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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

Top 10 Favorite Photos Edited in 2019

A mountain laid before me in 2019 with years of travel yet to be edited. Determined, the goal was to level that mountain by 2020. I didn't get close! But I did manage to put a solid dent in that massive pile of photos. Some of these trips have been collecting dust for years and some were taken a few months ago. To give a quick sample of all the long hours of editing throughout last year my next list of 10 is my favorite photos edited during 2019. (The list doesn't contain photos on or coming to the gallery)

10. Manarola

The coastal Italian town of Manarola shines bright and colorful in the afternoon sun overlooking the water

In the spring of 2018, I spent the better part of two weeks sprinting around Italy. From Milan to Venice, Tuscany and the Cinque Terre to the Amalfi Coast the wheels kept moving. By the end of the trip, there were thousands of photos to edit. Finally, last year I closed the folder on that epic journey and was left craving cliff side pesto and wine. Coming in at #10 on the list is this photo of Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre. This photo is perfect for a desktop background or a calendar which means it's not really my style of photography but the bright colors and clear blue sky make me want to pop open a bottle of wine and watch the boats come in.

9. Crested Butte

The mountains of Crested Butte nestled in a blanket of yellow aspens in autumn.

Another one for the 2020 calendar. Have I made it clear why I love Crested Butte yet? This shot was taken in the fall of 2018. I have years of backed up Crested Butte photos because every year I run through cards capturing the golden carpet of a Crested Butte fall. I still have a lot of Colorado left to edit so there could be more amazing photos like this waiting to be unearthed but they can wait for the 2020 edition of this list. I also love how the pile of wood on the right side of the stream resembles a t-rex skull.

8. Union Station

Denver's Union Station lit up like a rainbow during pride week.

Denver's Union Station has been photographed many a time from this vantage point. During Pride Week last year, the old train station got the full rainbow treatment. I'd spent the evening wandering around downtown on an urban photoshoot until the sun set and a storm blew off the mountains. As I headed back to my car I cut through the station and found this composition I've seen numerous times. I was hesitant to take the photo but figured the unusual lighting of the station was worth a snap or two. Ultimately I wasn't alone as a crown of camera phones joined my on the bridge but I still liked the photo enough to put it on the list.

7. Eiffel Tower BW

A direct angle of the Eiffel Tower in black and white.

One of the best travel decisions I've ever made was booking long layovers on our way to and from Italy. On the way there we got an afternoon in Paris and on the way home we spent a night in London. It wasn't enough to truly experience the cities but long enough to get a feel and see some of the major sights. Everyone has seen the Eiffel Tower but it's one of those locations where the only way to experience it is to be there. The sheer magnitude was astounding and the architecture was bewildering. This photo is one of my favorites because the focus is entirely on the tower. Without color or foreground details to distract, the only thing to focus on is the remarkable structure itself.

6. Downtown Denver 12

A red crane positioned in front of a black, white, and blue geometric building in Denver, Colorado.

I mentioned earlier that I spent an evening wandering around downtown Denver on an urban photo safari. Shots like this were far more frequent and excitable than the Union Station reproduction. I was actually surprised by the amount of inspiration I found in an urban setting. The geometric shapes and patterns grabbed my eye as much as the textures of a sand dune at dusk. What really makes this photo for me is the red crane. The contrasting color against the grid of the building adds depth to the image and makes it far more dynamic than the rest of the photos from that day.

5. Splash Rock 3

A wave crashes over a rock in Kauai as the sun sets behind it.

Hawaii was a location that took so long to edit a second trip that occurred before the first one was finished. This was from the first trip to Hawaii on the island of Kauai. This small peninsula of volcanic rock was wild from a photographer's point of view. Sarah got bored quickly watching me shoot, luckily the sunset was there to keep her entertained. As for me, a couple of natural blowholes were fun to photograph along with the crashing waves against the rocks. I was photographing this tide pool when I noticed this rock lined up with the setting sun and got a consistent dousing of white foam. My one complaint is the industrial buildings in the background.

4. Amalfi Clouds

Low hanging clouds drift through the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

A little different scene from the first Italy photo on the list, this city in the clouds was taken on the Amalfi Coast in the popular town of Positano. On of the rare cloudy days throughout the entire trip, these towering cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean were consumed by the clouds. Photos of Positano tend to resemble #10 on the list more than this photo but the dramatic composition of the clouds rolling through the mountains plays much more to my tastes. I wish I could have been in one of those houses on the cliff overlooking the popular destination through the clouds.

3. Tide 2

An abstract black and white photo of a wave rolling onto the beach in Costa Rica.

At the end of 2018, I took a spontaneous trip to Costa Rica. Essentially a long weekend, there weren't a lot of photos taken as a result. The little amount of the Central American country I was able to explore was beautiful and definitely warrants a longer stay in the future. Being so close to 2019, it was the first folder I cleaned up last year. A lot of those photos have made their way to social media already including this one but it remains one of my favorites from last year's editing binge. You know my love for textures and the contrast of the white foam on the evening sand almost earned this photo a spot in the gallery but instead, it inspired a future series I'll explain in another list of 10.

2. Bamboo

A lone stalk of tan bamboo runs diagonally behind a wall of green stalks in Hawaii.

The bamboo forest in Haleakala National Park was one of the most amazing places I've ever been to. Thick stalks of soaring bamboo blocked out the sky with an eerie stillness. The only sound to break the silence was the soothing wooden clopping of the stalks colliding in the breeze. I have a few bamboo shots awaiting release on the gallery in the coming months but this photo was definitely up for consideration. I love the simplicity and the moody darkness with the focal point on the joint of the diagonal brown stalk. I could have shot in the forest all day but with the light already scarce at the forest floor, the evening light made conditions even tougher to photograph in.

1. Tuscany 2

Sun rays shoot through the clouds over a cypress tree lined hill in Tuscany.

Did I get tired of naming photos from Tuscany? Yes. There's a reason the region landed on my 10 favorite places to shoot list. Eventually, I had to go with the running sequel in order to get to the next photo. This sunrise was a complete tease with very few breaks coming in the clouds. The endless green landscape never glowed in the morning rays as I had hoped but the rays breaking through made for incredible photos like this. Eventually, the sun came out and soaked the Earth but was too high by that point to capture the coveted golden hour. While I don't like to stalk a landscape waiting for the right light, I still love to shoot the sun on the horizon. I reduced this list to photos you won't see in my gallery but this one might have a sister you'll be seeing very soon.

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