Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Favorite Photographs of 2016

Although I put thought into every photo that I post on my blog, most of them are taken without an artistic intent. The vast majority of the photos I use on my blog were shot with the intent to highlight some interesting natural subject that was before me. I began my photographic hobby, however, as an artistic endeavor. In this post, I want to share my favorite photos I took with my "artistic intent" during 2016.


Redington Pass Arizona
I'll begin with a scene from southern Arizona. I spent a night hammocking high in the Santa Catalina Mountains bordering Tuscon. I awoke in the dark and decided to head out to get some photos of the sun breaking over the mountains. I was rewarded with beautiful colors as the sun began to illuminate Redington Pass, which separates the Santa Catalina Mountains and the neighboring Rincon Mountains.

Scenic Byway 12 Overlooks
Utah is a land of layers. The photo above shows the Henry Mountains rising beyond the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park. The Henry Mountain Range was the last mountain range in the Continental US to be explored and mapped. I took this photo at ~8,700 feet above sea level on the Aquarius Plateau, the highest plateau in North America. The Waterpocket Fold was over 2,000 feet below my vantage point, while the Henry Mountains rose over 2,000 feet above my vantage point!

White Sands National Monument Sunset
One of the most stunning places I visited this past year was White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I timed my (sadly) short visit to coincide with the setting sun. I was awarded with incredible crepuscular rays as the sun moved behind the San Andres Mountains. If you want to read about the geology of White Sands, check out my post here!

The Narrows Zion National Park
Jumping back to Utah, here is a shot of The Narrows in Zion National Park. Wading through the Virgin River as you hike up The Narrows is an experience you will never forget. To read more about The Narrows, check out my post on the experience right here!

Lickstone Ridge Overlook Blue Ridge Parkway
Moving to the other side of the United States, here's a shot of the Great Smoky Mountains as seen from the Lickstone Ridge Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I traveled through the Smokies for the first time last January, and I instantly saw why they're part of the Blue Ridge region.

Strouds Run State Park
I've been waiting on a good snow since the weather turned freezing, but sadly the weather has been mild. I ventured out to Strouds Run State Park in southeast Ohio in late December when a snow storm was moving through Central Ohio. As nature would have it, the snow line stayed about 10 miles north of Strouds Run, leaving me with light rain and some fog.


Periscoping Snake
A curious Eastern Gartersnake approached my camera and I early last Spring. I was kneeling on the ground near his hibernaculum when he decided to repeatedly circle me. After a few moments, he stopped in front of me, "periscoped," and flicked his tongue out.

Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast
I wish I could do more bird photography, but my lack of a 400mm+ telephoto lens severely hinders that endeavor. To compensate, I oftentimes visit bird feeders where the birds are more accepting of human presence. One of those feeders I visited this past year was the famous Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast in the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona. Although most-known for regularly hosting a variety of hummingbirds such as the rare Lucifer Hummingbird — Ash Canyon B&B has a wide range of species which visit dozens of feeders on the property. This Black-Headed Grosbeak was one such species which paid a short visit to the feeders.

Zelus luridus
I'm a huge fan of parasitic plants. When the Beechdrops, a parasite of American Beech trees, began to bloom this fall, I traveled out to my local woods to get some photos of the chlorophyll-less flowers. On one of the flower stalks I found a tiny Pale Green Assassin Bug nymph (Zelus luridus) patiently waiting to ambush an unsuspecting insect. 

My favorite hobby is birding, hands down. Seeing birds that aren't in Ohio is consequently the aspect of traveling that I most look forward to. While on a recent road trip to coastal South Carolina after Christmas, I ran into this Anhinga. Anhingas are, in my opinion, very silly birds, and I love them. This individual was in the process of drying himself out after a successful feeding.

Wildlife in the Studio

Greater Earless Lizard Cophosaurus texanus
This summer I had the opportunity to do some in-the-studio photography with wild animals, a first for me. I was a field assistant for a lizard biologist out in Arizona, and we would bring various lizard species into a lab for data collection. After the data collection was completed, I would have a photoshoot with some of the more magnificent individuals. My favorite lizard we worked with was the Greater Earless Lizard, Cophosaurus texanus. The male Greater Earless Lizards were just otherworldly in their coloration.
Desert Blonde Tarantula Aphonopelma chalcodes
Lizards weren't the only animals I brought into my little makeshift studio. This Desert Blonde Tarantula, Aphonopelma chalcodes, wandered onto the field station porch one afternoon, so we picked him up and took him inside. A few moments later I got this photo. To read my post about tarantulas, check out this link!

Ornate Tree Lizard
The vast majority of this summer's work was spent catching and studying these tiny reptiles, the Ornate Tree Lizard, Urosaurus ornatus. As the name implies, the males of this species are rather stunning. Each male has a colored throat patch which can come in a variety of color morphs (this one is blue), and the stomachs of the males always have blue patches. They're tiny lizards, with their body (minus the tail) only being about the size of your finger.  


Radar Hill Athens
I ventured up to Radar Hill in Athens, Ohio, back in November to get some shots of the supermoon. I decided to zoom out and take this shot of my significant other, Olivia, gazing at the rising supermoon.

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Thanks for reading! If you want to see more of my photography, or keep up with my latest shots, please check out my Instagram: