Top 10 Images of 2017

It is that time of year again to do my top 10 images of 2017.  This is a fun exercise I have done every year since 2012.  It is fun to look back at my own growth as a photographer over the years.  Unfortunately, I am pretty disappointed in my top 10 images of 2017.  I had a lot of great experiences that took us through Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon, Barcelona, Berlin, Central Oregon, Idaho, Huntington Beach and local places around Las Vegas.  I was sick for a lot of Europe and so was not motivated to get out and focus on photography so I missed a lot of opportunity there.  Nevertheless, there was still some growth, which is what really matters.  You can check back and see my previous top 10 images of each year at the following links: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.   In reviewing the years, two things stuck out that really improved my photography.  The year I finally upgraded my camera system, which also was the year I attended my first workshop and started dedicating myself to good photography trips where I made sure I was in the right place at the right times, rather than just shooting where I happen to be.  Now on to the top 10 images of 2017.

#10 – Sunset over the Eiffel tower

At number 10 is the above image of the Eiffel Tower in Paris France.  You can find more about this image here.  This image made the cut because I like the composition, the sunset was great and the Eiffel Tower is just so photogenic.  I like the composition for two reasons.  First, I like the lights in the foreground that add some interest and act as a counter-weight to the Eiffel Tower.  Second, I like the big triangle shape made by the main roads that come off the Eiffel Tower.  The reason this image comes in at the bottom of the list is the image quality.  This image is not very sharp at all.  I made this image from the hotel room standing behind a huge window that I could not open.  Shooting through the window really impacted the sharpness of the image and just drives me crazy.  Still, I like the image enough to overlook the lack of sharpness enough to at least include it here.

#9 – Lady on the Carousel

Coming in at number nine is the above image of an adult lady riding a carousel in Paris, France.  This is the only example of street photography that made it in my top ten this year, although this image from Barcelona is an honorable mention that just missed the cut.  You can find more about the above image here.  As soon as I looked at this image, I fell in love with it.  I cannot really figure out why.  I think there is something about here look that just captured the classic romanticism of Paris.

#8 – Mt. Wilson from First Creek trail

At number eight is this image captured not far from my house.  First Creek is my favorite trail nearby as it is easy to get to (you don’t have to go through the whole Red Rock Scenic Loop) and Mt. Wilson, which I think is most scenic peak in the area, looms over the trail.  You can find out more about this image here.  This image made the list for me because it is a good demonstration of my growth.  In this image I used a lot of techniques that have been a focus of my learning over the past couple years.  I got really close to the dead Joshua Tree to make a really prominent foreground.  This required focus stacking to keep everything sharp.  I also did some focal length blending to ensure the mountains kept their impressive size rather than being diminutive in comparison to the foreground.  I also had to do some exposure blending to get a good exposure of the whole scene.  Finally, I used a good neutral density filter to capture a little movement in the clouds.  I had two other images from this location that I really liked this year that made it past the first few rounds of cuts.  You can see those honorable mentions here and here.

#7 – Milky Way over the Goldfork River

At number seven, is my only astrophotography image.  That is mainly because I only made a few attempts at astrophotography through the year.  This one, despite all its faults, was definitely my best image.   You can find more about this image here.  There is a lot lacking here with all the noise in the image and the lack of detail in the shadows.  Part of this is that I really do not have a good lens for astrophotography and have to shoot at ISO settings my camera just doesn’t handle well, but part of it is also my own shortcomings as I have very little experience shooting astrophotography.  That is something that will hopefully change in 2018 and I hope to have a much better astro shot make my top ten of 2018.

#6 – The total solar eclipse

At number six is my image of the total solar eclipse I was blessed to witness this year.  I imagine a lot of photographers will have similar images in their top tens of 2017 because it was such a special event.  An image will never do justice to what this experience was like, but I was pretty happy with what I got.  I was torn between this image, which you can read more about here, and an image I made right after totality, which you can see here.

#5 – Huntington Beach Pier

Coming in at number five is an image I published recently from our trip to Huntington Beach.  I only had one chance to shoot under the pier, but the sunset did not disappoint on this occasion. I used my 10 stop neutral density filter to get a nice long exposure, which helped create some mist in the ocean waves, movement in the clouds and an interesting reflection in the pools of water.  You can see more about this image here.  You can also see another image of this pier that is an honorable mention that I almost kept over this one.


#4 – Jordan Johnson

I started shooting college basketball at the end of last year and loved it.  I got the opportunity to shoot some more this year and feel like I improved quite a bit.  I shot a bunch of games recently so I haven’t published any of them yet, but they are coming.  I had a handful that were really difficult to choose from, but this one comes in at number four on my list because I really liked the moment I captured in this one.

#3 – Panther creek falls

Panther Creek Falls was my favorite photographic location I visited in 2017.  Sure it wasn’t as exciting as Paris or Barcelona, but this place blew me away by its sheer beauty.  I got there just after sunrise and enjoyed a few hours of shooting in absolute silence except the roaring water.  The place is incredible and my first image from Panther Creek Falls is the obvious composition that you will find when you reach the falls.  You can read more about this shot here.

#2 – Toquerville falls

My second favorite image of 2017 is a more recent one from Toquerville Falls.  I haven’t posted this image yet, but I have a handful of images from here, including this one, ready to post so look forward to them during this week.  I just love the overall scene here.  I like the shutter speed length on the falls that gave it a nice cascading look without losing all the detail.  I do wish I would have captured the entire pool under the falls instead of cutting it off in the bottom of the frame.  I also like the golden sunset on the top ridges in the background.

#1 – Lower panther creek falls

My favorite image of 2017 is the above image from Panther Creek Falls.  You can read more about it here.   As I mentioned above, I spent a few hours shooting at the upper and lower falls.  I was surprised how much I liked this shot because I did not try to do anything creative with it.  It was my just overall shot intended to capture the scene as it was.  I really like the entire scene because the compression almost makes it look like the upper falls in the background is flowing right into the lower falls, creating this giant, muti-tiered waterfall.  I also like the great green hues and the touch of sunight peaking through the top of the frame.

Gear used in these images

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