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2014 was another landmark year for me in terms of travel and photography.
- In February, I was named the Travel Photographer of the Year by the North American Travel Journalists Association.
- In April, I was named the Travel Photographer of the Year by the Central States Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers.
- In April I also took the Gold Medal in the annual Northern Lights Awards by the Canadian Tourism Commission for photojournalism of Canada.
- In September, I was runner up in the Travel Photographer of the Year competition for the Society of American Travel writers.
- In September, I also won a Lowell Thomas Award in Photo Illustration of Travel. My 3rd Lowell Thomas Award in as many years.
All-in-all, not a bad year.
Here are some of my favorite photo of 2014. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!
 2014 began with a bang for me as I was in Sydney to photograph their annual New Year’s Fireworks on the Sydney Harbor. I would love to return to photograph the fireworks again, as I wasn’t able to set up at an ideal spot.
 I spent the first half of the year in Africa. I started my African adventure in the city of Durban where I was headquartered for a few weeks. During my time, I visited nearby Drakensberg National Park and drove up the Sani Pass to Lesotho.
 After Durban, I did a road trip through northern South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. During my trip I stopped in iSimangaliso Wetlands Park where I captured this image of young male hippos sparring with each other.
 The northernmost point of my road trip was Mapungubwe National Park. This photo shows the Limpopo River and three different countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
 After visiting Victoria Falls and driving down to Cape Town from Johannesburg, I hopped on a royal mail ship for an 18 day round trip voyage to the remote island of St. Helena. Most famous as the place where Napoleon was exiled, it was an amazing place in its own right. This is the Lot’s Wife rock formation on the island.
 In the capital of St. Helena, Jamestown, there is a 699 step staircase which goes up the side of a cliff. Needless to say, driving is much easier than walking.
 After returning to Cape Town from St Helena, I had 2 weeks to explore the city before my next adventure. I found Cape Town to be not only my favorite city in Africa, but one of the best cities in the world.
 The most iconic part of Cape Town is, of course, Table Mountain. I’ve been to the top several times and the view is really hit or miss depending on the weather. Thankfully I was able to visit once this year on a very clear day.
 In early April I began my biggest adventure of the year. I sailed up the west coast of Africa with G Adventures. (see my full photo essay here). Our first stop was Luderitz, Namibia which is home to the Kolmanskop ghost town. There, the desert is slowly reclaiming the buildings.
 After a stop in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, Namibia, our next stop was in Lobito and Benguela, Angola. Not a country which gets many visitors, we did a tour of both cities and also watch some street musicians perform.
 After Angola we sailed to Port Noire in the Republic of Congo. Again, it is a place which doesn’t get a lot of visitors. The highlight of the trip was delivering school supplies to a local school and being treated to a singing performance by the children.
 From Port Noire we crossed the equator and visited the island of Sao Tome, capital of the country of Sao Tome and Principe. Given how small the island is, we were able to see quite a bit of it. The highlight for me was visiting the Delmonte Coffee Plantation and photographing some of the local kids there.
 Our visit to the island of Principe was mostly a day of relaxing. While I was there I went exploring with one of the boat staff and found this abandoned church out in the forest.
 After being denied a landing in Benin due to the port being closed for Easter, we changed plans on the fly and visited Lome, Togo for Easter instead. There we visited the village of Akato Viepe where we were treated to a royal reception.
 In Benin we visited the village of Ganvie. Originally founded several hundred years ago by people who fled to the middle of a lake to escape slavers, the village still exists today.
 In Ghana, we visited several slave castles along the coast along with the capital of Accra. This photos is of fishermen getting their ships ready to go out in the town of Cape Coast, Ghana.
 Perhaps the most photogenic place we visited in West Africa was Sierra Leone. Despite all the bad press which the country gets, I found the people to be very friendly and outgoing. We anchored in Freetown for two nights.
 We had the Sierra Leone national Dance Troupe come and perform for us on the ship. During the performance, I got this shot of a fire dancer, which is one of my favorite photos of the year.
 I met these kids near John Obey beach and they were just delightful. They would ask me to lift them up on the branch of the tree and then jump off. All the while, they wanted me to take their photo and I happily obliged.
 As we left Sierra Leone, we left the very warm waters of the Gulf of Guinea and turned the corner and started heading north. We arrived in Banjul, The Gambia. An interesting country and city, totally surrounded by Senegal by land. I took this photo of a woman selling fish in the main market in Banjul.
 Dakkar is very different from the rest of West Africa we had just visited. A more modern and cosmopolitan city, it was easy to see the French influences despite all the traffic and commotion.
 There are many “Doors of No Return” in Africa. Doors where slaves left to board ships, never to return. This one on Goree Island draws many visitors and students who come to learn about history of slavery in the region.
 As we moved north, we visited the Moroccan controlled area of Western Sahara. I had no idea what to expect before I arrived, and was surprised to learn that Dakhla was one of the kite surfing capitals of the world.
