Moon Rise at Point Imperial, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park. We planned our Fall trip to coincide with the full moon. Full moon photography is difficult on the South Rim as the moon is on the same side as the canyon. The North Rim has three great lookouts that face southeast for moonrise and southwest for moon set.
Well, it was another odd year as we moved into the second year of the pandemic. Mary and I did not get our COVID vaccine until April, so we had a few slow months. We spent almost the entire second half of the year on the road, making up for lost time. We went on 10 trips, including three weeks in Alaska, two weeks at Glacier National Park, and two weeks in Ohio, West Virginia, and Tennessee photographing waterfalls and Fall color. We made it out to the South and North Rims of the Grand Canyon and visited 11 National Parks and Monuments. Between us, we made 3,500 photographs. Here are my 15 favorite photos from 2021, in no particular order.
Sunset at the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico. This is a very difficult location to navigate as there are no trails, trail markers, or official maps. It was cold, windy, barren, and very beautiful. It is well worth the effort to get here and make the trek out to these hoodoos.
Sunset at Shiprock, New Mexico. Shiprock can be seen for up to 20 miles away along the roads that lead to Farmington, NM. The rock formation is about an hour’s drive from Farmington and there are a couple of dirt roads that lead toward the rock. After just a few minutes, the roads become quite difficult and a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
Double Rainbow at the South Rim, Grand Canyon. We wanted lightning, but we mostly just got rain. This photo was made in front of the Bright Angel Lodge near the Ice Cream Parlor. In the foreground is Grandeur Point with the Zoroaster Temple and Brahma Temple to the left.
Bear and snack, Kodiak Island, Alaska. We rode a DeHavilland floatplane with seven people aboard to Frazer Lake and hiked a mile to the Frazer Falls and fish weir. The highlight was seeing this mamma bear and her three cubs.
Waiting for sunset at Imperial Point, North Rim, Grand Canyon. This rarely happens, but two of my favorite photos are from the same day and location. We were waiting for sunset and the moon rise and a little worried about the clouds. The scene just screamed for an infrared capture converted to monochrome. My infrared Fuji camera has built in monochrome settings, so I knew I had a good one even before we got back to a computer to download our images.
Swiftcurrent Lake with Mount Grinnell and Grinnell Glacier in the background, Glacier National Park. The Many Glacier Hotel is right on Swiftcurrent Lake, so getting up for sunrise is pretty easy. It was cold and windy, but well worth the effort.
Sunrise looking at Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park. There is a large pull out at this overlook where most people stand at the top of the hill and make a quick camera phone shot and then are off. We walked down the hill and to the left to get a better composition. It was clear and cold and windy and we got a great Belt of Venus (alpenglow) before the sun hit the water.
Close encounter with Mountain Goat, Glacier National Park. On our hike up to the Hidden Lake Overlook near the Logan Pass Visitor Center, we had a mountain goat shadow the hiking trail for a good 30 minutes. It even came so close to the path that people were taking selfies with it. I don’t think the rangers would approve (or anyone else that really loves nature).
St. Mary Falls, Glacier National Park. After a short, fairly flat two mile hike, you are rewarded with this spectacular double waterfall. There is a natural rock amphitheater across the falls for viewing. I would recommend going down to the base of the falls and to the left for a better composition. Of the many waterfalls in Glacier, this one was our favorite. The hardest part is finding a place to park.
Sunset at Bright Angel Point, North Rim, Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Lodge is right on the North Rim. If you are lucky enough to get a room there, you can easily photograph sunrise and sunset from Bright Angel Point or the other couple of points in front of the hotel. That’s the Oza Butte on the right with the Isis Temple behind it and on the left is the Deva Temple, Brahma Temple, and Zoroaster Temple, with Bright Angel Canyon below.
Sunrise and Moonset at Beaver Marsh, Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio. There were no real grand landscapes to photograph during our Midwest Fall color tour. There were many intimate landscapes and pretty scenes along the many rivers, creeks, and waterfalls. We had a couple of good sunrise shoots at this location including this moon set with pretty wispy clouds.
The Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia. This is one of the photos I was dreaming about before we left for our trip to the Midwest. When we arrived late on a Saturday, we were greeted by hundreds of people crawling all over the rocks and the mill and the water level was pretty low. A few days later on our last day in West Virginia, my lovely wife agreed to go back after a few days of rain and it was late on a Tuesday. The difference was astounding. More water. Better waterfalls. Four people.
Lynn Camp Prong, Tremont, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, TN. Fall in the Great Smokey Mountains is crowded. The Upper Tremont Road has fewer crowds and a couple of good trails. This particular photo was made from the trail bridge at the end of the road.
Lunar Eclipse from my backyard in Oro Valley, AZ on November 19, 2021 2:16 AM AST. Did you get up in the middle of the night to see the last eclipse? I did. It was cold, but thankfully, not windy and not cloudy. I used my Fujifilm X-T2 digital camera with a 400mm lens and a 2x extender for an effective focal length of 1200mm.
Next week, Mary’s Favorite Photographs from 2021. To see more of and buy our photographs, please go to
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