Top Ten Photos of 2011

2011 is quickly coming to an end and it’s time to reflect. Last year was a very productive year, and I made many outings throughout the year. There was only problem- this pace was simply not sustainable. As 2011 moved along, I sought a greater balance between my photographic pursuits and the other things in my life. It’s been a weird transition but it has helped removed some of the stressful feelings I have felt while pushing myself to keep the momentum going.

Now, our fickle Pacific Northwest weather kind of helped me out because summer really didn’t arrive until late July! One of the photos below is a typical view during late July / beginning of August instead of the middle of September when it was actually taken. Earlier in the year, I made a small investment in myself and signed up for a weekend class in image processing led be Sean Bagshaw. You can read more about that class in my review of his classes found here but I’ll just say this was a significant event in my development and advancement as a photographer. His teachings finally helped me tackle a sunset photo of Mount Rainier (also below) that frustrated me ever since I took the photo back in February. I finally have a version I like!

I have also really enjoyed getting more familiar and competent with my Pentax K5 dSLR. Its capabilities have really amazed me and I really think it will serve me well for several years to come. Pretty much all my photos this year with the exception of a few weeks in September were taken with my K5. On to the photos! In no particular order…

1.) “Shuksan Swirl – North Cascades National Park”

Shuksan Swirl - North Cascades National Park
The 2010-2011 winter provided me with several wonderful candidates for conversion to black & white and this was one of them. Taken from the White Salmon Lodge parking lot at the Mount Baker Ski Area, the gusty winds kept changing the fabulous view of Mount Shuksan.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

2.) “Tahoma Glow – Mount Rainier National Park”

Tahoma Glow - Mount Rainier National Park (updated version)

Probably the most wonderful sunset of the year but the hardest photos to process. Taken from the Ricksecker Viewpoint within the park, the mountain finally revealed itself as the peak of sunset colors spread across its flanks. This was a great moment to experience, and the second such sunset that a certain friend joined me on. I’m starting to think he’s a good luck charm!

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here. These photos won’t reflect my re-work though!

3.) “Peek-a-Boo – Washington Park, Anacortes, Washington”

Peek-a-Boo - Washington Park, Anacortes, Washington

Taken in the municipal park located just beyond the San Juan ferry terminal in Anacortes, this macro-esque shot made the best of an otherwise flat display of shooting stars along the rocky shoreline. I was immediately drawn to the repeating patterns of the plant leaves against the solitary bloom rising up.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

4.) “The End Around – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area”

The End Around - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

I’ve begun an annual trip to the Columbia River Gorge in the spring and this photo comes from a deeper exploration of Ruckel Creek. This photo was also a little precarious to take- I was standing on a wet log with my tripod fully extended but the legs near collapsed together. I really wanted to capture the motion of the creek as it moved around the logjam.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

5.) “Ipsut Creek – Mount Rainier National Park”

Ipsut Creek - Mount Rainier National Park

This photo was an early product from easily the most grueling outing of the year. I managed to convince my friend to join me on the 10 mile bike ride and 14 mile roundtrip hike & bike up to Moraine Park in the northwest sector of Mount Rainier National Park. This creek provides the water for use at the Ipsut Creek Campground at the end of the now closed Carbon River Road within the park.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

6.) “The Wall – Mount Rainier National Park”

The Wall - Mount Rainier National Park

Fast forward several hours from the time of the previous photo, this was the reward for all the long hours of travel. Although we were racing to stay ahead of a storm system rolling in, the mountain did stay clear long enough to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

7.) “Fall Upon Church – North Fork Nooksack River Valley”

Fall Upon Church - North Fork Nooksack River Valley

I found this viewpoint about 2 years ago but hadn’t been able to time a visit with the peak of fall color. This year I got pretty close!

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

8.) “Mossy Feet – Mount Rainier National Park”

Mossy Feet - Mount Rainier National Park

I almost did not take this photograph. I was hiking out from a somewhat disappointing early winter visit to Green Lake in Mount Rainier National Park and light in the old growth forest was beginning to diminish. I was pretty wet from the rain/sleet mix I had been out in for hours but I was just struck by the “glow” of the moss on this particular Western Red Cedar tree.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

9.) “Rock Garden – Mount Baker National Recreation Area”

Rock Garden - Mount Baker National Recreation Area

Taken during my first ever trip up to Park Butte on Mount Baker, I was faced with a quandary at sunset. I wanted to make it out to a specific tarn that Lee Mann has made famous with one of his photographs but I knew that I would not be able to make it in time to take advantage of any of the sunlight light. I decided to look around where I was and found this nice view.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

10.) “Van Trump Park – Mount Rainier National Park”

Van Trump Park - Mount Rainier National Park

A classic view..but in September?? Such is the case with this photo. This was another “first visit” for me to this parkland west of Paradise on the mountain’s southern flanks. The only thing missing from the photo is any evidence of the voracious mosquitoes who were frantically trying to extract as much blood as possible from my body.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

And here’s one more..

11.) “Surrounded – South Fork Stillaguamish River Valley”

Surrounded - South Fork Stillaguamish River Valley

On the hike up to Pinnacle Lake in the North Central Cascades, I was struck by how the fern leaves radiated outward from this sea of False Lily of the Valley.

More photos from this trip can be found in my blog post here.

7 Responses to Top Ten Photos of 2011
  1. Rachel Cohen

    All of these are such beautiful, and awesome images Steve! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Steve Cole

    Thank you, Rachel. Glad you enjoyed the series!

  3. Lisa Osse

    Hi Steve, I’m a friend of Darin’s and a misplaced PNW-erner. Loved the photos. Truly made me homesick for the Cascades.

  4. Vinx

    Some rely good shoots, was a good photo year (=

  5. Life with Kaishon

    What a beautiful year you have had. Those tree trunks covered in moss are so pretty!

  6. Alex

    Beautiful shots Steve! Looks like you had a great year 🙂

  7. Scott Jessiman

    Great series of images