Here are the photographs I decided were my favorites of 2018. There is one shot from each month (and 1 bonus). Each image means something special to me and I've written about what I was thinking while capturing the images, or what the situation was that led to these, the final products. Perhaps you were with me on a photo tour when one of the shots was captured. Maybe you're wondering why I chose the following 13 photos (out of thousands of possibilities)...read on and you'll know.
Feel free to leave a comment about which is your favorite and why.
January 2018 - Day Sailing on Traditional Pirogue, New Caledonia
Anya and I were on a 7 week trip where we visited New Zealand and then the South Pacific Island group of New Caledonia. Anya was 6 months pregnant. The day this image was shot was one of those perfect travel days when the weather cooperates, the sights are spectacular and everything exceeded our expectations. On Isle des Pins we met up with some new travel friends and hired out a traditional pirogue sailboat, complete with an expert captain. We sailed across Oro Bay, passing eroded limestone karst and endless tiny green islets. Sea turtles swam alongside us, and puffy-white cotton clouds floated in the azure sky above. Every now and then when the 7 of us tourists on board the pirogue stopped oohing and aahing we were treated to the wonderful silence of being whisked along by only the wind in that wonderful way that surely every sailor appreciates and loves. I like this image because of the expansive feel and the fact that the sky was so perfectly photogenic.
February 2018 - Barred Owl with Crayfish, Corkscrew Sanctuary, Florida
I was with a great group of people on my Florida birds photo tour and we'd already had several wicked-good days of bird photography. Towards the end of the trip we visited Corkscrew Sanctuary. We saw plenty of great birds doing all sorts of cool stuff that morning. Then this Barred Owl we were watching flew down and caught a crayfish. He then sat just feet from several of us and our cameras, and was oblivious to us as we clicked away. The "holy sh**" owl ignored our gasps of excited enthusiasm and I knew that for me - this was the shot of the trip. I love this shot because it tells the story of this owl that lives in a swamp. This owl, unlike most of its kind, hunts during the day and eats swamp creatures such as crayfish, fish and lizards.
March 2018 - Wet Western Meadowlark, Near Denver, Colorado
On a miserably wet spring day in Colorado, I got up early and drove to a nearby wildlife refuge. The atmosphere was full of a rain/snow mix that seemed intent on sticking around all day. Every living thing I saw that day was cold, soaked, and not even interested in moving away to safety. I was using my car as a mobile blind and even normally wary birds let me get very close that morning. This poor Western Meadowlark was sitting on some vinyl fencing and if I may anthropomorphize just a bit, he seemed to be saying "I should have stayed south for a few more weeks. Too early, cold and wet to be in Colorado!" I enjoy this image because it shows a different view of a Meadowlark. I have tons of images of shiny, happy Meadowlarks singing in the sunshine. This look is rare.
(Bonus) April 2018 - Welcome Siena Mammoser to this Wonderful World!
The 11th of April was the best day of my life. Little Siena Mammoser was born just in time for me to witness the miracle that she is. We think she was determined to come into this world in time to see me before I left for my Galapagos photo tour the next day. Our little bundle weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce and was already opening her eyes minutes after being born. She looked around, seeming to take everything in and she appeared to notice things like a future photographer would. She brings us endless joy and my love for her knows no bounds. I love this photo because Siena is the subject.
April 2018 - Red-billed Tropicbird, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Once again I found myself on a small yacht, with an amazing group of people, cruising around the incomparable Galapagos Islands. My group and I took thousands of images during that awesome week, mostly of Galapagos wildlife. On this particular day we had many hundreds of birds as photo subjects flying back and forth in front of us and our cameras. I find Red-billed Tropicbirds to be quite beautiful, especially with their long streaming tail feather. I loved how this image came out with the sea as my background and the position of the bird's wings opened and stopped in motion.
May 2018 - Wide-open Fields of Tuscany, Italy
I've been leading my Tuscany photo tour for 7 years now and I love that region of Italy. Besides taking my groups to many of the classic photography spots, we sometimes just 'drive around' if my group is willing and adventurous. In 2018 while doing just that we found this field that I'd never seen before. It was a perfect late afternoon with soft sunlight, verdant fields, flowers, and the classic Cypress trees of Tuscany. My easy-going group explored everything here that evening, taking and trying tons of different compositions. This was my favorite image. I like it because of the expansive view and the fact that it almost screams 'Tuscany'. Of course the perfect LPC's (little photographer clouds) also help.
