13 December 2011

Favorites of 2011

Favorites of 2011 - Images by Elijah Goodwin
(If you are using an iPhone or iPad please click here for an Apple-friendly version of the slideshow)

I've never really had a chance to do those year-end "best of" image retrospectives. December used to be the end of the semester for me. Between the grading, reports, and other holiday craziness (not to mention my family wanting to spend time with me), I just never had the time or the energy to put it together. However, this year it isn't the end of the semester yet, plus I'm unfortunately stuck at home with an illness that is keeping me from going to work (or doing much else for more than a short stretch), so I've got some time on my hands, even if only in short bursts.

I recently read about a photo project idea on the Photofocus blog. Scott Bourne suggested picking out 12 of your favorite images of all time. Note, the key word is "favorite", not best. I liked that idea so much that I've decided to turn it into two posts. First, today's post will present my 12 favorite images from 2011, with accompanying explanations as to why they are my favorites. Second, in the next couple of weeks I should be able to put together another post about my 12 favorite images of all time (to date).

#1-Bald Cypress at Civil Twilight, Lake Drummond National Wildlife Refuge, Great Dismal Swamp, VA

Those of you who have read my recent blog post on my trip to the Great Dismal Swamp probably expected that an image from that trip would end up in this list. I had so much fun making these images that they could all be pieces of trash and they still probably would have made this list. What an experience! But as it turns out, I love this image as well. I like the very simple geometric pattern of the reflected silhouetted tree and the line of the opposite shore. I also like the colors from the very end of civil twilight. Normally, I like a sky with more clouds and colors, but in this case I think the cloudless sky adds to the simplicity, peace, and tranquility communicated by the image.

#2-Dew Drop Lenses, Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, VA

This was just a fun day for photography at Huntley Meadows. It was a great day for macro images, as there had been a heavy dew and the morning was humid enough that the dew stuck around for hours. Most importantly there was no breeze! I think this is my most successful dew drop image to date.

#3-Fluffed Out Sanderling, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA

Another great morning for photography, this day at Chincoteague NWR was full of birds and a beautiful sunrise. I chose this image because I love the low angle side-lighting of sunrise and the resulting long shadow cast onto the beach.  I've had a particular love for sandpipers, ever since I started birding with my dad; and the nostalgia that comes with remembering our monthly trips to the Massachusetts coast.

#4-Christmas Fern Fiddleheads, Turkey Run Park, VA

This year was definitely the year of wildflower photography. I found some amazing new spots to photograph wildflowers and I can't wait for spring to come around again. While these aren't wildflowers, the fiddleheads come out at about the same time as the early spring wildflowers. When I found these fiddleheads growing near some bluebells, I think I gasped out loud. One fiddlehead was starting to unfurl and so one part of the frond was linear and the head had flopped over to rest upside-down against the other younger fiddlehead. I love the pure graphic nature of this image with the opposing spirals coming out of opposite corners of the frame.

#5-Young Lotus Seed Head, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C.

I had never seen (or at least never noticed) lotus seed heads at this young stage before. What an amazing range of pastel colors the seeds go through as they mature! Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has become one of my favorite summer spots for macro photography.

#6-Vine Tendril Encased In Ice, Falls Church, VA

This one was taken right in my very own backyard. An ice storm got me a day off from work, but prevented me from driving anywhere to photograph. But when everything is coated in ice, who needs exotic locales? I've actually been envisioning something like this shot since I first experienced ice storms as a photographer back in high school in Massachusetts. I'm thrilled I was finally able to match an image to the vision.

#7-Spawning Horseshoe Crab Returns To Bay, Port Mahon, DE

One of my favorite events of Spring in the Mid-Atlantic is the spawning of the horseshoe crabs and the concurrent shorebird migration that takes place each late May/early June along the Delaware Bay. The whole event just has this amazing primal and prehistoric feel to it. I feel like this image with the dramatic lighting and partially submerged crab captures that feeling perfectly.

#8-Large-flowered Trillium, G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area, Linden, VA

One of those new wildflower locales that I discovered this year was G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area. This area has a mind-boggling display of Large-flowered Trillium, not to mention the other wildflowers and birds. When I took this image, much of the trillium was starting to go by, but this fresher specimen was nestled between some fallen logs. It has become one of my favorite images, so much so that I have incorporated it into my logos.

#9-Backlit Katydid, Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, VA

Another macro image from that great morning at Huntley Meadows. I haven't received much feedback on this image, but I think it is one of my favorite macro images from this year (if not ever). I love the backlighting on the katydid and the forward facing shadow cast onto the cattail reed. I also love the way that the cattail reed and the two long backlit antennae divide up the frame.

#10-Sunflower Sunrise, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Poolesville, MD

The sunflower field at McKee-Beshers WMA is another new location for me, and while it is certainly not a wilderness experience (the crowd can be pretty large on weekends), it is a photographers paradise. So many graphic images to be made. This one is from right at sunrise (when there are a lot fewer photographers). I love the way the sunrise lit clouds in the sky mirror the rows of sunflowers.

#11-Double Yellow Lady's Slipper, G.R. Thompson WMA, Linden, VA

As I mentioned earlier, G.R. Thompson has a lot more going for it than its colossal display of Large-flowered Trillium. It is also home to some amazing orchids. I've always been a sucker for orchids, particular lady's slippers and I have been hoping to make an image like this for a long time. What a bonus to find the rarer, two-flowered version of the plant!

#12-Bedded Fawn, Shenandoah National Park, VA

It has also been a great year for adventures with white-tailed deer fawns. One of my images of a coyote eating fawns was featured on the National Geographic News website. I also made some of my favorite images of the fawns themselves. This image is one I've dreamed of making, of a bedded fawn that is also alert. I followed a pair of twins one late afternoon/evening and they became habituated to my presence enough to let me get close and get this image of one of them bedding down for the evening.


  1. Oh my goodness, each and every one of these photographs is absolutely exquisite. I can see why they are your favorites for the year. I truly enjoyed reading the story behind each image. I really believe these stunning photographs belong in a coffee table book. Your talent shines brightly, Elijah!

  2. These are Fantastic!! Wishing you many many more for 2012 :)
    Happy New Year!

  3. wonderful photos!
    Have a happy 2012 with some great photographing opportunities!