Twelve Favorite Photos from 2014 and a Short Documentary

Bull Elk and Tetons in Black and White

I had no idea just how much my life would be shaken up through 2014. It all started much the same way as 2013. I was frequently showshoeing up Blacktail Butte in the frigid dead of winter to see what new tracks awaited me, and if any critters would be out while I was.

On an especially windy day, I was exploring late in the day and noticed on the other side of the butte a lone bull elk, likely noticing me as well. With the wind howling over the Teton Mountains behind him in late afternoon light, I knew I’d have at least a decent black and white image. The wind and snow blowing off the Tetons came out beautifully and the ridgeline and the mountains in the background did a great job of dwarfing such a majestic animal.
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Categorized: Abstract, Landscape, Panorama, Video, Wildlife
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Southern WY Along 191 and Dinosaur National Monument

Juniper Log and southern Wyoming sunrise
Juniper log resting below a fiery sunrise near Highway 191 in southern Wyoming

I’m currently catching up my connected life in Moab, Utah where I’m having a delicious sandwich at Pantele’s Desert Deli (thanks for the recommendation, Bret!), downloading photos, and going through emails. Thus far, the trip has been great! My only regret is not getting a quick interview from a guy named Steven that I met in Dinosaur National Monument when he told me about someone going door-to-door in Grand Juction, Colorado offering to pay residents to put up shielded lighting and having the vast majority of them refuse, even though it came out of his pocket and would cost them nothing. Lesson learned. Thanks for the great conversation regardless, Steven and Bill!

Night sky above dead juniper tree
Stars and night sky spin above dead juniper tree, southern Wyoming

After a late start on Tuesday, I found myself driving south along Highway 191 in southern Utah, a spectacular high desert region blanketed with juniper trees with the occasional bare spot exposing millions of years of erosion along ancient seabeds in the form of badlands.
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Categorized: Landscape, Travel Logs
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Photographing a Rainy Morning in Jackson Hole

Returning Horses
Horses returning to the Moosehead Ranch under a rainbow, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This past summer, much of my inspiration shifted from the Jackson Hole valley floor to much higher elevations found up in the mountains. While the higher elevations had always been significant motivation for me, this past season saw that motivation become much more pronounced, weening my inspiration away from the roadsides. In addition, there’s also my upcoming TEDxJacksonHole talk and completing my short film on light pollution, both of which demanded a large chunk of my time, forcing me to drastically reduce my work with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. However, though my days are limited at the moment, I had a recent trip with exceptional opportunities found throughout the valley with a delightful pair of other photographers.

We were off well before sunrise in a downpour that showed no signs of letting up.
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Categorized: Abstract, JH Wildlife Safaris, Landscape, Panorama, Wildlife
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Tree Trunk Winter Abstract

Snow-covered pine and spruce trees create an abstract landscape in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Snow-covered pine and spruce trees create an abstract landscape in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Last year, I headed into the interior of Yellowstone National Park with another photographer. We were riding a snowcoach in and out, both times during a snow storm, and there was also plenty of fresh snow from days prior. On the rides in and out, the two of us noted how much more vibrant the trunks of the trees were in certain places. The snow built up on the branches and needles muted the greens of the pine and spruce leaving the brown of the bark the only really noticeable color. Reflected against solid whites and set against what the eye perceived as blacks, or at least dark tones, they popped out in ways neither of us had ever really noticed before. There were only a few ideal locations where it was really evident, but those unfortunately weren’t stops that the snowcoach was going to make.
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Categorized: Abstract, Panorama
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Silence Your Critics

Light on the walls at Pueblo Bonito create an abstract photo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico. (Mike Cavaroc)
Light on the walls at Pueblo Bonito create an abstract photo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

It’s easy to enjoy receiving feedback from others, and in many cases, it provides helpful tips and techniques to help us evolve. There are times, however, where we let other peoples’ opinions dictate how we should be following our passion. Consistently following their advice, no matter what their rank or recognition or how well-meaning they mean to be, can be detrimental to your work.

The title of this blog post could be misinterpreted to mean create a body of work that awes and inspires them, rather than giving them something to critique. Yet I don’t mean that at all. When I say "silence your critics," I mean let them say whatever they want, but don’t let somebody else’s subjective opinions define how you should express yourself.
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Categorized: Article
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Cliff Palace Black and White at Mesa Verde National Park

Ruins at the Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado stand intact after hundreds of years of weathering. (Mike Cavaroc)
Ruins at the Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado stand intact after hundreds of years.

Note: This is a minimally processed photo. I’m on my laptop so the final version may or may not change in terms of processing once I’m back home.

The Cliff Palace ruins at Mesa Verde National Park are a remarkable sight to see. For $3, I was able to take a quick tour of it led by a ranger providing all kinds of insight into its history. Unfortunately though, one of the pieces of information he gave us was that we could probably some of the last people to go near it.

He began to discuss the history on how it was built and that it simply wasn’t ideal for the long-term and that the entire structure itself is becoming very unstable. As a result, Mesa Verde National Park is currently considering closing Cliff Palace permanently beginning in the spring of 2012.
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Categorized: Abstract
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