June 2018 - Baby Moose with Mother, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
I was leading a private wildlife photography workshop during June and it was the perfect time to be in Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw and photographed at least 6 different moose babies as well as elk, bighorn, deer, marmots, birds and squirrels. This tagged mother (number A5) and her 3 week old baby quickly became our favorite subjects because they were oblivious to people and hung out near the river and in several open fields. Of all my images from June I like this one best because of the cuteness of the baby and the way it looks sort of sideways at me. Meanwhile the mother just wants to eat, eat, eat.
July 2018 - Niagara Falls (American Side), Niagara Falls, New York
Anya, Siena and I went to Buffalo, New York to visit my mother during July and since the famous Niagara Falls is right there we visited the landmark two times. I chose this shot as my favorite of the month because I think it shows the waterfall in a unique way - and that is with the 'cotton-candy' slowed down effect shown here. I achieved this shot by using a tripod and a variable neutral density filter to get my shutter speed down to 1.5 seconds.
August 2018 - Fireweed Below the Dolomites, Italy
During the month of August Anya, Siena and I flew over to Italy to do some research on the Dolomites mountain area. For awhile now I've wanted to lead a photo tour to this district and August was perfect timing to complete the preparations. We were blown away by the beauty of this part of Italy. The Dolomites are incredibly scenic mountains, much like shark's teeth climbing high and piercing the sky. The area is a mecca for hikers and scenic photographers. This image shows just one mountain in a region of thousands but I liked it enough to choose it as my favorite for August. Of course what I love is the colorful flower foreground and the zigzagging colors leading to the peak. The dramatic sky helps too.
September 2018 - Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada
The month of September was especially difficult for me to choose just 1 image. That's because I had both my Canadian Rockies and Yellowstone photo tours during the month. I've been to both places dozens of times over the years and have led my Canadian Rockies tour 17 times. Still, something new and different happens every year and I love being in that area. I've seen early snowfalls here before at Moraine Lake but this year it was especially gorgeous and the morning we were there was one of the greatest days of photography ever. It was such a stunning display of nature's beauty that I was out of my skin with delight. I liked this image best because of the canoe. I think it just adds that 1 little element to the shot to push it over the edge of greatness.
October 2018 - Sunrise Point, Bryce National Park, Utah
My brother and his family flew out to Denver and rented an RV and Anya, Siena and I accompanied them for a 10 day journey across Colorado and Utah. We explored backcountry places, national parks and unknown gems of the Colorado Plateau. We had plenty of fresh snow in some of the higher altitude places, including Bryce Canyon National Park. I liked this image best, even though it's a fairly common view, because of the warm light and the fresh snow on the background areas. Plus I'll always remember how excited Siena was to just be put in her front-facing carrier and be taken on a hike. She seems to absolutely love being outside!
November 2018 - Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica
I've had several requests for a photo tour to Costa Rica so in November of 2018 Anya, Siena and I took a 15 day trip there to complete the research. Costa Rica is loaded with biodiversity. The birdlife in particular seems endless and is so much fun for me to photograph that I don't ever tire of it. I've chased after Resplendent Quetzals in Costa Rica before and sometimes you see one and sometimes you don't. Getting a good photo of one is...well, let's say, a bonus. On this day we went with an excellent guide who has an entire village watching for quetzals and helping him lead clients right to them. It paid off when this incredibly gorgeous male showed up and allowed me to photograph it for more than 10 minutes. This is easily my favorite shot of November. Just look at that bird!
December 2018 - Siena Mammoser, Parker, Colorado
We didn't go anywhere in December and that was just fine. I spent my time with little Siena, who now crawls everywhere, stands up and cruises while holding onto furniture and smiles, laughs and is a pure joy to be around. This is my favorite image of the month because of her open mouth laughing. I smile just looking at this photo.
Thank you so much for looking and if you would, please leave me a comment as to which image is your favorite and why - I'd love to know.
-Don Mammoser wishing you a Happy New Year!
Photography is my passion and I turned it into my career. On this blog I will share tips, review equipment and tell you about our tour experiences.