Welcome to my annual display of my best/favorite photos of the year. I’ve been doing this since 2007 and it’s always interesting me to go back and take a look at how my interests and technique has changed over time.

2016 was a big transition for me. The first three photos were from early in the year, and then there’s a huge gap until August before photo #4. There were a number of factors behind that, but I found myself thinking everything I was doing was crap, and ended up taking what I think was a necessary break from behind the lens. When I came back, it was with a fresh viewpoint and an attitude of going out and finding what I liked instead of shooting what I usually shot, and I’ve rediscovered my interest and I’m shooting better — and I think the images are different than what I was doing before. And I’m enjoying it, which is what matters.

This set of images wonderfully displays my favorite places and topics: bird photography, the wildlife refuges, my time in Yosemite, the trips to Morro Bay where there are good opportunities to work with the otters, and some nice shots around a favorite location here in Santa Clara County.

During 2016 I finally took the jump to lenses beyond 400mm, and Fuji released both the X-T2, which I think is magical for this kind of work, and the 200-400 lens with a set of teleconverters, so I now have an easily hand-holdable 560mm lens that can turn out high quality action images in poor light with reliability. That creates opportunities that five or ten years ago would have been visual memories without any image whatsoever that photographers of the day would see as magic.

Here’s hoping 2016 was a good year with the camera for you, and I’m looking forward to 2017 as a chance to push this forward even further.

This year I limited my selection to 12 images — enough for a calendar, perhaps. It made the last 3-4 choices a bit difficult, but I wanted to keep the number small. The shots include two birds that have long been a nemesis for me: Northern harrier and Yellow-Billed Magpie, both of which have been able to avoid my attempts at getting quality images of them. No more.

For 2017 I haven’t done much planning for my photography yet. I have a trip to Yosemite scheduled in March for a conference, I’ll be visiting the refuges again, and Laurie and I have talked about another trip out to Yellowstone but nothing’s firm yet. If I get out there, I’ll likely try to focus on thermals to supplement my 2014 trip that was primarily about wildlife. We’ll see how that goes.

One thing I do hope to do more of this year is shoot near to home, here in Santa Clara and San Mateo county. I don’t think I’ve done enough of that in the last few years, partly because of the time I’ve been trying to spend in the refuges in the central valley.

Each of these images has a bit of a story to them, so enjoy them and I’ll share those stories with you. Happy holidays and see you in 2017.

The Best of 2016

Mallard, Radio Road Ponds, Redwood Shores, San Mateo County, California

Immature Golden Eagle in Flight, Coyote Valley, San Jose, California

Yellow-billed Magpie, Coyote Valley OSP, San Jose, California

Sandhill Crane in flight, , Isenberg Crane Refuge

Geese Flocks in flight. Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Harrier, Coyote Valley Laguna West

Coyote, Yosemite National Park

Heermann’s Gull, Morro Bay Harbor, California

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Sea Otters , Morro Bay Harbor, California

Morro Bay Harbor, California

See you in 2017

So that’s my favorite images for 2016. If you’re interested in more, Jim Goldstein annually compiles a listing of all of the best of collections that are submitted to him and it’s a great place to get a sense just what kind of beautiful imagery is being created every year. It’s well worth some time browsing the different photographers who contribute to his list every year.

See you in 2017!