Moraine Lake to Waimea Canyon: My Top 10 Photo Spots

Posted on December 9, 2015 by Mickey

Everyone has those favorite places they love to visit. Whether it’s hiking in Switzerland, walking in the sand at the Pacific Ocean as waves roll in on a wild beach, or watching buffalo roam the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills, we all have our special places! My favorite places to photograph have evolved dramatically over the past 6-7 years as I’ve picked up a camera and photographed the places I travel to. I wanted to share some of these favorite places to photograph with you. This list only consists of places I’ve been too. If I had been hiking in at Torres del Paine in Chile, traveling the countryside of New Zealand or photographing under the stars at Monument Rocks in western Kansas, I would imagine this list would be even harder. But I’m only going off of places I’ve been to over and over again! I really struggled to decide this list. The top three in particular kept changing places as I was writing this. If you were to ask me to name my favorite spot to photograph in any given week, it would probably change weekly.

Also keep in mind that this list is based of my favorite places to photograph, not visit. There are undoubtedly a few spots I would have much higher on this list (Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France, Vancouver Island, the Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland) had my photography plans in those places worked out better. Poor lighting, lack of time and more kept these places off this list. These are simply the top 10 places I’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

1. Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Moraine Lake Sunset
Moraine Lake SunsetPrints Available
A beautiful Moraine Lake sunset

When I visited the Canadian Rockies back in 2012, the place I tended to always gravitate back to was Moraine Lake. While driving up and down the beautiful Icefields Parkway, I probably visited Moraine Lake 5 times in 3 days. It’s a special place, and easily the most beautiful alpine lake I’ve ever seen.

2. Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, Kansas

Keeper of the Plains Lightning Bolt
Keeper of the Plains Lightning BoltPrints Available
A lightning bolt frames the Keeper of the Plains

This is my go-to spot for photography. It’s treated me well. A lot of my best images are from this Wichita icon, and while the mountains are always my favorite terrain, the Keeper of the Plains has become a constant subject in my work that no other place has filled. I’ve shot more images at the Keeper of the Plains than any other place in the world, and I keep going back for more and more!

3. Wengen, Berner Oberland, Wengen, Switzerland

Dusk In Wengen
Dusk In WengenPrints Available
Twilight settles at dusk in Wengen, Switzerland

Much like Moraine Lake, the view from the bench at the church in Wengen, Switzerland was a spot I continued to return to on my trip through the Alps for photography. It’s also the spot I long to go back to most in Europe someday.

4. Dallas Divide/Sneffels Wilderness, Ridgway, Colorado

Colorado Wildflowers
Colorado WildflowersPrints Available
A field of wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Sneffels

The Dallas Divide on the north side of the San Juans in the Colorado Rockies have become my favorite place in all of Colorado to visit. There’s a two-fold reason. My hike in 2011 to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Wilderness produced some of the most beautiful wildflower displays I have ever seen! Second, Dallas Divide is easily my favorite spot to return to for autumn colors, as the vistas along it’s many backroads are unforgettable!

5. Big Sur, California

Big Sur Sunset
Big Sur SunsetPrints Available
A beautiful Big Sur sunset

I’ve now visited Big Sur twice. Once was for a brief morning in early 2012 that produced a spectacular sunrise. The second was in autumn of 2015, which also produced some of the best sunrises and sunsets of the entire year for me. One particular sunset was one of the best I’ve ever photographed! My favorite spot along Big Sur: McWay Falls. Not only does it have a beautiful tidefall waterfall that drops directly into the ocean at a gorgeous beach, but the view back towards the north is also spectacular!

6. Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

Maroon Creek
Maroon CreekPrints Available
The Maroon Bells tower above a wildflower lined Maroon Creek

I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit the Maroon Bells in my years of visited Colorado, but I’ve been back almost every year since! Once for wildflowers, but mostly for the beautiful fall colors. Pro-tip: Droves of people will line the northwest shore of Maroon Lake to get the classic reflective Maroon Bells shot, but I find walking to the far side of the lake and photographing the various angles there far more rewarding. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown up for a sunrise with 200 other people fighting for rock or something in their foreground at the edge of the lake, only to find views along Maroon Creek completely deserted.

7. Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mystical Dream Lake
Mystical Dream LakePrints Available
A foggy Memorial Day morning at Dream Lake

If you had asked me in the years prior to taking my photography as seriously as I do now, Rocky Mountain National Park would be #1 without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve since visited some amazing places in the world, but I’ll always hold a soft spot for Dream Lake in Colorado.

8. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Rainbow
Waimea Canyon RainbowPrints Available
Waimea Canyon is graced by a vivid rainbow near Waipoo Falls

There were a few places on Kauai that I kept returning to in the week I spent on the island. The one that produced the best images was the Waimea Canyon. I continued to drive up that road to the canyon and into Kokee State Park beyond. Other spots on Kauai that almost made this list include the Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei Bay and the Napali Coast.

9. Teter Rock, near Cassoday, Kansas

Teter Rock Winter Milky Way
Teter Rock Winter Milky WayPrints Available
The Milky Way shines bright above Teter Rock

Teter Rock has become my go-to spot for shooting Milky Way and star scenes in recent years. Far enough away from city lights, but within an hour and a half drive from Wichita, it makes for an easy getaway to get out under the stars. It’s also a great place to photograph a good Kansas thunderstorm as it rolls across the prairie.

10. The Old Mill, Little Rock Arkansas

Old Mill Gardens
Old Mill GardensPrints Available
Spring blooms at the Old Mill

I’ve only visited the Old Mill once, but the shots I got for the little time I spent there rank up there as some of my favorites. The one pictured here was a particular favorite. While most of Arkansas is probably inundated with images from the Old Mill (it’s a Little Rock icon), for a tourist looking for a great place to photograph, it was the perfect spot!

Other spots I loved photographing at:
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canada
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai
Lauterbrunnen Valley Floor, Switzerland
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Canada
Murren, Switzerland
Spiez, Switzerland
Mer de Glace, France
Cowley Falls, Kansas
Moraine Park, Colorado
Bear Lake, Colorado
Geary Lake Falls, Kansas
Kalalau Overlook, Kauai
Napali Coast, Kauai
Hanalei Valley, Kauai
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Boulder Brook, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Posted under: Canada, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, News & Updates, Switzerland

Top 14 Photos of 2014

Posted on January 12, 2015 by Mickey

It has been a great year for Mickey Shannon Photography, with opportunities to shoot in a multitude of locations from my home in Kansas, to the Garden Island of Kauai, Hawaii! This collection comes from images I have posted on here on my website, along with my Facebook, Instragram and other social media pages. Thanks for taking the time to view and read, and I appreciate all your support over the past year!

Kilauea Lighthouse Sunset

1. Kilauea Lighthouse Sunset

My absolute #1 best photo in 2014, like many of the other photos from this top 14 in 2014 feature comes from the Garden Island of Kauai! I shot this at the overlook of Kilauea Lighthouse on the north side of Kauai, and captured one of the best sunsets of the trip! The sky lit up in amazing shades of purple, blue and red. The turbulent Pacific Ocean was a deep shade of blue, and they don’t call Kauai the Garden Island for nothing, as the plants in the area were a deep shade of green. There may not have been a rainbow in this photo, but almost all the vivid colors of a rainbow were presented in this amazing sunset overlooking the most famous lighthouse on Kauai!

Waimea Canyon Rainbow

2. Waimea Canyon Rainbow

#2 in my top 14 photos of 2014 is one of the best shots I’ve ever captured! This was completely by chance too. A rainstorm (which is quite typical on Kauai) rolled through the beautiful Waimea Canyon on the afternoon I shot this. We were driving by one of the small pulloffs on the road up to Kokee State Park and this vivid rainbow was in full view near Waipoo Falls. So I composed the shot with both the falls and the rainbow and came away with this shot!

