Inspired by Jim Goldstein's Annual Blog Project, here are my favorite photos from 2011. They may not be the most technically correct images I made this year, and they aren't necessarily the most popular images that I posted, but these are the ten that mean the most to me.
2011 was a productive year for me photographically. In addition to posting over 150 entries on this blog, I participated in my first art show, made my first print sales, had my images appear in a variety of conservation publications (including a cover for Naturalia AC's magazine), and had one of my images selected as Highly Honored in the 2011 Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition. Additionally, I completed my Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and relocated to the Boston area this fall. My wife and I had an awesome road trip across the country during our move, and we spent 10 days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks -- a childhood dream come true for me!
Without further ado, here are my favorite photographs of 2011, in no particular order, with a link to the original blog post of each.
A sanderling for Laura
This first image on my list is the one that is most meaningful for me, since I dedicated this sanderling and its reflection to my sister-in-law, Laura, after she was taken from us by a random act of violence in November. While Laura’s time with us was far too short, she lived an amazingly full life and impacted an incredible number of people. Her zest for life and fierce love of family, friends, and science will be forever reflected in those of us who knew her – and we will each be a better person for carrying her spirit with us as we move forward.
Bull moose at sunrise
Finding moose to photograph was a high priority during our trip to Grand Teton National Park, and we were fortunate to find some each morning. I was amazed to see how large these animals really are, and it was a great pleasure to watch this bull and his female companion browse in the sagebrush in the early morning light.
Quail on gnarled branches
I had great luck with quail this year in Point Reyes National Seashore, and it would be easy to make a post of my favorite 10 quail images from 2011. While I had a hard time deciding which image I wanted to include in this list, I went with this handsome male perched on an old coyote bush because of the interesting shape and texture of its perch.
Pronghorn in the grass
Heading into our visit to Yellowstone National Park the chance to photograph pronghorn was high on my wish list. Much to my surprise and delight, there was a group of about 8 individuals that were hanging out by the Gardiner entrance almost every day we were there.
Young bull tule elk
This was my favorite shot of my last trip to Point Reyes National Seashore before moving to the East Coast. Point Reyes is where I fostered my passion for photography, and it will always have a very special place in my heart. The pose of this young elk set against that foggy background perfectly captured the emotion of that final trip.
Burrowing owl at the Berkeley Marina
Every year a small group of burrowing owls take up a winter residence at Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. I took a number of weekend trips to watch these lovely (and surprisingly small) owls, and this was my favorite shot of the grumpy looking one that made its home on the rocks.
Song sparrow singing
As I was photographing wildflowers on an overcast June day in Point Reyes National Seashore, a loud song from this tiny bird caught my attention. I looked up from my viewfinder and discovered that it had perched quite close to me. I watched it sing a few more stanzas before it flew away.
On this February trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, I was able to sit in my car along the road as a large herd of tule elk surrounded me. It was such a pleasure to be in the middle of their daily activities, and I just love the quiet look that this beautiful female gave me.
Got him! A plover catches a worm
I took a few spring trips to Pillar Point Harbor with the hope of photographing some black-bellied plovers in their dramatic summer plumage before they migrated north. It was a delight to watch these beautiful birds hunt for worms right in front of my lens, and I loved how much tension you could see on the worm in this shot just before it pops out of its burrow.
Elephant seal at sunset
One of the things I will miss most about no longer living in California is my annual trip to Año Nuevo State Reserve to see the northern elephant seals. They are incredible animals to behold, and were absolutely one of my favorite subjects to photograph.
I hope you enjoyed my favorites from this year! If you're interested, please check out my 2010 Favorites and 2009 Favorites, or browse my portfolios and full body of work at www.patulrichphotography.com.