Monday, December 29, 2008

12 months in photos

I went through my blog archives tonight to pick out my favorite photos of the year, and it was hard to decide. I don't really think of myself as a "photographer." Photographers generally take photos for the purpose of taking photos, as works of art and expression. I'm more of a "photo documentarian." I take photos for the purpose of illustrating a particular time or place or event (most often a bike ride.) As such, it's nearly impossible for me to separate the actual aesthetic quality of photos from my emotions about the events and places surrounding them. But I tried. One for each month - 12 months in photos.

The top photo is my favorite of the year, taken on Sept. 25 along the Klondike Highway, south of Carcross, Yukon, during a late fall bike tour of the Golden Circle. Maybe it's because we spend so much of the year washed in the blues and grays of winter, but all of that color still leaves me in awe.

"Long ride," Jan. 10: I guess it's pretty clear that I like this photo since I used it on the top of my blog and on the cover of my book. It's a nice example of camera serendipity - all I did was set the 10-second self-timer on the camera, wedge it in the snow on top of the Mendenhall Lake ice, and ride away from it. But it managed to capture this perfect moment between the mist and the glare of the winter sun as Thunder Mountain loomed in the background.

"Long race," Feb. 25: February was a pretty weak month for photos. I was preoccupied with other things. This photo was taken along the Skwentna River on day two of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. I just like how crisp and clean the trail and the horizon looks - the day before everything in that race went dark and blurry. :-)

"First day of spring," March 20: This is a photo of Auke Lake taken during a century ride on the Spring Equinox. I love how the perfect reflection of the Mendenhall Towers shines in a small break in the ice.

"Spring snow," April 17: This photo was taken the day after an avalanche took down the city's connection to the Snettisham hydroelectric power plant. Eight inches of snow fell on the city, and more than a foot of new powder settled up high. I took advantage of the day to go snowboarding along the Douglas Island Ridge. The powder was as smooth as butter and as light as a cloud - so perfect.

"Commuting home," May 18: Yeah, it's another random-timed self portrait. It's true that my camera sometimes takes better pictures than I do. This was taken back when I diligently commuted everywhere on my bike, and I was heading home from work at about 10 p.m. when I stopped at the Salmon Creek delta to watch the sun set. I like the reflection of soft light in the water scattered among the seaweed.

"Broken chain," June 28: I broke my chain during my 10th or 11th lap in the 24 Hours of Light and had to hoof it about three miles back to the race start. I snapped a quick 11:30 p.m. sunset photo above a small tributary of the Yukon River. I like both the intense pink light (I honestly did nothing to color correct this photo, although the pink sky may be a camera glitch), as well as the oddities of a bike chain wrapped around a seatpost and a rear fender in the dry climes of Whitehorse.

"Wildflowers," July 17: I took this photo during a midsummer hike in the Granite Creek Basin. The lighting is a little flat, but I think that's why I like the bright yellow flowers amid the melting snowpack that much more.

"Eagle Beach," Aug. 29: I took this photo the day John McCain announced Gov. Sarah Palin was his running mate. I was called into work on a day off, and ended up riding much later into the afternoon than I had planned. Because of that, I caught the most amazing rainbow on Eagle Beach. But I decided this photo, taken with my back to the rainbow, turned out better for its stark lighting and ominous storm clouds.

"Autumn Rain," Sept. 13: September, strangely, was actually the hardest month for me to chose a favorite photo. I had the bike tour and also a handful of amazing hikes that produced good images. But I chose this one for its subtle ways it captures the season: the color and the rain. It was taken along the new gravel road at Eaglecrest Ski Area.

"Grand Canyon," Oct. 14: I took this photo of my dad hiking down the South Kaibab Trail just after sunrise. High winds the previous day kicked up a lot of dust, which created a soft glow along the canyon walls.

"First tracks," Nov. 25: Taken near where the April snowboarding photo was taken, above the Dan Moller Ski Bowl. I like the shadows and the perfect sparkly snow, just waiting to by stamped out by snowshoes.

