out places I had pinned in my maps was just what I needed. Being in the car allows me to think and simply take time for myself. I had just finished scouting this amazing barn and was headed on to another location as I came upon this scene. This road I am on here is probably 8 miles long and loaded with these small hills. The sun was setting and very low on the horizon with the light being lightly filtered through the clouds. I loved what this scene said to me and the feeling it gave me as I was beginning to end the day.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 31, F/11, 1/4th second

“Sunset Lightning”

Another trip to North Eastern Colorado to shoot an old schoolhouse turned into a lightning storm and an epic fail on the schoolhouse. After scouting the schoolhouse I decided to drive around a bit more and see what I could find. Right behind me there is an old abandoned home I was checking out when I noticed the lightning striking on the horizon. The home did not offer any decent comps so I moved across the street where I saw this tree. I set up and braved the crazy winds. The sun was behind the clouds but about to set which gave a nice glow on the horizon. I took several shots and ended up liking this one the best as the road lets the viewer travel though the image past the tree towards the lightning.

June

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 28mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/50th second

“Barn With a Sad Face”

In the corner of Southwest Nebraska is a very sad barn. It’s beautiful in my opinion and my goal this evening was to photography the Milky Way over it from the other end. I was able to do that eventually but during sunset the wispy clouds complimented the faded colors of the barn and I noticed that the barn looked sad and I wanted to get a picture of it. This old barn is tucked away down a dirt road behind a bunch of trees and it can not be seen from the main road. Because the homes down this road are abandoned (not lived in) there is not much need for anyone to travel down these roads. My friend does know the owner of this property and was supposed to meet up with me on this particular night but other but ended up not being able to. The barn and old home are something I am looking forward to going back and photographing again when he is with me so we can properly access the property. This image was shot from the public dirt road so no trespassing was being done.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/11, 1/125 second

“Roseman Bridge”

Built in 1873 and spanning 107 ft in length at it’s original location the Roseman Bridge was renovated in 1992 at the cost of $152,515. Featured in the movie, “Bridges of Madison County”. After being quarantined and isolated away from people for a while I decided it was time to go see part of our country I had never seen before… I can’t sit at home for too long or I go stir crazy, it’s just not me. Road trips are my escape. I have a niece who lives in Iowa so my daughter and I loaded up and went to visit. My niece had been quarantined for several weeks, we had been quarantined for several weeks so we felt safe making the 9 hour drive (my car can make it from Denver to Iowa without stopping for gas). While we were there we wanted to do things that would get us outside but not be around people and we decided to do the self guided “Bridges of Madison County” scenic tour. It was great. Iowa is so green and when I tell this to people who have never been there they don’t believe me. Remember I grew up in Oregon and it’s super green there but I have to say, Iowa is just as green if not greener. When the corn is growing you can see green for miles and miles. The day we did the bridges tour it was nice and overcast so the light was even and I was able to get decent textures in the clouds.

July

Nikon D850, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 5000, F/2.5, 8 seconds, 42 images stacked for noise reduction

“Special Guest at Midnight Mass”

After a few months of road trips just to get out of the house to shoot and not really having any kind of a master plan, Comet Neowise shows up. I think I can speak on behalf of most people in the photography community or any community really, that this event was a true joy of 2020. Even people who were staying inside left their homes to see this amazing comet grace our night skies. It was here long enough that I think most people were able to see it and oh what a treat it was. There was so much info about it on the internet that anyone could find it and see it. This event was very exciting to me. After a little planning I knew that the comet would be in this exact location at 10pm on July 23rd. I arrived for sunset only to find lots of clouds. I also knew that based on my weather app on my phone that the clouds would start fading around 9:30pm giving way to generally clear skies from 10pm on. My PinPoint weather app has been the most reliable weather app I have ever used and I trust it. I set up my camera as the clouds started to part and just like clockwork, there was the comet. Neowise flying high in the sky right over this old church on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. I used a small light to illuminate the inside of the church and we photographed the amazing event.

Nikon D850, Sigma 85mm 1.4, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 4 seconds, 70 images stacked for noise reduction

“Neowise over The Citadel”

This is another shot I was able to capture of the comet over The Citadel in Colorado from Loveland Pass. Neowise was appearing just after sunset so the slight glow was still lingering around when the comet appeared.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 8000, F/2.8, 2.5 seconds, 96 images stacked for noise reduction
<p class="has-text-align-center" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>"Neowise"</strong>“Neowise”

I had to get a close up of this amazing visitor. The 2 tails were very impressive to see and capture.

