I know I am late to the party for looking back on 2022, but better late than never. It was a year full of new adventures both photographically and personally. Opportunities arose last year to visit two places I had never been before which are both feature prominently in this years collection. Below are 10 favorite photos of 2022 in no particular order. You can read a little about each photo below. Or if you prefer to just look at the photos I created a gallery of them here.
In January 2022 I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend exploring the Coyote Buttes portion of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona and Utah. The area is known for many striking grand views, but I was equally drawn to all the intricate details you can find in the fascinating place. I found this particular pattern in the sandstone while exploring one of the canyons in the area.
These leached dead trees were so eye-catching amidst the surrounding forest. They felt like lingering apparitions clinging on long after they should have fallen. Originally I wanted to move in closer to them but felt it best to show the place they were “haunting”.
Back in November I was caught off guard when my Instagram started going crazy while I was getting my kids ready for school. To my surprise the above image, “Worn Contours” photo was chosen as runner up in the Abstracts category of Natural Landscape Photography 2022 Awards. I am extremely honored to be included in such an exquisite collection of photos and photographers. Congrats to all the winners! I highly recommend you check out the contest results.
The photo itself was taken while wandering one of my favorite local beaches I was looking for interesting designs and details when I stumbled upon this beautiful slab of rock at my feet. This outcropping of rock was distinctly different from its more protruding and jagged neighbors. The constant ebb and flow of the tide had worn down and polished these recumbent folds into such an exquisite pattern.
Reflecting on that day I recall a funny encounter with another photographer. I was composing my shot as he passed by and asked in a puzzled tone, “What are you looking at?” And from his perspective, it probably looked like I was photographing the most boring stretch of rock on the beach. You had to be looking directly down to see all the detail I was seeing. Of all the photos I took over the past year this one has by far generated the most conversations. Usually, people are trying to determine the subject matter and how big it is. Most are surprised to discover it was not an aerial or macro shot. It has been a good reminder for me to keep an open mind and look for different angles when choosing a composition.
The Brooding Black Knight
There are photos you plan, research, and refine; then there are ones you fall into and just say “wow”! This one is the latter. In fact had I not turned around while hiking to another formation that caught my attention I probably would not have seen it at all. I am so grateful I did! Actually, I capture this outcropping, that I have affectionately called the “Brooding Black Knight” earlier so I thought I was done.
Normally I don’t look for figures or animals in rock faces or trees, but I couldn’t help but think the central rock formation in the picture looked like a black knight chess piece, or the profile of a Skeksis from the movie The Dark Crystal. Along with that, the texture and contours of the surrounding sandstone, and even the clouds, gave this whole scene an ominous feel like a scene from a Conan movie, the earlier mention Dark Crystal, or some other 80’s fantasy movie.
Last summer my brothers, nephews, and I backpacked an stretch of the Sierra Nevada that brought back fond memories from childhood. I explored this region, the Dinkey Lakes, many, many times as a kid between Boy Scout summer camps and church youth group backpacks. It was great to be back, my first time in about 20 years. This particular grouping of trees caught my eye not far from our campsite on our first night. I just loved the light we had that evening at sunset over the summer.
If you told me a year ago I would be photographing a volcano in Hawaii I would have laughed. It just was not on my radar at all. I had never been there before, but figured I would get to the islands eventually. Long story short I got to go to Maui at the end of November, more on the reason for the trip later. But once I knew I was going to there I was very interested in visiting Haleakala National Park. The “barren” volcanic terrain of the extinct crater and all its colors was very attractive to me. I probably could have filled my whole top 10 photos of 2022 from just what I saw in Maui, but alas I haven’t had much time to process those photos. So stay tuned!
Another intimate moment from my trip to the Vermilion Cliffs of Utah/Arizona back in January 2022. I was so grateful have this quiet moment all to myself. Reflecting on that moment I’m pretty sure I spent a good hour or so enjoying this little canyon and it’s tranquility.
Tide Pools Detail
Another beautiful tide pool image from one of my local trips. The striking yellow highlights in the rock were so appealing to me.
This was one of the last images I took in 2022, from a sunrise hike up in the hills above my house on Christmas Eve. It has a bit of a surreal feel for me partially due to the fact we’re looking down on the scene and also because the trees growing at an angle on the hill slope. I originally discovered this tree over the summer, but the winter sunrise really made this scene pop for me.
First Light, Haleakala
Watching the sunrise in Haleakala was such an incredible experience. One I will forever cherish. Not just for the natural beauty we witnessed, but also for the personal life moment it marked. Like I mentioned above a year ago a trip to Maui and this national park was not on my mind at all.
A little over a year ago I started to date Kim, and our relationship was such an incredible blessing last year. As the holidays approached she invited me to join her family on their trip to Maui. One of the things we both agreed we wanted to do on was get permits to watch the sunrise on the Crater. And the nearer we got to our trip it became more and more apparent this would be an incredible place to propose to her.
And boy did that morning up on the crater deliver! Not only were we able to witness a spectacular sunrise, but we were able to see the lava flow from Mauna Loa some 100 miles away while we waiting in the predawn light.
Those that know my story know that the past 5 years have been incredibly challenging for me, living life as a widowed father of 3 young girls. To see Kim and the girls together is such a joy for me to take in.
Both Kim and I feel so blessed to have such an incredible relationship blossom this year. So grateful to find someone that we connect with on so many facets of life.
Recapping and Looking Ahead
I hope you have enjoyed this recap of my best photos of 2022. I am curious to hear which ones you liked! Here’s my past recaps: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Looking ahead, I do have a couple trips planned for later in the year. But that being said I anticipate my photographic output will be a bit less this year as I go into this season of change. Revamping and cleaning up my website is also on the docket for 2023. I am excited to see what the year brings and sharing what I discover with you! Thank you for taking a moment to read me review.
Better late than never! Congratulations for a great collection of photos. I love “Crater Detail” and have serious photo envy for that one alone! 🙂 The complexity of “Vermillion Cliffs” and the sense of order that you brought to it is very appealing too. Most of all though, I’m very happy for you and Kim — wonderful news, you two look great together! A similarly belated Happy New Year, with many opportunities to make photos, and good light.
Thank you! Yes, Haleakala was such a great experience. As was Vermillion Cliffs, I think I spent a good hour in the canyon. Wishing you the best in 2023 as well!