Best of 2015 – My Favorite Images of the Year

Happy Holidays!

It has become a tradition for many photographers to publish their favorite photos of the year.  I embrace this tradition because it helps me review my photography for the year and also is a good way to introduce new images to my followers. I have included some background information for each image below as well as why it was chosen.  These images are published in chronological order so the order in which they are published is not any indication of my preference for any particular image. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them!

The first trip I took in 2015 was to Yellowstone in February.  I was traveling with my good friend Gary Hamburgh and we had a great trip.  At lower elevations, there was not much snow, but it was a winter wonderland in the higher areas.  This first image is perhaps the most iconic spot in the whole park, Lower Yellowstone Falls.

USA, Wyoming, Yellowstone NP, Lower Yellowstone Falls

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone NP, WY


While I never pass up the opportunity to shoot impressive landscapes, I also like to use different techniques to produce impressionistic images.  While we were in Yellowstone, we stopped at a forest that had been burned in a forest fire.  The burned trunks were very black and stood out against the white snow.  So I decided to use intentional camera movement.  For this image I used a long shutter speed and moved the camera up while the shutter was open.  This produced the abstract feeling of the image below.

USA, Wyoming, Yellowstone NP,Winter Forest Abstract

Winter Forest Abstract, Yellowstone NP, WY


I also like to shoot close up shots of details which can also produce an abstract feeling.  I was walking along the boardwalk near Old Faithful which has many hot springs and geysers where I found this scene.  This image is frozen geothermal runoff from the nearby geothermal features. I like the colors and lines of this composition which I call Earth Tones.

USA, WY, Yellowstone NP, Frozen Geothermal runoff from hot springs

Earth Tones, Yellowstone NP, WY


We took a photo tour while we were in Yellowstone on one of their snow coaches.  Our guide was familiar with the wildlife and in communication with some other tour leaders.  One of the other tour leaders said that they spotted a bobcat near the Madison River and when we got there we found the bobcat stalking a muskrat.  I decided to use a pan blur to capture the bobcat as it leaped into the river.  This technique kept the bobcat relatively sharp, but blured the background as the camera moved with the bobcat.  I like the sense of motion in this image.

Bobcat Leaping into the River to catch a Muskrat, Yellowstone NP, WY

Leaping Bobcat, Yellowstone NP, WY



In February we visited Mexico and for the first time Oaxaca which is known for its indigenous culture.  One evening we attended a demonstration of Mexican folk dancing at a local hotel.  I was fascinated by the colorful costumes and energetic dancing so I decided to use motion blur.  For this shot I used a long shutter speed and mounted my camera on a sturdy tripod.  This technique caused the dancers to blur while keeping some parts of the image sharp.  I like the sense of motion and vibrant colors in this image.

Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexican Folk Dance

Mexican Folk Dance, Oaxaca, Mexico


In March we visited Kauai for the first time in many years.  One morning I got up early and hiked out to Mokolea Point with a photographer friend in the dark to shoot the dawn light.  I was very pleased to find the crescent moon low in the horizon just as the dawn sky was beginning to light up.  I like the simplicity of this image with the crescent moon above the ocean and this ancient lava field.

Hawaii, Kauai, Crescent Moon Over Mokolea Point

Kauai Moonset, Kauai, HI


In late May we traveled to Portugal for the first time.  We started in Lisbon and slowly worked our way up to Porto and the Douro Valley.  When we were in Porto I found a great spot to shoot the Douro River at sunset.  I like the illuminated buildings of the waterfront against the beautiful sunset sky in this image.

Portugal, Porto, Douro Waterfront at Sunset

Douro River Sunset, Porto, Portugal


After Porto we spent several days in the Douro Valley.  This area has been growing wine grapes since Roman times and the hillsides have that well tended look which comes from centuries of cultivation.  It is the custom of the Portuguese to grow olive trees mixed between the vineyards which makes for some pleasing compositions.  This shot is a typical scene of the Douro Valley. 

Portugal, Douro Valley, Hillside Vineyards

Hillside Vineyards, Douro Valley, Portugal


After touring Portugal we traveled up to Spain and visited Santiago de Compostela for the first time.  Because it is home to St. John’s grave, this town became famous as the destination of many pilgrims from all over Europe.  Since it was such an important town for the Catholics, they built many monuments.  The image below is in a former monastery which is now used as the Museum of the Galician People.  I had never seen a triple spiral staircase before and I thought it looked best looking up towards the ceiling.  Looking up is often an effective way to create an unusual point of view.

