My Best of the Decade: Western U.S. Travel

This is my fifth installment in a series where I'm sharing my best photos of the decade.  Be sure to check out my first installment here, featuring photos I took in and around my hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY, my second installment here, featuring my best equine photos of the decade, my third installment here, featuring best photos taken at Disney Parks and Resorts in the last decade, and my fourth installment here, featuring photos of the Eastern United States.  In this post I'll share my best photos of the decade taken in the Western United States.

Approaching Alcatraz Island:  July 23, 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed taking a night tour of Alcatraz Penitentiary in California.  I took this photo on the ferry ride over from San Francisco.

A City Bathed in Golden Light:  July 17, 2012
Griffith Observatory has got to be the best place to watch the sun set over Los Angeles.  You can't beat that view!

Grauman's Chinese Theater Panorama:  July 18, 2012
I don't normally like to shoot panoramas because you can't pre-visualize your shot.  On this day, however, I didn't have my wide angle lens with me and I really wanted a wide shot of the theater so I took this panorama with my 17-55, which has a sort of fisheye look to it.

T.A. Moulton Barn:  July 14, 2013
So I finally got to see it in person.  For months I had been studying Flickr photos of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks looking for potential photo locations in preparation for my trip.  Pulling up to the Moulton Barn, the one place I wanted to photograph most of all, was almost surreal.  Not unlike the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower or Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

Snake River Overlook Sunset:  July 14, 2013
Just before sunset at the iconic Snake River Overlook at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Yellowstone's Gorgeous Hayden Valley:  July 15, 2013
If you want wildlife and beautiful scenery, come here.

Bodie School House:  July 6, 2014
Visiting Bodie Ghost Town is an experience like no other.  By far my favorite part, though, was visiting the school house.  This school house was the second one in Bodie.  They say the first was burned down by a student!

Dusk at Mono Lake:  July 6, 2014
Clearly I couldn't have asked for more beautiful skies on the evening when I was photographing Mono Lake.  If you're not familiar, Mono Lake (near Yosemite National Park) is unique in that it has these stalagmite-type creations coming up out of it called Tufas, which were formed at one point under the water.  I'm not a science person, so that's the best description I have for you.  As for the science behind the photo, I screwed on my trusty 10-stop neutral density filter and let the clouds roll by.

Trees Under a Yosemite Moon:  July 9, 2014
Taking a moonlit valley floor tour of Yosemite allows you the chance to see the park in a new way.  In an open air tram, you can freely look all around you and really take in the vistas.  Though not designed with photographers in mind, the tram does stop a couple of times, allowing just enough time to grab enough shots if you work quickly.  Here the artificial lights from the tram light up the trees.

The Ahwahnee at Night:  July 9, 2014
I had the opportunity to stay at the Ahwahnee hotel in Yosemite National Park.  Boy is it nice!  There was no shortage of things to photograph around the property, but photographing the exterior of the hotel from the back was something that was on my bucket list, and I took a number of different shots at various times of the day.  This night shot was a white balance and dynamic range nightmare.  I took 4 shots on my tripod, and then had to process a couple of them twice to account for the various white balances in the scene.  I blended each shot by hand using layer masks in Photoshop, because the "merge to HDR pro" function left a lot of strange artifacts (which I often find for tricky scenes like this).

A Long Exposure Over Half Dome:  July 10, 2014
While waiting for the sun to set at Sentinel Bridge in Yosemite National Park, I popped on my 10 stop neutral density filter and got this long exposure of the clouds moving over Half Dome.

The View from the Many Glacier Hotel at Dusk:  July 11, 2015
This breathtaking view can be had on the deck of the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, MT.

Mama and Baby Goat Take a Walk:  July 12, 2015
The hike to Hidden Lake Overlook at Glacier National Park was absolutely gorgeous, but the crowning jewel was spotting this mother and baby mountain goat along the way.  Lugging that telephoto lens up and down the mountain paid off!

Pasadena City Hall:  February 14, 2016
I could not have been more impressed with Pasadena's palatial city hall.  My favorite view was this one, from across the courtyard on the second level.

Santa Monica Pier at Night:  February 16, 2016
Looking out on the iconic Santa Monica Pier from the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie:  July 17, 2016
I just love photographing abandoned buildings, especially school houses.  This photo of an abandoned school house near Boyd, OR, is one of my favorite photos from my trip to the Pacific Northwest.

A Seal in the Hood Canal:  July 18, 2016
This little seal popped up to say hello at the Alderbrook Resort in Union, WA.

Seattle from the Space Needle:  July 20, 2016
The Seattle Space Needle is home to one of the best 360 degree views of Seattle, and one of the world's tackiest gift shops.  Even the Eiffel Tower doesn't have as many cheesy souvenirs for sale!  Nonetheless, you really can't beat this view.

Cannon Beach by Night:  July 21, 2016
Staying in Cannon Beach was a wonderful experience.  I took a lot of photos of Haystack Rock, but this one's my favorite.

Milky Way Over Monument Valley:  April 16, 2017
The Milky Way is faintly visible in this night photo of Monument Valley taken from The View Hotel.

Here Comes the Sun:  April 17, 2017
The sun makes its first appearance over Monument Valley on a quiet spring morning, taken just a few hours after the previous photo.

South Rim Sunset:  April 18, 2017
My favorite photo from my trip to the Grand Canyon.

Court of the Patriarchs in Late Afternoon:  April 20, 2017
The sun makes its final appearance for the day at Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park before setting behind the canyon.

Burst of Sun at Zion:  April 20, 2017
Magical looking light produced by the setting sun at Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon Sunrise:  April 22, 2017
I captured this scene from the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll share my best photos taken outside the U.S. in the last decade!

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