Favorite 5 images from 2017

I didn’t get to do as much photography as I’d like to last year (2017), but I still thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the pictures I did take. So here’s an impromptu look at five of my favorite images from the last year or so… in no particular order, and for no particular reasons…

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Above: Milky Way over the Snake River Plain, July 2017.

I like this image for a few reasons. It was the only time I got out for a night shoot this year, and wasn’t really planned. I had rented a copy of the new Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens for a potential hiking trip into the Sawtooths, and when I ran out of time to do that (it was my last week in Boise, and making sure the move went smooth took precedence), I took a random drive into the desert south of Meridian one night when the skies looked reasonably clear. I drove around a little while, and after getting a wee bit sketched out by an abandoned car at the spot I’d though of trying, ended up pulling over at a random side road. Once I stepped out of the truck I realized that not only was I far enough from Boise to avoid most of the light pollution, but the Milky Way was also shining clear and bright. I spent maybe 15 minutes taking some different shots (with my Canon 6D), and called it an evening around midnight. Given the mostly random way it unfolded, I was tickled that I was able to capture a pretty neat image, and only about a 40 minute drive south of my apartment. I still haven’t brought myself to purchase a copy of the lens for myself (it’s a pretty specialized tool), but it’s on my “to-get” list for capturing these kinds of images.

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Above: Passenger jet taking off from Newark, June 2017.

When I went back to Grey Towers (in Milford, PA) for a USFS training session in June, we flew in and out of Newark, NJ. On the night before my flight home, we stayed at a hotel airport, and I got lucky and had a view toward New York City from my window. I woke up early, unable to sleep too well for a variety of reasons, and was treated to some neat light as the sun rose. I didn’t have one of my “big” cameras with me, just my Canon G7 X point and shoot, but I’m still happy with how it turned out. This was my first real trip to what I consider “back east,” as until then the only places east of the Mississippi that I’d visited had been in the south… Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida, and while they are “east” by most geographic standards, don’t quite have the same vibe as the Northeast.

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Above: Mt. St. Helens from Coldwater Peak repeater, October 2017.

I’m not quite sure why I like this image more than some of the others I took that day that are probably “better” in a technical or artistic sense, but I do. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it’s not just a “normal” landscape shot, but shows some of the “behind the scenes” of the spot… in this case, we’d flown up to the peak to install the radios in a new building for the USFS, USGS, and local SAR group radio repeaters, and you can see the three radio techs, the building, and the various short towers and solar panel arrays that are on the site. In this shot, the new building isn’t completely finished: the antenna hasn’t been raised, and the solar panels haven’t been put on top yet. As my job-related roles and responsibilities have changed in the past 5 years, I’ve really seen a huge decline in the number of times I can actually get into the field and do neat things with helicopters each year, so I have to be sure to slow down and enjoy each project and flight I do get to work on. I used my Olympus E-M5 and 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO for this shot… It’s becoming my “travel” camera and lens for those times when I don’t have the space to bring my Canon 6D and the big lenses (which is most of the time when I’m working), but do have room in the line pack or flight bag for something more than just a pocket camera.

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Above: Totality during the eclipse, August 2017.

It wouldn’t do for me to have a top 5 list without including one of my few eclipse photos. The eclipse was a big deal in this part of Oregon, and having it occur during the middle of fire season made for a lot of extra work for just about everyone involved in fire management, including me. Needless to say, I would have liked to made some big plans, but the busy fire season, plus the move a few weeks before mean that I was lucky to just have my camera handy, and by in a spot where I could see the eclipse. In all honesty, I failed pretty hard on the prep for this… my tripod was somewhere in a pile of boxes and other stuff in my new apartment, and I was lucky to even remember to grab the Canon 6D with a few lenses as I walked out the door that morning. I didn’t do much research into how to photograph the event, and only had a few moments to snap a few images with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 and Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art. Probably not an ideal shot for a wide angle (I used the Rokinon 14mm), but I’ve got something to remember the eclipse with, so I’d call it a success, all things considered.

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Above: DC-10 drop testing at sunrise, Fox Field, October 2017.

Just as things were starting to wind down a little bit at the new job in Oregon, I got a request to go help with an airtanker drop test that some of the folks from my last job were working on, and so I found myself on one last little work adventure with them as October came to a close. I didn’t really have time for much in the way of taking photos, and I’d again traveled with only my Canon G7 X point and shoot. In hindsight I could easily have brought either of my “big” cameras and had enough time to snap a few pictures, but I’m still pretty happy with how this one image, snapped quickly, turned out. It was yet another one of those work experiences where I feel pretty lucky to have been able to participate in it, even though it was a week of long days that left everyone pretty bushed, mentally and physically. I only hauled out the camera a few times, but it was definitely worth it when I did.

So there you have it… my five favorite images of 2017. Maybe not my five best images, but the five I feel I like the best, for whatever reasons. I didn’t have a huge sample to draw from, but there’s always (this) next year!

Until next time…

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About Justin Vernon

I'm an amateur photographer, wanna-be writer, tech aficionado, and a classic introvert who values quiet time as much as I do the mountains and people of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies.
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