Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year & Favorites of 2009

I'm back in Northern California after our very busy but great holiday travels, and I wanted to wish you all a (belated) Happy New Year! I still have a handful of images from late 2009 that I haven't had the chance to post yet (including probably two more sets from the San Diego Zoo), but I thought I would start off a new year with a recap of my favorite photos that I took in 2009 (as inspired by Jim Goldstein's annual Blog Project). Last year was a really fun year for me photographically, as I had some of the best wildlife encounters I've ever experienced, as well as upgrades to both a longer lens and a new camera.

In no particular order, here's my Fine Fifteen from 2009.

Without a doubt this was one of my favorite shots from last year -- it even appeared as an editor's choice in the Autumn Issue of The Nature Conservancy's magazine.
Photograph of light streaming through a foggy forest in Tomales Bay State Park

When I went to Ano Nuevo State Reserve in January, we opted for a late day tour, since we had done an early one the previous year. It turned out that we were always facing into the sun when viewing the elephant seals, which made for poor photo conditions. However, we luckily decided to walk one of the other beaches in the park for the sunset, and were treated to great light on three spectacular giants.
Photograph of a northern elephant seal posturing at Ano Nuevo State Reserve

As I wrote about when I posted this one, I am still searching for my 'perfect' shot of the bridge in the fog, but this one did turn out nicely.
Photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge draped in fog at sunrise

My Halloween outing to Point Reyes was one of my favorite wildlife experiences I've ever had (posted as a four part series, see part one here). I had never before spent time with a wild coyote up close, and the deer gave some great poses too. This was one of those times that the experience makes the images better in my mind than they may actually be, and I had to limit myself to picking just two.
Photograph of a mule deer doe on the alert

Spending this much time with a coyote is something I won't soon forget.
Photograph of a coyote on a foggy morning in Point Reyes National Seashore

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to get a nice series of this willet in the overcast early morning light.
Photograph of a friendly willet in Point Reyes National Seashore

This shot was an attempt on my part to make the conscious effort to get out of my comfort zone and take images that were not wildlife based. There was something attractive to me about this tumbleweed shape in the sands of Point Reyes.
Photograph of beach tumbleweed in Point Reyes

A classic pose of a dowitcher preening from the ponds at Radio Road.
Photograph of a dowitcher standing tall while preening

This was the closest I've ever been able to get to oystercatchers, as a trio of them were quite relaxed along the rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve. The overcast skies made for some dreary scenery, but also for a great exposure of their black plumage against the sandstone.
Photographic portrait of a black oystercatcher at Point Lobos State Reserve

Taking a friendly charge from this guy was quite a thrill, and he gave me this awesome pose as my prize for not ducking under the bench I was sitting on.
Mule deer buck in Point Reyes National Seashore

I'm a sucker for both preening birds and Northern Shovelers -- so put them together, and this had to be one of my favorites.
Photograph of a northern shoveler drake preening

This great blue heron was kind enough to allow me to work my way in quite close for some full-frame portraits.
Photographic portrait of a great blue heron

After finding very few birds along the beach at Limantour Spit, this sparrow was waiting for me in the parking lot when I returned to the car.
White-crowned sparrow in Point Reyes National Seashore

It was a pleasure to watch a small group of godwits feeding in the surf at Drake's Beach in Point Reyes.
Photograph of three marbled godwits in Point Reyes

A small waterfall on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Photograph of a waterfall along Cascade Creek

Here's to hoping that 2010 gives all of us even more memories, and some stunning photos too.


  1. What a wonderful collection, Pat. Really Fine Photography!

  2. What a fantastic selection of shots Pat!
    Your compositions are brilliant and you are a very gifted photographer.
    Looking forward to seeing what you can make your camera do this year.

  3. A photographer who shoots from his heart then through his lens. Stunning Images Pat.
    May 2010 bring many more wild experiences and magic photo opportunities for you.

  4. Pat, all I can say is how impressed I am with your collection. You spend a lot of time in the field and this nice collection is a great reward! Congratulations... and like someone else said, I can't wait to see what you do with your camera this year.

  5. Thanks very much for your comments and kind words, everyone! They are greatly appreciated. 2009 was a fun year, and I'm looking forward to what 2010 has in store for me!

  6. What a great post! I've been meaning to do the same and this is a great push to start selecting some favorites.

    The first photo is spectacular and I really like the Golden Gate shot too. It's a perspective that is less common and the fog is just perfect.

  7. Beautiful selection of photos Pat! I hope 2010 is as kind to you with photo opportunities.

  8. What beautiful work, I love the top "woodland" shot. Love the godwits too.

  9. Awesome work with the buck, and I can't believe you're able to get that close to shovelers!

  10. Thanks, Greg! At the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City, where I took the shoveler shot, they'll practically come to you if you sit still long enough.