17 Favorite Images of 2017
Updated: Apr 4
27 December 2017
About this time last year I penned a post that was a bit of a diversion from my normal science / bio blog, and described the best sights of my previous year as seen through my camera’s viewfinder.
3 January 2017
This year’s journey starts high in the San Jacinto mountains above Idyllwild. We had a lot of snow early in the season, including the prior three days, leaving a consistency that resembled frosting on the rocks and trees along the south ridge. It was not too deep to go without snowshoes, but past this point was a section that garnered a stern warning from the rangers. While I have other photos of the views looking westward from this day, this one spoke to me the most, and I am not entirely sure why. In any instance, it was fun to do some snow hiking and lug my camera gear along.
4 March 2017
A theme for early 2017 was the unusually generous rainfall from a series of atmospheric rivers, which literally transformed many landscapes across San Diego county. This one was no exception; Three Sisters Falls is a fantastic hike and the raging water made for some very sketchy maneuvering for key shots I had in mind, crossing a fast-moving river with 15lbs of camera gear in hindsight was a bit reckless. Ironically, the shot that I enjoyed the most at the end of the day was one taken on the descent to the falls, with excited hikers anticipating the rushing water below amid a once-in-a-decade lushness and deafening sound of the waterfall echoing through the canyon.
18 March 2017
This photo was taken in a nursery in Solana Beach, a suburban contrast to the context of the previous two photos. I have to say, nurseries are fantastic photo backdrops, especially on an overcast or partly cloudy day. The morning fog was just starting to lift, and a charismatic bee was checking out a few lavender plants. My lens was about a foot away, and I was really lucky to have gotten both the bee and lavender flowers in focus.
25 March 2017
El Cajon Mountain is said to be the hardest hike in San Diego County, second to the Pacific Crest Trail, and I am apt to believe it after the trek to the top. In the distance is the Pacific Ocean, to the left is downtown San Diego. I really love the giant granite rocks that dominate the place, along with the unusually green spring.
01 April 2017
Growing up in a coastal town steeped in surf culture and lore, there are few things more satisfying than a newly shaped, freshly-waxed surfboard. The smell is simply intoxicating. The board’s maiden voyage certainly didn’t disappoint, and it was a great addition to my quiver.
15 May 2017
I crossed one line off my bucket list and got to see the otherworldly giant Sequoia trees in the eponymous national park. The entire forest there felt ancient, alien, and surprisingly inviting at the same time. Not surprisingly, the giant trees (some over 250 feet tall) were difficult to capture in one frame, so instead I opted to photo one of the base of one of the giants next to the comparatively diminutive pines. To add to the charm, a late season snow started right as I arrived about two hours before sunset, providing a light dusting for the charismatic trees that thrive amid this alpine environment.
17 May 2017
I arrived at Beetle Rock at the edge of Sequoia National Park about an hour before sunset, in hopes that the thick cloud cover would give way, potentially revealing the valley below. After forgetting how cold one can get just sitting around in 40F, damp weather, I was pleasantly rewarded with a brief window of light after the clouds lifted. I looked west toward the San Fernando Valley through my telephoto, and really liked the compression, trees, and lazy clouds.
13 June 2017
My beloved Single Fin board made it into not one, but two of my top 17 this year. It’s amazing what a month and 7,000 feet of elevation loss can do: this photo was shot at the end of a dream evening surf session at Swami’s in Encinitas. No wetsuit, warm sun, and surfing until 8pm in the evening. I really loved the reflections and colors on this one, and worked hard to nail the depth of focus with regard to the water droplets in the bottom of the frame.
30 July 2017
In a former life I used to practically live at the beach in south Orange County, obsessed with photographing skimboarding: a form of surfing involving running toward waves from the beach (on a board with no fins) instead of paddling into them. A few old friends lured me up the freeway with the promise of decent waves and really good riders. Here, Blair Conklin did not disappoint, boosting an air whose video got over 200,000 views on Instagram!
14 August 2017
Mid-year I moved to Encinitas. While the proximity to ocean dreams and great surf cannot be overstated, it’s really the details like this that make me feel especially at home. This is a temporary walkway to protect pedestrians from falling debris. I have no idea why or who opted to provide this display, but I think it’s brilliant. What was a temporary eyesore was made into a temporary artwork, an ephemeral expression that will one day shift away like the sands below the cliffs only a couple hundred meters west.
20 August 2017
My buddy James Heller spent years restoring and caring for his beloved mid 1970’s BMW 2002. Unfortunately, the time came for him to let her go, sparking an impromptu drive out east for the golden hour to photo his baby in preparation for listing. There are many elements of this photo that I love: the reflections, the sandy San Diego color palate, and the beautiful chrome, but I am also drawn to it just for the fun random adventure leading up to it that was otherwise another mid-summer coastal cloudy marine layer kind of day.
01 October 2017
Many wonderful visions are hidden in plain sight at the Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas. I’ve gone many times, but this time I brought my camera with me. A warm early fall day with lazy coastal clouds coming and going, it made for fantastic lighting. Of the many things to see are the koi fish, which can easily mesmerize onlookers with a visual concerto of swaying fins and shiny multicolored scales.
01 October 2017
Another from the Self Realization Fellowship, the many verdant meditation nooks and crannies provide for an abundance of lush leaves that meet the sun amid dark backdrops. This is one of them. I don’t even know what kind of plant this is, but I absolutely love the way the leaves are illuminated by the afternoon sun.
08 October 2017
A week later I attended a cancer research conference in Washington, D.C. After a few days of being mostly indoors, I was able to fit in an afternoon among the monuments before my flight. There is no shortage of profundity on the National Mall, but none was quite as moving that day as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The sheer magnitude of names of those dead or lost meet a shiny surface that easily reflects passing clouds. I did my best to frame these clouds, names, and sky with limited depth of focus in an attempt to merge them as seamlessly as possible. Every name is a story, a family, and their place on the wall represents a horrible failure of humanity. It might as well stretch to the sky, so we can at least try to comprehend the magnitude of the horror of conflict and loss for which mankind is capable.
03 November 2017
This one is my favorite of the year. I’ve shot many sunsets, but none of them quite capture the “feeling” of the moment to me. Here, I panned my camera lens horizontally across the horizon at a moment where the water projected the colors from the sky, broken by a set of waves.
23 November 2017
There are a few fall days every year that carry a stillness that is hard to describe. Here, a group of paddleboarders find themselves at home amid the weight of silence and stillness of atmosphere.
19 December 2017
The Self Realization Fellowship is always on point when it comes to verve for aesthetics and experience. This year, they illuminated their spire in such a way that nicely complemented the already stunning backdrop. Shot from the hill above, I let a passing car lights add a few strokes of color. A fitting end to my year, I’m absolutely loving my new home in Encinitas, and look forward to sharing more scenes from my viewfinder in 2018!