2017 Favorites

It’s a fun tradition during the first week of the new year to go back over my posts from the previous year and pick out my favorites.  It’s also a bit of a challenge, so this year I decided to give myself some categories to help make the task easier.

Also, I decided to title this year’s round-up as “favorites” rather than “best of” as I have in the past.  My actual favorites are not always the photos that would be deemed my finest “works of art”, and that’s okay.  To determine what is my best work I’ve decided I’m quite content to leave to the viewer’s discretion; what is my favorite work only I can determine and, I suspect, makes for a much more interesting story.IMG_5073-1Favorite Bucket List Score: A non-blurry close-up photo of a hummingbird has been on my list for a long time.  If you know how fast these little beauties move, you know why I considered this opportunity a gift!  This wasn’t the only shot I scored, either—and you can check out all of them in this post.

IMG_2193Favorite Associated Memory: Not surprisingly, my favorites are often so because of the stories and memories behind them.  This photo reminds me of a happy walk in the golden glow of a late summer evening, that ecstatic moment when we realized the ditch we were walking along was studded with these ripe little jewels, and the mental picture of my husband down on hands and knees picking every one in sight.  And the taste, oh the taste!IMG_2929Favorite Travel Shot:  I really had a hard time choosing, but oddly enough, I ended up settling on this one that never even made it into a blog post!  (Thus, a bonus photo for you!)  My reason is solely based on the humor of the situation.  This is a wild turkey mama who apparently doesn’t believe in broadcasting photos of her family for the world to see.  She paraded them daringly along the edge of the road, oblivious to traffic roaring by—but when I tried to discreetly poke a camera lens out the truck window, that was a different story.  She has at least six chicks, who are down there in the grass by her feet hiding.  I’m really not sure if that’s a twinkle of mischief in her eye there, or a glint of suspicion, or just a look of triumph for foiling my designs.  She granted me this one cameo peekaboo shot, and that was it.

This is also memorable, because my husband is the one who spotted her as we were driving and turned around of his own accord to go back so I could take a picture.  Now that’s true love, folks.

IMG_1943Favorite Action Shot:  The story behind this one can be found here!img_4098-1.jpgFavorite Landscape:  The more you get into photography, the more you obsess about light.  The absence or presence of the right kind of light, outside of actual studio photography, is something you chase after, wait for, wish for, do your best to contrive for, but cannot ever completely control.  When you catch it, its a glorious moment.  I passed this roadside bed of fire weed many times this summer, but it wasn’t until just the right shaft of late-afternoon golden light hit it, spotlighting the blossoms against the dark backdrop of forest, that it actually became worth stepping on the brakes for.IMG_1076Favorite Car Window Shot: Hands down.  It makes me smile every time I look at it.IMG_4958Favorite Floral:  Obviously I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the cornflower blue of these bachelor buttons in my flower garden this year!IMG_5779-1Favorite Challenge (as in the photos I worked the hardest for): That would definitely be any photo containing otters.  Just don’t ask how many photos I actually took to secure those I deemed worthy to share with you (you can view a couple more in this post).  I’ve found that otters, like hummingbirds, don’t sit still very much.  This is the first year I’ve actually gotten decent shots of them, but I by no means consider the challenge over.  Next Bucket List item: otter close-ups!IMG_4861-01Favorite Nature Close-Up:  I love the contrast of this perfect autumn leaf from my parent’s maple-rich yard posing on their picnic table.IMG_1567Favorite Sky Capture: this alignment of the storm clouds and big round moon just after sunset was so stunning, and I enjoyed the extra fiddling with my camera required to expose those lunar craters just right!  It rated high enough in my small world to become my desktop wallpaper.  It must have appealed to you, too, because it also rated as the post with the most views for 2017!

A close runner-up to that one, however, was this stormy sky:IMG_2880IMG_2882This was the most magnificent sunset I have seen in my life, and the pictures (yes, they’re both from the same evening) hardly do it justice.  It was also the one redeeming feature of the most severe summer storm I’ve had to drive through in my life.  That was the road trip in which we missed half-dollar sized hail by a mere couple miles and because it was raining so hard could see nothing but the taillights ahead of us for what seemed like eternity (probably more like fifteen minutes).  It was unforgettable all around.

I was going to do “Favorite Wildlife”—but so many of those ended up qualifying for the other categories that it seemed a bit redundant!