Colorful Hanging Lake

3. Colorful Hanging Lake

Coming at #3 in my top 14 photos of 2014 is my favorite shot of Hanging Lake in Visit Glenwood Springs Colorado! I shot this back in October and it’s definitely one of my favorite shots of the year! The color of that lake is absolutely stunning and a must-do hike to see it for anyone traveling in the state of Colorado!

Winter Twilight in Rocky Mountain National Park

4. Winter Twilight in Rocky Mountain National Park

Coming at #4 in my top 14 photos of 2014 is a unique winter shot of Rocky Mountain National Park from early January! The atmosphere in this shot is what makes it special to me. I normally don’t shoot as many winter scenes as summer or autumn, but I feel this one is one of my better ones!

Magical Hanalei Valley

5. Magical Hanalei Valley

Coming in at #5 is another shot from the beautiful Hanalei Valley. This was shot in the afternoon at the tail end of an amazing rainbow that faded away fast as this shot was being taken. You can see it off in the left of the photo.

Early Morning at the Hanalei Bay Pier

6. Early Morning at the Hanalei Bay Pier

#6 in the list top 14 in 2014 feature also comes from the Hanalei area. This is the Hanalei Bay Pier, which was built in the late 1800s and remodeled on a few occasions over the years. The area is popular with local surfers as I was shooting this sunrise with at least a dozen local surfers getting ready to head into what I thought were some pretty rough waves out there. Hanalei Bay is also a popular boating and fishing area, as you can see many sailboats out there in the waters.

Purple Hanalei Bay

7. Purple Hanalei Bay

#7 on the list of top 14 photos from 2014 is called “Purple Hanalei”. I shot this at the overlook of Hanalei Bay as sunset was beginning to light up the entire scene with a vivid purple hue.

Stormy Coronado Heights Panorama

8. Stormy Coronado Heights Panorama

#8 in my top 14 photos of 2014 brings another Kansas shot. This one was a hair-raiser. We were traveling south from Minneapolis, Kansas, and had visited Rock City. Some late season storms (it was the day before Labor Day) were forming and looking pretty ominous!

As we got to Coronado Heights, I started setting up my camera and realized these storms were moving in fast! I started shooting this image, and within 30 seconds, a wall of wind slammed the area. Considering tornadoes were accompanying some of these storms, we high-tailed it out of there after finishing this image. But it was one of those raw awe-inspiring moments for the quick time I was watching this storm close down on the the hill that houses Coronado Heights!

Hanalei Valley Sunrise

9. Hanalei Valley Sunrise

Coming in at #9 in my top 14 photos of 2014 is Hanalei Valley Sunrise. This valley is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life! The tropical mountains and taro fields mix with warm light coming in from the sunrise to the left to create a beautiful scene below! The amount of deep green in the photo is indicative to Kauai’s title of the Garden Island of Hawaii. There’s color everywhere. And everywhere you turn is a waterfall or tropical plant.

Ke'e Beach Sunset

10. Ke’e Beach Sunset

This sunset was one of the best we had in our time in Hawaii! It clocks in at #10 for the top 14 photos in 2014 feature! Ke’e Beach, where this was taken, is the starting point for the famous Kalalau Trail. You can see the rugged mountains jutting out of the ocean in the left of the picture. The Kalalau Trail follows those mountains around the northwest side of Kauai before landing in the beautiful Kalalau valley!

The Colors of Natural Falls

11. The Colors of Natural Falls

Coming in at #11 of the “Top 14 in 2014” feature is from a waterfall in eastern Oklahoma on the edge of the Ozarks. While on a trip to Tulsa, OK for a soccer tournament, the wife and I took a side adventure to a place called Natural Falls State Park, which features this dual waterfall. The tallest of the falls tops out at 77 feet!

One interesting note about this photo: About a month ago, Alaska Airlines used it to promote their new Oklahoma City runs! You can view that on the Alaska Airlines Instagram Account Page for this photo.