August

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 17mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 25 seconds – separate shot for the moon to eliminate blurring

“Wild Night On the Plains”

Summer storms on the Eastern Plains – What a night this was to experience. I met up with a couple friends to shoot this old homestead and as luck would have it we ended up shooting a lightning storm just after sunset and then the stars came out later on. Meanwhile, during sunset, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner. He was a really nice guy and he gave us the story on the old home about how his grandparents used to live here. After talking to him for a while I told him I’d be more than happy to get some prints made up for him of the images I had taken over the years. He gave me his address and we said our goodbyes for the evening. I don’t think he really believed me but a few weeks later I went back to his place and found him working outside on his tractor. I told him we had met a few weeks ago and that I had promised him I would bring him some prints. I gave him 10 different 8×12 prints that I had shot of his place and he was super happy. He told me his sister was going to love them because the old place had a lot of special memories for her. We know this old place wont be around much longer so it was very nice that I was able to connect with the owners and give them some images.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 255 seconds

“Sunset Rush Hour”

Colorado skies were filled with smoke this summer and my heart goes out to all of those who lost family members and or properties in the fires. It was really a horrible time compounding on the growing number of Covid cases. This is another image not far from my home which looks west towards the Front Range and Rocky Mountains. I captured this image of a smoke filed sky just after sunset. We had crazy orange skies for many many days this summer and at times it was hard to be outside and breathe. Nature can be brutal and harsh but at the same time it can create some beautiful scenes like this that help to put people at ease.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/15th second +1 EV

“Sunset in the High Country”

An old barn under the partially filled smokey skies near Grand Lake, Colorado at sunset. This was just another reason to get out of the house and click some images. I had not been here before and wanted to see this place for myself. I met up with 2 friends and we were graced with gorgeous sun rays coming out of the clouds and some really nice light on the face of the old barn.

September

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 5000, F/2.8, 10 seconds, 30 images stacked for noise reduction

“Orion Over Estes Park”

If you know me on a personal level, you know I am always early for everything. Being late is something I just don’t understand at all and don’t have much tolerance for. My wife and I wanted to go see and hear the Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park one day during their rut. We left early enough that when we got there we could hear the elk but not see them. I got out of the car to look around and noticed Orion over the town of Estes Park. The thin layer of clouds was doing a great job of diffusing the stars, making them brighter than usual. I set up my camera to capture this gorgeous scene from Moraine Meadows. Shortly after this image was captured it began to get light out and we could see the elk not far from us.

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/40th , -3 EV

“Old Town Sunset”

With the afternoon storms still happening these gorgeous wavy clouds were mostly grey all afternoon until the sun started to set. They changed colors from pinks and blues to oranges and purples. It was probably the most beautiful sunset I saw all year. And just like most days in Colorado, the clouds went away and the stars came out. We had a gorgeous view of the Milky Way over this old store most of the night. We met one of the locals on this night and he told us about some of the shenanigans that went on around town when there were more people living here. Now, this old store sits on a dirt road corner, empty.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 175mm, ISO 200, F/5.6, 1/60th second

“At the Water’s Edge”

I love Fall and I love how not all the plants and trees change colors at the same time. The color variations are a big part of what make the season so wonderful. My plan at this location was to shoot sunrise with a much wider view. As I was down near the water looking more to my right with a 14mm lens I noticed they way the light was hitting these bushes/small trees and reflecting in the water. I quickly pulled out a longer lens and was able to capture it before it was gone. I had trees behind me that the sun was shining through and in only a manner of minutes the light went behind one of those trees and was gone.

