Best Of: Best Of 2011

At the end of each year I like to go through my photographs and choose the best ones or at least the ones that mean the most to me. Since this is a look back at the year 2011, I chose eleven images to represent my photography this year. These images do not include my favorites from this last year in Rocky Mountain National Park. That list can be found here. These images represent a 10 day trip to the United Kingdom to visit family, a one week trip to the Desert Southwest and a one week trip to the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the year was spent shooting Rocky Mountain National Park which is my primary focus. 

rainbow, sandstone, desert, storm, clouds, photo

Rainbow of the Earth

We tend to go through life with confident steps believing that we understand how it all works but then one day our world is turned upside down. We catch a glimpse of something unexpected which reveals that our certainties are actually actually illusions. On this stormy morning I watched as the sun broke through a crack in the clouds lighting a sandstone bluff with its intense orange light. Normally this is the time when one sees rainbows in the sky but today I found one on the side of hill. This rainbow had either lost its way or had decided to give us a more permanent presence showing that it was not merely an ethereal effect in the air but something more substantial than I had been led to believe. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

waterfall, columbia river gorge, idyllic, , photo

Morning Joy

An idyllic scene in the Columbia River Gorge as mist rises over a beautiful waterfall just after the start of this new day. One of the places I've seen time and time again in photographs is Punchbowl Falls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon. Because it has become something of an icon I almost didn't visit it, especially as the weather was not the overcast and rain that was forecast but sunny skies which generally aren't good for photographing waterfalls. For some reason I decided to at least go and have a look. The scene turned out to be even more beautiful than I expected with mist rising over the falls illuminated by the sun. Thanks to my friend +Koveh Tavakkol's suggestion I brought my wading boots with me and was able to get this and several other photos of the falls. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

aspen trees, colorado, kebler pass, zebra, photo

Zebra Stand - H

This beautiful aspen stand near Kebler Pass, Colorado was one of the most beautiful I saw. What really intrigued me were the wonderful stripes around the trunks. Who knew that every aspen grove would be so different. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

boats, harbor, blue, barbican, plymouth, photo

Barbican Blue

We had just arrived in the UK and were staying with family in Plymouth. I decided I wanted to get a couple of night images of the beautiful Barbican area with its boats in harbor and beautiful old buildings. This image is only a couple of hundred yards from where the pilgrims departed on the Mayflower in 1620. On this evening the sky was a wonderful dark blue which contrasted well with the warm lights and the colorful boats. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

balanced rock, stars, arches national park, desert, space, photo

Balanced Rock Stars

On the first night of my trip I spent a couple of hours at Balanced Rock in Arches National Park. I'm not usually a fan of light pollution but in this case it worked in my favor. The lights of Moab lit the sky behind the rock on the right and the headlights of several vehicles driving down the road lit Balanced Rock for a few seconds to help it stand out against the stars. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

aspen, spruce, kebler pass, colorado, joyful, autumn, photo

Throne Room

A lone spruce is surrounded by the pageantry of elegant aspen in their joyful autumn dress. I shot this during a gentle rain storm that provided just the perfect light and the dampness added to the vibrance of it all. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

sheep, sun, farm, field, silhouette, photo

Evening in Herefordshire

On this evening I was wandering around the fields of the sheep farm we were staying at in Herefordshire near the border with Wales. A thick haze covered the horizon and as the sun set into this haze its form became clearly visible. I used my longest lens (200mm) which wasn't nearly long enough to try and capture this beautiful sun with the silhouette of a large oak tree which had several sheep grazing beneath it. It was a very beautiful scene. I had to crop this quite a bit to make up for my short lens so I can only print this at sizes up to about 20"x20". If you are interested in ordering a print contact me using the link at the top of this page. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

desert, flower, sandstone, artistic, favorite, photo

Flowers from Stone

While wanding around a wash in the desert I came around the corner and saw this flower growing in the most unlikely of places. There is always a sense of great beauty when the most delicate thing grows in the most harsh places. I suppose that is partially what art is born of. This artistic bouquet growing through the sandstone is one of my favorite images from this trip and one which I would like to hang on my wall. It reminds me that we too are called to be works of art, living lives of delicate beauty in even the most harsh environment. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

multnomah falls, oregon, columbia river gorge, , photo

Mighty Multnomah

Multnomah Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the United States and one of the most impressive and beautiful waterfalls on this planet.  It has been photographed a million times, often with the same composition but there is a very good reason for this! It is simply beautiful! Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

moon, supermoon, plymouth sound, devon, cornwall, full moon, photo

Moon on Plymouth Sound

On this evening the largest moon for the next 18 years rose over Plymouth Sound in Devon, England. I was in the UK with my wife and son visiting her family. On this evening 9 of us drove out to Rame's Head, Cornwall where we had an amazing view overlooking the ocean as the giant full moon rose over Plymouth Sound and shimmered on the surrounding clouds. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.