I've mentioned before that 2018 has been a tumultuous year for my family. The one thing that remained constant and helped keep me from going completely mental was my photography. It grounded me and helped me work through the pain of loss. Photography has connected me to other good people, to my surroundings, and to the natural world. It is an extremely personal endeavor for me. I enjoy being alone with my camera and observing everything. Yet, photography has also made me more social. I've met many good people through it and I've also kept some great friends over the years who I met through photography.
I'm ordering these images backwards through 2018. I'm also not numbering them because there is no order of "least and most" favorite.
On to the images...
Of the Pere Marquette images, this one is my favorite. For me, the coal smoke and the flare from the light make the image. I also love this image because my dad loved trains so it was a nice way to remember him by going out for the day and chase this particular train.
The armour and the painterly style are two elements that were personal favorites this year.
Again, the painterly style, but in this image, it's the subject. I've been wanting to photograph my friend for some time. I've always envisioned him in such wardrobe from this period in time. He fits the look so well!
The eagle, the raven, and the deer carcass are not beautifully presented or composed. I hate the branch running through the image, but with nature, you sometimes have to act fast and photograph what you can. The later image from the same set is composed beautifully, but the action is missing. Therefore, the action image is my favorite from the set.
I'm not into "ruin porn." A lot of people love it and that's okay. We should not all like the same things. However, I did enjoy photographing this junkyard. I think it harkens back to my "reclaimed" series where I explored natural spaces that were ruined, but then nature took it back. Of the junkyard shoot, I think this teal bug was my favorite. The other thing that made this work for me is that i was particularly proud of the fact that when my original plan of shooting with my macro lens was ruined when the lens broke, I quickly changed plans and did a different take on the junkyard. It's always a good thing to think on your feet and troubleshoot a problem. I love coming up with solutions that work.
Ben as Prometheus is another favorite. In this case, I love it because I stretched my studio "divinity" series out into nature.
I was very excited and happy to photograph the endangered piping plover on their breeding ground. It was even more special because my son joined me on the adventure.
I had the honor of obtaining a permit for my bird photography on private property. It was a haven for birds. I loved every minute spent at this place. One of my favorites from one of my visits was this spotted sandpiper chick.
I spent hours watching this juvenile great blue heron fishing. It was a fascinating study of blue heron behavior and it was a test of patience, both the bird's and mine.
The female red-winged blackbird in mating display because blackbirds were the first birds I started really noticing mating behavior. In all my hikes, I focused on the larger birds and mammals. I don't know why. This year, after my dad died, I seemed to become more in tune with my surroundings. It's probably coincidence, but I'd like to think that in grief, we find something in ourselves that raises empathy and awareness. I mean, death is a part of life, but it's difficult to face. There has to be a lesson in there somewhere, right?
Kory helped me to express my grief and for that, I'm forever grateful to her. This image that we created is a personal favorite.
I love that I'm seeing more of these magnificent raptors all over Michigan. We have one living in our residential area. There were a couple who nested on top of the office building where a used to work. I always see them while driving, either soaring in the air or perched along the roadside, looking for prey. I also see them while on hikes, soaring over fields looking for their next meal.
2018 saw the end to my macro lens and the beginning of the end to my camera body. I can't complain about either. I've been using them heavily since 2008. However, it does reinforce the statements made by professional photographers about the cost of doing business. Every time you actuate the shutter, you are degrading your equipment, which in turn will need to be replaced at some point. Photography is not a cheap endeavor.
2018 has been a tumultuous year for our family. I hope your 2018 was more restful, peaceful, and kinder to you and your family. I also hope 2019 brings peace and calm to everyone.
I wanted to get to Detroit before the crowds and during the holidays in order to make some images of the city.
I was saddened to learn that this beautiful boy passed away. He was only 6 years old. He had a heart condition, but he was a lovable, goofy boy.
My heart and deepest sympathies go to the wolf biologists, wolf behavioralists, and rescue workers who observed him daily. They found him with his pack mates licking him as if to try to wake him.
I am honored that I was able to photograph him on several occasions in his short life. He was a testament to the spirit of wolves and an example of how wolves benefit the ecosystem.
To learn more about wolves in Yellowstone, CBS's 60 minutes ran a special last night. You can view it here: www.cbsnews.com/news/the-return-of-wolves-to-yellowstone-park-60-minutes/
The Pere Marquette 1225 is the inspiration for Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express. The Pere Marquette is a 2-8-4 Berkshire steam locomotive built in 1941.
I spent the day with my friend chasing down this historic engine on its Santa Express journey. As soon as I smelled to coal steam, a huge smile broke out on my face and memories came flooding back. Ever since I can remember, my dad would take the family on steam engine rides wherever and whenever they were available. On some rides if the windows were open, we'd get pelted in the face with debris from the steam. We'd have to shower as soon as we arrived home because we were full of soot. Showers or baths were a small price to pay for a day of fun riding a steam train with the entire family.
Had my dad been alive today, he would have loved the experience of seeing, hearing, feeling, and smelling this historical steam engine.
While I love the historic train, I also love capturing the story...the look of wonder on this little boy's face.
Santa greeting the train, the train workers hustling to embark, and the diesel engine that will bring the train back to the station.
The huddle with Santa and the Great Lakes Central 399 engine that brings the train back to the station.
Because this is an out and back journey, the Pere Marquette 1225 pulls the train to the destination and the Great Lakes Central 399 pulls the train back to the starting point. Great Lakes Central 399 is a diesel locomotive that was built in 1972.
In anticipation of the train chasing I'll be doing today, here's an image from several years ago that I made of a train.
I am a Warren, MI based photographer.