Fiery Sunrise at the Maroon Bells

12. Fiery Sunrise at the Maroon Bells

#12 of my top 14 photos in 2014 brings the autumn colors of the Maroon Bells to life! I shot this from the edge of Maroon Creek, which empties into the famous Maroon Lake where hundreds of photographers will line the edge waiting for sunrise in autumn over the Maroon Bells! I’ve been on multiple occasions, and almost always try to find a different angle of the autumn color-coated Bells. This was 2014’s result!

Stormy Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

13. Stormy Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

Coming in at #13 in the top 14 photos of 2014 feature is the only shot I actually put in my portfolio from the Keeper of the Plains this year. Usually I have a slew of Keeper shots each year, but I took a bit of a break to shoot other things. This year, I will be attempting to shoot at least one shot of the Keeper every week of the year (excluding when I’m out of town).

This particular shot was taken as clouds were rolling by. The upper clouds in the distance had intense orange and red in them, while the lower darker clouds were never hit by the sun. The contrast was really interesting and made for a unique shot.

This photo was featured in a 27 Things People From Wichita Have To Explain To Out-Of-Towners. I featured at #4!

Blue Hour at Waimea Bay Pier

14. Blue Hour at Waimea Bay Pier

Coming in at #14 is a shot I took on my very first morning in Kauai! It was a beautiful morning. While the sunrise never really took on a lot of color, the sky was still beautiful and it was amazing just listening to the crashing waves at the pier in Waimea. I was almost completely alone on this gorgeous beach with only a lone Hawaiian fishermen sharing the beach with me that morning.

Posted under: Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, News & Updates

13 Images From 2013!

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Mickey

2013 was an interesting year for my photography and contrasted greatly with 2012. In 2012, I traveled more than I have ever traveled in a single year. Two massive road trips that covered a majority of the entire US and Canada west coast combined for 7,000 plus miles of stunning scenery dominated my portfolio in 2012.. For 2013, outside of a short trip to Colorado for fall colors, my entire year is made up with local Kansas shots. In one year, I went from single to married, and it was absolutely a great year! However, just because my life changed dramatically, I don’t feel as though my photography suffered. It just took a different and unique direction. I focused more on the local scene, spending a lot of time at the Keeper of the Plains and out on the open skies of the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas! Below is a collection of 13 of my best images from 2013!


 

Star Trails Over Teter Rock

13. Star Trails Over Teter Rock

Teter Rock, Kansas, USA – February

This image stands out to me mostly because I tried something a little different with my star trails. When I shot the star trails in this image, I took 30 second exposures for 30 minutes to an hour. Usually when I use this technique, I stack them into one image to create this effect. The other method is to just shoot a long bulb shot for 30 minutes or more. In this particular image I used the stacking method. However, I tried something new by increasing the exposure on the last shot. It created a sort of brighter “tail” to each star trail. I’ll be using this technique and more to try to make my night shots stand out as more unique in the coming year.


 

Geary State Fishing Lake Waterfall

12. Geary State Fishing Lake Waterfall

Geary State Fishing Lake, Kansas – June

This was shot during a short trip into the Flint Hills for my now-wife’s birthday. We wanted to find this waterfall as I had heard it was one of the largest in Kansas. It was before the flooding later in the summer, but still had some good spring melt runoff going on. It stands out to me as the first Kansas waterfall in an adventure I’ve started to undertake to find them all!


 

Kansas Gold

11. Kansas Gold

Wichita, Kansas – June

I shot this shortly before harvest near Wichita. The wheat fields swaying in the wind looked like swirls of gold against a beautiful Kansas sky. Hence the title Kansas Gold.


 

A Hint of Autumn

10. A Hint of Autumn

Maroon Bells, Colorado – September

This one is a little different for me. I usually get drawn in by grand landscape scenes, but lately I’ve been trying my hand at more intimate scenes like the one here. This was one of my favorites from the September fall colors trip out to Colorado. I was really happy with the contrast between the snow covered pine’s and the few stands of aspens spread out to give it a splash of warm color.


