My 21 Favorite Photos Of 2021
This was a much easier task in some respects when I started this blog. I think the first year that I did countdowns was after 2013. It was only thirteen images from the year. Now of course I am picking 21 photos from the year to display here. In some respects it makes things easier as I can include more photos that I like. Of course I also have to recap eight extra photos than I did back then. This was a fun year though as I made many photos that I really liked. Narrowing it down to 21 was not an easy task. I usually don’t pick my 21 best technical photos. I go with the photos that made the year memorable to me. Here are my favorite images from 2021. This will end my seemingly endless countdowns on the blog. It was a fun year though, and I wanted to recap many of the reasons why it was so fun. Now we can look forward to 2022 and the challenge that is a new year.
21. Sometimes you just luck out with decisions that you make. Things just kept getting in the way this year preventing me from attending a Harrison girls soccer match. I would be planning on attending a match, but then a job would come up preventing that. Luckily they made it to regionals and I was able to finally see a game in person. Here the sky lit up, and I forgot all about action photos. I wanted a great overall photo from the night. When I think of what my sports photography will be in 2022 this is what I have in mind. Why make large galleries and then spend the week answering emails from people wanting the action photos for free? I think that just coming away with a couple of images that I am happy with is where I am headed. If this is back to being a hobby then going to the games to make images for me is the way to go.
20. This is a great example of how my photography is growing. I was on campus making snokeh photos when I had this idea for an image. The snow was coming down so hard and fast that I thought it could look cool with a little slower shutter speed. It is a different photo for me, and that has to be why I like it so much. This year I need to get out and experiment a lot more.
19. I have tried for this photo more times than I care to admit. When it looked like a rainbow could happen I would run down to this spot on campus knowing that the angle would be right for a good photo. Something always happened though to the light where the rainbow would not happen. Here though in a pouring rain I finally made my picture. I liked this spot because it was easy to get to and it was a landmark of campus. Now that I have made my photo I need to come up with another spot to race to when the conditions for a rainbow are right.
18. This photo makes the countdown because of how cool this experience was. At this point in my walk I was nearly back to my car with no real great photos. I was already writing the blog post about how sometimes the trip is about more than the photos. This red-tailed hawk though made sure that the trip was memorable. It was fairly close to me, and then it just kept flying closer. When it landed right in the tree that I hoped it would I made my photos and asked if it wanted to be on the blog. I guess it did.
17. I went out on this night to make a photo of Ross Ade Stadium lit up to honor Leroy Keyes. Leroy was an amazing man that always made you feel special. I wanted to make a special photo thinking about him. Here I stitched together a couple of images made from my drone to do just that. This was the second year in a row that I made a photo honoring a giant in the athletic department. I hope that I don’t get the chance to do that again this year.
16. As I was going up level after level in the Tippecanoe County Courthouse I kept thinking about how this was a good metaphor for the coming year. I had no idea what I was going to find at the top, but I knew that I wanted to keep going to see what it was. This year I have no idea where my photography will go. It will be fun seeing where the year takes me though. What adventures lay ahead? We will find out.
15. It is hard to believe, but in all my years making photos on campus I had never visited the Amelia Earhart statue on campus. I kept waiting for the right time to do it. This snowy night seemed like a good night to finally make my way over to it. I had fun coming up with a composition that cleaned up the scene a bit.
14. To me this is what sports photography is all about. There are a few sports photos on this countdown, and not one of them is a tightly cropped action photo. Everyone on the sidelines for the most part can make that photo. What separates you from the pack is what you find in the moments between and after those action photos. This was a random moment after a game, but one that I was very happy to be there for.
13. I have spent the last couple of years trying to make photos just a little closer of a green heron. I bought new gear to get more reach. This year the herons were so brave that they came right up to me allowing me to make the photos that I had been hoping for. This was so rare for me that one of those photos had to make the countdown.
12. For a year I had been hearing about baseball in the bubble. That was how 2020 was played. In 2021 I was determined to make a good bubble photo. here with the player in the hold I had my chance, but the sun came out right when the moment was happening. With my player in the shade the background was suddenly blown out. That may have been the best thing to happen to me because it forced me to convert the photo to black and white, and I think it is better for that.
