2022 Year in Review

Sunset Over Badlands Valley

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2022 included work in 20 states, over 32,000 miles

2022 was another amazing year, as I drove more than 32,000 miles through 20 states and created dozens of new prints for my online gallery. As the busy year winds down, I've had time to think back about the amazing places I've visited and some of the natural beauty I've photographed.

I once again piggybacked a lot of my time afield with my work on a team of Bassmaster photographers. We travel all over the United States to photograph bass-fishing events, and that means I'm privileged to visit some amazing places between those tournaments.

My 2022 travels included photos from 20 states.

Starting in Texas

Before my Bassmaster travel began, however, my wife and I spent a week in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Our good friends James and Marvene Eastham kindly offered us their timeshare outside of Austin for a getaway before I hit the road on my own.

While we spent most of the time just hanging out and touring that beautiful area, I did shoot a few photos. One of my favorite stops of the trip was Enchanted Rock, which provided beautiful scenery and a great hike. The view from atop this barren hill is amazing!

My favorite photo of the hike was a black-and-white of some dead trees on the side of the bald rock, with the expanse of the Texas Hill Country stretching into infinity in the background.

Enchanted View

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Travel season really kicks in

A couple of weeks after that wonderful week with my wife, I packed up and headed out on the first of my trips as part of a team of photographers shooting Bassmaster fishing tournaments. As usual, my first destination was in Florida for what was the first in three back-to-back events.

And, as usual, I banged around between tournaments shooting the beauty I found on the road. This was my deepest foray into the Sunshine State, extending as far south as Fletcher Beach. I added not only some beautiful beach photographs to my Florida Collection, but I also ran across some surfers and captured some awesome shots.

My initial goal was to spend the two free weeks between Bassmaster events on the Atlantic Coast, but after someone told me I should head to the little Gulf Coast fishing village of Cedar Key — and, boy, am I glad I listened!

I was only there for a less than 24 hours, but I captured a wonderful sunset followed by a great sunrise!

You can see the full Florida Collection by clicking here!

Low Tide at Cedar Key

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Cedar Key Sunrise

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Next up: East Tennessee

While I spent a quick few days in South Carolina, my next real highlight of the year was working East Tennessee and Kentucky. Normally whenever I'm close I head straight for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — but this year I decided to see what the foothills of East Tennessee had to offer.

And I was absolutely blown away.

There are waterfalls everywhere in this wonderful stretch of Tennessee. And I did my best to photograph them all. From, wonderful Fall Creek Falls to Stinging Fork Falls to Blue Hole Falls and Ozone Falls, my free time between Tennessee River bass tournaments was filled with eye candy.

But probably my absolute favorite find was Laurel-Snow State Natural Area just outside of Dayton. I had never heard of it, but I sort of tripped over it while driving around near my hotel. Man, it's one of the most beautiful rivers I've ever seen!

There are waterfalls up the river, but I didn't have time to hike to them. However, there was plenty to keep me busy along the park's Richland Creek.

My favorite print from my few hours spent there is titled Into Eden, a name that came to me because the biblical Garden of Eden popped into my head while looking at the scene.

This is a park to which I'll definitely make a return trip!

Into Eden

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Kentucky's Cumberland Falls

From Tennessee I headed to the James River — via eastern Kentucky. I know, it's out of the way, but I wanted to see what the hills of Kentucky held.

And the highlight of the trip day trip through that part of Kentucky was wonderful Cumberland Falls. Honestly, I saw it on a Google maps waterfall search, but didn't know it was so daggone special.

The roar of the massive cascade is incredible, and what I learned is that it's nicknamed "The Niagara of the South." For good reason: Cumberland Falls stands 68 feet high and 125 feet wide, and 3,600 cubic feet of water spills over the ledge ever second. It's just amazing!

And the Cumberland River has a gorgeous green tint, which made for a truly special contrast to the white water of the falls.

I created two prints while there, but I think my favorite is the one from the upper overlook, which includes more of the emerald river. 

And I also made the hike into Eagle Falls that is located just down from its larger cousin.

Below Cumberland Falls

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The Niagara of the South

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The Big Easy

It was then time for a break from Bassmaster travel - but that didn't mean time off from shooting. My good friends Tim Stanley and James Eastham met me in New Orleans during the spring for a couple of days of shooting the wonderful French Quarter.

We stayed right on Bourbon Street (not recommended if you don't like a noisy night - thank goodness I sleep with earplugs, anyway). That was so convenient for us. We could get up and walk right out into the thick of things.

We drove over to the Garden District to hunt down Mardis Gras beads decorating trees and fences during the day, enjoying some nice food in the evening. It was in the early morning when we really got to work, though.

I love the French Quarter from about 4 a.m. until daybreak. That's when all but the hardiest partiers are in for the night, and the old district gets quiet and peaceful.

We shot Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop and Bourbon Street signage, and then eased over to Washington Artillery Park to shoot photos of the grand Jackson Square backed by St. Louis Cathedral. It's just an iconic New Orleans view.

Jackson Square Night Lights

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Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Gas Lamp

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To top it all off, the Andrews Brass Band set up just outside of Cafe du Monde where we were enjoying a breakfast of beignets and coffee. We spent a bit shooting photos and getting to know the leader - which was just an awesome experience.

And to share the experience with two of my best friends just made the experience that much more special.

See the full New Orleans Collection here!

