Top images of 2016 - Part 3

January 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

To catch you up if you haven’t read the previous posts, this is the third post about my favorite images of 2016. There is no order or rank except I did save my very favorite for last.

This next favorite image from 2016 was taken in the spring from Steptoe Butte in the Palouse. It was a great overall year to photograph the Palouse with the early spring and great weather. What I have been specifically waiting for the when the storms roll in. I am not fond of the wind and up on Steptoe it can be especially bad but there is potential for some beautiful dramatic atmospheric images with unique cloud formations, great light and vivid sunsets.

 On this day I was looking at the weather forecast and there were storms moving through the area so I headed out. I traveled through some rain and grey skies but wasn’t discouraged because at any minute it could clear up. As these small storms move through, the sun can pop out behind them and create some breathtaking rainbows. So, as I am driving I am always looking for a potential spot where I can compose a shot if the clouds move through and a rainbow shows up. As I drove up Steptoe Butte the rain slowed down and the sun was coming out. As I came around the east side there was a beautiful rainbow just hovering over the patterned fields of the Palouse. I quickly found a place to pull over and snapped away. The rainbow quickly faded but I knew this was a good sign for the start to my day. I slowly worked my way around the butte looking for shots. I really wanted to get some of the wildflowers but the wind was not letting it happen. As sunset was approaching I found myself at the top of Steptoe. Another large dark cloud was moving in and looking to smother the sun. I was a little disappointed because there probably wouldn’t be a very colorful sunset. While there were many photographers lined up waiting for it, I just didn’t have much faith anything would materialize. I decided to start driving down and if things changed I could find place to capture the sunset. As I got close to the bottom, the sun started to peek between the dark clouds and the horizon. While it wasn’t earth shaking I figure I should stop and try to get a few shots. I found a fence and some wildflowers that would work for subject matter and clicked away. The sunset was just good enough that I wanted to find another view point and get a couple more shots. As I grabbed my camera/tripod and turned to walk back to the car, I saw it. There was no way I could miss it. The clouds to the east were catching the last light of the day and turned vivid shades of pink and purple. I thought to myself, this is it. This is why I came out here today. I didn’t want to drive anywhere for fear of missing the colorful sky so I scrambled to find a composition in the spot I was in. This old section of a fence surrounded by wildflowers was it. I worked as fast as I could, capturing all angles. The wind slowed down enough that it was manageable. There were a couple of other compositions I managed to photograph as well but I don’t think they captured the bright colors in the clouds as well as this one did.

While the color sky was amazing, there was one other thing that made this image special. This was the day after Prince had passed away. Like many others, I listened to his music growing up and his death was a big shock to me. In this moment, I felt like Mother Nature was celebrating Prince with some purple skies. So, this image was a tribute to the great rock star Prince.  The title of the image, A world of Never Ending Happiness, is a lyric from his song “Let’s go Crazy”. I thought it was a good representation of the image.  So, here it is, “A World of Never Ending Happiness”.

 

A world of Never Ending HappinessA world of Never Ending HappinessSo with a forecast of scattered storms I figured I would venture down to Steptoe Butte and see what I could get. It is usually hit and miss. The storms can wash all the light out and create a lot of wind or they can produce some one of a kind dramatic scenes. I of course was hoping for the later. It is also wildflower season so I was hoping to work a few shots of them into the foreground. When I first arrived, the wind was crazy and there was a cell blowing through. I would lucky enough to catch a partial rainbow but it wasn't as dramatic as I hoped. As the evening continued there were some spots of good light but nothing "out of this world". The bigger issue was the wind wasn't dying down wo the chance of capturing the wildflowers was pretty much zero. As it got closer to sunset the sun was sliding behind several dark banks of clouds with only a small sliver open near the horizon. This coupled with the wind I decided to pack up and start making my home with the chance I might find something on the way that I might be able to photograph. There were several other photographers that were taking the chance there might be some type of sunset and were staying put. I didn't have the same faith that they did. So as I was traveling down the hill, I realized I was so focused on the sunset that I forgot about the dramatic clouds and storm cells behind the mountain, which were not visible from our location. As I was driving around a corner towards the Northeast the sun just started coming out into that small sliver but nothing that dramatic. Then I turned and was slapped in the face by this amazing scene. I frantically looked for some good spots to capture this this. Parking the car and jumping out running through rain drenched prickly shrubs, mud, and even and ant hill trying to grab a shot. The wind was still back so I had to try to work some magic to make sure the foreground wasn't blurry. After I worked as fast as I could possibly go get some images before the color left. I

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