October

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 18mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/125th second

“Great Filling Station”

After being in Colorado for the last 3 months, it was time, once again, for me to spread my wings and go see some new things. I needed and wanted to see some new places that I had never been to before. Being cautious and aware, I loaded up the car and took off on a road trip from Denver to Madison, WI. The 4 images I share with you from October will all be from this trip. Now I’ll admit that I did have a few places picked out that I planned on stopping at and visiting. My end point was an old Grist Mill in Wisconsin. This image above is one of those totally random finds and the reason I try not to take the main freeways or highways. The backroads are always filled with better scenery. After I had crossed into Illinois and was headed north I passed this little place… I kept driving for a couple miles and usually by this time I would have kept driving but something told me to go back..One thing to note is that I rarely come home the same way I get to a place so I knew that I would not see this place again on this trip. I drove back, parked on the side of the road and started taking images. A guy came out, got in his Jeep and pulled into his driveway like he was getting ready to leave. I asked if this way his place and he said yep it was. I asked him if it was ok to shoot some pictures and he said, “sure, just pull your car down into the driveway so it’s off the road”. I said ok, thanks. He then left and took off somewhere so I stuck around and got some images of the old truck and gas can. This was just a super unique find an I am so glad I went back to shoot it.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/13, 1.6 seconds

“Hyde’s Mill Sunrise”

Located near Madison, Wisconsin this was my end goal for the road trip before turning around and heading home. When I arrived here it was already dark and there were billions of stars in the sky. I was super surprised to see how dark the sky was in this area. It was also fairly cold. The water must come from someplace that warms it because at night in the dark I could see steam coming off the water and it really made the scene kind of murky. I did take a few long exposure shots to make some star trails but nothing that ended up being that exciting. When the sun did start to rise and I noticed the clouds and the fall color that was hanging on I began to get a little excited. I knew it had potential. Had I been there a week or so before, there may have been more leaves on the trees but I liked how the bare trees played into the scene with the old mill. The mill was built in 1850 on a stone dam with a beautiful wooden water wheel. After shooting the sunrise I explored more of the area and began my way back home.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 38mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/2000th second, -4 EV

“Our Lady’s Sunset”

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church aka Wilson Church – This is one of the places I planned to go, and I am glad I did. I spent most of my day here just enjoying the view, sitting in my lawn chair relaxing after being in a car for so long. I like to be patient when I need to be and this was one of those times. While I was sitting here a man came up on a 4 wheeler, he was the grounds keeper and just asked me what I was doing and keeping an eye on the place. I told him I was just here to do some photography and then some night shots when it was dark. He told me that the board of directors was thinking of tearing the place down because of all the recent vandalism that had been happening. He wasn’t sure when it was going to happen but that there had been talks. It wasn’t long after I got home and sure enough there was news about it being demolished in the near future. The cross came down on Jan 5th and based on friends IG post there is a gentleman who is working to save and reuse some of the wood. The pews have been gone for years. If you have anything you want to photograph or visit, go do it. Nothing lasts forever and you sure don’t want any regrets. I am very thankful I was able to photograph this beautiful church before the cross came down and they began the tear down. This gorgeous church was built in 1918, 103 years old…

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 100, F/8, 1/5000th second, -4 EV

“Old 55, Your time is Up”

Through photography I have been very fortunate to meet some great people from all over the world both on the business side of photography as well as the personal side. I am very thankful for these friendships and the opportunities they provide. On my way home from my trip I made a stop in Kansas for a few days. A friend of mine had lined up permission for us to do some photography on a private ranch. A very large ranch I should mention. With the help of a side by side 4 wheeler we explored the ranch and some of its offerings. There was old trucks, tractors, stone cellars, and homesteads. Towards the end of the day we arrived at this old 55 Massy-Harris tractor. It sits up on this little hill overlooking the valley below. The sky, still filled with smoke from the wildfires all the way from Colorado were turning this burnt orange color. We knew this was going to be the place for a sunset photo shoot. The rust on the tractor matching the smoke filled skies was a perfect combo. I was particularly drawn to the flat tires. When I close my eyes, I see this tractor in its working condition doing the work that needs to be done to keep the ranch going.

November

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/6.3, 20 seconds

“Little House Under the Stars”

Eastern Colorado, Sunset, Tiny house, Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. In this very very small town we met a young man who was willing to answer our questions about the nearby area and we told him what we would be doing so if he saw any lights not to be alarmed. He said there wont be any problems and told us to have a good night. The beginning of November was when people really started talking about the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn that was going to take place on Dec 21st. It was fun to watch the 2 planets get closer and closer together as the first day of winter drew closer. After I got home I did some research to see if I could find out any info about this house. I called the assessors office and they were very happy to send over what they had. The house had 2 sales on record and the last one selling for $300 back in the early 90s. Based on the news papers we found inside the house has not been lived in or had anything done to it for many years before that. I have the owners name and address now and hope to send them an image of it in the near future.

