Natural History Photography – Best Photos of 2020

By December 28, 2020January 17th, 2021Best Photographs of the Year

My Best Natural History Photographs of 2020

That 2020 was strange is perhaps the understatement of the year, but some perspective is always helpful.  My family is well and work proceeds which makes me fortunate.  I was forced to cancel a number of heavy trips, but they can always be rescheduled for the future and a vaccine is on its way so there is a lot of hope on the horizon.  When the circumstances were right and I was able to be self-sufficient, I managed to get out and photograph some this year.  From March onward with few exceptions my photography was an entirely solitary pursuit, avoiding others as much as possible and focusing on the joy of simply being outdoors rather than the images that would ensue.  I appreciated how sparse were the locations, particularly Yosemite with its extremely limited permit system.  I spent a lot of time alone in the mountains, it was really the only way to be outdoors and still distance from others. As we all have, I missed the camaraderie of sharing the mountains or the ocean with my friends.  In a nutshell, for my cameras 2020 was about sea lions and the Sierra Nevada: Steller sea lions in Canada in February, a variety of hikes in the eastern and western Sierra Nevada, and California sea lions in the Coronado Islands in the fall.  My wife’s family has a home near Yosemite which I was able to use a base for making hikes in Mariposa, Yosemite, Mono and Inyo counties.  My favorite photos of the past year are below, roughly in chronological order. This is the 14th year I have done an annual photography retrospective. 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. However, this year I fell short of that. I produced and kept fewer images in 2020 than I have in any year since 2003 and I created no images that truly break any new ground. But that’s okay given the circumstances and it simply means there is more to work on in 2021!  If you like these feel free to check out previous years’ favorites as well: 2019, 20182017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.  Cheers and Thanks for looking!

Horseshoe Bend Sunrise, Colorado River, Page, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend Sunrise, Colorado River, Page, Arizona.
Image ID: 36006

Canyon X, a spectacular slot canyon near Page, Arizona.  Slot canyons are formed when water and wind erode a cut through a (usually sandstone) mesa, producing a very narrow passage that may be as slim as a few feet and a hundred feet or more in height

Canyon X, a spectacular slot canyon near Page, Arizona. Slot canyons are formed when water and wind erode a cut through a (usually sandstone) mesa, producing a very narrow passage that may be as slim as a few feet and a hundred feet or more in height.
Image ID: 36016
Location: Page, Arizona, USA

Radio Tower Rock at Sunset, Page, Arizona

Radio Tower Rock at Sunset, Page, Arizona.
Image ID: 36023
Location: Page, Arizona, USA

A large group of Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada, Eumetopias jubatus

A large group of Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Image ID: 36052
Species: Steller sea lion, Eumetopias jubatus
Location: Hornby Island, British Columbia

Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada, Eumetopias jubatus

Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Image ID: 36063
Species: Steller sea lIon, Eumetopias jubatus
Location: Hornby Island, British Columbia

Sunset on Terra Mar and the Carlsbad coastline, looking north to Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and San Onofre

Sunset on Terra Mar and the Carlsbad coastline, looking north to Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and San Onofre.
Image ID: 36117

El Capitan reflection mirrored in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park

El Capitan reflection mirrored in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park.
Image ID: 36351
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Lupine bloom in burned area after a forest fire, near Wawona, Yosemite National Park

Lupine bloom in burned area after a forest fire, near Wawona, Yosemite National Park.
Image ID: 36367
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

The Milky Way arches over Half Dome, and the Yosemite High Country, Yosemite National Park

The Milky Way arches over Half Dome, and the Yosemite High Country, Yosemite National Park.
Image ID: 36386
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Sunset light on Half Dome and Clouds Rest, Tenaya Canyon at lower left, Yosemite National Park

Sunset light on Half Dome and Clouds Rest, Tenaya Canyon at lower left, Yosemite National Park.
Image ID: 36393
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Comet NEOWISE over Bass Lake, California

Comet NEOWISE over Bass Lake, California.
Image ID: 36407
Location: Bass Lake, California, USA

Sunlight and sand ripples, Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor State Park

