December 31, 2019

My Favorite Image Each Year Over the Past Decade

It’s not the fairest of comparisons since I was shooting with a cheap Canon Point and Shoot camera from 2010 to 2012, but I wanted to take a look through all my images over the past decade and see what stood out. I picked up my first DSLR (Nikon D3100 with kit lens) in November 2013 and upgraded to a full frame DSLR (Nikon D610) in the winter of 2014. That is the same camera I shoot with today. Of the photos I selected for the past 10 years, they were taken in 7 different states. Take a look below at my favorite image each year over the past decade!

2010

Date Taken: May 16, 2010
Location: Norman, Oklahoma

Additional Details: This photo was taken on a storm chase that led me back to my hometown (at the time) of Norman, Oklahoma. Prior to this photo we witnessed multiple tornadoes, but I still like this photo the best from the ones I took in 2010.



2011

Date Taken: July 31, 2011
Location: Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Township, Maine


Additional Details: I took very few photos in 2011 as I was in the process of moving to State College, PA for my first full-time job at AccuWeather. I was able to take a trip to New England over the summer and this was the best photo I took that entire trip (wish I could do that whole trip over again!). This is the view of the top of Screw Auger Falls. Just a simple snapshot here.



2012

Date Taken: April 14, 2012
Location: Near Waynoka, Oklahoma


Additional Details: The most incredible day of storm chasing I have ever had. My uncle just happened to be in Oklahoma at the time, so I took him out on his first ever storm chase. We witnessed 9 tornadoes on this day, including these sister tornadoes! I’ve never had another chase come close to producing 9 tornadoes.



2013

Date Taken: February 26, 2013
Location: Derby, Kansas Golf Course


Additional Details: My apartment complex was located on this golf course in Derby, KS. After a nice snowfall, I made the trek through the golf course until I found this location. Even with no clouds it was a pretty incredible sunset!



2014

Date Taken: October 11, 2014
Location: San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, Arizona


Additional Details: From here on out is where it starts to get really difficult for me to pick out my favorite images of each year. Moving to Flagstaff, Arizona during the summer of 2014 is what really upped my drive for photography. I was only averaging perhaps 200-400 pictures per year prior to this point. In 2014 I took 790 (that I kept on my computer). This number would go up exponentially from here in the coming years.


This image was one I had imaged taking from the moment I first hiked this trail in the summer of 2014. I would make the several mile trek up the mountain to this trail on a daily basis in the fall until the fall colors were peak. It turned out better than I could have ever imaged and even won a National Geographic award.



2015

Date Taken: October 9, 2015
Location: Zion National Park, Utah


Additional Details: There are so many photos from 2015 that I absolutely love, but this one takes the cake. Not only is the view from the top of Angels Landing one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, but what it took to actually capture this shot is enough for an entire blog post!


From having to get a special permit to drive the road to the parking lot, which would allow us to stay at the top for sunset and not worry about missing the last bus, to creeping up to the very edge of a 1500-foot sheer cliff with my tripod just inches away from the abyss, to hiking down the entire trail in the dark with our head lamps, it was an experience I will never forget!


Untitled photo

2016

Date Taken: May 18, 2016
Location: Havasu Falls, Arizona


Additional Details: Another year with countless photos taken (2,624 saved on my computer) and probably at least a dozen images I absolutely love. But a double rainbow over Havasu Falls at sunset!? Easily the winner for 2016. The rare nature of this photo is certainly part of why I like it so much, but to top it off, the only people there to witness this were myself and two friends - that’s it! An incredibly popular location and yet not a single other person was there to witness this aside from us. Unbelievable. This was my most “viral” image to date at the close of 2016 and was featured by online businesses countless times.



2017

Date Taken: September 13, 2017
Location: Oglala National Grasslands, Nebraska


Additional Details: I lived in Ohio during the extent of 2017 (my home state) and because of this, I barely took a single photograph! I did take an Antelope hunting trip to Nebraska that year and was able to come away with this photo of a lightning strike at sunset after a long day of hunting. I didn’t have most of my photography gear with me, so I used an old fence post as my tripod and happened to capture the only lightning strike I saw!



2018

Date Taken: September 13, 2018
Location: Eastern Montana


Additional Details: Of all the photos I’ve ever taken, this one stands as my personal favorite to date. It is also my most viral image to date as of the end of 2019. I wrote an entire blog post about how I captured this image, so I won’t repeat it all here. Essentially it all boiled down to being persistent and being in the right place at the right time! It also took quite a bit of trial and error to capture an exposure that could gather enough detail in the Milky Way while not blowing out the thunderstorm thanks to the abundant intra-cloud lightning. This is a single exposure image and I think the most breathtaking image I’ve ever captured. This is a once-in-a-lifetime photo and I’ll never forget looking at the back of my camera and seeing what I captured!



2019

Date Taken: August 8, 2019
Location: Glasgow, Montana


Additional Details: Living in the ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Montana has certainly lent itself to some incredible opportunities to capture astrophotography photos. I captured several photos of the Milky Way this year that I absolutely love, but seeing the Northern Lights has been number one on my bucket list for a long, long time. So because of that, this photo of the Aurora Borealis and a meteor captured in the outskirts of Glasgow, Montana is my favorite image of 2019. I saw the Northern Lights on three separate nights this year and this image captures the very last of the intense colors that would appear. The Northern Lights were no more within just a couple minutes of taking this photo and they have yet to return.


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