7 image pano – Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 100, F/13, 1/60th second

“Spanish Sunset”

Southern Colorado is still a rather un explored part of the state for me. I took a drive one afternoon looking for old abandoned places and doing some scouting for potential Milky Way shoots. At the end of the day I arrived at this small meadow looking towards the Spanish Peaks. I liked the way the warm light was hitting the lingering fall colors in the trees as it graced the small hills of the meadow. This is a location you may see in a couple months when I return to shoot the Milky Way over these gorgeous peaks.

December

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/40th second

“Winter at Monument Rocks”

Last trip to Kansas for the year and what a great trip it was. We got to explore some old abandoned buildings with owner permission, I had the pleasure of meeting some distant cousins of mine that I did not know I had and I got to see snow at Monument Rocks. Monument Rocks is a unique feature in Kansas that comes from when the inland sea split the USA many millions of years ago and this was at the bottom. The Niobrara Chalk is a geologic formation that was deposited roughly 85 million years ago. It’s very fragile and crumbles easily. Harsh Kansas weather is slowly taking it’s toll and deteriorating the formations. Even in the 5 years I have been visiting and photographing them, I have seen the changes.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 19mm, ISO 6400, F.2.8, 13 seconds. 30 images stacked for noise reduction and 28 images of meteors

“Sylvan Grove Meteor Shower”

Before I knew I had relatives in Kansas, my trip to Kansas was planned around the Geminid Meteor shower. I had a few places picked out that would work and this old stone house was one of them. On the night of Dec 13th we braved the frigid cold temps and let our cameras work for a couple hours capturing the shooting stars across the night sky. Each of the meteors you see here were blended by hand in Photoshop in the exact location where they fell. I loved that the late season Milky Way was still visible in this sky and in the right location for this image. This is the first meteor shower I have successfully shot in all the years I have been doing photography. Now that I have a better grasp on it, I plan to do more.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 31, F/14, 1/4th second

“Ice’s Eye”

This is kind of a random, lucky image. I had went over to the lake by our house one morning to photograph the sunrise not really know what kind of condition the water would be in. I knew it was cold but not sure how frozen it was. I was pleasantly surprised to see these unique patterns in the ice. The ice was fairly thick in this spot which allowed me to walk on it and set the camera up for a better shot. I was able to get down really low and use a wide angle lens to create a dramatic foreground while still capturing the colors of the sunrise.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/800th second, -3 EV

“If It All Falls Down”

The final sunset of 2020…saying goodbye to an incredibly bizarre year. On Google Maps the back part of the house is still attached. I’m not sure when it fell off and at first I was a little upset that it has fallen since my plan was to shoot the setting moon over it the next morning. Then I realized it’s the perfect ending to a year that in so many ways has been unpredictable and full of surprises, what’s wrong with one more. I truly enjoyed this sunset. I enjoyed my time being here, alone in this part of Colorado. I had time to reflect on all that had happened and how thankful I was to be healthy with a loving family and a roof over our heads. Thankful for our friends near and far, thankful for the new connections I made in 2020. Thankful for all of you who take the time out of your day to read my blog, visit me on social media and help me be inspired by the work you do.

Some special thanks to the companies who help support my work and companies I work with

Robus Tripods and Ballheads – Vantage Series 5558 and RTH-1050 Ballhead

Sigma Lenses – currently using 14-24mm, 50mm, 85mm, 70-200mm and 24-105mm

Moab Legion Papers – Juniper Baryta, Entrada Textured, Somerset Museum Rag, Exhibition Luster

Englewood Camera – A great local camera shop and printers in the Denver Area

Nitecore Lights – Too many to list…check them out.

If you wish to view or purchase any of these images or any of my images you can do so a couple ways.

Darren White Photography Website – Contact me directly for best prices or simply use discount code CPJASS for up to $50 off your purchase.

Darren White Photography Instagram – Let’s connect and inspire each other.

Darren White Photography Facebook Page – Daily posts, what’s happening and special offers.

If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me, I am always happy to answer questions.

2017 – My Photography Year in Review

What a year! 

This year has been filled with ups and downs like most any year. I started off 2017 standing on the beach in Southern Oregon, the same way I ended 2016. Oregon is my forever home in my heart and soul. You will see some images from Oregon in this blog post. Everything was going well until Aug 11th when I tore my right calf muscle and couldn’t walk. This really puts a damper on outdoor photography. I started PT a few days after it happened and had a walking boot to help me walk.  Due to this injury I had to cancel a workshop in the Tetons which was a real bummer not only for me but for my clients who were coming from Austria. Through emails I was able to guide them into the right places at the right times for what they were looking to shoot. They also came over for the event of the year, the eclipse!  It was great to see the great images they were able to capture and I am looking forward to working with them again in Utah this year!