 Our last stop before arriving in Morocco was the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. I had previously visit almost all of the Canary Islands back in 2011….except for Fuerteventura. All the islands are different and the sand dunes of Fuerteventura proved that true again.
 After sailing up the entire length of the African continent from Cape Town I flew…..back to Cape Town! Here I met the photographers who were attending my 3rd annual photography tour with G Adventures. One of the first stops on the photography tour was Cape Point, where we saw an odd sight: a rare cape zebra foraging in the ash of a fire. It looked like he was in the middle of snow!
 The beach in the nearby town of Muizenberg has some amazingly colorful beach houses.
 The high point of the photography tour was Kruger National Park. We spent two days in the park photographing the wildlife in the area. On the second day in the park, we saw all five of the Big Five before lunch! This leopard sitting in a tree was the one which completed the Big Five for us.
 The sheer number of large animals in Kruger was something I had never seen before. You were almost never more than 10-15 minutes away from seeing something large and unforgettable.
 After a few weeks of rest, I set out on my longest adventure of the year. A 3-month, 12,000 mile road trip through the western United States and Canada photographing national parks. This photo is of the Rock of Ages Lighthouse in Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.
 My next park was Voyagers National Park in Northern Minnesota. Heavy rains and flooding made for some interesting photo opportunities.
 Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba is about 2 hours from Winnipeg. It is a lesser known national park, but is a great place to visit when in Manitoba.
 The drive through the Great Plains wasn’t a boring one for me. I’ve always loved the prairie and I was looking forward to visiting Grasslands National Park. Saskatchewan was also my 10th and final Canadian province to visit.
 I had a blast photographing the Calgary Stampede, the world’s largest rodeo. The action was so fast paced, that an award winning shot could happen at any moment.
 I was so happy to return to Banff. It is truly a photographer’s playground. The view of Moraine Lake in the morning is one of the iconic images of the Canadian Rockies.
 In Jasper National Park I had the chance to get some great lightning shots. It is something i don’t often have the opportunity to do, but there was a storm coming over the mountains just as the sun was setting, and the effect was dramatic.
 Wood Buffalo National Park is the 2nd largest national park in the world, and one of the least visited in North America. A massive 44,807 km2 (17,300 mi2) area in northern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, it is a landscape of forest, lakes, meadows and wetlands, parts of which have never been visited by humans.
 I have been to a lot of places all over the world, and I can say without hesitation that Nahanni National Park is one of the greatest. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to visit. First, you have to get yourself to Fort Simpson, NWT. Then you need to get on a float plane, as the park has no roads. Only 800 people a year get to see the awesome grandeur which is Nahanni. Virginia Falls in Nahanni is one of the largest waterfalls in the world, yet few people even know it exists.
 One benefit to taking a float plane into the park is that you get great aerial views of the surrounding mountains. Nahanni has parts which will remind you of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite….all in one place.
 I came south through British Columbia and photographed some of the Northern Rockies. I got this shot of a moose that had been feeding underwater from a canoe.
 I have wanted to get some decent photos of bald eagles for years, but never had the right equipment and circumstances. At the WAC Bennet Dam in British Columbia, I had both and finally was able to get some bald eagle photos I could be proud of.
 Yoho National Park is on the British Columbia side of the Rocky Mountains, adjacent to Banff and Kootenay National Parks. It his home to Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada.
 Pacific Rim National Park is the on the wild Pacific coast of Canada. The thick fog that I experienced when I was there was totally gone once I went just a mile inland. It was incredible to see just how much the weather changed once you get near the ocean.
 In September I attended a conference in Cancun and made it a point to finally go and visit Chichen Itza. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and it was well worth the trip.
 I returned to Ireland in 2014, which is never a bad thing. This year I explored parts of the Wild Atlantic Way before heading to a conference.
 After Ireland, I visited Malta for the first time. This image was taken in the capital of Valletta at the Saluting Battery. Every day at noon they fire a cannon, as was the tradition so ships could set their clocks.
 After Malta I flew to Cyprus to meet up with some old friends and visit the World Heritage sites on the island. The Painted Churches of the Troodos Region was especially nice. I ended up visiting 5 of the 10 churches which comprised the world heritage site and was able to take photos in a few of them. The churches are all very small and date back over 500 years.
 After a conference in Athens, Greece, I was going to head north to Serbia, but I was forced to change plans and ended up going to Meteora. I’m glad I did. It is an amazing environment and a wonderful place to photograph.
 I had one final conference to attend in London in November. After which I headed south to Cornwall and Devon to visit some world heritage sites I hadn’t been to in England. One of which was the Jurassic Coast.
 After all the travel I’d done this year I needed to take a break, so I spent the last month and a half of 2014 in Girona, Catalonia. Despite resting and getting some work done, I have still and time to go out and shoot.