Looking back at the past twelve months, I want to again take time out to share some of the best work from fellow photographers. Many are pros, some are semi-pro or hobbyists, but they all have produced some fantastic images over the years. I hope you’ll take time to see their highlighted images below and visit their websites to see their full “Best of 2018” galleries.
All photos below are posted with permission and remain the intellectual property of their original owners. Please respect their copyrights!
Ken and I have crossed paths several times shooting wildlife and birds in the Pacific Northwest. Ken has published images and leads photo tours in North and Latin America.
About the photo: “A few days ahead of our photo tour I was exploring the arctic tundra on the Seward Peninsula near Nome, Alaska searching for Northern Wheatears. I happened upon a large herd of Musk Oxen with several newborn youngsters foraging and resting on the tundra. At first the herd was nervous with my presence, so instead of trying to approach them I just wandered on about my business, looking for bird life. After a bit of time I had lost sight of the Musk Oxen. But, as I continued my search for birds the curious oxen herd suddenly appeared on a nearby ridge offering me an irresistible opportunity to photograph them as they meandered around me, soon members of the herd were all around me and I had a wonderful time photographing the spunky youngsters as they tried to figure out what I was all about.”
John is a nature and wildlife photograph who documents subjects in the western US, particularly in Utah and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He was also a fellow Highly Honored recipient in the 2017 Windland Smith Rice photography awards.
About the photo: “Any year of wildlife photography would not be complete in my book without time spent with the wild horses of the Utah west desert. The various bands of the Onaqui herd, descendants from ranch horses of the 1800s, are the epitome of power and beauty in one package. This image, taken just a mile or two off the historic Pony Express route, was definitely one of my favorite moments of 2018. Happy new year to all, and I hope 2019 holds many fantastic times ahead!”
Jim is a Yellowstone regular. We met nearly a decade ago while shooting mule deer together in the Grand Tetons, and have run into each other a few times a year when our visits to the park coincide with each other. Spending several weeks in Yellowstone every spring, Jim comes away with loads of nice photos.
About the photo: “A pair of bull moose cross the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park.”
Zack continues to explore the western Rockies and produce wonderful landscape and wildlife images from his travels in the backcountry. He is currently working on his first book project.
About the photo: “The day after our autumn wedding in Telluride, Colorado, my wife and I, and a couple of our friends, drove out to the Uncompahgre National Forest in the San Juan Mountains to do some camping as part of our “unofficial” honeymoon. The next morning I woke early to hike out to a nearby lake for sunrise. When I arrived at the lake I was pleasantly surprised to find these massive tiles of dried mud around the water’s edge, created by the severe drought that Colorado was experiencing. I arrived with plenty of time to scout for the perfect foreground, one that would compliment the jagged peaks rising above the far end of the lake. After coming across this pattern of cracks, I set up my tripod and began dialing in my composition. Using a 14mm lens, and a technique known as focus stacking, or focus blending, I was able to achieve tack sharpness throughout the entire frame.”
Jill Cooper & Simon Jackson
Jill and Simon are conservation-minded photographers based in Canada, who have been spending a lot of time photographing western North American wildlife, including in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. They are the founders of the Ghost Bear Institute, which emphasizes youth-oriented education and conservation.
About the photo: “Bow Lake is one of Canada’s most iconic landscapes, found in the heart of Banff National Park, Alberta, in the Rocky Mountains. It’s also a critical wildlife corridor for grizzly bears – a link that helps maintain healthy populations of bears south to Montana and northward to the Yukon. This five-year-old female grizzly is the first sow to reclaim this landscape after a multi-year absence of breeding females and offers hope for the future. And she’s also an example of the resilience of nature, having overcome a genetic fur-loss disease that could have been fatal.
It’s stories like this one that will be central to our non-profit’s new Nature Labs program. We want to showcase how nature can be a real-world example of high school lessons, making it relevant to a new generation as they tackle our shared challenge of balancing people and the environment. So, to be able to illustrate a biodiversity lesson through one image – with this backdrop – as the sun rose on another Rocky Mountain day? It makes this image our favourite of 2018. After all, it’s not every day you get to use a 16mm wide-angle lens and ND filter while photographing grizzly bears (safely from our car and without disturbing our subject as she foraged).”
I know Keith via Yellowstone, where we’ve crossed path several times in recent years. Keith specializes in North American wildlife photography. He is a published author and also produces some well-written and thoughtful articles pertaining to wildlife photography, hunting, and conservation in his blog.
About the photo: “I searched a specific area for lynx for 3 years because I knew there were cats around. One morning in February I found fresh lynx tracks. I followed them. I eventually found her – actually she found me. I got some great photos of the adult female cat. Then it got better. Since it was a bitterly cold morning, she eventually settled down about twenty yards from me to warm up in a patch of sun. Then, like magic, one by one four mostly-grown kittens joined her. They stayed there for the better part of an hour. That’s the condensed version of this once-in-a-lifetime photo op. The adult female is in the middle, sitting.”