Summers keep me busy with night photography workshops in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, teaching students of all skill levels everything they could want to know about night photography. I work with Mike Berenson on these workshops to help provide the ultimate experience for our students. In fact, this year in Moab, Utah during our workshop in May our 12 students were treated to seeing the Northern Lights while we were at Delicate Arch! Yes, you read that correctly. One of our students called it, “an experience of a lifetime.”

Also this summer my daughter and I spent a good amount of time traveling in Oregon as well as Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. In one week we drove all the way across the USA from Tillamook, OR to St. Simon Island, GA. It was a great trip. I also took a solo road trip from Lititz, PA to Littleton, CO going through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. Sadly enough the latter trip was done while I had my walking boot on so it made getting out and doing any hiking a real challenge…I did find a place in Ohio that has a nice waterfall that I would like to get back to. Honey Run Falls located in Howard, OH really looked like a gorgeous place. Unfortunately there was barely any water running down the rocks when I was there. So, it goes on the list of places to visit again with better conditions. I like to take the backroads and stay off the freeways when I travel, this brought me to a small town called Urbana, OH which really looked like a neat town…not neat meaning a big booming metropolis but a small homey feel. Urbana was laid out in 1805 and in 1812 was the headquarters for the Northwestern Army during the war of 1812. I did not get a chance to photograph here due to the pouring rain but it will go on the “to see” list as well.

I know, I know, let’s get to the images already, right?  That’s what you really came here to see. We will get there in just a second or you can just scroll down but you should read this part first.

In picking out the 12-13 images for this blog post I like to do something a bit different. Instead of just posting my “Top 10” from the year, I like to pick the best/favorite image from each month of the year. Otherwise, truth be told, you would just see 8 images from Oregon and 2 Milky Way images….Boring right! So, by doing this it forces me to get out and shoot at all times of the year.

Last but not least I would like to take a minute to thank a few people/companies for their continued support and I recommend you check them out for your own benefit if you find that they may be relative to what you do.

Sigma Lenses – I have been a Sigma Ambassador for about a year and all the images I shot this year were with Sigma Lenses. Absolute quality and craftsmanship.

Moab Fine Art Papers – I print 90% of my work on their fine art papers. I love the feel, look and colors these papers provide. Clients and Students have been very pleased with these papers as well.

Englewood Camera – I have spent the last 2 years building a great working relationship with this local camera shop. They have a full service lab and they do all my printing for my 18 and 20 inch fine art prints. They have everything you could need from a local camera store.

American  Frame – Custom printing and framing at great prices. I have been working with American Frame for about 3 years now and not only is their customer service second to none, also the quality of their work. American Frame provides many paper choices to perfectly fit the needs of any photography as well as unlimited choices for matting and framing. Over the years I have sent many friends to American Frame for their framing needs and everyone has been very very happy. You will be too.  I use American Frame for all my fine art prints 20″ and larger.

Artbeat Studios – I have nothing but good things to say about the Metal and Acrylic prints that come from Artbeat Studios. Not only do my clients love the quality, I do too. That is why I have several acrylics printed by Artbeat Studios hanging in my own home.

Reed Art and Imaging – Again, their work and attention to detail is amazing. They do a lot of various types of printing on various mediums. I have had a lot of Gallery Mounts done by Reed. Not only for myself but also for clients I work with to help them create their own masterpieces from their own images. Their team of printers and salespeople are great to work with and make you feel like you’re part of their team.

Overleaf Lodge and Spa – Located in Yachats, Oregon this is simply the finest lodging you can find with the best views and access to the beach and Ocean.. The Overleaf Lodge was a fantastic place to host my 2017 Oregon Coast Winter Workshop in December. Their staff was always kind and gracious and when I left my room key in my room and could not get in at midnight, they came to open the doors right away. Wine tastings, ocean views, a spa, and a small gallery. This is the place to be on the Oregon Coast!