Spain, Satiago de Compostela, Museum of the Galician People, Triple Spiral Staircase

Triple Spiral Staircase, Santiago de Compostela, Spain


In late September we visited Colorado to see the autumn color.  Colorado has the best aspen trees of anywhere I have been and we were lucky to catch the autumn color near its peak.  I found these aspen trees growing just outside the town of Aspen.  I like these very tall trees with very white trunks and the yellow foliage in the background.

USA, CO, Aspen, Aspen Trunks near Castle Creek

Aspen Trunks near Aspen, CO


When I was driving one of the back roads of Gunnison NF, I came across this aspen grove.  The trees in the foreground had already lost most of their leaves so the early morning sun created very dramatic shadows on the road while the trees in the background still had most of their autumn color.  I like this combination of dramatic shadows in the foreground with yellow foliage and blue sky in the background.

Autumn Shadows, Gunnison NF, CO

Autumn Shadows, Gunnison NF, CO


On my last day in Colorado, it was rainy. It was not pouring, but a soft, gentle rain. I knew the conditions were not good for landscapes so I started looking for closeup shots. There were many water drops on the fallen leaves, but the way they had fallen was not particularly attractive. So I started moving the leaves I liked to a different location. It was very difficult to move the leaves without loosing the water drops and I was not always successful. But I was able to assemble a fairly large number of leaves with the water drops in tact and this image is the result of my efforts. I like the different colors in the image ranging from red to yellow and of course the water drops make it eye-catching. 

Waterdrops on Aspen Leaves, Gunnison NF, CO

Waterdrops on Aspen Leaves, Gunnison NF, CO


Wishing you the Best in 2016. I hope our paths may cross!

Best Regards,

Rob Tilley

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21 Responses to Best of 2015 – My Favorite Images of the Year

  1. Beautiful images Rob – I especially enjoyed the Bobcat and the Winter Forest Abstract photos.

  2. Wow, “Earth Tones” is fantastic! The other images are beautiful too of course, all of them are (“Hillside Vineyards” and “Triple Spiral Staircase” work particularly well for me too), but that close-up/abstract is just my thing. Happy Holidays!

  3. Alex says:

    Great images, glad to see you’ve been able to travel to some incredible locations! Gorgeous Yellowstone images, particularly like the simplicity of “Earth Tones.”

  4. russbishop says:

    You had another wonderful year as these beautiful images show, Rob! I’m especially drawn to the forest abstract and the dancers. Have a great New Years and all the best in 2016!

    • Thanks Russ! I think you had a busy year as well. I know you must have enjoyed your trip to Croatia. That is one country I would like to visit again some day. Happy New Year and Happy Shooting in 2016!

  5. Gary Crabbe says:

    These are most excellent images, Rob. That bobcat is awesome! Definitely was a great 2016 for you. Cheers!

  6. Pingback: Best Photos of 2015 by JMG-Galleries Blog Readers - JMG-Galleries - Landscape, Nature & Travel Photography

  7. What a beautiful collection of travel images Rob! The bobcat shot and the quaking aspens are my favorites. Looking forward to seeing what you do this year! I hope our paths cross as I’m now more mobile 😉

  8. majchrowicz says:

    Wonderful selection Rob! I love all your travel images, especially the Mexican Folk Dance with the beautiful colors and motion. Best wishes to you and your family in the new year!

  9. Great year Rob. I really love that Oaxaca image. That’s definitely a top-notch photo.

  10. An excellent group. More nature-oriented than last year. I like all of them, but most of all the four from Yellowstone, the dancers in Oaxaca and the spiral staircase. I have always wanted to go to Western Spain and Portugal. Hope you have an adventurous 2016 with some new international locations, as you mentioned.

    • Thanks David. I am impressed that you can remember what my favorite shots were in 2014. I go through phases in my photography. In general I have been doing more travel images in recent years, but nature photography was my first love. In March 2016, I will have a show titled “Colors of Nature” at a local gallery so some of my 2015 favorites were in preparation for this show. I may be in northern CA in April so perhaps we might be able to meet in person if it fits your schedule. I hope you and your family have a happy and prosperous 2016!

  11. Mark says:

    Really, really beautiful set of photographs Rob. I really love how that tree blur turned out. Hope you have a wonderfully creative 2016!

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