Creating my post for my favorite images of the year is one of the best ways I get to write at the end of the year. Taking a tour through my Lightroom catalog and sorting by year, label, and rating, I selected the photographs that meant the most to me in 2018. Here are some of the images I have selected in the past:
Thank you once again to Jim Goldstein, who founded and organizes this project each year for over 150 photographers. Not only is it a great community project, but I get more traffic to my website through it than any amount of social media aggregating that I can do. I also want to thank my friends that I shot with this year, like Lee, Alex, Tom, Jeremy, and Shawn. Here’s to more shooting and exploring together in the future. Keep in mind, these are my favorites. They are not yours, and may not be to your taste. These may not all be my best photographs of 2018 either. These images are, however, the ones that I have felt the most profound personal connection to. I curate this list with that in mind.
2018 was the year that I decided to stop trying to come up with inspirational names for my photographs. At some point, titles like “Inspirational Hill” start to sound tired and overdone. So for the majority of my exports, I simply used an initial for the location and the order of my export. I suspect I will retroactively do that with some of my older images too, as some are a little cringeworthy to me.
Presented to you in chronological order, you can click on any image to see the full attachment page for each photograph.
Bridge At Dawn
This sunrise was photographed at Coronado’s Tidelands Park, a popular morning destination for photographers. It really lit up this morning, and I included the crescent moon in the composition. Of course, this being the modern world of photography, I had to watch in disbelief as about 8 photographers broke the law and went over the fence under the bridge to “get a unique shot.” Next time, bring a ladder and don’t break the law, guys. Before you know it, we’ll lose these places to photograph with this behavior.
Lunar Eclipse Over Santee 2
I have seen and photographed plenty of lunar eclipses before. So many people simply zoom in on the moon in shadow. It looks great, and after your second experience, it gets a little old. I decided to try something different here, and make it part of a larger cityscape. I captured the interchange of the 67 and 52 freeways, as well as the larger Santee cityscape. The result was great, and as soon as I clicked this frame, I had to immediately go to work. Sleep came eventually.
There are two overlooks on Sunrise Highway with fantastic views of Granite Mountain to the North. Because Granite Mountain is positioned well and gets lots of side-light, it’s often a great subject. In this case, a storm was blowing over the Laguna Mountains. I shot a long exposure, with some frustration that the clouds were evaporating. But I also found something truly sublime in showing the rain shadow in action. It’s always great to “previsualize” an image, but it’s equally important to keep thinking when you are in the field and adapt. This is one of the moment I am proud of.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, I drove all the way to Central Utah for the 10th anniversary of the ArrowCorps5 Manti-La Sal service project I worked on in 2008. While I spent much of the weekend doing field survey work seeing how the tamarisk abatement has lasted over 10 years, I also got some time in for some landscape photographs. This image is taken from the top of Cedar Mountain, above and adjacent to the Buckhorn Canyon area that we cleared of tamarisk. This canyon empties into the San Rafael River of the larger San Rafael Swell canyon system. With monsoonal moisture in the area and an incredible view, this photograph was the perfect scene for an ultra-wide composition.
This spot over the San Diego River was a great find. As much as I have walked the River trail through Santee, somehow it wasn’t until early this year that I looked right and said, Hmmmm…that’s a bridge over the river. The other side leads into a Walmart. Sometimes you never know where you will find your next great photo location. I have enjoyed this spot because there are so few good overlooks in the County of the San Diego River. I don’t know when the bridge was installed, but I am glad they did it.
One of the best San Diego photo locations is Windansea Beach, South of La Jolla. It’s always crowded, but you can always find good spots to compose a shot. I believe I shot this one with my friend Lee Sie. Using my neutral density filter, I built a long exposure in heavy surf. I only got 2 exposures, because before I knew it, the surf was running over the rock I was standing on. I had to move out quickly.
This was taken during another storm at Foster Point off the Pacific Crest Trail. I think Garnet Peak is the most picturesque peak in San Diego County. Foster Point sits at a perfect angle south of that peak. In 2019, I want to try a similar photo from nearby Hayes Peak, just off the same PCT.
I love bridges and the Pine Valley Creek Interstate 8 bridge was on my list. Hiking on the old road from the Picnic area, I have been here so many times with clear skies. I finally got a storm coming in and timed it right. For those who overlook this bridge, it is the 2nd highest in California and 11th highest in the United States. It is worth visiting.
This was an unexpected find. I was actually shooting the Yuma Bridge To Nowhere, but the light was just okay. However, Arizona was still recovering from the rain from Hurricane Rosa and the Gila River actually had a running stream. With some good light and a river that is almost never wet, this was a great moment to spend a few quiet moments.
This is another image of Granite Mountain. What can I say, I love this overlook. I rarely drive Sunrise Highway and feel that I am wasting my time. Another storm was blowing over the Laguna Mountains, and just look at those shadows and sunset light. I have made far too many images from this overlook, but anytime I need some inspiration, peace, and quiet, this spot always does the trick. Always a beautiful view.
Getting lucky in the field is also important. I lost the opportunity to visit the North Rim when snow on the highway made me turn around. The gate was then closed for the season. Coming back off the mountain, I stopped at the historic Navajo Bridge for what was an astounding view. Marble Canyon, as it’s called, is the lesser-known canyon sitting between Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon. The sheer vertical cliffs were beautiful, and I definitely didn’t mind the weather coming in for this composition. Even though I don’t think I am afraid of heights, I definitely held on to my camera for dear life on the edge of the bridge.
After a number of years, I made it back to Mojave National Preserve with my friend Jeremy. One of the items on our list was the excellent lava tube. We weren’t expecting to have any light shafts because it was 1 day from the Winter solstice and the sun was very low in the sky. We were definitely surprised. The lava tube also had it’s own weather system. There was enough sand/dirt in the air that the shaft lit up on it’s own. We didn’t have to throw any dirt in the air like Antelope Canyon. People tend to exclusively focus on the shafts, but I wanted to build more negative space and get a sense of the lava tube in the photograph. I am happy with how this came out. It is incredible to consider modern digital cameras and how they can handle a scene like this. I was able to shoot with plenty of detail in the shadows while also not completely blowing out the light shaft. Thank you Nikon.
Favorite Photographs of 2018 Gallery
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.