OP – The Blog

January 3rd, 2014

13 Favorite Images for 2013

Posted By Kevin Schafer

Notice how I say “Favorites”, not necessarily the “Best.” Not only is it hard to honestly assess which are the best images in so short a time, but for me, my choice of favorites often has as much to do with the experience as the quality of the picture.

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Snowy Owls flew south in abundance last winter, and this dependable location was only two hours from my front door. I was not alone, however: at times, there were as many photographers as owls, but it was a spectacular experience nonetheless.”

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On a little island off Australia’s Western coast, I spent a week tracking an endangered little marsupial known as a Quokka. Yes, some people say they look like jumping rats, but I found them fine company: gentle and amusing. I suspected the one was going to jump across this narrow stream, so I got ready, and waited for close to an hour for him to make his move.

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This was the year of islands. I spent a week on Mexico’s Cozumel Island in November, a place packed with cruise ships and beach resorts. What most people don’t realize is that one of the rarest carnivores on Earth lives here : the Pygmy Raccoon. Yes, they look pretty much like the ones we have at home, but they are half the size, and number no more than 300 or so. I was there to document their life history for the first time.

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In Tucson for a meeting this spring, I made a pilgrimage to the Saguaro forests; there may be no more spectacular desert landscape on earth. Looking for something different, I put on a rarely-used 14mm lens and waded into the desert, playing with the shapes and curves and generally having a splendid time.

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I was supposed to be camping on the Olympic Peninsula coast with my good friend Steve Shuey, but a horrendous storm drove us inland and away from the weather. In our wanderings we came across this raging waterfall in Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. It was hard to keep spray off the lens, but I managed to get a few shots. Then Steve (in his handy red jacket) offered to step into the picture. Suddenly, I had a sense of scale and place. Thanks, Steve – not sure I would have thought of it myself!

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, Architect : Frank Gehry

I carry a camera pretty much everywhere, including on a family trip to Europe. One of our stops was the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. I am kind of a nut for architecture and wanted to see, and photograph, this iconic building by Frank Gehry. This detail was shot at sunrise, a celebration of angles and surfaces.

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On California’s Channel Islands this spring, I spent a day photographing a spectacular marine mammal breeding colony. Large waves were crashing on the beach, and every once in a while, there were surfing seals inside those waves. This was just a matter of patience and timing, and a wave the color of emeralds.

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) Wild, Boulders Beach Guesh

Slippery When Wet: After leading an African safari this summer, I spent a few days decompressing near Cape Town, in a small town known for its penguin colony. I took plenty of pictures of the birds down by the water, but I love this shot of one casually descending the stairs of my hotel. He was nesting under my room, and kept me up most of the night with his braying.

African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) Endangered, Boulders Beach

I designed this picture before the penguins arrived. I liked the wonderful shapes of the granite boulders and thought it would be a handsome setting for a passing group of penguins. It was the peak of the morning penguin rush hour, so I knew they would come. Easiest picture of the day.

Grass Tree (Kingia australis)  Endemic to Western Australia, Sti

A clearing storm darkened the skies over Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in Western Australia. But when a beam of light struck these weird Grass Trees in the foreground, I knew I had a picture. It lasted for only a few seconds and then everything went dark.

Red-legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) Nesting Pair,  Pue

A pair of Red-legged Cormorants perform a mating ritual at their nest along the southern coast of Argentina. The bright overcast brought out the striking colors of these handsome seabirds.

Tumbleweed blows acrss highway, Idaho

I was looking for badgers…and not finding any. Instead I saw a lot of tumbleweeds rolling down this Idaho highway. Eventually, I lost interest in the badgers and set out to capture something oddly familiar, but rarely photographed. Fortunately, the wind cooperated, blowing a steady 20 mph. I must have taken a hundred shots of this one rolling tumbleweed, grabbing it as it rolled by and throwing it back up the road to start the process again.

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The mountains at Torres del Paine are spectacular, but so is the wildlife. I must have seen 30 condors in a single day. Here I composed for the mountain and waited for one of the birds to hit the right spot in the design. Worked like a charm.

 

Please leave a comment

  1. Michael Pyle Says:

    Excellent work, you should be proud!!

  2. hopeeg Says:

    The southern coast of Argentina is the best

  3. David Says:

    Great Photographs, Thank you Mr. Schafer! My favorite is your “Easiest picture of the day”.

  4. Paul Phillips Says:

    Great Shots! Eclectic. Got to love those raccoon’s.

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