2016 was a year of photographic growth for me. I set several technical goals for myself as a way of pushing myself to be consistently better at my craft, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I’ll admit, it was often a mix of trial and error (a lot of error), persistence, and supportive people around me but I feel like I made a noticeable difference in the quality of my images.
This year, I made a consistent effort to focus stack where appropriate, to really keep an eye on my histogram so that I wasn’t shooting 12 frames when I really needed 1 or 2, and I tried improving both my night sky/milky way techniques and lightning images. Those in-the-field efforts are represented in this “Best of…” gallery.
I’ve also grown in the editing arena, an area we can always work on, no matter how accomplished we are. I feel like my ability to *see* the weak areas of a raw image, and my ability to enhance the light in a positive way with my edits has grown immeasurably. Again, this was a matter of practice, feedback and support from my peers. I’m particularly proud of my Opal Creek wilderness forest shot, as it involved some creative shaping of the light.
The winter image in the gallery was a conscious attempt to force myself out of hibernation. Apparently, I need to do that more often – turns out winter light is lovely! Lol
And finally, the biggest reason I chose all of these images was the LIFE they represent.
I suspect it’s human nature to take things for granted – we developed our ability to tune things out as part of our survival mechanisms (because how could our ancestors focus on important things like hunting and gathering if they were constantly distracted by…oh, the wind! Oh, shiny rock! Oh, noise! Oh, a bird! What was I doing again??). Therefore, it takes a conscious effort to remember to appreciate the blessings in our life.
Write that life lesson down, folks. It’s particularly important in the relationships you hold dear.
So where am I going with this? Well, I’m an American woman. Currently, that means the law considers me to be a person with inherent rights, one of which is the ability to obtain resources and pursue my life aspirations. On the whims of fate, I was born here. I am not viewed as property, or less than human. I have the stability provided by a nation dedicated to protecting our freedoms. I am educated. Compared to so many places in the world, I grew up like a queen – I had food, clean water, health care, and never had the threat of war, unrest and violence looming on my doorstep every day. Although America isn’t perfect, I am GRATEFUL every day for the progressive ideas that surrounds me. As a country we can always improve. We are but a nation of flawed humans afterall, and will always have room to be better versions of ourselves…. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t already holding the human rights bar pretty high and I desperately hope we continue to do so abundantly, and equally across the country.
Because I was blessed be born in a place that respects my rights and raised to believe in pursuing my dream (so much thanks to my family for always inspiring and encouraging me), I have seen and experienced SO MUCH JOY all in pursuit of a photograph. I have traveled to places that have stolen my breath. I have met some incredibly interesting, funny and supportive people who are a constant source of light in my life. I have taken chances that have fed my soul.
In 2016, I was able to see the forest and seascapes (and….uh…wildlife) of Oregon and Northern California, the towering waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, try out the delightful food trucks in Portland and have my heart swell at the beauty of the Steens Mountains and the Alvord desert. I soaked in a hot spring, while smiling with strangers. I sat under the stars with friends, and pretended to play a violin under the Milky Way. I explored NY and much of New England. I was assaulted by a frog near the Adirondacks, got to see bald eagles in Acadia, the wild ponies on Assateague and black bears in Shenandoah.
I have taught photography students and built friendships around the world through Light & Landscape (thanks for that opportunity Matt!), I wrote another photography book with my business-partner-in-not-crime David, I was blessed to photograph weddings for some amazing couples with my other business-partner-in-not-crime Melissa, worked with one of this year’s 40 under 40 winners (you rock, Fitz!), refined my inner photo-journalist with freelance assignments through the newspaper (shout out to Jared and the staff at the paper for the feedback and encouragement), and saw AMAZING shows / met some wonderful musicians during my nights as a concert photographer (so much thanks to the venue, Kathy, Pat and Angelo).
In short, I have the freedom to LIVE THE LIFE I WANT and these photos represent the landscape side of that. They are a reminder to be THANKFUL EVERY DAY.
Remember to count your blessings often, and appreciate the people and things that enrich your lives. Dwell on the positive, and embrace GRATITUDE instead of criticism. Open your heart to the people that care and the endless possibilities in front of you. Take chances, even knowing you may fail….failure can generally be overcome, but you’ll never get back the time you waste on “What ifs”. Travel as often as you are able to responsibly do so, so that you can learn about the magical places in the world….how else will you learn to cherish and protect them? As you travel near or far, make sure to appreciate that you have the ability to do so.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2017!