Belting It

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The amazing Dakotas

I moved on to pretty much make my annual round through Upstate New York, which is always wonderful. I captured new images and shared the trip with Yvette, but my mind had already moved on to the hallmark of my 2022 travel season — a swing through the Midwest.

It had been a hope of mine to make it back to the Dakotas ever since I first banged around South Dakota in 2018 before working a Bassmaster event on the state's massive Lake Oahe. And as soon as that lake was put on the 2022 schedule I began planning.

Of course, Badlands National Park was on the to-do list, but I also added time to cross into North Dakota and visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. My buddy Rick Berk raved about this little-known park, so I wanted to see it for myself.

My final travel plan included pulling my tiny camper and leaving 12 days before I had to be in Mobridge, S.D., to camp my way to the bass-fishing tournament.

I shot a few photos on my way to the Dakotas, with a couple of stops in Nebraska being really cool!

Chimeny Rock sunrise

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Courthouse Rock Sunset

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However, the fun really started when I pulled into Badlands National Park. The park allows camping pretty much anywhere (I checked with a ranger), so I headed to the wilderness portion of the property that gets almost no attention. I drove to the top of Sheep Mountain and found a wonderful spot on the tip of a finger of the mountain overlooking the badlands, with the famed Black Hills on the horizon. It was perfect!

The great thing was that I could shoot right there, and some of my best images of the trip came within 5 minutes of the camper.

The downside was that temperatures soared north of 100 degrees every day - so I spent a lot of time driving around or sitting in the park's visitor center to soak up some air conditioning.

But early in each morning and just before sunset each evening of my 4-night stay I was set up and shooting some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Untied States.

See the full Badlands National Park Collection here.

Badlands Sunset

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First Blush

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And then I pulled up stakes and headed north to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Man, I have to tell you that I was simply blown away with my first view of those North Dakota badlands.

Teddy Roosevelt is actually split into two units about 80 miles apart, so I spent three nights in each unit. They were both just incredible.

And to top it off, wildlife was everywhere. Bison roamed pretty much everywhere I went, and I even saw the wild horses for which the park is known. And the final morning there, after shooting one of my all-time favorite sunrise images, I jumped out of the truck and shot some mature bighorn sheep.

The park was so amazing that it now ranks in my Top 3 national parks! See the full Theodore Roosevelt National Park Collection here!

Badlands Awakening

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First Light in the Badlands

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Badlands Sisters

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Badlands Bison

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My time in the Dakotas wrapped up with an evening in the little ghost town of Arena, N.D. My buddy James Overstreet had told me there was an abandoned church and grain elevator there, so when I finished my Bassmaster event just across the border in South Dakota I drove straight up there.

I actually was a bit disappointed when I arrived to find the basement of St. John's Lutheran Church had collapsed, splitting the building in three pieces. But as the sky lighted up for sunset I set up and shot it anyway. The image actually tuned out really cool - and serves as a statement on how these old settlements are faded into the past.

I wrapped up the evening by hurrying to the old grain elevator to capture the pastel colors of the sunset behind that old structure. Sunsets seem to last forever in that part of the world, so I was really pleased I could grab both sunset photos.

What I really wanted, however, as a Milky Way photo. So I pulled my mini-camper on the side of the road and hopped in for some shut-eye. I have to be honest: I was dead tired from almost three weeks on the road that included work on the water for a tournament. But I set an 11 p.m. alarm, half hoping the clouds that moved in at sunset would ruin the night skies so I could get more sleep.

It seemed like I had just closed my eyes when the alarm sounded, and I rolled over with a groan. However, when I pushed the curtains aside I could see an amazingly vivid Milky Way.

I hurried to the truck and drove the quarter mile back to the grain elevator, setting up my tripod so the Milky Way stretched just over the top of the old structure. I didn't even bother to change out of my PJs!

I was absolutely exhausted when I finished shooting the images that would result in "Milky Way Over Grain Elevator"  but I KNEW I had the goods.

Sunset at St. Johns' Lutheran Church

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Ghost Town Sunrise

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Milky Way Over Grain Elevator

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Finishing in the swamps

The year ended back in the Louisiana swamps I love. I didn't have as much time as I wanted to get out for the fall color change (the only real autumn color we in South Louisiana get) - between work in the office and terrible weather, I was kept busy.

However, I did create a few new prints for my Swamp Collection.

Probably my favorite came as I was running my boat back to the launch after a successful morning on Lake Palourde. I saw a group of pelicans perched in a cypress tree that was lighted up with fall color.

I just knew they would take off when I stopped, so I ran about a quarter of mile past them before coming off plane. I then hopped on the front deck with my trusty 300mm lens and used the trolling motor to ease back to them.

The final image is fantastic - and quickly became a fan favorite.

Autumn Pelicans

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Looking ahead

I already have a very full slate of travel on the books for 2023. I hit the ground running in mid-February with a three-week trip, and I'll only be home a couple of weeks between then and the end of May.

That means I'll be adding even more amazing prints for my online gallery as I travel the country with Bassmaster.

However, all of my landscape work won't be associated with Bassmaster trips. I also plan to spend a few days in Maine with buddy Rick Berk.

And I am set to go to Rocky Mountains and Grand Tetons national parks in the fall with buds Tim Stanley and James Eastham. Both of those national parks have been on my wishlist for years. Now that trip is one I can't WAIT for!

So definitely follow me here and on Facebook for regular updates!