My Top 10 Favorite Photos I've Ever Taken

"Firefall" Limited Print Run of 25


Firefall in Yosemite National Park is as close to real life magic as you can get.

For two weeks, the angle of the sun lines up juuuuust right so that it backlights only Horsetail Falls at sunset, making it look like it's on fire.My first night in the park, wind blew the waterfall away and it didn't happen. On day two, clouds blocked the sun 20 minutes before sunset. The unspoken vibe from the other three photographers at our out of the way spot was, "maybe not tonight." But then, the clouds parted. It was like the waterfall was made of gas and someone threw in a match. Hundreds of people in the valley started to cheer, like their favorite rockstar had just taken the stage.


"Total Solar Eclipse" Photo Prints


If you've never seen the totality, the last minute is wild.

It gets dark, fast. The stars and planets come out. Shadows do really weird things. The last bit of light hangs on, creating a diamond ring illusion in the sky.Then, when the sun is completely covered, you're on another planet. Everyone gasps and cheers. You get a little scared, and start to understand why early humans were so terrified of these events and saw them as omens.

This eclipse looked like a diamond flower in the sky. Petals of corona streamed out from the moon's jet black disc. A bright diamond ring of light encircles the sun. Dots of red stood out on the ring. These were solar flares multiple earths tall. Absolutely insane that these were visible to the naked eye.

"Arakurayama Sengen Sunrise" Limited Edition Print Run of 30


Life is short. Life is beautiful.

That’s the lesson the Japanese take from the Sakura season every spring. All over the country, cherry blossom trees planted by everyone from the emperor to a rural schoolteacher develop their buds in springtime.

"Arakurayama Sengen Sunrise" was taken during my two week trip to Japan with my son. I promised him that when he turned 16, we could take a trip anywhere he wanted, just me and him. He picked Japan, and our planning led us to the country during the height of cherry blossom season. We lucked out as we moved from Osaka to Fuji and up to Tokyo, the peaking flowers seemed to follow us the entire way. At this location, just two days before, none of the trees had begun to flower.

"A Waddle of Gentoos" Limited Run of 50


The best 5 days of my life happened in Antarctica.

O.K., I’m not including the day I got married or the birth of my 3 kids. But after that, it’s the Antarctica landscape. Easy.

The squawking of penguins staking out their territory mixed with the acrid smell of penguin poop was all too familiar by this point in the trip. A group of penguins is called a "waddle," and these were framed against a towering mountain behind them. Epic and cute, all in one frame.

"Amboseli Sunrise" Limited Edition Print Run of 40


This picture was taken from an open roof safari vehicle as we looked over the oasis in the middle of the park. A herd of African Elephants had ventured out for an early drink of water as the sun broke through clouds behind them.

I was on an 8 day safari through the southern region of Kenya. The goal was to see the rich tapestry of African wildlife for myself (and maybe get some wildlife photography along the way!) Amboseli National Park lay silent save for a few morning songbirds. Mt. Kilimanjaro was masked behind clouds on the horizon. We had the oasis to ourselves while the elephants drank their fill of water.

"Apostle Island Aurora" Limited Print Run of 30


I’m still in disbelief.

On May 10th, several MASSIVE coronal mass ejections were predicted to hit earth. Usually when the forecast looks that good, it’s a setup for disappointment. But all the other signs were aligning. Clear skies in Apostle Islands National Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, were I wanted to go chasing. It was a Friday night, so I didn’t have work to worry about work the next day. My wife was game for taking our 7-year-old. It was on.

Yet despite massive expectations, this night exceeded them. I saw things I thought I’d never see in my lifetime. Purple aurora bright enough to shine through 100% cloud cover while it was raining. The entire sky pulsing with electricity while the Northern Lights charged back up. Red, purple, green and every possible combination of those colors in the sky.

"Under the Elkmont Canopy" Photo Prints


Every year, usually in the beginning of June, fireflies concentrated near Elkmont Campground have their mating season. As part of their mating display, the males and females flash in synchrony to attract and identify each other.

So what does it look like? Before that Sunday afternoon, I had no idea.

After spending two days under the white basswood trees of the parks, I was in love.

Picture sitting in the middle of the forest, and every tree and shrub has Christmas lights strung across them. The excited din of the few hundred people lucky enough to win the lottery turns into quiet awe. All that's left is the twinkling fireflies flashing in unison. The gentle babble of rushing water. And the peaceful chirping of thousands of other woodland insects.

"Green Comet Over Mesquite Flat " Limited Run of 20


The last time this comet showed up was tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists think it won't come back for another 50,000 years. They think it might not ever come back. We could be the last humans to look up and see this hunk of ice hurtling through the sky.

When I first heard the Green Comet was heading towards us, I knew I had to try and photograph it. However, nothing about this was easy.

Luckily, Monday evening and Tuesday morning were clear. My fingers were turning numb as I tried to locate the comet with my camera (I'm 42, my eyes aren't good enough to see if with the naked eye). After many, many failed attempts and a quick drive to cell phone coverage to download a new stargazing app with the comet in it, I was able to lock into it. I shot as many photos as I could with different settings and focal lengths. I shot a photo of the foreground as nighttime ended and nautical twilight / blue hour began to spread light over the landscape, allowing me to get the dunes and an interesting dead tree I'd scouted during the day.

"Saguaro NP" Limited Print Run of 40


As I drove through the park during the day, I made notes about places I wanted to return to. Turns out, "About a half mile past the stop sign, cool cactus," aren't great directions. Especially when trying to find one particular majestic Saguaro cactus out of thousands. Luckily, I came across this pair and was able to capture it.

The cacti reached into the sky like dark sentinels. My clothes and skin were starchy from sweating in the desert sun. I stepped gingerly in the dark - every single plant seemed like it could hurt me.

"Upper Yosemite Falls Moonbow" Limited Run of 50


This was shot at 11pm at night.

Sound impossible? They're called moonbows. They happen during a full moon when the waterfalls are rushing and causing lots of mist. Add in a clear night plus make sure the the angle between moon, photographer, and mist is 42 degrees.

Sound challenging to capture? It's definitely something you have to plan for. You can't see the colors with the naked eye, and sometimes it's hard to even see if it's there. Your camera has to pick it up. A common experience was people standing there, looking at the falls in the dark, somewhat overwhelmed. Then they'd take a shot and look at they're picture of the moonbow on their viewfinder and say, "!

About me:

Jeff is an award-winning photographer and has visited all 7 continents, all 50 U.S. states in the U.S, and over 20 countries.

He funds his wanderlust and parkaholic habits as a content strategist. He lives in Chicago with his wife, three children, and rotating menagerie of animals.