What a year it was. Not just for me, but the world. So many big events and the loss of many iconic figures such as Micheal Jackson, Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett.
For me, it was a busy year of travel photography and on-location workshops. I started the year in Oregon and came away with an image of these timeless sea stacks, standing like giant tombstones of time. (These monoliths hug the shoreline of the small coastal town of Bandon, Oregon.)
In February, I made a long weekend run to Death Valley with good friends Brian Rueb and Scott Davis. Normally you'd think of a place like Death Valley as hot and dry, but we managed to plan our trip to encounter some of the worst rains the area has seen in years. We did manage a few images, but were eventually chased out just as they were closing the roads to the valley.
From Death Valley, Scott Davis and I hopped a plane to Alaska for our long awaited journey to the Kenai Peninsula, to photograph Bald Eagles. Our bad timing in Death Valley was long behind us, and we managed to arrive in Alaska to an unusually sunny week, where we took full advantage of the conditions and photographed eagles every day of our week-long stay.
We returned from Alaska just in time for me to head to Yosemite to meet back up with Brian Rueb and conduct our 2009 Winter Yosemite Landscape Workshop. We had a great group this year and the conditions didn't disappoint. Winter in Yosemite is always a great time, and the students loved every minute of it.
With spring's arrival in Oregon, I made the 12-hour drive from my home in California's Bay area to the Columbia River Gorge, a 60-mile stretch of scenic wilderness along Oregon's northern border with Washington State. I spent a week hiking and photographing many of the waterfalls; conditions could not have been more perfect.
Anxious to get down to the Desert Southwest before it got too hot, May was a perfect time for a long weekend get-a-way to the four corners area. Monument Valley was high on my list, as I'd driven through that area a few times prior but had never stopped to take in the giant, timeless landscapes.
On the way back through the Mohave Desert, I was fortunate enough to be near Andrews Air Force Base and witnessed the space shuttle landing. Lucky for me, weather had caused them to land in California instead of the standard Florida return. Hearing and feeling the sonic boom was indescribable!
In the middle of June, I headed north to Mt. Shasta to meet up with Brian Rueb again, to conduct our annual summer photography workshop tour of that area. Conditions this year were HOT! But visiting all the waterfalls and higher elevations really helped. We had a big group this time, but it was another great workshop!
From Northern California, I headed to Montana in route to Glacier National Park. I'd visited the west entrance many times before but never had the chance to spend time on the east side, which is difficult to access because Logan Pass is only open a few weeks each year, and they don't allow motorhomes to pass over, which is my transportation of choice these days. So after two days of driving I arrived at St. Mary's Lake, where I spent several days hiking and waiting for just the right conditions. Finally on the 4th day of my stay, late morning light gave way to one of my new favorite images.
July and August were very busy. That is Art and Wine Festival season and every year I display my work and sell prints and other misc. photography products. This year was one of the best ever, despite the slow economy. I was pleased with the response to my newest fine art prints and it was further evidence to me that my idea to open a gallery was valid.
Late September finally arrived and I was very anxious to get back into the field. I had been planning a two week trip to Colorado all year and with several stops on my pre-planned route, there wasn't a day to spare. My first stop was Zion National Park, where I hiked the 10 miles in and out of one of the north canyons, "The Subway," formed by an ancient lava tube. I arrived to find just the right lighting conditions and was able to capture the scene as I had hoped.
From Zion, I headed east into Colorado, where I spent a week in and around the San Juan Mountains in search of the best fall colors. While it wasn't the best year for color, I did manage to find a few spots that didn't disappoint. High on my "to-do" list was the difficult, off-road journey to the ghost town of Crystal.
After a full day of visiting and photographing this location, I moved on to the famous Maroon Bells Lake. My first day at the lake was a disappointment...stormy skies kicked up waves on the lake and muted the light. However, when I returned the next morning, the conditions were superb!
With my Colorado trip successfully behind me, I returned to California for the last, and largest, Art and Wine Festival of the year. Held in Half Moon Bay, California, this weekend show boasts up to 250,000 attendees.
October is also the final workshop of the year...our Yosemite Fall Landscape Workshop. Our scheduled workshop was timed perfectly for the fall colors and the students were treated to ideal conditions. On that Saturday night, we arrived at Glacier Point to photograph sunset and it turned out to be one of the most amazing I had ever witnessed. Everyone left with a camera full of wonderful images and many new photographic skills.
In between all of these trips, travels and shows, I managed to write a business plan for The Aperture Academy, a 4,000 square foot photography gallery featuring my work. It is also a studio for building upon the workshop series I'd been developing over the last few years.
We officially opened the doors to Aperture Academy on October 20th, 2009. A full 10 days sooner than expected, due to a streamlined construction schedule. We held our grand opening celebration on December 5th, 2009, with over 500 guests in attendance. It was quite a celebration!
Yes, 2009 was a year of big events and personal milestones, bringing great promise for an even better 2010. Happy New Year everyone, and I hope your 2010 is the best year yet!