Mike Berenson – I have been working with Mike now for almost 5 years doing Night Photography Workshops Mike captures amazing images that really make you feel like you’re there. Please visit his site and check out his work. It’s one of the reason I was so willing to team up with him to start Night Photography Workshop. His work has inspired me and it will inspire you too.

One more thing to note about these images. Aside from the panorama all photographs posted here are all single images, no crazy blends or photoshop. I wanted this to be more about my photography and not about my artistic abilities with software. Enjoy!

January

Oregon Islands Sunrise

Oregon Island Sunrise – Jan 1, 2017 – After a great sunset to end 2016 the clouds moved in as well as the rains. I went back up to my hotel room thinking that I may get to sleep in for the new year. Who was I kidding? Even if it was raining I would have went out onto the beach, it’s who I am.  Lucky for me the clouds were breaking up about an hour or so before sunrise. I walked to the north end of the beach, the lesser photographed section of Bandon Beach, to find this great reflection on an incoming tide. I was fascinated with the way the light was hitting the clouds and reflecting off the wet sand.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, ISO 64, F/16, 1 second.

February

Train To Denver

Train To Denver – Feb 12, 2017 – Downtown Denver near Colfax. Travelers wait for the next train heading into Denver. This image was shot and shared at the Lone Tree Photo Club exhibition night. The elements of this image that made it work well for me were the contrast between moving objects and stationary objects. Each of the 5 people in the image are doing something different all in a single frame. The person on the far left looking towards the city made me feel as if he or she were dreaming of something bigger.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 82mm, F/6.3, ISO 200, 2.5 seconds.

 March 

Jackson Lake Sunset

Jackson Lake Sunset – March 5th, 2017 – After seeing this location on the map I knew it had epic potential for a full Milky Way Panorama. Since the Milky Way is still very low on the horizon this time of year I set out to capture what I had envisioned. As I arrived at the lake I realized right away that the Milky Way shot wasn’t going to happen on this night. With the still of the lake and the gorgeous clouds reflecting in the water I waited around for sunset. I have since went back to the lake for night shooting only to find out there is a huge floodlight on the dock that will interfere with any night shooting from this location. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/8, ISO 64, 1/80th second.

April

Earth Day Visitors

Earth Day Visitors – April 22, 2017 – We always kick off our Night Photography Workshop season in Arches National Park for good reasons. The position of the Milky Way is in a great location for doing all kinds of different styles of night photography. It’s very good for single images but even better if you are looking to make nice panoramas. We had just left Double Arch and walked over to the Windows area. As our group was getting set up I decided to set my camera down and snap an image of them in the window of the arch. I only took this one shot and when I looked on the back of the camera I was very surprised to see the shooting star… I called out to my friend, Hal Mitzenmacher who was in our group, “hey Hal, you gotta see this!” I had to show someone so they would believe me when I said it was just captured in a single image. Even though this image was taken during the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower, to capture it in the first frame after setting my camera down was pretty amazing. Sigma 20mm, F/3.2, ISO 1600, 13 seconds.

May

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch – May 28th, 2017, 2:28am – More often than not we like to save Delicate Arch for the final night of our workshops. We were on the final night of a sold out Arches and Canyonlands workshop when our students began packing up ready to make the hike back down in the dark.  As they were packing up I decided to do a real quick pano of the Milky Way over the Arch. Starting on the north side I snapped an image and my jaw dropped… I abandoned the pano idea for a second and took another shot to confirm what I was seeing. Sure enough we had northern lights in Moab, Utah. I yelled to the group, very loudly even though we were all right there together, “Get your cameras out and start shooting to the north, we have Aurora activity!” This completely changed the mood of the group from being ready to call it a night to getting that epic shot that would make all others pale in comparison from this location. Needless to say we ended up letting the group shoot for about an hour longer while the Northern Lights did their thing. A moment of my photography career I will never forget. My adrenaline was running so fast that I forgot to take the lower row of images for the foreground. 8 images stitched together with the following settings. Sigma 20mm, F/2, ISO 6400, 15 seconds.

June

Flowers by the Stream

Flowers By the Stream – June 13th, 2017 – I always get up early, arrive early, sometimes annoyingly early. I once, many years ago, arrived 13 hours early to pick up someone from the airport. This shot happened because I got up early. I was headed up to Eldora, Colorado to go hiking and search for waterfalls. Waterfalls in Colorado? Yep, there are a few. As I was driving up the road to the trailhead I noticed all these yellow flowers along the bank of the stream and thought that would make a cool shot. I quickly hit the breaks, my daughter woke up from her slumber and I turned the jeep around. When I got out I noticed there was no wind but the sun was quickly rising and in a couple of minutes this entire scene would be completely blown out by the sunlight. Another reason to get up early is because the light is better right before sunrise. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/18, ISO 64, 0.6 seconds.