Doug is a Canadian photographer that I met via—you guessed it—my Yellowstone travels. Doug has published three photo books on Yellowstone, and I consider him to be among the very best photographers who has documented the park in the last decade.
About the photo: “This very healthy looking male American black bear was actively searching for a mate in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba Canada, when I got my chance to take a few photos. Although this photo was taken in May, the big guy looks as though he is ready for hibernation, rather than recently emerging from his winter den.”
Jess is one of Canada’s leading young nature photographers, and has made a name for himself in recent major international competitions. He’s a past winner of the Windland Smith Rice Youth Photographer of the Year Award, and has multiple honors in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s senior competition. Much of his work highlights the amazing wildlife of British Columbia, as well tropical birds and other species in Central and South America.
About the photo: “Perched beneath the cloud forest canopy on a typical gloomy afternoon in the Ecuadorian Andes, a touch of light illuminates a male Sword-billed Hummingbird. The only bird with a bill longer than its body, these bizarre birds have co-evolved alongside long, tubular flowers, now serving as their sole avian pollinators.”
Jenaya, Josiah & John Launstein
The Launstein family is quite an accomplished group. John is a long-time photographer who has guided his children onto successful paths in the field. Jenaya and Josiah have won multiple international youth photography awards. Collectively, they run their wildlife photo gallery in Alberta.
About the photo: “ I had been photographing this handsome Short-Eared Owl with young photographer Josiah when the sun slid behind some clouds at the end of the day. The colours of the scene slowly shifted from warm evening light to the cool blues of the coming night, when suddenly the sun partially broke free for one last kiss of golden light. Photography is at its essence the study–and art–of light, and nature provides endless opportunities to capture moments of beauty as the light paints the world before our eyes. The brief encore of sunlight never reached the salt marsh behind the owl where it had earlier been hunting, leaving the beautiful blues of the shadows untouched as the background canvas for my kindly cooperative hunter.”
Megan is yet another Yellowstone acquaintance. She’s a grand prize winner in the annual Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice photo competition, and photographs wildlife anywhere from Canada to Costa Rica.
About the photo: “Having the opportunity to see and photograph two wild Canada Lynx in Northern Ontario in March was a huge thrill. While I only saw the male on a few occasions, I had over a week of daily visits from the female in this photo. This was my first time seeing Lynx in the wild and it’s going to forever be one of my favorite photography memories.”
Mario continues to produce fantastic colorful images from the African continent and beyond. Once again I was drawn to one of his golden hour animalscapes.
About the photo: “A Zebra and a young wildebeest walking over a very dry Lake Amboseli in Kenya.”
Heidi is a Yellowstone friend who is known for her northern light photography (which she photographs frequently near her home in northern Minnesota) and she also teaches and gives talks at the International Wolf Center, but as you’ll see from her collection, she photographs quite a variety of subjects!
About the photo: “While teaching a wildlife photography class at the International Wolf Center we take a number of breakout sessions while the wolves are active. This gives us an opportunity to practice what we’ve learned. Here a child has just walked up to the window to get a closer look at Ambassador Arctic Wolf, Axel.”
Kate & Adam Rice
Kate and Adam took the bold step of moving from the upper Midwest out to the Rockies to pursue their dream of wildlife photography, and it’s been paying off with lots of successful adventures in Utah, Wyoming and Montana, and even Alaska. Now they’re traveling the West in a Sprinter van soaking in even more wild adventures!
About the photo: “After spending all morning in a high mountain valley photographing multiple large bull moose it was time to head back. As we made our way through dense alder stands, we came to an opening and met a large bull moose face to face. He was still in the process of shedding his velvet and wasted no time giving us that rutty bull moose look that we should find another way around.”
Dave covers sporting events in the Pacific Northwest for various publications. I know him through my work in Husky Football, but Dave travels around covering other Pac-12 schools as well.
About the photo: “The trench at the Apple Cup.”
Anton’s a newcomer to this list, but I’ve been admiring his photography on Flickr and Instagram for some time. A biologist and photographer, Anton does a lot of work in the Americas, highlighted (in my opinion) by his fantastic macro photography featuring reptiles and amphibians.
About the photo: “A female luna moth begins its activity period once the sun sets in the North Carolina forest. With only a week or so to live the adults can’t waste any time and must find a mate, breed and lay eggs ensuring the next generation of moths. I was lucky that the moth wasn’t going anywhere just yet allowing me to lay on my back below it and shoot from below.”
More Top Work From My Peers: