2020 Year in Review | Best Landscape Photos

2020! What a year it’s been! Back in January, I was not expecting a year filled with a viral pandemic, catastrophic wildfires and major social unrest. Despite all of the challenges, I was able to spend a significant amount of time focusing on both the art and marketing sides of photography. In this article, I share a few of my favorite experiences and my top 20 photos from the year 2020.

January 2020 – Saguaro National Park – Tucson, Arizona

I grew up in southern Arizona, so the Sonoran Desert has always been a special place for me. While visiting Arizona in January, I spent a day hiking and photographing in Saguaro National Park. I had a great time wandering through the “forests” of giant saguaro cacti searching for compelling compositions. Watching the pink and purple sunset hues spread across the desert sky was a wonderful way to finish the day.

Desert Dreams

"Desert Dreams" Fine Art Limited Edition of 25 - Sunset light above a cluster of cholla, saguaros and ocotillo in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.

February 2020 – Banff and Jasper National Parks/Canadian Rockies – Alberta, Canada

In February, I spent a week chasing the light in Banff and Jasper National Parks with my good friend and talented photographer, Jordan Ek. The snow, ice and mountains combined with dramatic weather make the Canadian Rockies an excellent place for landscape photography. During our trip, the temperature never got above freezing and it was incredible to travel through the frozen landscape. I spent much of my time focusing on wide angle grand landscapes, but also enjoyed using telephoto lenses to capture a variety of abstract scenes. If you are interested in learning more about visiting this area in the winter, please check out my blog article titled, "How to Photography the Canadian Rockies in Winter."

Sparkle and Fade

"Sparkle and Fade" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Shimmering sunrise light illuminates a snow covered Mount Chephren in Banff National Park, Canada.

Ice Lightning

"Ice Lightning" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - An abstract image of the ice crack formations and blowing snow on the surface of the frozen Abraham Lake, Alberta, Canada.

Crystalline Light

"Crystalline Light" Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - Colorful clouds passing above a frozen Abraham Lake at sunset on a cold winter day in the Canadian Rockies.

Calm

"Calm" Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - Morning light illuminates a snow covered mountain in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

First Blush

"First Blush" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - The first touch of sunrise alpenglow illuminates the summit of a large mountain in Banff National Park below a starry twilight sky.

March 2020 – Maui, Hawaii

Just before the first wave of the pandemic, I had the chance to spend 10 days on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is one of my favorite places and I have visited the island many times over the years. During this trip, I had some great light and conditions and I was able to find a few places that were unique to me. Shooting the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala in 45+ mph wind gusts was a definitely memorable experience! I actually said to myself, “I can’t feel my eyeballs” after spending 3 hours out on the summit getting blasted by the wind. I’ve never been so cold in Hawaii and was happy to retreat back down to the warm tropical beaches!

Hawaiian Paradise

"Hawaiian Paradise" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Warm sunset light and coconut palm trees on a secluded beach in Maui, Hawaii.

Lurchin' Urchins

"Lurchin' Urchins" Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - Seven sea urchins slowly moving through a tide pool at low tide in Maui, Hawaii.

Haleakala Kukui

"Haleakala Kukui" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Beautiful sunrise light illuminates wispy tropical clouds above the volcanic crater of Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii.

Splash

"Splash" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Warm sunset light illuminates crashing ocean waves near Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.

Slow Down

"Slow Down" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Sunrise light illuminates high clouds above crashing waves near Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.

April 2020 – Working with Nikon Z mirrorless system

I’ve been using traditional Nikon dSLR cameras since 2009 and I’m quite comfortable with operating the lenses and cameras. The Nikon D800, D810 and D850 cameras have been my workhorses for many years and they have never let me down, even in the most extreme conditions. When the Nikon Z system was launched in 2018, I decided to try out the Nikon Z7. The small and lightweight camera body was very appealing, but the lack of native lenses initially kept me from making the Z my primary system. In 2020, several new Z lenses were released and I started using the Z system extensively. So far, I have been quite pleased with the performance of the Z7 camera and the S-Line lenses. I haven’t had any issues with the camera in cold or damp conditions. My favorite lens is the Z 14-24 f/2.8 S, which is lightweight, takes “normal” 112mm filters and is extremely sharp. I’m going to keep testing the Z system and see how it goes!

May 2020 – New Website!

In May, I launched a new website which was built by Jack Brauer and Raza Durrani at Wide Range Galleries. The website turned out great and I’m excited to finally have an eCommerce function for buying prints directly through my website. I seriously underestimated how much work it would be to build a new website from the ground up, but it ended up being the perfect quarantine project. Since I didn’t travel much in April, May, June, I had the time I needed to sort through 11 years of my photography to find my very best work. If you have any questions about the website or need help ordering prints, you can contact me anytime.

Scott Smorra, Photography, Website, Homepage, Limited Edition, Fine Art
Scott Smorra Photography Website Homepage Image

June 2020 – McKenzie River Waterfalls and Clear Lake, Oregon

In June, I had a chance to meet up with my friend and amazing photographer Casey Colomb to spend a day photographing the waterfalls on the McKenzie River. This was the first time I had been out in 3 months and I mostly just enjoyed the good company and being outside for a day. We had perfect conditions with overcast/misty skies, raging waterfalls and peak spring/summer greens.

Purify

"Purify" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - The crystal clear water of the McKenzie River rushes through a temperate rain forest near Sahalie Falls, Oregon.

Outreach

"Outreach" Fine Art Limited Edition of 25 - A monochromatic photograph of three tree branches sticking out of the water of Clear Lake, Oregon.

July 2020 – NEOWISE Comet

In the middle of summer, I started hearing reports about a newly discovered comet called C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) that was scheduled to pass by planet earth in July. NEOWISE was the brightest comet visible in the Northern Hemisphere since the Hale/Bopp comet in 1996-1997. I missed out on Hale/Bopp in the 90s, so I was very excited to see NEOWISE and try to create a few landscape photos featuring the comet. On the night of July 16-17, I had a chance to get out and photograph NEOWISE in Oregon and Washington. Spending a night chasing this new and unexpected comet was an amazing experience. If you are interested in learning more about how I created these photos, see my blog post titled, “How to Photograph the NEOWISE Comet”

Interstellar

"interstellar" Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - The C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) comet slowly drifting through a sky full of stars above Mt Adams and a small stream/lake in the Cascade mountains of Washington.

August 2020 – Washington Cascades

In late August, I spent five days exploring the Washington Cascades near Mt Adams. Surprisingly, there was no wildfire smoke in the Cascades in late August. The clear air was a nice change of pace compared to the last several summers when the mountains were filled with smoke. I was hopeful that we might get through the 2020 fire season without any major fires, but unfortunately in early September several huge fires started in the Pacific Northwest and burned until the autumn rains arrived in October. The fires burned several beautiful areas including Jefferson Park, Opal Creek Wilderness, Santiam River Canyon, Clackamas River Canyon and McKenzie River Canyon.

Crescendo

"Crescendo" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Mt Adams rises above a mountain lake at sunrise in the Cascade Range of Washington.

September 2020 - Lumachrome HD TruLife Acrylic Prints

Over the years, I have experimented with printing my artwork on a variety of materials including, Canson Infinity, Moab and Hahnemuele fine art inkjet papers, Chromaluxe metal, Fujiflex acrylic and Lumachrome HD acrylic. After extensive testing, my favorite print medium is the Lumachrome HD TruLife acrylic, since the stunning colors and crisp details compliment my work very well. In 2020, I enjoyed creating several large Lumachrome TruLife acrylic prints of my artwork, including a 48x72” print of “Hawaiian Paradise.” These prints are absolutely stunning to see in person and I can’t wait to create more of them in 2021! To learn more about the different types of prints I offer, please visit the Limited Edition Fine Art Prints page on my website.

Scott Smorra, Hawaiian Paradise, Lumachrome HD TruLife Acrylic Print
Scott Smorra with a 48x72" Lumachrome HD TruLife Acrylic Print

If you would like to see a Lumachrome TruLife acrylic print up close, please check out the YouTube video below.

October 2020 – Forest Grove Camera Club Presentation

I was scheduled to give an in-person presentation to the Forest Grove Camera Club in October, but the due to the pandemic the presentation was changed to a Zoom meeting. The online meeting went smoothly and I delivered my 90 minute presentation titled, "The Art and Science of Landscape Photography" to the highly engaged members of the club. I really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about my own photography while preparing the presentation.

November 2020 – Portland Japanese Garden – Portland, Oregon

One of my fall traditions is to visit the Portland Japanese Garden every year during the peak of the fall color. The autumn color in the Pacific Northwest was quite late this year, arriving almost 2 weeks later than the past several years. During my trip to the garden this year, I was able to create one of my all-time favorite Japanese Maple photos titled, “Pure Imagination.”

Pure Imagination

"Pure Imagination" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Beautiful fall colors at the world famous Laceleaf Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree on a foggy autumn morning at the Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon.

November 2020 – 60x60” Backlit Sign at Portland International Airport (PDX) Featuring “Awakening”

This project was a collaboration with Cowlitz County Tourism / Visit Mt St Helens and M-Y Agency. Seeing this sign come to life using one of my images was a really fun process and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. I can’t wait to see it in person the next time I have a flight at PDX. Let me know if you see the sign at the airport (it’s in Concourse E - Southwest/United across from gate E1). If you send me a picture of sign at the airport, I will give you a promo code for a small discount on a print… bonus points for selfies with the sign!

Scott Smorra, Photography, Fine Art, Limited Edition, Awakening, Portland International Airport, PDX, Backlit, Sign
The 60x60" backlit sign at Portland International Airport featuring "Awakening"

December 2020 – Central Oregon Cascades

During the Holidays, I was able to spend several days creating a few winter photographs in the Central Cascades of Oregon. This region is one of my favorite areas in the Pacific Northwest and visiting in the winter is always an enjoyable experience. Cold temperatures and crisp, clean air make for excellent landscape photography conditions.

Valediction

"Valediction" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Mt Washington catches the first light of the day on a crisp (5 degrees F) winter morning.

Rise and Shine

"Rise and Shine" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - The Three Sisters and Broken Top mountains catch the first rays of sunlight on a frosty winter morning near the town of Sisters, Oregon.

Tangible Silence

"Tangible Silence" Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Fresh snowfall in a beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest in Central Oregon on a cold winter day.

2020 was definitely a great year for me, despite all of the challenges. I feel like I have grown quite a bit as an artist and my year-over-year print sales increased substantially in 2020. I’m looking forward to carrying this momentum into the new year. I’m already off to a good start with several large Lumachrome TruLife acrylic prints sold in the first 2 weeks of 2021.

In 2021, I’m going to be spending more time writing new articles for my blog. I'm currently planning to write several articles about buying, displaying and lighting fine art photography. If there is something you would like me to write about, please contact me or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and supporting my art! I hope 2021 treats you well!

Updated 6/19/2021

Desert Dreams
Sparkle and Fade
Ice Lightning
Crystalline Light
Calm
First Blush
Hawaiian Paradise
Lurchin' Urchins
Haleakala Kukui
Splash
Slow Down
Purify
Outreach
Interstellar
Crescendo
Beautiful fall colors at the world famous Laceleaf Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree on a foggy autumn morning at the Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon.
Valediction
Rise and Shine
Tangible Silence