July

Sands of Time

Sands of Time – July 9th, 2017 – Being born and raised on the Oregon Coast and traveling up and down it many many times in my life, I like to think that I have seen most all the places that have access. I grew up roughly 15 miles from this location and have driven by it probably 1000 or more times but never actually got on the beach to see it. You can’t see it from your car on the road.  While my daughter and I were in Oregon this summer I decided to make a point of visiting this particular location, Twin Rocks, Oregon. I don’t know why they call it, “Twin Rocks”, they look nothing alike, nonetheless, my daughter and I went out in the early afternoon to enjoy and explore this area. The beach is quite large and open without a lot in the water except these 2 rocks. It was a very windy day and these ripples in the sand were just calling me to photograph them. I waited until the Sun was just on the horizon so that the light would create some nice shadows to help bring out texture and depth to my foreground. While not the most exciting beach, I only saw 1 other person here, it’s one I will visit again for sure. Sigma 24-105mm @ 28mm, F/18, ISO 31, 75 seconds.

August

Eye of the Eclipse Final

Eye of the Eclipse – August 21, 2017 – A day many of us around our nation will never forget. I had high hopes of going up into Wyoming to capture the eclipse in the path of totality. That dream was sent down the drain when 10 days prior I tore my right calf muscle. Still being at the initial stages of my injury I decided to not go fight the crowds, not drive the 3+ hours (it’s impossible to drive safe with a walking boot on your right leg) and take the chance of causing a wreck for a view of the total eclipse. I stayed home, sat out on our deck and just watch as we saw the moon cover the sun at 93%. The sky was clear just before the eclipse started and very slowly a thin layer of clouds started to form almost in rhythm with the moon covering the sun. As we, in Denver, approached maximum coverage these iridescent clouds began to form. Lunar Halo or Fire Rainbows were appearing around the moon and sun. Since I was looking almost straight up I was lucky enough to see this almost perfect circle around the moon and sun. While I did not get the epic shot of the total eclipse, I was quite happy with what I did capture and experience.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 105mm, F/7.1, ISO 200, 1/20th second.

September

Storm Landing

Storm Landing – September 16th, 2017 – I always arrive to our workshop location a day or so early to see if there is any special area that needs the attention of our workshop student’s cameras. Just my luck that it was pouring down rain in Jackson, Wyoming when I pulled into town.  I decided to head north to Yellowstone to see how much snow they had up there. I am not sure exactly if this is in Grand Teton or Yellowstone or no mans land. I saw these very dark clouds hovering above this hill/mountain so I pulled over and walked down towards the water. I noticed a small area of light hitting the hillside and started shooting. The light area got bigger and bigger to what you see here. As I was shooting, these geese (I think they are geese) flew into my frame and landed. I was very lucky to capture them just before they landed. It wasn’t something I had planned on shooting but a nice added element to the overall image. Sigma 24-105mm @ 75mm, F/9, ISO 64, 1/160th second.

October

RM ELK

Rocky Mountain Elk – October 7th, 2017 – The Rut is on! And that means everyone with a camera is up in Rocky Mountain National Park to get a shot of these big boys. On this particular day I saw people taking pictures with any device that had a camera in it. They say, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” There is a lot of truth to that. I had kinda been watching this guy pretty close and moving in the direction he was moving so that if he stopped and looked my way I could get a good shot of him. He had left his group and walked over to the trees when something caught his attention, he stopped, turned and looked for about 3 seconds and then continued walking. Eventually he went behind some trees and disappeared out of sight. I felt lucky to have him in the shadow with even light. Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary @ 600mm, F/6.3, ISO 1600, 1/80th second.

