2020 has been, well, 2020. A year of uncertainty for all and tragedy for some. New Year’s Eve brings hope of new beginnings, new challenges, and new hope. As we head into 2021, I wanted to briefly look back at a Year of Years and remember some of the beauty we found in it together.
10. Falcon 9 Rocket Launch – Cape Canaveral, Florida
If you would’ve told me on December 31, 2019 that I’d end up being a total space geek in the next year I probably would’ve laughed. All it took was a behind-the-scenes tour at NASA (you can read my summary of the visit here, here, and here) to get me hooked! This incredible picture was accompanied by whooping and hollering as my fellow NASA Socialites and I cheered the rocket into the sky, with supplies and experiments for the International Space Station aboard.
Photographically this shot was all about getting the settings right. I used a remote timer to kick off a 4 minute exposure about 40 seconds before the rocket launched and I couldn’t be any happier with how the shot ended up!
9. Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge – Dallas, Texas
If you’ve followed my blog for any number of years you’ll recognize this iconic Calatrava bridge. Connecting downtown Dallas with the new Trinity Groves area, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is iconic and an instantly recognizable part of Dallas’s incredible skyline. I’ve shot this bridge so many ways but really liked this framing of it, the graffiti on the bridge support showing a bit of Dallas’s gritty foundation against the clean and polished skyline.
8. L Train – Chicago, Illinois
I’ve known about this spot for years, where the L train snakes its way northward out of downtown Chicago. On a business trip in February (my last business trip before the pandemic hit, it would turn out) I finally had some time to stop by and capture my own version of this great shot. I was in a parking garage, standing in front of a GMC Acadia SUV with my camera perched on a window sill. The owner of the SUV, who showed up during my shoot, was not a fan of a random passerby being so close to his vehicle but I showed him the shot and he became friendly (I sent him a copy of the image). Luckily the sunset cooperated too!
7. Vitruvian Lights – Addison, Texas
I have a beautiful friend named Brooke who always puts up with my crazy photo ideas, so me calling her up and asking her to be an eye model for me at a popular holiday lights display near Dallas wasn’t too much of a surprise. We definitely caught some odd looks from others at the display, since my camera was on a big tripod with an enormous lens about 5 inches from her face, but the result was absolutely perfect.
6. Walter’s Wiggles – Zion National Park, Utah
I went out to Zion National Park in May, as the park was in the process of reopening, to see how the experience would be different from the normal melee of visiting one of America’s most popular national parks. I love the hike up to Angel’s Landing, although the chain section and summit was closed. I took the chance to capture this classic composition of Walter’s Wiggles, the calf-destroying switchbacks just before you arrive at Scout Lookout, the emotional halfway point on the way to Angel’s Landing. You can see more pictures from my visit in May here, and my return trip to Zion in November with my buddy Mike, where I did a phone comparison between my iPhone 12 Pro and my $6500 Sony camera kit, here.
5. Wingtip Aurora – North Atlantic Ocean, Earth
I was flying over to London for work in January and happened to check the aurora forecast before my flight. When I saw a promising forecast I made sure to grab my tripod and favorite low-light camera. I had to warn the flight attendants what I was up to (because it looked kinda suspicious, having to drape a blanket over my camera and the window to prevent cabin lights from ruining the shot) and it took about 20 attempts but this ended up being an absolutely incredible shot. I’ve been lucky enough to see the northern lights 4 times now and this just might be my favorite!
4. Star Trails at the Rock Church – Cranfills Gap, Texas
This image turned out so much better than I originally thought! The amazing foreground of an old church built by Norwegian settlers in rural Texas combined with star trails circling around the Northern Star (placed conveniently on the steeple of the church) just turned out so well. Sony ended up doing an article about this image, as I used my beloved Sony a7rIV to create it!
3. Curved Aspens – Colorado
It took me three years to find these trees. And those three years were worth it!
I won’t try and retell the whole story here, but I’d love for you to check out the full story at my post about these trees here, it’s worth the read.
2. The Milky Way at Prada Marfa – Valentine, Texas
My brother and I were on our way out to Tucson, Arizona, for my They Will Fly Again project in April. Driving through the night, my Tesla told me to stop in Van Horn, Texas, to charge for a bit before the long drive across the Texan desert to El Paso. While charging, I remembered the famous Prada Marfa art installation was only about an hour south. We decided to make our way south, and boy am I glad we did. I had never seen a Milky Way shot from the famous art installation and was happy to create it!
1. They Will Fly Again – Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Tucson, Kansas City, Tulsa
I couldn’t just pick one picture from my They Will Fly Again project so here’s a sampling. I knew the images I captured would be compelling and tell a powerful story, and I was happy with the coverage it received. What I never imagined, however, were the countless emails I received from airline pilots and crew around the world telling me thank you for sharing their plight with the world. Those emails meant more to me than any accolades ever could.
Which was your favorite?
This year felt strange to so many of us but I hope I was able to show you some beauty from it. I can’t wait for 2021 and have so many adventures to run after.
The story ain’t over…happy 2021!