thomasoneil.com

Photos of the Year

Ever since I got back into photography seriously around the turn of the century, coinciding with the rise of digital cameras, I have been selecting a personal Photo of the Year. The locations vary from exotic (Antarctica) to mundane (my back yard). Although the first "official" POY was 2002, there are a few images on the site from 1999-2001 and I've included some of the better ones of those. I also have included some preliminary selections from the current year. Click on one of the thumbnail images to jump to that year. Images are shown newest to oldest. Click here to view oldest to newest.


2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

 

Bluebirds

Bison

Moose

Hummingbird
2022

It's way too early for a 2022 POY, but here are some contenders. First is the bluebird pair occupying the nest box in our back yard. They shared a meal on the fence just below the box.

Next image comes from a two-day visit to Yellowstone in February. After an extended session of digging through the show to reach the grass, this bison finally lifts its head. A couple months later, we drove to the southwest and on the way found a moose near Jackson, WY. Finally, back in the yard, the hummingbirds showed up in May and I happened to be in position with the 500mm lens.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2022 images, click here.


 

Arguing Bluebirds

Yellowstone Coyote

4th of July

Badlands Bighorns
2021

Fully settled into our new Montana home, I filled my spare time experimenting with my new motion trigger in the back yard. The POY image of arguing juvenile Mountain Bluebirds was taken with my Canon 5D Mark III, 500mm lens on a low tripod, motion triggered.

Next is another coyote in the Yellowstone snow in January; 4th of July fireworks, and a bighorn ewe and lamb relaxing near the road in the Badlands in December.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2021 images, click here.


 

Mountain Lion

4th of July

Burrowing Owl

Badlands Bighorn
2020

In May, I finally found the Holy Grail, a trailcam image of a mountain lion. It was snapped at my brother's cabin near Luther, MT.

Also shown are fireworks from Red Lodge, MT, and images from the Badlands, a burrowing owl and a bighorn.

Despite obstacles caused by the pandemic, we completed our move to Montana in the autumn of 2020.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2020 images, click here.


 

Yellowstone Coyote

Eagle

Badlands Bighorns

4th of July
2019

In August 2018 I got married, and in early 2019 we were scoping out Montana as a possible landing spot. While on a snow coach tour through Yellowstone National Park in January, I snapped my 2019 POY.

Also shown is an eagle from Loess Bluffs in December, Badlands Bighorns in November, and 4th of July fireworks in Red Lodge, MT.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2019 images, click here.


 

Eagle fishing

Eagle eating

More eagles

Badlands bighorns
2018

It is hard to get images of eagles fishing. It seems they are either too far away or facing the wrong way. I got this shot of a juvenile bald eagle yanking a fish out of the water at Lock and Dam 18 on the Illinois side of the Mississippi in January.

From that same trip is the next image, an adult snacking on a fish in Keokuk, Iowa. Next are a juvenile and an adult sharing a branch at Loess Bluffs (fka Squaw Creek) NWR in Missouri in December. Finally, a flock of bighorns in the Badlands in May.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2018 images, click here.


 

Great American Eclipse

CSP Bluebird

Badlands Bison

Burrowing Owl
2017

The 2017 POY had to be the solar eclipse of Aug. 21. A very fast shutter speed (1/2500) reveals prominences rising from surface of the sun. My location was Jay Em, Wyoming.

Also nominated were a Custer State Park bluebird in April, a Badlands Bison in September, and a burrowing owl near Pierre, SD in May.

Another important development which happened Dec. 13 was a fire which swept through Custer SP and Wind Cave NP, destroying one of my trailcams and damaging two others. My Reconyx captured these images of the fire enveloping it.

After four years of working part time, I finally went back to full-time retirement.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2017 images, click here.


 

Wind Cave Elk

Badlands Bighorn

Olympic Skier

B-17
2016

By 2016, I had gotten plenty of elk images on trailcam and a few distant shots on SLR, but in November I saw this big boy just off the road in Wind Cave National Park.

By 2016, most of my bighorn sightings had shifted from the Black Hills to the Badlands. Shown here is a Badlands Bighorn at sunset in November. Next is an Olympic skier practicing at the U.S. Olympic Training Complex in Park City, Utah. We stopped there on a whim and had no idea they were doing this. Finally, we have the B-17 Sentimental Journey at the Sioux Falls Air Show in July.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2016 images, click here.


 

Snow Geese at sunset

Sphinx Moth

Butterfly

Leucistic Crane
2015

My stereotypical POYs to date had been one or two critters, but for 2015 I went with thousands of snow geese rising agove Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in December.

Also shown are two images of insects on flowers in Newton Hills State Park, SD. The first is a Sphinx Moth and the second is a butterfly. The third image is a leucistic (white) sandhill crane with two normally-colored cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico in November. (Leucistic is not the same as albino.)

I didn't travel extensively for fun, but did make it back to NYC on business in August.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2015 images, click here.


