Top Ten Images of 2020

2020 has certainly been a year to remember.  In my mind and the minds of many, it will be long remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic.  It was a time a virus collided with our lives in so many unexpected ways.  Some lost their jobs, others made more money than they ever had, and many more worked from home full time for the first time.  Sadly, people did lose their lives from this virus.  I myself know two people who died due to COVID.

2020, however, was not a time of complete darkness.  I believe I have become closer to my immediate family than I have ever been.  Being forced to work from home helped solidify the relationships with my children and wife.  It was a time of saving money on fuel and spending less on eating out.  I was also able to finish a flooring project that would have been extremely difficult under normal circumstances.  Even in the most difficult of situations, there is often a silver lining. 

Wildlife photography in 2020 was much more difficult as travel was restricted and there was certainly a feeling of depression and heavy heartedness this entire year.  I simply was not as motivated, and not able to access the locations I typically do, but I did make photographs and enjoyed every moment that I did.  As is my tradition, here is my top ten images from 2020.  They are perhaps not your favorite or the most sold and so forth. These are my favorites.  If I had to give this year a theme, it would be "The Year of the Bluebird."  I hope you enjoy them!  Note that some of the images are stamped 2019.  That is my fault when I exported them.  I didn't use the new copyright stamp, but they were all taken in 2020.

#1 - Grackle 

When I am making photographs, one of my major themes is to try to make the common look uncommon.  To date, this is the best image I have made of the common grackle.  I love the way the lighting gives this bird an almost storybook look.  It also helps to reinforce the stereotype that grackles are an evil bird.  This image has the added benefit of being printed on the cover of North Carolina Wildlife Magazine.


#2 - Eastern Bluebird with Insect

2020 saw me actively taking flight shots of songbirds for the first time.  In this image, a female bluebird is returning to the nest with an insect for her young.  This image is also part of The Bluebird Project, which is an ongoing endeavor to track the activities of the eastern bluebird.  I love this wing position in this image and just the raw action and behavior.


#3 - Eastern Bluebird Checking me Out

In photography, there are rare shots and this is one of them. This female bluebird looks a the camera at the exact time the shutter is fired.  I will probably never get this shot again, and I really struggle with where this should even fall in the top ten lineup.  I could even make an argument for it being number one.  I also love the wing position in this shot.  The only thing I would have changed (if I could have) would be the depth of field.  I would have loved for the foreground wing to be sharp instead of just the head.  Due to lighting conditions that was unavoidable.


#4 - Red-bellied Woodpecker in Autumn

This image has so much going for it in my opinion.  The blazing orange and reds in the background, the beautiful perch and then the unique head positioning of the subject.  It all comes together for a great autumn shot, and I knew it had to be in the top ten image of the year.


#5 - Bull Elk Crossing Stream

I had been tracking this bull at a safe distance and noticed him walking toward a small herd of cows just across a tributary of Cataloochee Creek.  I knew that he planned on crossing back and driving the cows into a larger adjacent field.  I waded out in the creek and setup just in time to make this shot of him crossing back over.  It was a beautiful, foggy morning in the Great Smoky Mountains that day.


#6 - Love Birds

Capturing a male and female hummingbird together on the same branch in such close proximity, is nearly impossible.  This is a composite image of the mating pair.  Each image was taken on the same day and on the same branch, then combined into one during post processing.  This image is part of The Hummingbird Project.  The hummingbird project is a compilation of the hummingbirds who nest and live in my area.  Each year I try new and creative ideas.  This was one of those ideas.


#7 - Smoky Mountain Morning

As my expertise is in wildlife photography, a scenic very rarely makes the top ten for the year, but I really enjoy this one as it sums up the Great Smoky Mountains in one photography.  Taken near the Cherokee Indian Reservation, this morning image of the mountains, provides the viewer with the mystery and intrigue that is the Smoky Mountains.


#8 - Eastern Bluebird in Plum Tree

This image of the male eastern bluebird is both one of my favorites and also a favorite of the followers of my work.  The plum tree in the background is the perfect accent to this colorful bird.  


#9 -  Bull Elk Spots a Rival

This image of the bull elk is a favorite of mine this year.  In this image, the bull has spotted a rival male a good 100 yards to his rear.  Notice how his stance has changed and he is the form of power and strength.  His strength is reinforced by the battle scar on his rear leg.


#10 - White-tailed Deer

This image, although a decent image, is not here because it is really my best work of the year.  It is here because this was a special day to me.  The day after the election, I needed time to unwind, talk to God and just relax.  After sitting in my blind for about 20 minutes out from the bushes pops this buck.  I so enjoyed watching him try to figure out what I was.  He did not snort, but was just very curious.  In the image, he is actually moving directly toward me.  I also like this image because it is an image of the buck's favorite habitat.  He loves the interior forest for protection.

I hope you enjoyed this years top ten images.   Use offer code BYE2020 to receive 30% off any of these images until January 1, 2021.