 

Chisholm Creek Fall Colors

9. Chisolm Creek Fall Colors

Wichita, Kansas, USA – October

This autumn there was a good 2-3 day period of lots of rain. I had moved to a new place on the northeast side of Wichita, and decided to check out the Chisholm Creek Park trail system to find a few good locations to shoot. I managed to find this little waterfall (shortly after dropping my lens cap in the same creek and slipping camera first into the mud). With the water pouring heavily over the falls, I shot what I feel is one of the best autumn shots I’ve managed in Kansas.


 

Summer Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

8. Summer Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

Wichita, Kansas – July

After years of drought an a nearly empty Arkansas River in downtown Wichita, the area was graced by lots of flooding, causing the River to swell to heights not seen for a few years. It made for some more interesting shots than a foreground of grass where there should be water. I shot this when the river was at about it’s normal height, with the fire pits going and a beautiful sunset in the background.


 

Keeper of the Plains Lightning

7. Keeper of the Plains Lightning

Wichita, Kansas, USA – July

Every year, I manage to get at least one crazy lightning shot down at the Keeper of the Plains. This year was no exception, and produced the shot above. Usually the place clears out when the storms get closer, but there was a surprisingly large amount of people enjoying the light show with us. The end result is what you see above.


 

Lower Chase Lake Falls

6. Lower Chase Lake Falls

Chase State Fishing Lake, Kansas – June

I took this shot back in June on a birthday day trip with my now wife. This was the best shot from that particular trip. While the waterfall wasn’t flowing heavily, it still made for a beautiful scene. It’s still probably my favorite waterfall to shoot in the state, because I always seem to get a good shot there. I’m sure I’ll be back in the spring this year, or even in the winter if a good rainstorm hits.


 

The Heartland of America

5. The Heartland of America

Wichita, Kansas, USA – June

One complaint I’ve had for years about my Kansas galleries is the lack of wheat and sunflower fields. While I’ve yet to get a few sunflower field shots, I did manage to capture a few good shots of the beautiful wheat fields that Kansas farms are known for! The sky was brilliant the night I shot this, with beautiful cloud formations to work with and the wind rustling the amber waves of grain gave some of the images from that day a swirl of gold for the foreground.


 

Silent Night Over East Beckwith Mountain

4. Silent Night Over East Beckwith Mountain

Lost Lake Slough, Kebler Pass Area, Colorado, USA – September

This one took a lot of time to get right. Every time I go to Colorado, I plan to take a few night shots. Whether it’s because of time constraints, weather or some other reason, I never seem to get one. This time I was bound and determined to shoot a good Milky Way shot. This particular one was fun, as it was a new place. I had heard that the Kebler Pass area west of Crested Butte was beautiful in the autumn, but didn’t realize how beautiful! Camped at Lost Lake Slough, the area is definitely one of the more remote campgrounds in the state. Beautiful aspen colors, tons of hiking trails and gorgeous scenery dominate the area. A few hours after I shot this, clouds rolled in and we woke up to a snow covered tent the next morning. But what a beautiful night of stars it was!


 

Autumn at Chase Lake Falls

3. Autumn at Chase Lake Falls

Chase State Fishing Lake, Chase County, Kansas, USA

This image was shot by complete accident. I had been trying to find time to shoot a good autumn scene at one of the many waterfalls I had found over the summer. I missed shooting with the leaves still up in the trees, but made it over to the falls at Chase State Fishing Lake as the leaves scattered the ground and pool of water below the lower waterfall. The early morning sun kept peeking out from the clouds just enough to give some interesting side light to the scene. To say I had planned this shot would be a lie, as this is one of those photos that I love but was taken by sheer luck!

Sunset at Moraine Lake

2. Autumn and Winter Collide at the Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado – September

This photo moved up the ranks of my top photos pretty quick. The day I spent traveling around the mountains near Aspen during a brief collision of autumn and winter was pretty spectacular! Beautiful autumn colors mixed with wintery scenes to create the scene above. One of the nice things about shooting on the night this was taken was the complete lack of photographers. I’ve been there on cool autumn mornings with 200 other photographers lining the lake trying to capture the same sunrise image of the Bells. I usually become disappointed in knowing I’m getting the same shot as everyone, and walk around the lake to the creek beyond. On this evening, however, there were only two of us braving the cold for a good shot of the Bells as they would appear, disappear and reappear every few minutes from the clouds that were, at times, dropping good amounts of snow on the already beautiful scene. Shortly before I shot this scene, a moose wandered out of the woods to the north of the lake, followed by 4-5 photographers all trying to get a good shot of him. Even more comical, after I finished shooting this scene, the moose wandered back out of the trees on the other side of the lake stalking those same photographers who had gotten way too close.