 

Elk trailcam frame

South Dakota Oriole

Mississippi River Eagle

Cherry Blossom Festival
2014

For the first time, I selected a trailcam image as POY. I thought the framing of the elk by the other elk's antlers was sort of interesting.

Also shown are a Baltimore Oriole at a park near my home in June, a Mississippi River eagle in January, and the Jefferson Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. I retired from full-time employment again in 2013, but returned to take a part-time stint in 2014. Even though I had already been through the new employment orientation twice before in 1986 and 2009, I got sent to Washington to do it again, and it happened to occur at the height of the cherry blossom bloom.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2014 images, click here.


 

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Eagles on the river

Front yard hawk

Montana Lightning
2013

For the third time, I spotted a yellow-crowned night heron in Florida, and this time picked it for POY. It was catching little crabs at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, Florida in January.

Also shown are eagles resting on branches sticking out of the Mississippi River, Fort Madison, Iowa in January; a Cooper's Hawk using a utility box in my front yard as a picnic location in September; and lightning as seen from a mountain top near Luther, Montana in June.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2013 images, click here.


 

Dark Morph

Bighorn

Blue Angels in Chicago

Venus Transit
2012

I had a hard time deciding on a 2012 POY and finally settled on this broad-winged hawk, which is an uncommon dark morph according to my Sibley book, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in December.

Also shown here is a Custer State Park bighorn, the Blue Angels at the Chicago Air and Water Show in August, and the Transit of Venus shot through my binoculars during my third two-month assignment to New York City.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2012 images, click here.


 

Sertoma Butterfly

Trailcam elk

White Sands

Bighorn ewes
2011

Some of my favorite images come from 2011. The 2011 POY was snapped at the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls, SD.

The next image is among my first trailcam images, an elk in Wind Cave National Park. I had dabbled with cheaper cameras before getting a top-of-the-line Reconyx, and it immediately resulted in a series of elk images that I really haven't matched since. The next thumbnail is one of my late sister-in-law's favorites from White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in November. Finally, we have bighorn lambs bounding through the forest in Custer State Park in July.

I also saw bighorns in Cleghorn Canyon, SD in January, had another two-month assignment in New York City in the spring, started commuting to Chicago in August, and returned to the Black Hills in December.

I had an apartment in Chicago for two years, but never gave up my house in South Dakota.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2011 images, click here.


 

Keokuk eagle

New York City

Back yard goldfinch

Missouri eagle
2010

Despite being afflicted with employment again, I made sure to make my Mississippi River trip in February and got this bald eagle coming in for a landing in Keokuk, Iowa.

One of the results of my employment affliction was a two-month-long assignment in New York City. In addition to the usual NYC sights, I also photographed botanical gardens and made side trips to Philadelphia and West Point.

My back yard in South Dakota wasn't nearly as prolific as what I had in Massachusetts, but there was the occasional goldfinch. The final thumbnail is an eagle at Squaw Creek in December.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2010 images, click here.


 

Bighorn in the snow

Mississippi River eagle

Custer SP Bluebird

Custer SP bighorn ewe
2009

After getting a taste of it in 2008, I returned to the theme of Rocky Mountain Bighorns in the snow at Custer State Park in December, and found my POY for 2009.

Other images shown here are an eagle over the Mississippi in January, a bluebird from another Custer State Park trip in May, and another image from the December trip showing an ewe jumping a 6-foot fence.

The Blue Angels came to South Dakota in July. Other than that, I didn't travel much except for work. For the time being, retirement was over.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2009 images, click here.


 

Great Horned Owls

Mississippi River eagle

Bighorns in the snow

Florida butterfly
2008

In 2008, I was fully retired and made the long drive from South Dakota to Florida in March. I had seen owls on Honeymoon Island before but getting the snapshot of this Great Horned Owl fledgling and mother was my most satisfying image ever, even more so than the puffins.

Also shown here are other strong POY candidates including a Mississippi River eagle, Bighorns in the snow in Custer State Park, and a butterfly on a thistle on that Florida trip. That drive also included a swing through South Carolina and a warbirds air show in Titusville, FL.

I also went looking for eagles on the Missouri River in South Dakota in February, and made it down to Kansas in April to hunt for wading birds. In the autumn, I saw fat, tame elk in Nebraska in August; New Mexico in October, and the usual Squaw Creek eagles and snow geese in December.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2008 images, click here.


 

Eagle checking its catch

Eagle on ice

Osprey on Honeymoon

Night Heron
2007

From February, my Photo of the Year was a bald eagle checking out its catch above the Mississippi River. Also shown here is an eagle on the frozen river. May found me on Honeymoon Island in Florida chasing osprey, and also finding a yellow-crowned night heron similar to one I had seen in 2002.

Although much of my year was involved in moving from Massachusetts to South Dakota, which I completed in August, I found time for New Mexico in both January and November.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2007 images, click here.


 

Backyard Jay

Diving Eagle

Florida Egret

Osprey with Eel
2006

Dozens of species of birds came through my back yard in Massachusetts. I mounted a rotted old post in my yard and attached a tuna can just below the top. Sunflower seeds in the can attracted this blue jay and produced my 2005 POY.

