My Favorite Photo from 2018 / by John Clark

The “Eye in the Sky” was my personal favorite of 2018

This is the time of the year when I see a lot of photographers posting the top images that they shot during the year. These are often in batches of 10, 12, or in some cases 18 (I get what they did there… But what happens in the year 2100?!?).

Let’s cut to the chase… I’m going to give you just one photo. The image you see above is my single favorite shot that I took in 2018.

This is the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, located high atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Situated at nearly 14,000 feet, it’s located well above the clouds and you can see across the Pacific Ocean to the highest peaks of Maui in the distance. I was there in September and at sunset the sky turned from blues to shades of oranges and purples, and the temperature changed to decidedly “not Hawaii-like” and got extremely cold! (As a side note, I felt like a fool packing a down jacket for a trip to Hawaii, but even with that, a hat and gloves it was c-o-l-d!) 

What I like about this photo is the unique shape of the building, and of course the coloring. I framed the shot so it would be on the left side to incorporate the drop off of the cliff and more of the clouds way below the observatory. Looking at the photo, you get a sense of the size of the world, how small we really are in the grand scope, and the search that goes far beyond our galaxy.

Honorable Mentions

You really didn’t think I could get away with just choosing one image, did you?

Shots like this make me want to fly my drone more often!

The first Honorable Mention is the ridges of Calico Basin which is located about a half hour drive from the Strip in Las Vegas. This was shot with a drone late one September afternoon. What I like is how the setting sun created wonderful leading lines across the ridges that lead the eye towards the red rock formations, and how the beautiful shadows add depth to the image. You can almost feel the desert warmth, can’t you? I haven’t flown my drone as often as I would like, but shots like this make me antsy to take my photography airborne more often!

Such a beautiful animal!

My second honorable mention goes to this shot of a Leopard, taken in Kruger National Park in South Africa just a couple of weeks ago. Those who follow me on Instagram already know the story… He was hidden in a dark spot under a tree hunting a herd of Impalas when the wind changed to come from behind his back, which immediately warned them of his presence.

The Impalas all began hissing and huffing at the Leopard, and that quickly ended his dreams of a tasty meal since they were all watching him. The Leopard made a long, slow walk of shame during which I shot a LOT of amazing images, but he kept walking closer and closer.

Finally, he stopped just a few yards from our safari vehicle and was so close I could no longer keep his full body in the frame. Besides the close, natural portrait, the thing that I like about this photo is simply the memory of a most amazing wildlife sighting and the behavior of the Impalas. And, you know it must have been great as the Park Ranger, who sees these animals daily, was as geeked out about the encounter as I was!

More to Come

I’m not done processing my images from 2018 yet, so be sure to follow along on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook where I regularly post new images from my travels.  And for you wildlife enthusiasts, more from my recent trip to Africa will be coming shortly!

And now that the calendar has turned to 2019