 

Delano District Sunset

1. Delano District Sunset

Wichita, Kansas – January

There is no way that this image wasn’t going to make first place! I could have traveled as much as I did in 2012 and probably not found a sunset as stunning as this one was back in January. This was shot on a chilly Friday evening in January only one year ago at the Delano clocktower. Besides the beauty of the sunrise, there are two things that I remember standing out to this photograph. First, the image was used as the cover of the 2013 Delano Visitors Guide, available at businesses throughout the Delano area of Wichita. Second, I remember my now-wife going nuts for this photo when I first posted it. (we had traded Facebook comments about both the sunrise and sunset that day. It was only a few shorts weeks later that I took her to a local lake to teach her star trails. This photo will always be special to me for that reason!


I also want to share one photo that I don’t have for sale, but would for sure be on this list if it was in my portfolio. Back in late July, I proposed to my then girlfriend and now wife (married for all of 12 days now!). Being a landscape photographer, I had to get the ultimate picture of my proposal. I had it all ready to go. Teter Rock was a special place for us, as we hung out for one of the first times out there on the prairie. I had taken a few night shots out there before, and knew exactly what I wanted for my proposal. A picture of the proposal with all the beautiful stars in the background. Full the full story of the proposal, just click the picture. You can read all about how I used a remote to capture the scene below.

Flint Hills Proposal

 

As you can see, this was a pretty active year of local photography. 2014 is already shaping up to be a great year as well! I’ve already made it to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to start the year off with some winter fun! For all who have asked me for years to add some tropical ocean shots to my portfolio, it looks like this will be the year to do it! I will also have a major art show this summer at a good location here in Wichita that I will announce at some point soon! Not to mention, plans for a complete revamp of my website and blog! So keep checking back in 2014 to see what kind of amazing stuff I have in store! And feel free to comment here and on Facebook to let me know what kinds of photography you’d like to see!

Here’s a few honorable mentions:
Lined up for the Show
Chase Lake Falls of Gold
Waterfalls of Cowley State Fishing Lake
Keeper of the Clouds
Lights of Delano District
Keeper of the Fog
Blizzard of Oz
Keeper of the Plains Winter Landscape
Star Trails Over Teter Rock

Posted under: News & Updates

New Colorado Photos!

Posted on August 11, 2011 by Mickey

I’ve added 16 new images from my recent trip to Colorado. This trip spanned Rocky Mountain National Park, the Maroon Bells, Hanging Lake and the Mount Sneffels region of the San Juans near Ridgway. The biggest challenge of these photos is that I shot the first two days in JPEG before realizing I wasn’t shooting in RAW. Most of the better images were salvaged (I’m particularly happy with a few of the Maroon Bells shots) but won’t be printable at my normal large sizes.

Thankfully I realized my error by the time we reached the San Juans, allowing me to shoot the Blue Lake region in RAW. This area was absolutely stunning. The lower Blue Lake reminds me of the color of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park up in the Canadian Rockies. In addition, we hit the area when wildflower season was at it’s peak, so stalks of all sorts of flowers surrounding the lake and meadows nearby. These were certainly the best images from the trip. I’ve set up a newest additions gallery to show all the newest photos from this trip (along with a more recent shot from Wichita, KS). You can view them in the Newest Additions photo gallery.

I’m still not sure where my next photo trip will be, but I’ll be trying to shoot a few new Kansas shots over the coming month or two. If anyone has any suggestions on where I should go shoot next, feel free to drop me a line! I’m always open to suggestions if I can manage it!

Posted under: Colorado, News & Updates