Ah yes, the annual photo round up, a time of year when photographers, despite how rarely they might post on their blogs, manage to scrounge together some words in reflection of the past 365 days.
For me, 2018 was a time of personal achievements, having inched closer to reaching my goal of being a fearless mountain woman although certainly not without having my moments of abject terror. Coming face to face with a Grizzly bear comes to mind, although that moment was somehow less terrifying than trying to overcome the mental block required to do a solo midnight ascent of the East End of Rundle. I made it 2/3 of the way up before settling in to a cliff side for sunrise photos, believing that any potential predators would only be able to sneak up on me from one angle. Next year, I might make it a little bit closer to the summit before dawn and have one of those photos wind up in my best of 2019.
So, with that introduction in place, here's my favourites of 2018.
This image is from my first real surprise encounter with a Grizzly Bear. While it's not the strongest image I've ever taken, I'm beyond happy that I was able to fight through the adrenaline surge and walk away with a relatively well exposed, sort of in focus and somewhat composed image. More importantly, having now had this sort of encounter I feel much more prepared should it happen again, mainly that my "grab the bear spray" instincts should probably take priority over my "grab the camera" instincts next time. Don't worry, Mr. Bastard was with me and his "grab the bear spray / remove wife from the camera and shuffle her away" instincts are finely tuned.
The last months of 2018 have been quite busy in terms of showing (and selling) my prints, including taking steps to bring a long term project I've been working on to fruition. While I'm grateful for the opportunities and support I've had these last few months, I haven't left myself much time to actually go out and take photographs.
I had noticed this tree while walking the dog one evening. I didn't have high hopes for any photographs from the location but I kept it in the back of my mind for a day when I didn't have much time. My intentions were solely to spend a little bit of time photographing to decompress before starting my day, but my expectations for a nice photo sank even lower when I discovered how difficult it is to find a single tree in Fish Creek Park in the dark (who knew?) Lucky for me, not only did I find the tree in time to set up and watch the morning light, but I also wound up coming home with an image I was happy with.
I carry my full camera kit with me on most of the hikes I do, but truthfully it rarely makes it out of my backpack. Mr. Bastard and I weren't out for a hike so much as a meander through the woods when we came across this scene, the light shining through the trees and rising mist was so nice we promptly forgot about hiking and sat down along the creek to enjoy the view instead. Although a photo could never capture a moment as serene as this, I'm happy Mr. Bastard was with me to soak it all in. I'm also happy I took the camera out of the backpack.
It's rare, but on occasion I can convince a non-photographer to wake up in the middle of the night, drive for a few hours, hike half way up a mountain in the dark and then stand around in the freezing cold for hours "Waiting for good light" Generally on these occasions my camera is pointed toward a mountain, but when Mr. Bastard joins me on an early morning adventure I can't help but try to sneak a few photos of him when he's not paying attention. We stood together in reverence of the beautiful Mt. Sarrail that morning, it's the memory of spending time with him in the presence of such wild beauty (and Mr. Bastard's wild woodsman look) that make this photo one of my favourites of 2018.
I was worried that the wildfire smoke would ruin my trip to Assiniboine this summer, but not because it makes breathing difficult and I had a long way to hike. I was worried the smoke would make it difficult to get any photos. (I have my priorities) While the clouds and nice directional light I expected to have at dusk and dawn were certainly obscured, the haze made a soft surreal atmosphere that seemed to last for hours. On my last night of the trip, it was difficult to tear myself away from Gog Lake. The surreal light had been nice to photograph but I knew that if I could just hold out a little longer I might be able to see the last rays of sun hit the mountain face. After crouching down in the cotton grass for hours, a subtle dash of light finally reached the mountain. Paradise.
Over the course of 365 days I had made the long drive to Moraine Lake in the pre-dawn hours to attempt the hike to Minnestimma Lakes a total of 5 times.
Twice, I had lost my nerve altogether and wound up somewhere completely different altogether..
Another two times my courage only propelled me a fraction of the way up the trail before turning around.
Four times I had returned to the City feeling dejected and foolish for even trying.
This year, I finally made it and was treated to a beautiful show of atmosphere to point my camera at. More importantly, I was able to prove to myself that I had the courage to make it here on my own making this one of my favourite images this year.
I always feel accomplished when I reach a summit before sunrise, but it's a gamble whether the light and weather will cooperate. This particular morning was relatively warm, but more importantly, there was no wind. I was able to spend hours relaxing and photographing from Miners Peak.
Although the sunrise that morning wasn't anything spectacular, the early morning contrast of light and shadow on the commanding face of Mt. Lawrence Grassi made the effort worthwhile and made for one of my top 10 favourite images this year.
As much as I love mountains, the simplicity found on the prairies is often a much needed break and a nice way to creatively reset myself. When locations are easier to access, I find there's less pressure to come home with a portfolio worthy photo and I'm able to experiment, knowing it's easy enough to return another day and try again. As I sat in the grass conversing with the neighbouring field of cows, I waited for the sunrise lamenting the lack of clouds in the sky. I had low expectations for the resulting photos, but I was still quite content to lounge around with a cup of coffee and fiddle around with some different compositions. Imagine my surprise when I came home with one of my favourite images this year, I was so smitten with this photo that it's now framed and available to purchase at Kahl's Downtown in High river
Normally, a tropical vacation wouldn't include a 2am alarm clock but when you're on the Big Island of Hawaii it is essential. Driving up to the Kilauea volcano in the early morning twilight, I had to keep my excitement contained while Mr. Bastard slept beside me in the passenger seat. The moment we turned in to Volcano National Park, and Mr. Bastard stirred awake, a string of excited expletives exploded from my mouth and solidly continued until I was safely out of the car and behind my camera watching the stars, sunrise and glow of the lava lake interact through my lens. Not only did I manage to capture my second favourite shot from 2018, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity as the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater collapsed not long after we returned to Canada.
It took me over 70 km of solo hiking over four days to get this shot, but the few kilometres hiking alone in the dark in unfamiliar territory, knowing a mother Grizzly and her cubs were in the area, was by far the most mentally challenging. Heavy smoke from the wildfires made the air heavy and my lungs were wheezing by the time I reached the first significant viewpoint along the trail. With only minutes before sunrise, I noticed the view could be better, and decided to run up the mountain to the next view point before the sun crested the horizon. I made it just in time, and while the thick smoke obscured the sunrise and dulled the light, it made for a wonderfully surreal scene for more than enough time to capture several compositions. I had been dreaming of seeing this vista at sunrise for years and this year I finally made it a reality. As always, the photos I have to work the hardest for always hold a special place in my heart, and I worked hard both mentally and physically to capture this one. That's why this is my favourite of 2018.
Thank you all for your support in 2018!