2017 is quickly coming to an end. This means that it’s time to look back over the past year and pick out my top 10 favorite shots from the last year.
2017 has been a great year full of adventure. I have advanced more in my photography over this last year than I think I have in all the past years that I’ve been heading out with my camera. To say I’m happy with my progress would be an understatement! I’ve had the chance to photograph some great places and even made a few awesome new friends along the way.

Enough of that, though. It’s time to jump right on into my top 10 favorite images from 2017!

 

#10 Cataloochee

Looking out over the Cataloochee Valley Looking out over the Cataloochee Valley

For the past several years now I’ve taken a week-long vacation with my mom. 2017 was no exception! We headed on down to The Great Smoky Mountains and hit up all sorts of sights along the way.

Towards the end of the trip, we headed out to the Cataloochee Valley. I had been to this location several times before but hadn’t ever had a good opportunity to photograph the overlook there. Well, I finally got my chance and walked away with my number 10 shot of the year!

#9 Raven’s Sunrise

Sunrise from Raven's Rock Sunrise from Raven’s Rock

I did a number of trips up to the top of Raven’s Rock this year. It’s actually become one of my favorite locations for a short trip with a low likelihood of actually encountering other people. On one of these trips, I camped out for a quick little overnight backpacking trip.

Upon waking up the next morning I was delighted to see that the valley below was full of fog. I could hardly contain my excitement as I photographed this sunrise!

#8 Falling Sun

Sunset on Raven's Rock. Sunset on Raven’s Rock.

My number 8 photo from 2017 was also taken from Raven’s Rock, but on a different occasion than number 9. This trip wasn’t an overnight. I simply hiked back to the car in the dark (spooky!). This wasn’t the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen, but it was pretty cool seeing the sun morph into a glowing red disk as it sunk behind Auxier Ridge.

#7 Raven’s Sunset

Sunset from Raven's Rock. Sunset from Raven’s Rock.

Okay, I swear that I didn’t originally intend for there to be three shots from Raven’s Rock right in a row. It’s just how things worked out!

Remember how I said shot number 9 was taken by a quick overnight trip on Raven’s Rock? Well, this one was taken on the same trip. I just really dig the way the sun lined up with the landscape in the distance.

Sorry, nothing too profound to say about this one ?.

#6 Flat Lick Falls

Flat Lick Falls in Gray Hawk, Kentucky Flat Lick Falls in Gray Hawk, Kentucky

Sliding on into the number 6 spot is this shot of Flat Lick Falls. This is one of my favorite waterfalls in The Bluegrass.

When I captured this image it was a cool day and the water was absolutely freezing! Despite this, I braved the frigid waters and headed on into the creek to get the composition I wanted. I’d say it was well worth the extra effort!

Oh, and it also recently came to my attention that one of my favorite local photographers was here while I was photographing this and I didn’t even realize it!

#5 Gorge Sunset

Sunset from Chimney Rock in Red River Gorge Sunset from Chimney Rock in Red River Gorge

Are you starting to pick up on the fact that I spend a lot of time photographing the Red River Gorge? Who am I kidding? You probably figured out my obsession with The Gorge a long time ago!

This shot was captured on one of my many quick sunset trips down to Red River Gorge this year. I don’t think this image needs much of a caption. It’s a great sunset from Chimney Rock. What more needs to be said? ?

#4 Forks of Red Creek

Forks of Red Creek in Dolly Sods Forks of Red Creek in Dolly Sods

The closer I get to the number 1 spot, the harder it’s getting for me to decide where to rank each image. This particular image is one that I’ve really struggled to rank!

This shot was taken during a backpacking trip to Dolly Sods in West Virginia. At this point in the trip, I was in a considerable amount of pain and not feeling well at all. My feet had been rubbed raw by a bad pair of hiking boots and were covered in blisters. To make matters worse, I had developed quite a nasty cold. I didn’t feel like eating, my head was pounding and I just generally felt like crap.

Despite these challenges, I couldn’t resist going out into Red Creek to try and capture the beauty of this little cascade. The fall colors were a lot further along than any of us expected and the scenery was just breathtaking! Oh, and the cold water helped relieve the pain on my blistered feet a bit too!

Despite the challenges (and the fact I went back to the car instead of spending the second night in the backcountry), this was one of my favorite trips of all time. The fact that I got an image out of it is just a bonus! I should also probably mention that I won a contest with the West Virginia board of Tourism with this image.

#3 Cold Cove

A cold Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. A cold Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.

This is one of my most recent shots of the year. It came about from a trip that did not go at all as planned. The original plan was to start hiking at around 2 or 3 a.m. to make it to Myrtle Point in time to photograph the sunrise. The snow and ice moved in earlier than expected, however. As a result, most of the roads in The Smokies had been closed, making it impossible for me to make it to the trails I needed to reach the Leconte summit.

I made the best of things though. The Cades Cove Loop Road had been closed, so I decided to set out and explore it on foot. With the exception of one other photographer I met near the gate, I had the place to myself. It was truly a surreal experience having this usually packed location all to myself.

It was also pretty amazing seeing the ambiance the snowy, winter conditions added.

#2 Dog Slaughter Falls

Dog Slaughter Falls in Daniel Boone National Forest. Dog Slaughter Falls in Daniel Boone National Forest.

To date, Dog Slaughter Falls is my favorite waterfall in Kentucky. It’s nestled in a portion of the Daniel Boone National Forest that is quite close to the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.

On this particular trip, I was out visiting several Kentucky waterfalls in one day. It was a cold morning and the area had just received a bunch of rain. This combination meant that the waterfalls were roaring and there weren’t a lot of people out in the woods.

Upon arriving at the falls I was delighted to see that it was roaring cascade. In fact, it was flowing so well that the roar of the water was almost deafening as it echoed off the surrounding rock. Oh, and the best part was that I had the place to myself for the entire time I was there!

#1 Cades Cove Storm

A storm rolling through Cades Cove. A storm rolling through Cades Cove.

We finally made it to my #1 favorite shot from 2017! This shot was taken during a spring trip out to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The skies were completely clear and the weather was absolutely amazing! Within a matter of minutes, however, the scene quickly changed.

Large, dark, looming clouds began to collect around the surrounding mountain peaks. Within seconds a dark mass had enveloped the entire area. I, of course, did what any self-respecting photographer would do in this situation. So, I quickly threw on my rain jacket and ventured into the stormy conditions looking for a composition. I quickly found this gravel road, surrounded by a fence on either side, to act as my leading line. I framed up my shot and captured this dramatic scene.

I love absolutely everything about this image. The composition, the colors, the lighting and, most importantly, the drama. This is, by far, my personal favorite shot from 2017!

More to Come in 2018!

Well, there you have it: My Top 10 Favorite Shots from 2017.

This past year has been a great adventure that has seen some of the best progress with my photography of any year past. I’m extremely happy with the images I’ve managed to capture over 2017.

With 2017 coming to a close, however, I’ve started to sketch out my plans for the coming 2018 year. I’ve already got some great ideas in the works! All I can tell you right now, however, is that the adventure is definitely going to continue into 2018! With any luck, I’ll even be able to top my personal best year yet: 2017.