Rebecca Wilks

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Monthly Favorites 2021

I’m back.  If you’re not fatigued with all the end-of-year lists, I hope you enjoy this, an annual look at the hard-chosen “favorite” image from each month of this year. With gratitude…


It was a cold, stormy camping trip at Lake Pleasant Regional (County) Park in Peoria.  I was with some friends and moving a little slowly because of the damp weather. On my way home I decided to hike up the Yavapai Trail in the dark to catch sunrise.  Oddly, my friends declined to join me. Its feast or famine after a storm; sometimes the sky is completely socked in.  These colors felt like a banquet.  Bob Brandon, a local painter, liked this enough to create his interpretation of the scene.  That was fun, too.

You can’t win if you don’t play.


From a shoot at Organ Pipe National Monument, for a “Drive of the Month” feature in Arizona Highways Magazine.  This is one of the images published, and my favorite from the shoot.  I made multiple circles around the Ajo Mountain Loop, shooting at different times of day.  Having a specific goal is inspiring.

Rise to the challenge.


There are these dunes in the Mojave Desert that I don’t want to spread the word about.  I started going 3 seasons ago (“seasons” because I’m not that person who loves desert camping in the summer), and I’ve hardly ever seen another human or footprints thereof. I can “feel” sunrise looking at this image and can’t wait to go back.  I respectfully request your indulgence of my secrecy.

Tag responsibly.


This is my first effort at camera trapping, with the assistance of Ron Niebrugge at his Desert Photo Retreat in Marana Arizona.  This is a hooded skunk who was kind enough to take a drink at just the right moment.  The experience was really fun, especially shared with my good friend Kim.  And I slept one night in a hammock.  We’re going back this spring.

Try something new.


I didn’t get out much in May but did play around quite a bit with tabletop photography indoors.  My dad stole the cough syrup bottle from a Prescott area mine in the 1960s.  Its not the best image I ever made, but its fun and a bit sentimental.

They don’t all have to be works of art.


There were some great sunrise and sunset shots at the Grand Canyon this year.  I had a hard time choosing.  This is from a solo trip to the south rim.  I camped at Desert View Campground.  There was smoke everywhere, which can be disturbing and unhealthful but can also make for nice images as the light bounces off particulates in the air.  These layers of ridges are a classic view from the eastern rim, and I love the crepuscular rays. They remind me of the Arizona flag.

There’s good in (almost) everything.


My husband and I seem to have created a new tradition, spending some time in the Summer in Park City Utah. There’s hiking, fishing, and my favorite thrift store.  Days are long up there in July, so dragging myself out in the evening for twilight photography is an effort.  I was after a wider shot of sunset over Park City, which I also got, but this telephoto-compressed twilight image of the town captivates me, power lines and all.

Just do it.


What a nice, rainy monsoon we had this year; enough for a sort of second spring.  These Arizona poppies (not closely related to the ones we’re used to seeing in the desert in March) came up just a few miles from home.  I had a great photo tip from some local friends, timed just right for this field’s peak bloom.

Accept help, from whatever source.


Overnight temperatures in the meadows of the North Rim (Kaibab) Forest can get pretty low in the autumn.  Some mysterious combination of conditions created the delicate ice crystals on this dandelion head, which stopped me in my tracks.

Look Down.

I’ve made a rule for myself for these “best of” posts that I can fudge once with an extra image.  Here’s my fudge.  Backlight on Gypsy the Wonder Dog in the Kaibab Forest.  This one warms my heart.

Who makes the rules, anyway?


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This was my first trip, part of a large all-woman workshop group. Sunset, glow, backlight.  This park is so busy that you’re hardly ever alone, and the trick is to convey a feeling (like solitude or peace) even when you don’t feel it.

It doesn’t have to be literal.


Yup, still in the Smokies.  After the workshop, I spent a few more days with a friend for a quieter experience. We were headed toward what we thought would be photogenic and pulled over for this, which turned out to be much better.  I did have to wait for the traffic to clear to make the shot, though.

The best-laid plans...


This image comes from the new Raven van’s first long road trip, through California.  It was made in Sonoma County, where I was guided by the masterful Jerry Dodrill.  I love the clouds, color, reflection, and light on the foreground rocks.  That’s all expected.  The surprise is that I like the lens flare (the scattering of hexagons), which I’m more often struggling to avoid.

Embrace the imperfections.

 Thanks for riding along as we look forward to 2022 together.

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