Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Monthly Favorites 2016

Another year already?  Never mind, it was replete with blessings.

Here, the fifth annual Monthly Favorites post, an exercise in editing and impossible choices for me (is there a distinction?), but perhaps a bit of fun for you.


The morning after the big storm, Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon snowstorm.  Most visitors bailed out for fear of getting stuck.  My strategy was to hunker down and photograph until the "solar snow plow" cleared the roads.  I had the pleasure of staying in a historic home (thanks to GCNP Ranger Jess Pope) and running into some other good friends quite by accident. This image brings back the crisp, still air and crunch of snow underfoot as I cruised the Rim Trail in solitude at first light.


Sieur De Monts, Acadia National Park
Either a brilliant idea or totally nuts, a small group of photographer friends took advantage of Colleen Miniuk-Sperry's knowledge and connections in Acadia National Park to enjoy Maine in February.  No regrets. 


Spring Poppy
I made a run to Peridot Mesa, on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, with friend and mentor Kerrick James.  Unfortunately the required permit wasn't available at the first two places we stopped and there was sticky construction on Highway 60. By the time we got to shooting, the sun was high and the light harsh for wide landscape photography.  I had fun using my handheld diffuser and a shallow depth of field.  This one was a photo of the day on the Outdoor Photographer Magazine Website.  Somebody accused me of pumping up the saturation of the oranges, but this (as desert dwellers will know) is the true color of mexican gold poppies.

Predawn Moonset, Dead Horse Point State Park

A side trip from the Moab Photo Symposium, this morning at Dead Horse Point State Park (Utah) with photo friend Kim Gray had it all; setting moon, delicate color, and a sexy foreground tree.  Like many of my favorites, I look at this image and recall the feel of the air, scents, and texture of the rock.  Can you hear the Canyon Wrens?

Sego Lily, Western Grand Canyon

After three years or so exploring the more isolated views of the Grand Canyon, I've found some favorites.  This spot in the Buffalo Ranch area does provide spectacular views, but also consistently surprises me with what's at my feet.  I know I'll keep coming back here; it's good for my soul.

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe Sunrise

Two weeks on the road in Northern California and Nevada.  How do I choose a favorite?  This is one of those photogasmic moments I've written about.  Our little group rolled out of bed at 3:15 AM and stood (on the side of the road, no less) wondering what gifts the light would give us.  Slowly it dawned (no pun) on us that we were witnessing something rare.

Brown Bear, Katmai NP, Alaska

Bears.  I just can't seem to choose a favorite image from this trip to Katmai National Park in Alaska.  Here's one I'll use to sort of symbolize the whole body of work.  I have such gratitude for my traveling companions, Guide Chris Cornetet, and especially Stan Cunningham (our fearless leader).

Telephoto view from Grandview Point, Grand Canyon NP

The Grand Canyon has been photographed and rephotographed. This image highlights two of my strategies for presenting a different take on this unparalleled place.  First, I love to photograph it when clouds provide light and shadow, highlighting its contours.  I've also used a longer focal length (telephoto lens) to carve out details and leave distracting busyness behind. You could say that the black & white treatment simplifies and provides a different view as well. In any case, I love the line and curve of this unassuming shot.

Desert View rain curtain, Grand Canyon

I don't know how I continue to do this annual post, because the choices are too difficult.  September included the New Mexico Badlands, spectacular scenery on the Navajo Reservation, the turkey vultures which inhabit Yarnell, a cool studio project with feathers, and a fun day with the Arizona Game & Fish Tortoise expert, Cristina Jones. You'd think I'd choose a distinct location, but we're back at the Grand Canyon.  I was thrilled to stand in a drenching monsoon storm (alone, of course.  All the sensible folks found shelter) at the East end of the park, watching curtains of rain pass through and the play of light.  There was a rainbow that same afternoon, but I prefer this subtler composition.

Stone, Treman State Park, New York
I'm crazy for Fall color and equally nuts for the natural areas around Central New York.  I showed up at Enfield Glen at the first blush of morning light and made this 30 second exposure.  There's alchemy in this old CCC stone bridge and the way the fallen leaves outline the topography, blurring the distinction between the natural and the human-crafted.

Cave Creek Canyon, AZ

The Southern Arizona trip was fabulous, and presents another challenge choosing a favorite.  I'll pick this one, partly because it didn't make it to the original post.  I couldn't get over the color of the water in this little pool in Cave Creek Canyon, and the sycamore leaves which anchor the composition.  I had to blend images at different ISOs to have the little cascade blurred, the water transparent, and the leaves still.

Icicles on Joshua Tree, Death Valley National Park
The Winter Solstice trip has become a tradition with mu husband and dog, our favorite places being the ones which offer solitude.  Lee Flat was a new location, and we were completely alone.  Thank goodness for the camper with its propane heat, because the temperature got as low as 16F.  The freezing rain and later snow was spectacular and well worth the inconvenience.  We climbed a hill, rather uncomfortable in the chill wind, and were rewarded with back-light on the icicles sported by a joshua tree.

Thanks for riding along with me through the year.  Best wishes for all your 2017 adventures!


  1. With so many awesome places visited and so many outstanding photos I can see how you'd have a hard time picking just 12.

  2. I was blessed indeed. Thanks for you support and friendship, Gaelyn.