Recently, I was nominated to do a nature photography challenge by a Facebook friend where you post a photo a day for 7 days.  It actually was more of a challenge than I thought it originally would be because I realized that my travel photography is not necessarily landscape photography as well. Since it's the end of the year, when people love to look back on their last 365 days, I thought I would broaden the challenge and select my Top 10 Favorite Photos from 2015!

10.  The first photo I wanted to highlight was from a trip to a local butterfly garden in Washington D.C.  There are things I don't like about this photo and things I could have done better, of course, but it is all overshadowed by the perfect playfulness of these two butterflies mirroring each other.

9. I chose this photo of Lyme Park in England because, while the colors and reflection are great, it's Colin Firth's home...I mean fictional Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice fame's home, Pemberly, in the first BBC movie!!  It's not compelling or original, from a photography standpoint, but it's meaningful to me.

8. If you live in Washington D.C., you know what a madhouse it is late March into early April with the blooming of the cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin.  I took my camera down twice this past year during less crowded times, sunrise and evening blue hour.  Most people like to, understandably, include the monuments for context, but I liked this photo the best out of my set because of the dreamy fallen petals on the water, painted soft yellow by the morning light. 

7.  This past February marked my first view of the popular Northern Lights, followed by more light shows in Iceland last month.  We had a week of cloudy weather on the Lofoten Islands in Norway with very short intervals where the clouds cooperated and broke to give us just a glimpse...more like a tease.  With a forecast for clearer skies in Sweden, we left Norway with every finger and toe crossed.  And luck came ten fold, producing a magnificent show of the aurora borealis on our last night there, which concluded with this massive corona directly overhead! 

6. I found myself exploring and photographing several abandoned places in Maryland and Pennsylvania in 2015.  I first went to a silk mill, then a woolen mill, a vintage car graveyard, a forest of abandoned streetcars, and finally one of the Steel Belt's old metal works.  It was in that blacksmith shop where I captured this rusted lift clamp in the perfect light angle that produced beautiful leggy shadows against this dirt swirled floor.

5.  The first of two shots on this list from Iceland last month.  There are two great features of the popular Jökulsárlón glacial lake....the ever changing icebergs in the lake and the washed up bits of ice on the nearby beach.  I was spending time over on the beach, continuing the frustration I had from prior days getting the right piece of ice, dealing with waves, and managing light.  Fortunately, a rogue wave came up and soaked my bottom half, which made me stand up and turn around where I, then, saw the sunset skies above the glacial lake.  I packed my things up quickly and hauled butt over to the other side of the road to capture this incredible moment of soft pastels on the lake.

4. It's funny because most of the time I don't like taking portrait orientated photos, but my top four picks are exactly that!  The first was taken at Elgol Beach on the Isle of Skye at sunset.  I love the lines, both horizontal and diagonal, and the glowing sea moss on the rocks.  The long exposure on the sea worked out really well too!

3. This shot is my favorite from Norway.  It is a reminder of our frustrating weather - cloudy and sometimes stormy skies, warmer than average temps, and lower than average snow coverage - and how despite less than perfect conditions, the sun can make a brief appearance and make everything great.  The glowing sun highlighted the aqua blues in the fjords and made the red boathouse just pop!

2. I call this photo the Lisbon commute home.  It really does encapsulate the Lisbon experience, with the hilly cobbled streets, the river below, the pastel homes, the streetcars, etc.  

1. And for my last photo, we head back to Jökulsárlón in Iceland.  I have to credit a professional photographer friend, Justin Reznick, for finding this particular baby iceberg.  He has a stunning photo of it on his iPhone using the Snapseed app.  The difference between his photo and mine, though, I think is the soft, firey sky - a difference of timing luck that gives the photo the extra dimension it needed to make the little berg pop even more!

There are so many more photos I wanted to put on this list, many from my trip to Scotland in the summer, but overall I think the ten on which I settled really tell the story of my year. It's been a great one for travel, growth in photography, and life experience in general, but more on that in the next day or two!