2013 Year in Review

Written by Alpenglow Images on December 23rd, 2013

“Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home — not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.”  — Ellen Meloy

“I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely…we have lived too shallowly in too many places.” — Wallace Stegner

Another year has passed and I am re-reading my blog posts and journals from 2013, as well as reviewing my images, retracing my year.  Last year was one in which I grew tremendously in my photographic vision and voice.  This year, I hoped to build on that growth.

Looking at numbers of images produced, 2013 was relatively light for me.  Some of this was intentional: I spent significant time in the mountains over the summer and fall, but often left my camera at home, focusing on introspection and reflection.  I used to carry my camera everywhere with me, but have learned to let that go somewhat–sometimes being in the moment is more valuable than trying to capture every moment with a camera.  Details and intimacy with the moment get lost that way, as counterintuitive as it may seem.

Despite the few images I made this year, it was productive in other ways.  I was able to redesign my website and restructure my image portfolios.  I had several fantastic backpacking trips and was reminded how good getting off the grid for a few days can feel.  I was fortunate to enjoy two of those backpacking trips with Jackson Frishman, who I have known for several years through our blogs; I really enjoyed getting to know him in person this year.  I also was able to further develop some thoughts on the West, and on sense of place, which is an ongoing subject of interest for me:


In Defense of the West

Preserving Wildness

Personally, it was a year of deep introspection, revelation, and unexpected hope for me; 2014 should be an interesting year photographically as well as personally.   One thing I did confront within myself was the fact that my parents are aging and won’t live forever–this has been a theme since January and in some ways continues to be so.

My biggest recurring theme this year was the concept of ‘home’ and how we fit into the landscape.  I’m not talking about home in the sense of having a street address and a house, but rather the feeling you get when you arrive in a certain location.  Why are we drawn to certain landscapes more than others–why do we feel “at home” in certain landscapes, but not in others?  I feel like this is should be a central tenet of landscape photography: conveying a sense of place, a sense of belonging, to the landscape.

As humans, we are at an interesting crossroads: we can use the landscape to drive our development, we can simply be inhabitants of the landscape, or we can become part of the landscape, existing as part of its rhythm.   Only the latter option is a completely synchronous way of living–the former two are somewhat asynchronous.  The bottom line is that we must strive to create a life that’s in balance with our own needs, but also with the land.

I found balance this year by visiting familiar locations, revisiting places I haven’t been in years, and discovering new landscapes I haven’t visited before.  As I was reviewing my portfolios and images from the year, it struck me that many of my favorites from this year were in monochrome.  Why?  I guess I just saw the world that way in 2013.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the images, and that 2013 was good to you.  I hope you a fantastic 2014 as well!

Markagunt Plateau Aspens

Aspen grove, Utah. September

Aspens and granite boulders

Aspens & lichen-covered granite, California, August

Blooming Mojave Yucca

Mojave Yucca, California, April

Intimate mountain landscape

Tree & Rocks, California, May

Canyon Abstract 2

Canyon Walls, Utah, June

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Shadows and Hillside, California, March

Death Valley Sunrise

Stormy Desert Sunrise, California, January

The Little Colorado River

Little Colorado River Canyon, Arizona, February

Wildflowers, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mountain Wildflowers, Wyoming, July


18 Comments so far ↓

  1. A great collection of images, Greg. Strong personal vision and some wonderful use of light. Wishing you the very best for the coming year. Cheers, – g.

  2. Ted Truex says:

    Greg – Wonderful images. Another productive year. Thanks for including the links to your earlier meditations. They are worth revisiting. Have a wonder 2014.

  3. Richard Wong says:

    You certainly made the most of the limited photography time, Greg. Great stuff! Happy holidays.

  4. Guy Tal says:

    Beautiful work, Greg, and I’m sure your time spent in the wild was well rewarded. My best wishes for the holiday and new year!

    “He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” –Goethe

  5. Alex Filatov says:

    Wonderful images Greg. Wishing you all the best in 2014!

  6. Very nice set, Greg! I really liked Canyon Walls, must have missed that one if you blogged it before. Likewise, it was a real pleasure spending some time in the backcountry with you, and I definitely hope we can do some more in 2014!

    I think that the emotions behind landscape photos often depend on our dual yearnings for home and adventure. I’d say your portfolio images by and large do portray a sense of belonging in the landscape; I feel my work gravitates more towards a tension between experiencing beauty while simultaneously feeling like a temporary and perhaps unwelcome visitor. I’m especially noticing that in my new home here in Greater Death Valley – there are enough similarities with New Mexico to feel some comfort here, but enough differences to make this land feel very otherworldly at times.

  7. Darned good year in images, Greg. All outstanding and I know this is just a small sampling of the good work you did this year.

    Regarding the land and our place in it…it can be depressing as we grow in our concern for the way our planet is being used. It would be wonderful if we would see a reversal of fortune in the coming year and those who make decisions for us would grow in their estimation of the value of natural places and realize our good fortune to have the beauty Earth presents to us rather than just giving it commodity status.

    My best wishes to you and your family for the holidays, Greg. Yes, our parents grow older as do we. In some ways that is the beauty of life. Although it represents the loss of love in our lives, it also is the aging that builds the love to a level that departure cannot diminish.

  8. pj says:

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking post, magnificent photos… doesn’t get any better than that. Good stuff. Fine work my friend.

  9. Despite your limited time behind the camera in 2013, you’ve created a wonderful group of diverse images, Greg. I cannot pick a favorite, but definitely look forward to seeing what 2014 brings.

  10. Sounds like there must have been a lot of inner movement under the surface for you this year. This self-discovery has come out in interesting ways. Your photographs are more subtle than earlier work. It is fun to watch as your vision further evolves and refines. I am surprised to say that I like two of the black and whites best: the first aspen grove and the Little Colorado Canyon.

  11. Russ Bishop says:

    This is a lovely collection of images Michael. The monochromes make an especially strong statement, and you’ve clearly shown that less is quite often more.

    Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.

  12. Rachel Cohen says:

    Beautiful collection of images Greg! The monochromes are outstanding! A wonderful year I’d say! Looking forward to another great one in 2014! 🙂

  13. Mark says:

    Well Greg, I would say your 2013 review shows that deep connection to the landscape. Each obviously shows a careful and attentive composition. I think that Canyon Walls photograph is magical. I wish you the best for 2014.

  14. Thanks for the comments, everyone, I really appreciate it!

  15. Pete Miller says:

    Great YIR blog post Greg! The “home” theme is one I truly get, as my Dad is in the throes of Parkinson’s Disease & Dementia.

    Look forward to your 2014 compositions & blog posts Greg!!

  16. ROSE L says:

    I LOVE the second one the best. I enjoy doing photography as well and it saves me from depression. Out there in the world of nature, my camera helps me to see better, to notice everything, and that fills me with so much joy. I am so eager to share my photographs with people and tell them, :Look! See the beauty that you don’t see?”
    I post some of my nature photos (as well as family stuff) on my blog. http://poetrose24.blogspot.com/

  17. Dan Baumbach says:

    Lovely sentiment and lovely images. I particularly like the intimate ones.

Leave a Comment