It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close, but looking back on 2019 I’m filled with gratitude and amazement for the visual opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to witness.
Over a decade ago Jim Goldstein began this popular project, which has evolved over the years to include numerous friends and colleagues whose work continues to be a source of inspiration.
Here I’ve selected a few of my favorite images released in the past year. These are not necessarily my best or most popular, but each represents a special moment in time in which the beauty of this amazing world (both natural and man-made) passed before my lens.
Please share and enjoy! And feel free to let me know your thoughts. You can click on any image for a large high quality view, to learn more about it or share individually. I look forward to your selects in the weeks ahead, and wish everyone a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!
The American Southwest is known the world over for its unique environment and cultural significance. It’s plants and animals are exotic by any standard and, combined with thousands of years of Native American history, it has all the elements for truly great photography. Spring is one of the best times to visit when the temperatures are mild and vibrant wildflower displays and the occasional lightning storm provide a dramatic backdrop for stellar image making.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Mexican border in southern Arizona, is one of the least visited units of the National Park system. The unique namesake cactus (found only in this remote section of the United States) and the iconic saguaro dominate this other-worldly landscape where sunsets seem to last forever.
Further east on the outskirts of Tucson, Saguaro National Park is rich in native american history and desert flora. Two units separated by the city, the Tucson Mountain District to the west and the Rincon Mountain District to the east, provide two distinct environments. Signal Hill in the Tucson Mountain District includes hundreds of ancient petroglyphs surrounded by dense saguaro forests and wonderful views of the local mountains. The Rincon Mountain District to the east is a desert sky island home to cougars, bears, and the elusive coati.
Crossing the border into New Mexico, White Sands National Monument is another visual experience that is not to be missed. Set on the edge of the vast Tularosa Basin, it is one of the largest deposits of pure gypsum sand in the world. The shifting sands are an active dune field – constantly moving from west to east at a rate of thirty feet per year and creating wonderful patterns in the process. And as the sun goes down the shapes and forms of this ever-evolving landscape are illuminated by a special quality of light found nowhere else.
This is just a sampling of what the Southwest has to offer. But if you’re looking to leave the world behind and immerse yourself in spectacular scenery that will clear your senses and inspire your creativity, you don’t have to go to Iceland or Namibia – it’s all right here.
White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico is probably the least iconic spot within the National Park system. It has no sheer cliffs, no grand waterfalls, no red-rock strata, and no great clefts in the earth – in fact, it doesn’t even have a forest to call its own. And that’s just fine.
What it lacks in the notable landforms shared by other parks, it more than makes up for with an endless sea of the most glorious pure white gypsum sand and a special quality of light found nowhere else. Visiting White Sands is not so much a trip to see natural wonders as it is pilgrimage to experience an unparalleled expanse of light and form.
Our newest park is so vast and featureless in fact that once you leave the road in the main dune area it’s quite easy to get lost. The park service has placed pickets along major trails, but these often are blown down or buried in the shifting sands so carrying a GPS and noting distance land forms on longer hikes is a must.
The best times to visit are spring and fall when the temperatures are moderate, and as with any desert environment it’s essential to carry sun protection and water. Dusk and dawn provide the sweet light this park is known for and the rangers are very accommodating with gate closures. So the next time you’re heading to the southwest, make time to visit White Sands. It might be a little out-of-the-way, but it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.