11. This is another photo a long time in the making. I wanted the wide open eye photo of Ruby the eastern screech owl that hangs out at the bog for a long time. The conditions were just never right when it would happen. More often than not on my trips to the bog Ruby would just sleep while sunning herself at the mouth of the hold. Here though about ten minutes after sunset a dog on the trail got her attention. I had the photo that I wanted. As with a lot of photos on this countdown it took hours of failure for one good photo. That is what makes them memorable to me.
10. This is a photo that I have wanted to make for a while now. The fireworks over the courthouse. I found a parking garage with a view that you will see again later on this countdown to make my photos. The high winds made sure that I did not get the exact photo that I had in mind. I liked this one though. This year I need to find a way to get on top of the chamber of commerce building, and then we will have a photo I think.
9. Sometimes a little luck goes a long way in photography. On this heavy snow day some students had made a snowman by the VOSS model. I knew that it made a cool photo even better. This would have been an alright photo, but the snowman made it a memorable one for me this past year.
8. Another memorable moment was see the river otters at Prophetstown. I was pretty content watching a blue heron hunt for food when heard a commotion a little farther away. That commotion was a family of river otters feeding pretty close to me. Here you can see them try and figure out what they were looking at. The frog coming out of the mouth of one of them just made my day. It probably did not makes the frogs day though.
7. This is a gamble that paid off. I was not supposed to be at this game. I went hoping for an upset. As that upset was getting nearer I moved behind the team. I knew that one player in the foreground could jump and ruin my photo. The scene was covered well everywhere else though so I went with this photo. This year I hope that not having the need for action photos allows me to be braver and go for it more like I did here.
6. I had some fun this summer experimenting with a tilt shift lens. Here the sun was setting as we were walking back to our car after dinner on campus. I decided to have some fun with the tilt shift to see what I could do. I love the way that it worked here. I can still feel the warmth of that sun.
5. Here we might have a little recency bias kicking in. When I am writing this my trip to the county courthouse is still fresh in my mind. This was my favorite photo from that trip. I just like how it looks. This photo is more about the experience than anything else. Here I was getting a behind the scenes look at something that I have photographed so many times over the years. The diffused light from the clouds and the clock face also really look great here.
4. I love owls. If you have read this blog for any length of time then you know that. I went years without seeing one though. In 2017 within a couple of days of each other I saw a snowy owl and a few short-eared owls. Over the years I have returned to that spot in hopes of seeing them. Sometimes I have, but their habitat was destroyed last year. In 2021 I was blessed with another opportunity to see some short-eared owls again. This time on the opposite side of town. It was a fun couple of days making photos of the owls. This photo was my favorite from those encounters.
3. As the year was coming to a close I was realizing that my time as a sports photographer was as well. As I was winding things down I was hoping for some good experiences to go out on. Watching this amazing Purdue soccer team win a home NCAA tournament game at home was a great way to do just that. It was an amazing moment, and a great thing to be a part of. These are the things that I will miss the most. The emotion of the game. Here I was blessed with one last great moment.
2. This was part of an awesome night on the roof of the parking garage next to the Purdue Union. There were several times during the sunset where I thought that it couldn’t get better than this. Then it did. This was my favorite image of the night. With more nights free this year I hope that I can get out and make more photos like this one.
- This has to be number one. I have been trying for a good lightning strike photo for so long. When I went out in mid December hoping to make a lightning photo I figured that it was bonus time. We should not be having thunderstorms in December so anything I got would be cool. When I saw this strike though I knew that I had hit the jackpot. A lot of time in crazy places trying for a photo like this finally paid off.
There are my favorite photos from this past year. It was a mixed year for sure. I felt like I was making photos better than I ever have, and interest in hiring me was never lower. This year though without the worry of the business pushing me on I can get out and make other photos that interest me. There will undoubtedly be sports photos this year, but not like in years past. I think that this year it will be fun to just go to a few games with one or two ideas in mind. The quantity will be lessoned, but the quality hopefully will be better. Being a professional sports photographer was always a dream of mine. It still amazes me that I was able to do what I loved for as long as I did. As with all dreams though you eventually wake up. That is where we are now. Now the fun will be finding moments like some of these that give me that same feeling that I get when I make a good sports photo. I am excited for this new challenge this year.