I've been fortunate in the last few years to meet some really fine photographers like Lori Carey, Joe Smith, Tracy Schultze and Rachel Cohen (among others). Something that most of these photographers participate in is a year end list of their "favorite (or best) photos". We submit them to a well known and well regarded Bay Area photographer, Jim Goldstein, for his annual "Blog Project- Your Best Photos"annually. So this is my list.
I had the good fortune to maintain my regular routine of monthly travel (except October because of the Dodgers - dem bums). I started off the year with two trips to Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave, visited Dodger Spring Training and Homolovi State Park in Arizona, took two trips to the Central Coast, went to Utah and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, went to each California League stadium, Petco Park, San Francisco (AT&T Park) and environs with Lupe, and took a fabulous Four Corners trip, which included Mesa Verde, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Hovenweep National Monument and a quick jaunt to Joshua Tree to see my buddy, PJ Finn. Whew! Who said retirement was boring?! I made about 8000 images this year and 7,990 were pretty bad. Well, not really, but these photos represent my personal favorites.
The first photo (above) was taken in the fading light of a September afternoon at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park from the south rim near Chasm View. To me, it seems to capture the "up close but oh so deep and mysterious" look of this magnificent canyon.
The next two favorites are also canyon photos and both from Imperial Point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon at opposite ends of the day. The first was taken while walking around with my amiga, Liz Kylin, in the late afternoon and a few days later I got up early to catch the sun as it just started to hit the point. You'll get a sense of how fascinating the light of the canyon can be from these two very different photos near the same vantage point (taken with the same camera).
Let's move from canyon country to the coast. My number 4 favorite is a photo of Morro Rock - a place I return to year after year (since the 1980's). I finally took a photo I liked of it.
Next is a Mojave Desert photo taken after a steady 24 hour rain and the clouds were still lingering and creeping over the ridges into the valley below.
The next photo is a long exposure of the pier, at sundown, in my beloved Gaviota State Beach. I'm not a fan of the ugly yellow boat hoist at the end of the pier - but, hey, that's Gaviota.
My amigo Joe Smith has really encouraged me to use more black and white and the last 4 are in that medium. The first is of Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu on a late summer afternoon.
The next photo is of Round Tower in Hovenweep National Monument. This structure was probably built between 1150 AD and 1350 AD by Ancient Puebloans.
This photo of iconic Spider Rock at sunset is probably my favorite of the year. Yes, I know its been photographed thousands and thousands of times but I like the simplicity and shadow of this black and white.
Lastly, you wouldn't really expect the old Southwest Dude not to have a railroad track photo, right? Right. My last is from a favorite spot near Cantil, CA.
Since it is the end of the year I want to express my gratitude to each of you who follow my blog and vicariously travel the roads of the West with me. I hope you get some sense of how much I enjoy sharing my "traveling life" with you and I hope you know how great it is to have you along.
I'd like to also give a shout out to my pals and fellow inspirational photographers, PJ Finn, Craig Pindell, Scott Hays, Don Wendell, author extraordinaire, Chris LaTray and fellow travelin' fool, Scott Jones. I'm fortunate to have you dudes in my life (even if most of it is online).
Lastly, I also want to acknowledge the greatest blessings of my life which are my three children, my two daughters in law and my sensational wife. I don't know how they put up with me - but they do and I'm so damn lucky.
My best to all - let's have a brilliant 2019.
"Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best"
– Henry Van Dyke
At the end of each year it is enjoyable to look back and review the places I've visited. I also enjoy looking through old photos and remembering the fine times I had in each scenic spot.
My viewpoint of photography is changing and evolving on a regular basis. What I like today I may not be fond of a year from now. As my friend and fellow photographer, PJ Finn, has helped me realize, it's all about finding my "voice", just as I did as an actor and director when I was working in the field of Dramatic Art. Indeed, just as all artists should do.
In the next few years I believe my photos will be more of what I LIKE to photograph as opposed to what I think I SHOULD photograph. This is a leap for me but, at my age, what do I have to lose?
The photo above is on a deserted road near the tiny town of Cantil, CA. It's my personal favorite as, to me, it captures that lonesome western highway feel.
This photo below is taken from the Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument one evening toward dusk in January.
My next trip was to Death Valley. I made several photos that I liked there and this simple black and white captures the stark and barren yet beautiful landscape of Death Valley near Zabriskie Point.
The next photo is of the Grapevine Mountains from the Valley floor the day after a rare winter storm.
After a soggy winter (finally) I decided to visit Steinbeck Country in Central California in March. This afternoon photo was taken along the Fremont Peak trail overlooking the city of Salinas. This trail was one of Steinbeck's favorites as a youth.
In April I was asked to make some photos of a United Farm Workers March in Madera, CA. I was proud to do so.
Lupe and I went to Chicago in April also and I got to see legendary Wrigley Field. We fell in love with the city and its Midwestern friendly vibe.
In May I was blessed to have been able to camp in Utah with my son, his wonderful wife and her brother, and my itty-bitty grandchildren. It was sheer heaven. The photo below shows Zion Red Rock in a layer of clouds. When I posted it on social media only a few folks "liked" it. But I like it quite a bit.
I don't normally make or show too many photos of people but when they're the two cutest people in the world whats a guy supposed to do? These are my grandchildren, Finley and Joaquin, at Kodachrome State Park in Utah.
Marty and I had a terrific time, as usual, at Gaviota on our annual trip there.
My daughter and I spent a few fantastic days in Pismo in June. Every day spent with the apple of my eye is a blessing.
In June I was at one of my favorite spots in California, Point Mugu State Park, and took this photo directly from my campsite at sunset.
In the summer I took my daughter Lilly and her friend Kennedy to the Giant Sequoia National Monument in the Sierra Nevada. I admire the stubborn independence of that solitary pine.
Lupe and I also visited the state we love the best, New Mexico. These are ruins in the Juniper country of Bandelier National Monument.
In early Fall I visited sublime and renowned Yosemite National Park with my dear Bay Area family.
in November I visited Pismo Beach once again. Man, I love the Central Coast.
I spent a fascinating day with the BLM and Mojave Desert Land Trust exploring George Patton's old WWII Training Center. The photo below is from an old place of worship near Camp Ironwood.
This last photo is another personal favorite that I recently took near the ghost town of Garlock, CA.
I thank you for coming along and wish each of you the most marvelous of years in 2018. Cheers! See you on the road...
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.