A Year in Review - My Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2020

This is the first time I have tried to compile my favorites images from any year. I must say that it is not that easy. You start by narrowing it down to about 20 images and from there each image you eliminate is like sending one of your children into permanent time-out. It is also a learning experience and forces you to be very critical of your own work although there is a good chance that a month into 2021 I will look back at this article and say to myself "Why did I choose THAT image! This other one is so much better!".
Everyone will agree that the year 2020 is one we would like to put behind us and move on to a brighter 2021. Photographically, I feel that my skills improved mainly because I tried some unfamiliar styles such as close-up and still life. One of these images made this list so I am glad I stayed motivated and and explored new styles and techniques.
Well, enough rambling so it is my pleasure to present to you, in no particular order, my top ten favorite images captured in the year 2020! Thanks for browsing and enjoy!

Anhinga and a Catfish Lunch - Everglades National Park

Anhinga swallows whole catfish
Down the hatch! - Click image to view larger

While visiting the Everglades National Park (early March before the proverbial sh*t hit the fan), we spotted this beautiful anhinga that had just speared an armored catfish. After beating the catfish senseless against the tree branch, it flipped the fish around in midair and proceeded to swallow it whole. It was incredible to see the natural life and death process in action.

A Pile of Baby Alligators - Everglades National Park

baby alligators
Pile on! - Click image to view larger

We spotted these very young alligators snuggled together one on top of the other to keep warm on this cooler early March morning. You really had to be looking closely in the grass to spot these youngsters because they do blend in quite well. I took my shots quickly and moved on because BIG mama was only a few feet away.

Indian Beach Sunset - Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast

Oregon coast sunset
Enjoying the view! - Click image to view larger

A visit to Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast was high on my list for a week long trip my wife and I took to the Oregon Coast to celebrate our 25th anniversary. The colorful post sunset hues, the Pacific Ocean waves and the seastacks made for an almost "picture perfect" image. However, after taking one or two shots I spotted a lone beachwalker strolling down the beach also enjoying the view. When she stopped in the perfect spot to take her own picture I snapped mine. Her position and reflection on the wet sand made this image complete and she has my eternal gratitude.

Tillamook Head Light Moonset - Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast

moonset and lighthouse
Terrible Tilly and the Moon! - Click image to view larger

I pretty much planned this shot from start to finish. Between the local weather forecasts, the Ventusky app and the Photographers Ephemeris website, I knew exactly where I wanted to be to put the Halloween full moon as close to the Tillamook Head Lighthouse as possible. I really wanted it to set BEHIND the lighthouse but low lying haze on the horizon prevented that so this was as good as it got. In my opinion it turned out fairly well. I have several different images taken from this spot on Indian beach as the moon set lower and lower on the horizon but this was my favorite as it had the best mix of bright moon and dawn light. I love how the atmoshere was distorting the shape of the moon. I was literally the only one on the beach this cold morning to enjoy the spectacle!

Garden Raindrops - My Backyard, Kingston, Washington

rain drops on leaves
Getting down low in the Garden - Click image to view larger

When the coronavirus pretty much shut the country down last spring, like many others I was working from home. Taking a break, I ventured out into our garden after a rain shower and captured this little gem after a few minutes of on-my-knees exploration. The symmetry of the line of raindrops and the crossing of the leaves really struck home with me. This is one of those images where you really like it but cannot necessarily explain why. Simplicity, intimacy, spring, renewal... all words that come to mind when I look at this one.

Fire in the Sky Sunrise - Between Kingston and Edmonds, Washington

sunset from the ferry boat
Epic four shot sunrise panorama - Click image to view larger

I have been commuting by ferry for many years now and late May through early July is the best time to catch the sunrise. There have been many beautiful sunrises during my commutes and quite honestly this one is not the most spectacular (that was in 2019) but it is certainly the best of 2020. Taking a panorama on a moving boat means you have to be fast. No tripod, you just fire your shutter as fast as you can while panning your handheld camera. If you are going to click on any of these images to view it larger definitely click on this one!

Kokua Sunrise - Kingston, Washington

foggy morning and the tugboat
The tugboat Kokua on a foggy morning - Click image to view larger

The old Army tugboat Kokua showed up at the cove in Kingston, Washington a year or two ago. The owner is slowly restoring it as live-aboard but it has also become a favorite photographic subject for me. For a photographer, visiting the same subject at different times can really teach you about new perspectives and the importance of light. I have many shots of the Kokua from 2020 but this one captured late in November brought together all the things I was searching for - a soft foggy background, the perfect angle of the boat, one of my favorite birds (the great blue heron not the gull!), the old dock posts for balance and the all encompassing pink light from the coming sunrise.

Comet Neowise and Skunk Island - Port Hadlock, Washington

Comet Neowise
Neowise and Skunk Island - Click image to view larger

Photographers in the Pacific Northwest were some of the lucky ones when it came to capturing images of the spectacular Comet Neowise in the early summer of 2020. Our northern latitude and western longitude gave us the best opportunities to photograph this astronomical phenomenon while it was visible. It was just a matter a finding a great and DARK location to make it interesting. I did struggle a bit to find a location but I knew I wanted to be on a north facing body of water. Using the Photographers Ephemeris website and Google maps I decided to stop in Port Hadlock first then venture to Port Townsend afterwards. This image was my favorite from several captured that night between 11pm and 1am.

Whelen Cadillac DPi racer - Daytona International Speedway, Florida

Whelen Cadillac DPi
Nighttime speed! - Click image to view larger

I just could not post a top ten 2020 review without including my favorite racing image taken at the 2020 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona held annually at the Daytona International Speedway. Photographing cars this fast at night is a real challenge and typically only about 2 or 3 out of a 100 images taken turn out. This image is also included in my portfolio as I feel it captures the exciting essence of a 24 hour long race of endurance with cars that I can only ever drive in my dreams.

Little Man with a Stick - Foulweather Bluff Nature Preserve, Washington

young boy at the beach
Man on a mission! - Click image to view larger

This image was the last to be captured being taken on the day after Christmas at Foulweather Bluff Nature Preserve near Hansville, Washington. I give credit to my wife for pointing this scene out and I did have my 70-200mm zoom lens already mounted otherwise I would have missed the shot. This young man was all bundled up and enjoying an early evening at the beach with his family (they were just out of frame to the right). I cannot think of a better image to end this year of 2020 other than through the hopeful, adventurous and wonderous eyes and mind of a young child.
And... it makes me smile.