Winter Road

Winter Road – October 3rd, 2017 – This is not a mistake. Yes, you get 2 images from October. October is a very special month for many people. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Halloween, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Everything, right?  Well, for us landscape photographers it’s a special month also. Here in Colorado our Fall colors usually peak in the first week up in the mountains and we start getting some snowfall too. When you mix Fall colors with fresh snow something magical happens. I can’t put my finger on it but I can put my shutter finger on the camera and capture it. It’s the way the seasons combine to create a beautifully unique landscape. This road has lots of “no parking” signs on the side but since I stayed in my lane I don’t consider it parking. I never turned the Jeep off and I was only out of it for a few clicks of the shutter. When I see this image I feel something that awakens my soul. Even though it has a road in it, I feel free in the fresh mountain air. Sigma 24-105mm @ 32mm, F/7.1, ISO 64, 1/400th second.

November

Tunnel View

Tunnel View – November 19th, 2017 – Every since I was a very small child I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. While we may not know those reasons for days, months or years later I have just accepted what happens and went with it.. My plan was visit my dad in Oregon in December when I was out there for my workshop. After checking schedules I realized that I would not have enough time to see him in December so I booked a trip out for 5 days in November. Usually November along the Oregon Coast can be a very challenging time since the weather is less than optimal for photography. One morning while my dad was out in the ocean fishing I decided to go see about getting this shot.  Having this as my “home beach” while growing up I had been alive long enough to remember when this tunnel was closed up, opened back up and the day I almost died just outside this tunnel by a massive sneaker wave. Just ask Gary Randall he’ll tell you all about it… I had been through this tunnel hundreds of times and always enjoyed this view as I was headed out. On the morning I took this image I entered the tunnel, turned on my Nitecore flashlight because it’s pretty dark in there and you don’t want to hit your head on the rocks hanging down inside. I turned on my light, walked about 10 feet and noticed something sitting on a rock surrounded by water. I looked closer to realize it was a $20 bill. I looked ahead of me and I looked behind me to make sure no one else was looking for it. I did not see anyone else at all so I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I was as happy as a clam in saltwater. I went about my morning shooting in a great mood when all the sudden I realized one of my filters wasn’t in my bag. I went into panic mode. I could not find my Tiffen double fog filter anywhere. This isn’t just your average run of the mill filter. They run over $300. Suddenly finding $20 wasn’t as exciting when thinking I was going to need to spend $300 to replace the filter… I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. Upset that I had lost the filter I decided to cut my morning shoot short. I had already got the shot I was ultimately after but I was still bummed. Still looking for the filter, hoping it had just fallen out of my bag, I retraced my steps along the waters edge. Thinking the worst, the water came up and the filter is out at sea I kept walking. I saw an empty beer bottle on the beach and picked it up, (when I lived in Oregon I did the S.O.L.V.E beach cleanup each year) thinking that Karma would play out… Still nothing. The filter was gone and the $20 means nothing to me now.. I get back up to the rental car, properly dispose of the beer bottle,  put my gear away in the trunk, open the car and get in and my filter is laying right there in the driver seat. A huge sigh of relief as only then I realized I had the filter in my pocket and it must have fallen out when I got out of the car. Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, F/14, ISO 64, 1/30th second.

December

Cape Perpetua Rush

Cape Perpetua Rush – December 7th, 2017 – One thing I always tell my students and I will tell you, If you are going to shoot moving water that is constantly changing, set your camera on continuous mode and shoot through the actions of the water. Then, when you are home you can pick the image that best captured the water how you like it. If you were to try and shoot the water as a specific moment, chances are you would not capture what you wanted. We, Chuck Rasco and I arrived in Portland, grabbed our rental cars and made a beeline for the coast. We knew we had only a short window of time to grab lunch since the sunset is early this time of year. Just as I had planned for the workshop, the proper tide and the timing of the sunset came together beautifully. Thor’s Well was rocking. It was at the right level where it wasn’t doing the Old Faithful geyser thing but just filling up nicely and spilling over. That is what you are seeing here. As Thor’s Well would fill up I would begin shooting until it was empty again. Of the 100’s of images I took this night, this was the only one where the water was exactly how I wanted it as it flowed up and over Thor’s Well. The reason I wanted it like this was because of how the sky looked. I wanted the water to mimic the clouds in the sky and chances are that isn’t something you can get on a single try. You don’t see many images with Thor’s Well completely filled up like this. It was a great ending to an adventurous year! Sigma 20mm, F/16, ISO 64, 1/4th second.

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions. Please feel free to use the contact form below to connect with me. You can also visit the Home Page and find links to where I am on the interwebs.  A big thanks to everyone for your continued support and joining with me to create lasting memories on these crazy adventures. All the best for 2018!