Also shown here is a diving eagle from a Mississippi River trip, and an egret and osprey from Florida. I did make it back to Squaw Creek for the eagles and snow geese in December, but much of my time was consumed in preparation for retiring and moving.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2006 images, click here.


 

Keokuk Eagle

Ireland

Aviation Nation

Death Valley Yote
2005

My final crazy travel year started with a trip back to the Missouri River where I captured this bald eagle roosted in a tree as sunset came to Keokuk, Iowa.

I also toured Ireland, made it to the gigantic Aviation Nation air show near Las Vegas, and saw a coyote hunting along the roadside in Death Valley.

In March, I returned to the southwest for desert scenery and baseball. I spent the summer working in Kansas City and from there made side trips to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Kansas Cosmosphere, Squaw Creek NWR in Missouri, back home to see the Blue Angels in Rhode Island. and New Mexico, and Missouri. Late in the year I returned to Squaw Creek to see wintering eagles and snow geese, a trip which I have made many times since.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2005 images, click here.


 

Little Brothers

NM Harrier

BC Bear

Galapagos
2004

It was another extensive travel year in 2004. Photo of the Year went to what became my most successful image, "Little Brothers," puffins on Machias Seal Island in the Gulf of Maine. (The Latin name for puffins, Fratercula arctica, translates as "little brothers of the north.") Twenty of my puffin images were featured in the book "Nothin‘ But Puffins: And Other Silly Observations," with "Little Brothers" on the cover.

As proof that megapixels aren't everything, this is among the last taken with my 4-megapixel Canon 1D. I had ordered an 8-megapixel Canon 1D Mark II, hoping to get it in time for my Maine trip, but didn't get it in time.

Also during the year, I got a harrier during an astronomy and wildlife tour of New Mexico, brown bears and other wildlife in British Columbia, and the wonders of the Galapagos. Another major trip was my first to the Mississippi River to see wintering eagles. Also mixed in are wildlife images from around home, and the Thunderbirds in Rhode Island.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2004 images, click here.


 

Antarctica

Alaska Bear

Ring of Fire

Osprey
2003

I traveled extensively in 2003, and the highlight came Dec. 4 when I landed on the Antarctic continent and snapped these gentoo penguins greeting each other.

Also during the year, I came face-to-face with a black bear in Alaska, witnessed an annular "Ring of Fire" eclipse of the sun in Iceland, and snapped an osprey with a fish in a tree just above me in Maryland.

Also during the year, I traveled to Yellowstone, and Florida for birds, baseball and an air show.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2003 images, click here.


 

Junior I

Flying Legends

Virginia Woodpecker

Florida Heron
2002

My first "official" Photo of the Year was a young red-tailed hawk dubbed Junior I which fledged in a nest next to my office in Braintree, Mass. This image was shot through a an office window, scanned from film. The hawks continued using that nest for two more years.

Also in 2002, I took my first trip overseas to the Flying Legends air show at the RAF base in Duxford, England. I made frequent work trips to Northern Virginia and snapped the woodpecker in the second thumbnail during my off time. The third thumbnail is from a December trip to Florida. Also during the year, I took trips to Arizona and my home state of South Dakota.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2002 images, click here.


 

Capitol

RI polar bear

Matranga

Backyard cardinal
2001

I was still spending a lot of time in DC during 2001 and got this golden light shot of the Capital back when common citizens were still allowed to roam the grounds.

Next are two scanned images, a polar bear cub at the zoo in Providence, and Astros prospect David Matranga diving for a ball during the Arizona Fall league. The final image is one of my first attempts at capturing wildlife with remote triggering. I connected the Kodak 290 to a computer with a long USB cord and triggered it as birds came to the feeder in my back yard.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2001 images, click here.


 

Washington Monument

Smithsonian

Chicago

Nobska Light
2000

During Y2K, I spent some time in Washington and used a tiny tripod to support my Kodak 290 for some nighttime shots on the National Mall. By then I had upgraded from the 210+ to the 290, which was a better but bulkier camera.

Also included are the Smithsonian Castle on the mall, a seagull while I was experimenting with flight shots at the Rhode Island shore, and Nobska Light, Woods Hole, MA.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 2000 images, click here.


 

Apollo 11

Wright Flyer

Chicago

Cooperstown
1999

My first somewhat usable digital camera was a Kodak DC210+. Image quality left much to be desired, so consider these as historical images from the previous century. First we have the Apollo 11 command module Columbia at the Air and Space museum in DC. Next is the 1903 Wright Flyer which was displayed in the main hall of the museum at the time. (During its Centennial a few years later it was moved to its own room.)

Then we have a shot I grabbed out of an office window while on a work assignment in foggy downtown Chicago. Last is an autumn shot in Cooperstown, NY. By today's standards, memory cards were tiny and expensive back then, and I recall shooting at a lower resolution due to running out of space.

Click on any of the images at left to start the slide show associated with it. For all of my 1999 images, click here.

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