"2 p.m.," Dec. 12: I was going to post that Christmas Eve picture of the blowing snow at sunset, but decided to post the blowing surf near Eagle Beach instead.

It's been a good year for photos. Here's hoping 2009 is even better!


  1. have helped me with my New Years Resolutions:-
    1. Move to lovely scenic snow area
    2. Buy great camera
    3. Get out and about when it is cold and snowy
    4. Especially at dusk and dawn

    Great shots...very inspiring.

  2. Here's to you, Jill; and the journey. You have some really solid photos, "Eagle Beach," the shot of your dad in the GC, and "First Tracks," are all top shelf stuff.

    Carry on, thanks.

  3. I just came across your blog a couple days ago and can hardly wait to share this post with my 10 year old son who is currently obsessed with Alaska and dogsledding (we live in Indiana). The images are stunning and I would love to visit Alaska someday.

  4. Wow. Another gorgeous year. For not being a "Photographer" you know how to take great photo's!! Alaska is gorgeous!

  5. Beautiful Jill.

    Coffee Table Book... It will be a big hit!

  6. I agree with Vito, you are well on your way to a great coffee table book.

    I bought your book for my three daughters (which you graciously signed) for Christmas. I also had the book on my gift list, unfortunately I did not get it so I will be ordering it for myself. I did start reading one of my daughter's copies and I can't put it down. Good job.

  7. Make these into an '09 calendar and sell it to fund your races and trips.

  8. I think you should change your CV to photojournalist. I can imagine a lot of people would like to buy copies of your pictures for their walls.

  9. I am so stealing this idea. No, I promise I already was going to do something like this. 2008 was a big year, moving up here and all.

    You are so inspiring!

  10. these photos are all so beautiful!

  11. Wow, great pictures! And I would totally buy a calendar!

  12. Jill -

    I guess I would be a photographer by your description. I love the art of it. I used to draw. Now, I take pictures and write. Photographing is definitely my stronger point. ;-)

    Your pictures are amazing. Alaska surely offers many great photo subjects.

    I've been going through my photos, lately, and I find it interesting how easy it is to forget just how much I've done. The photos definitely tell me differently.

  13. Jill, you are definitely a photographer. These pictures are amazing!

  14. Very cool. I like the idea very much.

  15. Jill, thanks for the photos; it's nice to have some commentary along with the pictures. I've printed some of your work for display. My favorite is the gleaming highway winding through the forest with the clouds and mountains in the background.

  16. It looks like you had a beautiful year--thanks for sharing it with us, Jill.

  17. Nice photos makes me want to ride more with camera


  19. What amazing pictures! I love reading your 'documentary' approach to photography, and love the pictures you get. Your October picture -- the South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon-- made me incredibly homesick. October has to be one of the best times of year to hike into the Canyon! I can hardly wait for my next hike, October '09.

  20. You made me realise I haven't taken enough pictures this year! Which means I haven't been out enough.

  21. Hey Jill - FANTASTIC photos!! Just shows you what photos you can take when you bring your camera along on bike rides! This morning I saw the most prettiest sunrise!!! I was kicking myself for NOT having my camera along.
    :( I have a nice small thin camera, but I'm afraid to bring it along on my daily commute because I would hate it if anything happened to it along the way. But I think what I hate MORE is that I've MISSED taking some great shots instead!!! So, my New Year's Resolution will be to bring my camera along on my commute from now on. :) I can always buy another camera if something happens to the current one. :) Thanks for the inspiration and KEEP ON RIDING!!!!!


  22. I still think you should consider making a calendar for next year.A coffee table book is a good idea too. I am half way through your book and enjoying it very much.

  23. Good lookin' Jill. Your photos are wonderful. I was happy to see that some of my favorites that I use as iPhone wallpaper made it to your list of favorites. I hope that you have another great year of cycling and picture taking.

    Ruby Topaz

  24. Congrats on the velogear dot com title shot. All the photos look great. Love reading about your adventures.
    Scott Sundby

  25. I love them all, but the first one and the the one with the bit of bike backgrounded with a meandering stream through a green area... wicked cool.


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