This year I am breaking my best of the year into a couple of categories. First off will be my landscape photos. These are the ones I take for the good my own soul.
I am the senior photographer for the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. It is an adventure every day to live here in Northwest Montana and to be a photojournalist. Because of my position at the paper, many of these images end up on our pages, and for that I am always grateful. I have had so many readers reach out to me because they like these personal images of mine mixed in with all the news of the year.
In my next blog I will upload my favorite images from the newspaper. And finally I’ve decided to select my favorite wedding photos. I’ll add those links as I create them. I hope you enjoy these images of Northwest Montana. I am keeping this list to only Montana because, in spite of some wonderful trips this year, one of my main reasons for working on these so intently is that I do not want to make the mistake of taking for granted this place that I get to call home for now. I hope I will live out the rest of my life here, but God’s got a plan and He’s never let me in on it. If I have to leave someday, as I have had to move on from other places, I want to know I didn’t not waste the time that I was given.
Best wishes to all for 2017.
Sunrise over Lake Koocanusa near Eureka, Montana. This was my favorite image from a pre-dawn start near the Canadian border. While on this shoot a friend told me that the name of the lake is not, as I had imagined, a Native American word, rather it is a three-part combination. “Koo” comes from Kootenai National Forest. The “can” is for Canada. And “usa” is for the United States. As far as naming things goes, this one made me smile.
On April 4th I turned 41 years old. A few days later a friend of mine who is a helicopter pilot for Two Bear Air (a local rescue organization) took me up for a flight over Glacier National Park at dawn. We got so lucky. The day had amazing light and the perfect amount of clouds. I could have filled this entire blog with photos just from that day.
Before moving to Montana I had never seen the Northern Lights. Nothing that I’ve ever witnessed in Nature can so completely captivate and transfix me as watching the Aurora Borealis dancing across the skies. The photos from this night, they can’t do justice to what I saw.
This image is actually one I made while on assignment for the Daily Inter Lake. In newspapers there is always space that has to get filled. And if there is not a photo to go with a story photographers get sent out to look for “wild art.” Wild art means scenes from daily life. It can be a child playing. A man fly fishing in a river. Flowers in a garden. Anything that is part of our ordinary life. It can be really challenging to find such scenes when the weather is less than ideal. I drove for miles this day: wet, rained on, desperately searching. I was truly delighted when I found these guys walking on this old dirt road. Day made. And it made the front page so our readers got to enjoy it too.
This image is special to me for a number of reasons. First off, this is Kintla Lake in the north region of Glacier National Park. My teacher/mentor/best friend Tim Webb and his family came to visit me this summer and I wanted them to see some of the remoteness of Glacier. This was the first time I had seen Tim in years and it was the first time in many more years that we were on a photo shoot together. When we saw the guy in the red boat at the base of the purple mountains on the blue lake with that big patch of green we looked at each other and just smiled. Red will make photographers very happy. But the photo is also significant to me because hen we got back to civilization I sent this to the Associated Press office in New York. They loved it. It became one of their “APTOPIX” which are the top picks of the AP. It was an honor.
I love living in the Flathead Valley, surrounded by mountains. This picture was taken as I was driving to Columbia Falls. One of the nice things about odd deserted roads is that when the clouds break open and you get 30 seconds of perfect light, it is possible to simply throw one’s Jeep in to park in the middle of the road, and hop out to take a photo. No witnesses. No traffic jam. And almost as soon as I got this image the cloudy day closed back in and all the magic of those trees against the mountains faded to something dim. Photos like this are one of the reasons I most often drive with my camera in the front seat beside me.
I am always in love with Glacier. Always wanting to explore. But it isn’t only the mountains and broad sweeping landscapes that I love. It’s the little unknown and unnamed details. There are 734 miles of trail in Glacier National Park. I could live here 100 years and never see it all.
Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park at sunset. The photo above is a little creek running into the lake. This photo is what I saw heading back from that creek. It never fails to amaze me, how sometimes I get so focused on what is happening in front of me, when in reality, there is something equally amazing happening behind me. I’ve made it habit to periodically check over my shoulder when the light hitting my subject is particularly good. It has become a sign that there must be something good happening in the sky behind my back.
We’ve had a good winter this year. It’s currently in the -20/30s with predictions that we may see as low as -40. But in spite of the bitter cold, I still love this time of year. I wish this photo could have captured the color of the river better. Looking at it in person the water had a slightly greenish cast to it. And that shade made me shiver.
And finally, this is what would be described as a four point deer in Northwest Montana. Apparently, in other parts of the county, this is considered an eight point. Bragging rights for hunters are harder to earn out here.
To see my other two blogs that are year in review oriented check out my newspaper work here, or view my wedding and bridal photography here.