A Year of Learning: My Favorites of 2015

Keyhole Arch In Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, the sun sets directly in the middle of this natural arch at sunset, only around the winter solstice.

As I reflect on this past year, I’m amazed how much 2015 was a year of learning, growth, and so many firsts for me. I finally began making photographs as opposed to taking them. By this, I mean I diligently began researching locations, learning new techniques, and visualizing the imagery I wanted to capture for the year ahead. I also decided that photography is meaningless unless you share your knowledge and wonder with others; the photographers I respect most are the ones who are always willing to teach others and share what they know.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to many amazing locations this year: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Yosemite, the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake National Park, the eastern Sierra, Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes, Mount Shasta and more. I’ve also realized an important goal in focusing my commissioned photography specifically in healthcare settings to alleviate the stress of patients, their families and caregivers, and to help improve patient outcomes in clinical settings. This is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, that I am looking forward to continuing with renewed vigor this year.

2015 was a beautiful year of moon bows, millions of stars, lunar eclipses, oceans, waterfalls and breathtaking sunrises. Here’s to a 2016 filled with light and unlimited creativity!

Full Moonrise over Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park


Moonrise Over Half Dome Reflected in the Merced River


Cascade Creek in Yosemite National Park


Bonsai Rock, on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, during a winter sunset. This photo was chosen among over 1200 entries to be among 180 artworks to be juried at the California State Fair’s fine art exhibition, and won an award of merit.


Mount Lassen, the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range, located in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California, rises 2,000 ft above Manzanita Lake, and is one of the largest lava domes on Earth. These are clearing storm clouds on a late spring evening.


Summer Sunset over Lake Siskiyou and Mount Shasta


The Great Basin bristlecone pine, which grows between 9,800 and 11,000 feet above sea level, is a long-living species of tree found in the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest in California. One member of this species, at 5065 years old, is the oldest known living organism on Earth. I had long wanted to capture these trees under a clear night sky; this tree is along the “Discovery Trail” in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, in a remote area east of the eastern Sierra Nevada town of Bishop. This is an overexposed half moon setting over the Sierras in the background.


If you drive to Lundy Lake, there is a dirt road leading past the paved road of the marina. I’ve always been hesitant to explore this road because of the cabins and seemingly permanent camp trailers parked in this location. But once you get past that, you climb up to Lundy Canyon and the gorgeous beaver ponds. I never thought beaver ponds could be so beautiful! With the diffuse, overcast morning light and clearning clouds, it made for a really memorable morning and definitely one of the highlights of my photo roadtrip!


Taken from one of the overlooks at Bandon Beach, Oregon, after sunrise, I liked the interesting shape of the pools left behind from high tide; the black and white seemed to bring out the contrast more.


Point Reyes Shipwreck at Sunrise Behind the tiny Inverness Store lies an often photographed shipwreck on the shores of Tomales Bay. This is at sunrise during a smoky fire season.
On Thanksgiving night, long after sunset, an alpenglow on El Capitan was still barely visible. This is a long exposure at 30 seconds to pick up the colors on the granite and in the sky after dark. I thought the car trails along the loop road opposite the Merced added a festive touch to a wintry scene.



My name is Beth Young, and I'm a licensed architect specializing in healthcare facilities, with a strong passion for capturing the beauty of the natural world through photography. Please feel free to browse or comment. If you wish, prints are available using long lasting and high quality photographic paper or museum quality canvas using archival inks at my website: http://www.optimalfocusphotography.com/

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