Natural History Photography – Best Photos of 2014

My Best Natural History Photographs of 2014

This is the eighth year in a row I have done an annual retrospective. 2014 held less “serious” photography for me than any of the previous 20 years. Life gets in the way, and running a photography business is 60% administrative, 25% photographic and 15% chaotic. Nevertheless I still consider myself to be a fortunate photographer and would not trade places with anyone else (OK, perhaps Neil Armstrong in 1969). My creative goal for any one year is, as it always has been, to shoot 3-4 world-class images and 10-15 portfolio-quality images. Thanks to some special opportunities I was able to experience this year — including two stabs at aerial photography, one great outing to Utah, and a dream safari in Kenya — I was able to bring home some satisfying images. Here they are! Note: if you like these feel free to check out previous years’ favorites as well: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007. Also, be sure to check out Jim Goldstein’s blog, where he collects the “best of the year” collections of many talented photographers. Thanks for looking, and best wishes for 2015!

Light Painting and the Milky Way and Stars over Delicate Arch, at night, Arches National Park, Utah

Light Painting and the Milky Way and Stars over Delicate Arch, at night, Arches National Park, Utah
Image ID: 29288
Location: Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Image ID: 29121
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Lunar Eclipse and blood red moon sequence over Arch Rock, planet Mars above the moon, composite image, Joshua Tree National Park, April 14/15 2014

Lunar Eclipse and blood red moon sequence over Arch Rock, planet Mars above the moon, composite image, Joshua Tree National Park, April 14/15 2014.
Image ID: 29201

Clearing storm clouds over Broken Hill, overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California

Clearing storm clouds over Broken Hill, overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve
Image ID: 29416
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014, San Diego, California

Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29412
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29017
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA

Torrey Pines cliffs and storm clouds at sunset, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines cliffs and storm clouds at sunset
Image ID: 29102
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya, Loxodonta africana

African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Image ID: 29531
Species: African elephant, Loxodonta africana
Location: Amboseli National Park, Kenya

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy
Image ID: 29085
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Balboa Pier, sunrise, Newport Beach, California

Balboa Pier, sunrise
Image ID: 29138
Location: Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, California, USA

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island
Image ID: 29358
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Lionness and two week old cub, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Panthera leo

Lionness and two week old cub, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Image ID: 29793
Species: African Lion, Panthera leo
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Lion female, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Panthera leo

Lion female, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Image ID: 29917
Species: African Lion, Panthera leo
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Milky Way at Night over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Milky Way at Night over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
Image ID: 29196
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla

Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla
Image ID: 28984
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Leopard, Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya, Panthera pardus

Leopard, Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya
Image ID: 30081
Species: Leopard, Panthera pardus
Location: Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya

Stars over Corona Arch at Night, Moab, Utah

Stars over Corona Arch at Night, Moab, Utah
Image ID: 29242
Location: Corona Arch, Moab, Utah, USA

Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph, Palomar Mountain, California

Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph
Image ID: 29342
Location: Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain, California, USA

Mixed Herd of Wildebeest and Zebra, aerial photo, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Equus quagga

Mixed Herd of Wildebeest and Zebra, aerial photo, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Image ID: 29824
Species: Zebra, Equus quagga
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

15 Comments

  • Scott Hanson says:

    Aloha Phil
    I’ve been a big fan of your underwater images for years….if you’re ever over here in Kona my boat is your boat, it would be my pleasure to get you out on the water. I’m also from La Jolla and have really enjoyed your images of my home town.
    aloha
    Scott

  • Phil says:

    Hi Scott – thanks very much for your kind words, coming from you I consider it a real compliment. Your sculptures are sublime, really beautiful work. I’d love to take you up on your boat offer, I have not been to Kona for about 30 years! Aloha and mahalo, Phil

  • Happy Holidays Phil,
    One of these days I hope to run into you in the San Diego area! A wonderful collection of images. Really enjoy your aerial and night shots. Keep on keepin on.
    cheers,
    Stuart

  • Marjan says:

    Hey Phil,
    I see you got a few great images from the trip to Kenya you were talking to me about the night we met in Joshua Tree back in April. Keep up with the good work and I wish you all the best in the next year!
    Marjan/Dubai

  • Phil says:

    Thanks Stuart, I’m sure we’ll bump into one another in San Diego soon!

  • Phil says:

    Hi Marjan, it was great meeting you in JTNP, all the way from Dubai. Best wishes for 2015!

  • Russ Bishop says:

    Happy New Year Phil,
    What a wonderful collection of images! I love the African series and your night shots are superb.
    Wishing you all the best in 2015.

    Cheers,
    Russ

  • Amazing photos Phil. That Mara aerial photo is outstanding as are the composite images. Thanks for sharing. Best in 2015!

  • Phil says:

    Russ, thank you! I know I’ll enjoy seeing your images, especially your Sierra ones, in 2015.

  • Phil says:

    Wayne, thank you!

  • Greg Lato says:

    Happy New Year Phil. Looks like you over achieved your goals last year! I especially like your night time photos. Here’s to a photographic 2015!

  • Richard Wong says:

    You definitely got some world-class shots in last year Phil! You definitely made the most of your time in the field.

  • Sarah Marino says:

    This is a wonderfully diverse collection of images, Phil. My two favorites are the wildlife grazing for its almost abstract qualities and the aerial view of the whale. Cheers for a happy, photographically productive 2015!

  • Phil says:

    Greg, Richard and Sarah – thank you very much. Best wishes for great photography in 2015!

  • Always enjoyed your stuff, Phil. Really like the Light Paining and the Milky Way shot. Have a great new year!