Best of 2016

Hard to believe another year has already gone by. Looking back on the top ten this year reminds me that it hasn’t been such a bad year after all.

10.) Hummingbird Stretch

Loree Johnson Photography; Hummingbird Stretch; male annas hummingbird; fluffing his feathers; stretching his wings; bird; tiny; closeup; close up; gorget sparkles in the light; gorgette; feathers; irridescent; reflect

A male Anna’s hummingbird fluffing his feathers and stretching his wings as his irridescent gorget sparkles in the light.

This hummingbird was a regular visitor during my stay on Sauvie Island in Oregon. I would be out watching the osprey and he would come perch on his favorite branch, causing me to refocus quickly in order to catch his antics.

9.) Sunrise on the Chiricahua Mountains

Loree Johnson Photography; Sunrise on the Chiricahua Mountains; road less traveled; new mexico; highway 80; arizona; dawn; snow; desert southwest; rugged; rocky; morning

New Mexico’s highway 80 is one of the “roads less traveled.” In this image, it heads toward the Chiricahua Mountains, which are actually in Arizona.

One of the best things about traveling is the unexpected beauty. While out on an adventure near the New Mexico/Arizona border, I was struck by this view. However, it was afternoon and the light wasn’t right. I made a note of the odometer reading and went back the next morning at sunrise for this view.

8.) Whiskers

Loree Johnson; Whiskers; Otter; Lontra canadensis; marine mammal; cute; floating; wild; wildlife; smith river; river otter; California; del norte county ca

Smirking river otter (Lontra canadensis) showing off its whiskers in the Smith River, Northern California coast.

While staying at Smith River, California, I was thrilled to discover a family of river otters living at the mouth of the river. They would often come out to fish at slack tide. This one popped and and gave me a “smile.”

7.) Trout Lake, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Loree Johnson Photography; Trout Lake; San Juan Mountains; Colorado; clear skies; clear water; autumn colors; fresh snow; doesn't get any better; scene; scenic; scenery; travel; lizard head pass; high country; rocky mountains

Clear skies, clear water, autumn colors and fresh snow. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Ever since last summer, I had been dreaming of spending autumn in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. While there I waited, not so patiently, for the aspens to turn to gold. It was better than expected when an early snowfall dusted the peaks while the trees were still filled with colorful leaves.

6.) Ram Tough

Loree Johnson Photography; Ram Tough; bighorn sheep

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep looking tough.

The elusive Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep was one of the species on my list to photograph. I checked that one off this year in Glacier National Park.

5.) Gliding

Loree Johnson Photography; Gliding; great blue heron; ardea herodias; heronry; trees; branches; in flight; fly; flying; bird; wild; wildlife

A great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in breeding plumage glides through the branches of the heronry.

Great blue herons are especially beautiful when they are in breeding plumage. It was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy, drizzly day on the Oregon coast when I discovered a rookery where dozens of them were busily preparing their nests.

4.) First Light at Logan Pass

Loree Johnson Photography; First Light at Logan Pass; Glacier National Park; Montana; Logan Pass MT; dawn; waning moon; sunrise; glow; orange; Reynolds Mountain; clouds; snow; alpenglow; sky; early; continental divide; going to the sun road; light; sunlight

Just as dawn breaks at Logan Pass, high on the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana, Reynolds Mountain is bathed in light. For a few brief moments before sunrise, the alpenglow transforms the dark granite peak to orange as the waning moon sets.

Sunrises are a gamble when it comes to photography because you must set out while it’s still dark, not knowing how the sky will look when daylight breaks. On this day in Glacier National Park, I was feeling discouraged as the sky illuminated and remained a dull bluish-gray. When I summited Logan Pass and started down the other side, my reward was this dramatic alpenglow, which lasted less than five minutes.

3.) Classic Oregon Coast

Loree Johnson Photography; Classic Oregon Coast; Ecola State Park; Cannon Beach; Haystack Rock; iconic; looking south; rainy weather; sea stacks; incoming tide; tillamook coast; pacific northwest; dramatic sky; scene; scenery; scenic; travel; ocean; tide; waves; water

The view looking south from Ecola State Park on the Tillamook Coast toward Cannon Beach is an iconic Pacific Northwest scene. Rainy weather makes for a dramatic sky over the sea stacks, which include the famous Haystack Rock in the distance.

The last day I spent on the Pacific coast this spring before heading inland, I awoke early and couldn’t get back to sleep. When this happens, I take it as a sign that I should get out with my camera. The soft, misty, pastel colors in this image are the essence of the ruggedly beautiful Oregon coast.

2.) Up With the Sun

Loree Johnson Photography; Up With the Sun; sandhill crane; taking flight at dawn; Antigone canadensis; in flight; fly; flying; bosque del apache national wildlife refuge; new mexico; bird; wild; wildlife; sunrise

Sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis) taking flight at dawn. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Early mornings seem to be the theme in this year’s top ten. Several early mornings spent with the sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico yielded so many images, it was difficult to choose one for this list.

1.) Great Gray Owl Swoop

Great Gray Owl Swoop

Great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) in mid swoop at Prairie Creek Redwoods, Humboldt County, California.

My favorite image this year was taken all the way back in February in Humboldt County, California. A wayward great gray owl wandered far out of it’s normal range to spend a month or so in the California Redwoods. I happened to be in the area when this unusual visitor arrived. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. A few of my images of this avian celebrity (and a snowy owl, which was also a rare sighting for the area) were featured in Lost Coast Outpost.

So there you have my choices for top ten images of 2016. I hope you will continue to follow me on this photographic journey throughout 2017. I can’t wait to see the surprises that await. Happy New Year!

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