These photos, along with all the others I shared with you this year, represented lessons learned, whether in the technical realm of photography or in the stunning world of nature, and always in the beautiful realm of our Creator’s goodness, infinite creativity and love.  I considered each opportunity to take a photograph a gift, and it is my prayer that each one, in turn, became a gift to you as well.  If the sharing of these images have even once shifted your heart from the temporal to the eternal, from worrying to praise, from self to God—then I rejoice right along with “the little hills…on every side” (Psalm 65:12).

Now, here’s looking forward to all the yet unknown experiences, encounters, lessons and photographs 2018 holds and looking forward to continuing to share it with you!

 

 

Frost Fire

IMG_6324.JPGThere’s a new year rising, about ready to break over the horizon just like the sun was on this breathtakingly frosty morn.

What will it hold?

Naturally, not one of us can predict exactly.  We can talk, dream of and discuss plans, goals and resolutions until the clock strikes midnight—but no one really knows what will happen.  This we do know, however:

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Because of that, just as the hoary treetops turned to fire, aflame with the hope and oncoming glory of the new day, this new year can be bright with hope on your horizon, too.  No matter what it holds, if we acknowledge Him each step of the way—be it exciting, ordinary or difficult—He will make our path straight.  Cling to that!

Best of 2016

It’s New Year’s Eve, a day for looking back, for remembering.

In that spirit, here are my personal top twelve favorite photos from the last year—and why!IMG_2524This photo of white birch represents for me a special effort to go out and find something beautiful to photograph on the most uninspiring of gray winter days.  Often my favorite photographic memories are the times when the perfect photo presents itself and I’m ready for it—but this picture is a good reminder to me that while not all photos come easily, I’ve never come up empty-handed when I’ve intentionally gone in search of beauty to capture.

IMG_3159I love this picture because it was completely un-contrived by mama (as we mamas with cameras sometimes do) and tells a true story.  The untold part of this story is that all winter this small girl was scared of snow—and then, after this last gorgeous big snowfall of 2015, the fear suddenly, inexplicably transformed to wonder and off she went to explore.  I grabbed my camera, followed behind—and this is where she led.IMG_3450This barred owl wins “Best Result of Being Ready For the Unexpected” award of the year.IMG_2925The swans have become such a beloved part of the rhythm of seasons here on our little farm.  Catching them in the air during this golden hour was a dream come true.IMG_4221IMG_4161My favorite shot from our family trip out west this spring is a toss up between these two.  I love the way the chartreuse green of budding cottonwoods is layered behind lavender lilacs against that magnificent backdrop of looming stone.  But that capture of a wild mare standing guard over her young foal?  Mmm…too hard to decide.  So you get a bonus shot.IMG_4752Another lucky capture, taken less than twelve hours before my own sweet third baby girl was born.  Perhaps it was the contortions I had to put my hugely pregnant self through to get low enough to the ground for this shot that sent me into labor?IMG_5607Flowers never fail to be an appealing subject.  This was my favorite floral capture from this year.img_6865I’ve been taking photos at the headwaters of the Mississippi ever since I owned a camera, but this one with it’s hint of movement and different perspective is a new favorite of a favorite spot.img_7055Nocturnal photography is still experimental territory for me, which is why the success of this harvest moon capture (and what I learned in the process) was truly a highlight!img_7544I discovered this glorious golden tunnel of a woods road on my birthday.  It brings back happy memories of a tub of tiramisu ice cream and a blissfully slow drive without another car in sight to mind my frequent photographic stops.img_7249I can never resist a good mushroom photo opportunity.  The wet autumn hike through an ancient forest that led us to these and so many others is a particularly lovely memory to me.img_8373And, finally, this shot, which is as close to a self portrait as you’ve been offered yet on this blog, and encapsulates everything I love about winter in Minnesota.

I’m so grateful for each bit of God-glory I’ve had the privilege to experience, discover and capture this year, and for the lessons learned and documented along the way.  What photos and experiences will 2017 bring my way?  Speaking from past experience, they’re rarely what I expect, but usually better than I imagined.  I can’t wait to find out!

“O God of our salvation…Thou crownest the year with thy goodness…” (Psalm 65:5, 11)

Praying that you, too, can look back and recognize that He has crowned your year with goodness, and that He will walk with you in the year ahead, gracing you with more and more, day by day.