I didn't do as much traveling in 2017 as I have done in previous years, so I had initially considered it a "down" year...until I started looking through my images and trying to pick my favorite ten. During that process I felt like I had underappreciated 2017. Even though I spent a lot more time closer to home than usual, I still got to see a number of amazing things, and I'm always grateful for that.
Note that I said these were my favorite images. That doesn't mean they are technically my best. It means these mean something more to me. It could be the subject, the stories behind the image or the people I was with at the time that made these special to me.
Feel free to browse the self-guided slideshow above. I'll try to explain a little about why each of these images made the list.
1. Snake River Overlook, GTNP, January 2017 - This is probably my favorite scene in GTNP, although it is very tough to pick just one. This morning it was -30 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest weather I have ever been outside in. There was a ton of snow in the valley and the scene was just incredible. It was a morning I will never forget.
2. Merlin, Mobile, AL, February 2017 - This was taken on a trip to Mobile, AL when David Akoubian and I were scouting for an upcoming bird workshop. The sky wasn't great here, but it was the first Merlin I had ever seen, let alone photographed. It cooperated with us for several minutes, too.
3. Backyard Bluebird, Huntsville, AL, April, 2017 - The bluebirds are always special to me, every year. I am no birder by any stretch of the imagination, but I'll never pass up an opportunity to photograph any bird. It makes it easier if they live in your backyard. I've had about 3 or 4 years in a row now that Eastern Bluebirds have nested in my yard and I am thankful for it every year. 2017 was no exception.
4. Tree Swallow, Huntsville, AL, April, 2017 - This image is probably not very special to many people. I was just excited that a pair of Tree Swallows decided to nest in my backyard. I had never had that happen and I had read that is a fairly rare thing. As soon as I saw them bringing in nesting material I grabbed the camera and headed out. I got several shots of them bringing in straw so it was hard to pick one, but I think this was my favorite.
5. Coyote, GSMNP, May 2017 - This was the year of the coyote for me. I got the best coyote pictures I have ever taken this year in multiple locations. This coyote in Cades Cove was special for me. Although I had seen many coyotes in Cades Cove before, I'd never really had a good opportunity to photograph one until this day. It having the spring wildflowers around it was icing on the cake.
6. Double Rainbow, Mormon Row, GTNP, June 2017 - This is another one of those "I'll never forget this morning" shots. The weather was absolute crap. Thunder and lightning everywhere. I looked out the hotel room and told the guys I was traveling with we were going out despite the conditions. I wanted someplace wide open in hopes of capturing some good lightning shots over the mountains. I picked Mormon Row. I had no idea what we were in for. Right at sunrise the rain stopped and the sunrise broke through creating this double rainbow. It lasted about a minute or two and then it rained the rest of the day. This could have been my luckiest day of the year...I probably should've bought a lottery ticket that day, too.
7. Hops Barn, Swan Valley, ID, June 2017 - Another time being out shooting in a downpour paid off. As we were driving over to this barn, it was raining sideways. The rain had lightened up a little by the time we had arrived, but it was still coming down steadily. In fact, we were taking turns shooting. We would stand underneath the rear door of the SUV with our camera ready, then one at a time, would run out grab a quick shot and run back underneath the door. As I sat in the car looking at the images on the camera I remember thinking "These won't be horrible, you can actually see some detail in the sky." I had no idea until I started processing how much I loved theses images. Especially in black and white.
8. River the Bald Eagle, Teton Raptor Center, June 2017 - You might have noticed in the two previous notes that rain was in abundance while I was in the Tetons this spring. On a whim, with the weather not cooperating, we decided to visit this place we saw advertised called The Teton Raptor Center. We initially went over on a day that they weren't doing shows, but the people there were so friendly and inviting that we went ahead and bought our tickets then for the next show. It turned out to be a chance to get within feet of some majestic birds. This particular Bald Eagle was named River. She was recovering from some wing injuries. After all of the cool, science things they told us about the birds, they let River fly around and pose for pictures. She did a great job. This particular image was just after she had dipped down into a small swimming pool they had setup for her and she was just drying off.
9. Osprey, Blythe Ferry, TN, July 2017 - I had visited the Blythe Ferry area before, but never while the osprey were nesting. I thought I had missed it again this year since I wasn't able to get up there until July. The osprey chicks had not fledged yet, however, and the parents were trying really hard to convenience them to. That allowed me to capture many flight shots. This one in particular was during a quick, summer rain storm. You don't mind standing out in these rain storms near as much in July. The rain made for a great element in the photo, too. Being able to get so close to such awesome birds is a real treat. If you are close, you should certainly go when the osprey start to nest.
10. Minnehaha Falls, Lakemont, GA, October 2017 - If you;'ve followed me for any amount of time you know I love waterfall photography. I had to include at least one of them in this list. I've only been to Minnehaha a few times. Although we were there before the peak fall colors arrived, the fallen leaves around the rocks did give you a bit of the feeling of fall. So did the cold water! This was a vertical pano that I put together in an effort to keep this composition but include the entire waterfall in the scene.
That's it. My 10 favorite from 2017. 2018 is going to be starting off with a bang and I am looking forward to getting out and creating more images. Thanks to all of you that like, comment, share and support me and my photography.