(© Ian Plant) Well, it's that time of the year again when everyone displays their best images from the previous year, so I might as well throw my hat into the ring. Here are some of my personal favorites from last year. As is my usual practice, I pick a number of photos equal to the year, so here's my top thirteen for '13.
"Eternal Mirror" - Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
A rare windless morning combined with a small break in the clouds, bathing the scene in spectacular sunrise light. Perfect conditions for a perfect place!
"The Watchers" - Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, USA
This is one of the creepiest wildlife encounters I've ever had. Hundreds of egrets gathered one morning to hunt spawning minnows. Hitchcock himself would have been spooked.
"Kneel Before Zod" - Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia
The title for this image was inspired by one of the best lines ever uttered by a super villain, as spoken by Terrance Stamp playing General Zod in Superman II. I don’t know why I thought of Zod when I photographed this tree, but I did and the name stuck.
"Time Stands Still" - Jökulsárlón, Iceland
I made this photo in the eerie and seemingly endless Icelandic twilight. Lucky for me the icebergs drifting in the lagoon didn't move much during the two minute exposure.
"Hang Time" - Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
My last trip in 2013 was to Costa Rica. This mantled howler monkey gave me a perfect pose for a few seconds.
"Ice World" - Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
I've been to this backcountry lake in Patagonia many times, but I've never seen it so full of ice. The sunset clouds hung low over the triple spires of Cerro Torre, acting like a giant reflector and bouncing light onto the peaks.
"Spirit of Africa" - Etosha National Park, Namibia
The whole time I was in Namibia I searched for an image that screamed "AFRICA". I finally got what I was looking for when this elephant pair greeted each other at a water hole.
"Flight of Whimsy" - Dyrhólaey, Iceland
I watched hundreds of puffins surf air currents for hours on the edge of a giant cliff by the sea. They seemed completely unconcerned by my presence, hovering at times no more than five or ten feet from me. It was a blast!
"Higher Aspirations" - Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
I hear wildlife photographers all the time extol the virtues of shooting in overcast light. Not me; I much prefer the intersection of light and shadow. Mixed light is difficult to work with, but the results can be dramatic. When this white-headed capuchin monkey paused for a moment, its head emerging into the sunlight, I knew I had a keeper.
"Secret Guardian" - Boardman State Park, USA
The "rainbow" around this sea stack is actually a halo, formed by ice crystals in the air around the setting sun. An outgoing wave completed my composition.
"Dance of the Dead" - Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
These dead trees, preserved by the dry desert air, have been around for centuries, engaged in a slow, timeless dance.
"Dettifoss by Twilight" - Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
I got to these falls an hour after sunset, and I thought I had missed all of the action. But dramatic storm clouds and rich twilight blues proved me wrong!
"Flamingo Flamenco" - Dorob National Park, Namibia
I enjoy working with multiple subjects. It takes patience to wait for everything to spontaneously organize into a compelling composition. I was lucky that these flamingos finally obliged!
P.S. I've also released a new eBook, Yellowstone Light and Life, which is a FREE book I'm offering to my readers as a thank you for all of your support. Happy New Year!