As 2022 comes to a close, it’s time for my annual review of the past year’s pictures. This year brought new experiences both near and far.
I visited Africa for the first time, spending time with gorillas high in the mountains of Rwanda and seeing the impact of rains by following animals on their migration in Kenya. In my own backyard, work with macro photography gave me new appreciation for the importance of tiny flowers that others may call weeds.
Here are some of the images that represent my work this year. You can click or tap on any of the images to view them larger.
Burrowing owls are a favorite subject of mine. They seem to have so much personality. At daybreak, I found this one hunting in a field in central Washington. As the sun rose, it flew to the top of a rock pile and settled down, ready to rest after a long night of work.
One of the new additions to my camera bag was a lens capable of extreme close-ups. While I have used it for more traditional work, such as documenting the structure of leaves or the water trapped by moss, I’m enjoying its creative potential more. Its quirks allow me to turn regular subjects into abstract art. This is a common dandelion.
I love it when ocean waves appear to stack up. I’m not sure what conditions have to line up to produce the phenomenon, but I was lucky to see it as the sun was beginning to set over the Oregon coast. I spent a half hour making photos — and then a flock of pelicans heading to their roost made the image even better. (The image at the top of this post is of their roost.)
When we think of summer giving way to autumn, we typically think of colorful leaves. In my yard, I stumbled across this scene that expresses that change in a different way. There has been a lot of development in my neighborhood, so I leave wild patches to provide habitat. As some tall grass withered away, it revealed a junco nest that had been used over the summer — and had caught an autumn leaf after the young birds fledged.
Seeing millions of zebras and wildebeest migrate in Kenya’s Maasai Mara has been on my list of things to see for some time. At the peak, it can take hours for the animals to cross the Mara River. But Kenya has been suffering from years of drought and the one wildebeest crossing I witnessed lasted less than a minute. However, seeing them climb out of the river and into the bright afternoon light resulted in an image that reflected the magic of the experience.
My time in the Maasai Mara was dominated more by cats — not that I’m complaining. I was fortunate to be able to watch leopards, cheetahs and servals at work. I also got to spend long periods of time with a few lion prides. It was wonderful seeing young cubs play and explore. Here, a lioness watches over them.
Visiting mountain gorillas in their home high in the Virungas of Rwanda was another highlight. I felt an immediate emotional connection to them and spent most of my time producing portraits. It’s hard to pick a favorite image — you can see more of my work here — but I especially like this one. They live in a rainforest. This young gorilla and I were both struggling with the rain.
Lodgepole pine, with their shallow root systems, can grow in harsh environments where there’s little soil. These, however, grew too close to a geyser basin in Yellowstone and died when they soaked up minerals. It could be a stark scene, but fresh snow and filtered sunlight turned this into a study of contrasting horizontal and vertical lines.
This sunset over the Saratoga Passage in Washington state was one of the most dramatic ones I saw all year. We think of sunset as the split second of time when the sun dips below the horizon, but I see it as more of an event. The sky was ablaze for about a half hour.
It was another difficult wildfire season in Washington. Heavy smoke lingered in the Seattle area for well over a month. The haze, however, had an interesting impact on the quality of sunlight. Familiar scenes took on new looks. Golden sunsets became more orange. This is Brown Slough on Fir Island, a place I had photographed many times before.
I’m of the belief that animals are more complex than we typically think. I believe they’re guided by more than simple programming called instinct. It’s been said that eyes are the window to the soul, and it was a privilege to be able to look into this fox’s eyes. (While it looks like it was staring me down, it was actually waiting for a bird to cross a small snowbank between us.)
I’ve seen whirlpools in Deception Pass in northwest Washington. Tidal changes affect the flow of water in the narrow passage. At the moment of high tide, however, the water calmed, providing a peaceful surface to capture the golden reflection of the rocky face on the other side.
And with that, I wish you peace and happiness in 2023.