2013: Wrapping up an incredible year

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

Ok, so now that the onslaught of “Best of 2013” blog posts are starting to appear everywhere I just want to let readers know this is my first of that kind. I am not posting these images to join the club, it is just that this year has been especially creative – more so than perhaps any year I have had before in my career.

For any photographer, pro or amateur, creating a dozen top-notch images is a very good year (as stated above by Mr. Adams). 2013 has turned out to be one of the best years of my career creatively. I shot a lot of new portfolio images this past year. I can’t remember any year prior to 2013 where I updated the images on my website so often. Hence, without further ado, here are a dozen of my best images from 2013.

Dawn Glanc – Ouray, ColoradoIn early February, I set out to create some new ice climbing images for my portfolio. The image above was the result of a lot of thinking, pre-production, and a collaboration with ice climber Dawn Glanc. It is hard to say which of these images are the best of the lot but this one is certainly close to the top of the heap if it isn’t the best image I shot in 2013. Tell me which image you think is the best from this selection in the comments below

Josh Redman – North Shore, Oahu, HawaiiMy good friend Brian Bielmann was kind enough to let me shoot a few images of his friend Josh Redman, a South African big-wave surfer, who stopped by for a few photos before he shaved his beard off. The result was that we both got some stellar images and fed off each other for new ideas and approaches. This is certainly one of the best portraits I have shot this year. My thanks to Brian for letting me shoot a few images and to Josh for looking so cool!

Carlos Munoz – North Shore, Oahu, HawaiiDuring our 2013 Surfing Photography Workshop in February, Brian Bielmann and I hired Carlos Munoz to come out and surf for our class at Rocky Point. As one of the top ariel specialists in surfing he was able to put on quite a show even though the waves were only average. This image was one of a few stellar surf images created during that workshop.

Kohl Christensen – North Shore, Oahu, HawaiiOn the last day of the 2013 Surfing Photography workshop Pipeline kicked up bigger than I have ever seen it. It was a funky day with swells coming in from various directions the wind played havoc with the waves making for very dangerous and difficult conditions for the surfers. Nonetheless, Kohl Christensen rode this wild wave, which turned out to be one of the best shots of the day. Another huge wave rolled in later on and is pictured below (surfer unknown).

Chelsea Yamase – North Shore, Oahu, HawaiiWe also got the chance to work with Chelsea Yamase, a professional model on the North Shore, to shoot some lifestyle images. The results were some ‘classic’ Hawaiian surf lifestyle shots. This is by no means the best image I shot in 2013, but it is a solid lifestyle image and went straight into my portfolio.

Clay Moseley – Los Alamos, New MexicoThis spring, I shot several images specifically for my book Location Lighting for the Outdoor Photographer. The image above was one of those images, and was shot up at the Pajarito Nordic Ski area near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Those who know my work know that I love to show motion in still images – this image was just a new application of my standard motion blur technique with flash.

Thomas – Eaves Movie Ranch, Santa Fe, New MexicoWhile shooting out at the Eaves Movie Ranch this summer I worked with Thomas, a local actor and the manager of the Movie Ranch. This portrait, and the one below, were shot in five minutes while working quickly. While I don’t think either of these images are as strong as the portrait of Josh Redman above, they are new and different than any portraits I have ever shot. I still haven’t decided which is my favorite of the two. I am leaning towards the one above but let me know your favorite in the comments below.

Levi Siver – Gold Beach, OregonIt was an honor to work with Levi Siver earlier this year on a Red Bull shoot in southern Oregon. Levi is a consummate professional and I got hundreds of stellar images on this assignment but this one was the best of the lot. It was chosen by National Geographic as their image of the week when it was released the week after this assignment. My thanks to Levi for all the hard work and to the helicopter pilot for putting me into the perfect position to get this shot. For the behind the scenes story on this assignment check out my Summer 2013 Newsletter.

Cape Sebastion – Gold Beach, OregonJust before the start of the Red Bull Windboost assignment with Levi Siver (pictured above) I spent an afternoon location scouting in and around Gold Beach. I found this spectacular view on Cape Sebastion, which is just south of the city of Gold Beach, Oregon. This image is easily the best landscape I captured in 2013.

Joe Nodeland – Wedge Islands, British ColumbiaMy week-long sea kayaking trip with Joe Nodeland and Tony Hoare was by far the best adventure I had in 2013. This image is my favorite from that trip, though there are many other images from that trip that could be a part of this blog post. A selection of the images from this personal trip have already been published by Red Bull on the Red Bull Adventure website. For a full recounting of this adventure check out my Fall 2013 Newsletter.

Aspens – Kebler Pass, ColoradoWhile on a hike this fall above Crested Butte, Colorado I walked through the largest stand of Aspens on Earth. It was an incredible experience and resulted in this image. While landscape images of Aspens are not worth a whole lot in my genre of photography, I still love this image as it reminds me of how small we are on this planet. This stand of aspens covers a staggeringly huge area and the color of the aspens varied with their altitude creating a kalediscopic array of colors.

Jon Fullbright – Sleeping Beauty, Rio Grande, New MexicoCreated just last month, this shot of Jon Fullbright doing cartwheels in Sleeping Beauty, a surf spot for whitewater kayakers on the Rio Grande, was created using a strobe in late afternoon shade. As with several of these images, I am not sure if I prefer the shot above or this alternate motion blur image below. Let me know what you think in the comments.

There you have it. Thank you for taking a look. I hope 2014 is even more creative than 2013 and I can continue to push the limits of my creativity and create new perspectives and stellar images for all of my clients. My thanks to all of the clients who hired me for assignments in 2013 and to all of the athletes I was honored to work with.

  • Alexandre Buisse - Without a doubt the ice climbing, I love how you let the crazy ice formations remain the main focus of the image, rather than the climbing action itself.

  • Eduardo Alvarez - Your work in 2013 was amazing. I just can’t imagine taking a shot like this!
    I like the Jon Fullbright image very much, the blurred one…
    It shows the various directions where the water moves. That image is a perfect representation of your work style.
    Have a great new year.

  • Martin Beebee - Great selection! The ice climbing shot is my favorite of the bunch — there’s so much going on with the ice, yet the composition is so simple and clean.

    I love the image of Chelsea — really beautiful mood captured there, with gorgeous light. Was that just after sunset?

    Of the shots of Thomas, I prefer the first, which looks like it came right from a movie still.

    Of the kayak shots, I prefer the first, as well — I feel there’s just a bit too much motion blur in Jon’s face in the second (though maybe it looks better larger?).

  • Michael Clark - Martin – thanks for the feedback. Yes, that shot of Chelsea was captured just after the sun set.

  • Brad Howell - Nice work! So being more of portrait guy and not so much an adventure shooter, I heavily favor the pano of Thomas. The lighting is subtle, moody and actually quite superb. It may not speak volumes about Thomas or the character he is portraying but the execution and composition is more painterly and controlled. I absolutely love that the shadows have just a hair of detail. Enough to sell the space but not drag you down with excess detail. I’m not sure you can compare an enironment portrait to a face portrait. Thats like apples to oranges. The face portrait relies heavily on an interesting face or the texture of that crazy beard and the environment and sliver of light is what makes the pano so fascinating to look upon. Anyway, your “other” stuff is quite amazing too. Hope you are doing well!

  • Michael Clark - Brad – Thanks for the great comments. I do love those photos of Thomas! Hope you are doing well…

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