Sunlight and sand ripples, Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe.
Image ID: 36410
Location: Sand Harbor State Park, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Cathedral Peak and Upper Cathedral Lake at Sunset, Yosemite National Park

Cathedral Peak and Upper Cathedral Lake at Sunset, Yosemite National Park.
Image ID: 36419
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Mount Conness (12,589') over Lower Conness Lake, Hoover Wilderness, Conness Lakes Basin

Mount Conness (12,589') over Lower Conness Lake, Hoover Wilderness.
Image ID: 36424
Location: Conness Lakes Basin, Hoover Wilderness, California, USA

North Peak (12,242') rises over lower Conness Lake, its water colored deep blue-green by glacier runoff.  Mount Conness (12,589') towers in the upper left.  Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Conness Lakes Basin

North Peak (12,242') rises over lower Conness Lake, its water colored deep blue-green by glacier runoff. Mount Conness (12,589') towers in the upper left. Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest.
Image ID: 36427
Location: Conness Lakes Basin, Hoover Wilderness, California, USA

Sierra Nevada fall colors in soft predawn light, North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada fall colors in soft predawn light, North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 36431
Species: Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen Trees and Sierra Nevada Fall Colors, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen Trees and Sierra Nevada Fall Colors, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 36450
Species: Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Black oaks in autumn in Yosemite National Park, fall colors, Quercus kelloggii, Quercus kelloggii

Black oaks in autumn in Yosemite National Park, fall colors, Quercus kelloggii.
Image ID: 36462
Species: Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Juvenile Northern Elephant Seal Underwater, Coronado Islands, Mexico, Mirounga angustirostris, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

Juvenile Northern Elephant Seal Underwater, Coronado Islands, Mexico.
Image ID: 36465
Species: Elephant Seal, Mirounga angustirostris
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California Sea Lions Underwater, Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California Sea Lions Underwater, Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico.
Image ID: 36466
Species: California Sea Lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California Sea Lions Underwater, Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California Sea Lions Underwater, Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico.
Image ID: 36467
Species: California Sea Lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

Garibaldi and Marine Algae, Coronado Islands, Mexico, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

Garibaldi and Marine Algae, Coronado Islands, Mexico.
Image ID: 36490
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

Torrey Pines sea cliffs at sunset, Flat Rock at low tide, looking north, Blacks Beach, La Jolla, California

Torrey Pines sea cliffs at sunset, Flat Rock at low tide, looking north.
Image ID: 36556
Location: Blacks Beach, La Jolla, California, USA

Sea cliffs over Blacks Beach, La Jolla, California

Sea cliffs over Blacks Beach, La Jolla, California.
Image ID: 36563
Location: Blacks Beach, La Jolla, California, USA

Broken Hill in soft pre-dawn light, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California

Broken Hill in soft pre-dawn light, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Image ID: 36565
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

California Sea Lion Posing of Rocks in La Jolla, high surf crashing in the background

California Sea Lion Posing of Rocks in La Jolla, high surf crashing in the background.
Image ID: 36603
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 36605

Conjuction of Saturn and Jupiter over Scripps Institution of Oceanography Research Pier at sunset, with Christmas Lights and Christmas Tree, La Jolla, California

Conjuction of Saturn and Jupiter over Scripps Institution of Oceanography Research Pier at sunset, with Christmas Lights and Christmas Tree.
Image ID: 36616
Location: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA

Hotel del Coronado with holiday Christmas night lights, known affectionately as the Hotel Del. It was once the largest hotel in the world, and is one of the few remaining wooden Victorian beach resorts.  The Hotel Del is widely considered to be one of Americas most beautiful and classic hotels. Built in 1888, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977

Hotel del Coronado with holiday Christmas night lights, known affectionately as the Hotel Del. It was once the largest hotel in the world, and is one of the few remaining wooden Victorian beach resorts. The Hotel Del is widely considered to be one of Americas most beautiful and classic hotels. Built in 1888, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
Image ID: 36621

California Brown Pelican In Flight, La Jolla California

California Brown Pelican In Flight, La Jolla California.
Image ID: 36624