Top 10 Favorite Images of 2019 by Max Foster
Each year I spend hundreds of hours shooting and editing images. On average, only 0.2% of exposures make it into my Limited Edition Nature Photography Image Galleries. For example, last year I shot over 45,000 individual exposures (granted, many of those are brackets for exposure and focus points, as well as slight composition changes). Of the 45,000, I will edit and publish around 100 images. This may seem like a very low success rate, but the main goal is publishing my very best work that is unique and of the highest quality. Sometimes I will visit a location and not come away with any images for my portfolio, but that is just part of what keeps photography interesting and challenging. Below are my 10 favorite images published in 2019. Enjoy!
This image was taken in a very remote slot canyon in the American Southwest. It was a shot I had been after for several years, and I was lucky enough to make it happen in 2019. Exploring slot canyons is an exhilarating experience, especially when you don’t know if there will be some unforeseen blockage due to a past flash flood or rock collapse. I stayed at this spot for almost an hour, watching the light change and the colors come to life.
Havasupai is an incredible desert oasis in the Grand Canyon. I have visited twice, and both times were an absolute blast! On my first visit, I didn’t have any great light and subsequently focused more on closeups of the waterfalls and streams. My second visit in 2019 rewarded me with a beautiful sunset over Havasu Falls, which you see here. Getting to Havasu Falls is part of the fun, with a 10 mile hike in and out (unless you take the helicopter). It is tiring, but with views like this it is totally worth it!
I have wanted to visit the cypress swamps and bayous common to the southern USA for many years. Bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers, and they lose their leaves in autumn. Prior to the leaves falling, they turn brilliant shades of orange and red. It is common for cool autumn temperatures to cause foggy mornings in the bayous, which create otherworldly and beautiful scenes. I spent a few days in Texas and Louisiana in 2019 and was lucky to have fantastic conditions in the bayou. I rented a kayak and paddled among the trees with my friends Brent Goldman and Denis Dessoliers as we marveled at the unique landscape.
Greenland is easily the most impressive landscape I have witnessed. In two visits, I have only scratched the surface of the extensive mountains, glaciers and fjords. On this particular day, I led a group up the mountainside to gain a view the of the imposing peaks surrounding us. The peak at the far end of the valley had constantly changing clouds hovering above it and the sunlight would periodically burst through, lighting the mountain face. It was the kind of moment that keeps me coming back to the mountains!
Colorado is a fall color wonderland. With huge groves of aspen trees throughout the state, the mountains sides come alive with yellow, orange and read during the fall months. This stand of aspen has curved trunks that create a dynamic flow in contrast to their straight counterparts. I framed them between these two straight aspen to highlight this effect, and was excited to have beautiful warm backlight filtering through the yellow leaves.
Timing is everything in photography. Sometimes the light lasts just seconds and then it is gone. In this scene I was passing by a steep mountainside as thick clouds were moving overhead. The sunlight burst through every few moments, and due to the steep slope of the mountain, the light only caught the leaves and not the ground. This created a perfectly natural spotlight silhouette of these yellow aspen trees, and it lasted just moments before going dark.
The Canadian Rockies are one of my all-time favorite destinations for hiking and photography. With gigantic peaks, glacial rivers and bright blue lakes, it is a world class location for adventure and scenery. The popular Moraine Lake is one of the most perfect settings in the world. The lake itself is the brightest blue imaginable, and above it rise enormous mountains. This was my first time shooting at Moraine Lake, and I can’t wait for a return visit!
Amy and I visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the winter of 2019 right after a huge snowstorm. Many roads were closed, but once we got into the park we immediately started snowshoeing around. I took many shots of the big trees, but this stand of pine caught my eye through the blowing snow. The perfectly straight pines with snow covered limbs were beautiful and reminded me why it is important to always keep your eyes open to the scene around you.
The Zion Narrows is a special place that reminds me how small I am! With vertical walls 1,600’ high it is an awe-inspiring place. I’ve hiked it several times, but the light I experienced on this occasion was the best. The moving water reflected the golden light so nicely, it almost didn’t seem real.
Photographing the giant Sequoia trees in California is a difficult task. They are so large that it seems intuitive to use a wide angle lens to fit it all in. However, I found that using a telephoto lens and standing at a distance is how I prefer to capture the huge size and surroundings of the trees. This was a perfect moment in which a snowstorm had just passed, leaving all the trees completely snow covered. It was completely silent and was a truly magical moment.