My Top Landscape and Nature Photography From 2016

In Photography by Matt K23 Comments

At the end of every year, I always enjoy going through my photos and picking some of my favorites. It’s a fun exercise. And I inevitably end up finding some photos that I may not have thought much of at the time, but I really like now. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try it. I think you’ll enjoy the process.

Less Travel = Less Photos

2016 was an interesting year of photography for me. While I enjoyed my photography (probably more than ever) this past year, I don’t think I made my best photography ever – but I’m still really happy with it. Why you ask? Partly because I didn’t travel like crazy – like I used to.

I’ve done my share of traveling over the last 15 years. It’s kind of interesting – traveling is almost like a badge of honor for many. People talk about their frequent flyer miles and their upgrades with pride – I know I did. But I definitely started feeling the effects of it. And more importantly, my wife and kids really started feeling it too. It wasn’t good (for any of us) for me to be away that much.

But for the last couple of years I’ve been lucky in having the opportunity to hold back on how much I’m away from home. I was able to shift my income from seminars/workshop that I need to travel to, to more online training. And today I say no to many more trips than I say yes to.

Overall I think I did a pretty good job of balancing in 2016. I can proudly say I didn’t make the top tier of Delta’s frequent flyer program. I didn’t make any tier of any hotel chain, or car rental company. And I can even more proudly say that my wife/kids are most likely tired of seeing me around the house (and yes, that’s a good thing) 🙂

Less Travel Didn’t Mean No Travel

Even though I traveled much less, I did have a few great opportunities for photography in 2016. First off, my wife and I went along with some friends to Iceland last February. Airfare was cheap. And we were able to split the costs with 7 others to make an amazing trip more affordable. It was great! No work – just photography and traveling around.

I also had some teaching opportunities in Chicago, New York, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Costa Rica. And I was able to come back with a few keepers from each one of those places as well.

One thing that less travel and photo trips has led to, is me trying to make great photos near my home more often, and try to make a nice photo in some of the non-exotic places I did travel.

The Gear

Most photos were taken with the following equipment. You can always see more on my Gear page as well.

Camera Body: Sony A7RII or Sony a6300


The tripod I use the most now is the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L. I’ve switched over to it (from the TVC-33) now that my gear is smaller. And I use the RRS BH-40 Ballhead.

As for filters, I didn’t use many this year, but when I did I usually put on the Vu Filter system that I wrote about here.

And Now…My Favorite Photos of 2016

Okay, here goes. Here’s my favorite photos of 2016. Click on any photo to see it larger. And if you’re wondering how these photos made this category, it was simple. They’re my personal favorites. I didn’t ask anyone about them. I didn’t look at likes or favorites or anything if I posted them on Social Media. They’re just photos that I’m particularly fond of for some reason or another. And since I don’t make a living from selling my photos to others, I’m pretty sure that’s all that counts these days 🙂

Safety Harbor Sunrise (Sony a6300, f/22, 13 sec., ISO 100) – I photographed this for a project for Sony with the Sony a6300 and kit lens. It’s a place I’d been to many times before, since it’s only about 20 minutes from the house. But never at sunrise.


Jökulsárlón (Iceland) Sony A7RII, f/16, 1/10, ISO 50 – This was taken on the beach here in Tampa 😉 LOL! Yeah right. The only ice on our beaches come from a cooler. This one was actually taken at the popular beach in Jökulsárlón Iceland. You’ve probably seen 1000 photos of ice on beaches in Iceland by now. It seems they’re as common as anything these days. Sadly, the day I was there it was cloudy and this was the only piece of ice on the beach (sometimes there’s hundreds of them). I’ve seen many better from this location, with the sun shining through the ice and nice warm colors – this isn’t one of them but I still like it.


Dunedin Sunset (Sony A7RII, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 400) – Probably one of my favorites from 2016. And it was taken a spot I’ve photographed many times in Dunedin, FL. This was right before the Iceland trip and I had taken my wife with me to get her familiar with her camera for the upcoming trip. The sunset didn’t look like much, but it definitely delivered at the right time. I photographed it from a location and in a different way than I had before, and it’s now one of my favorites.


Chicago Twilight (Sony A7RII, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100) – I taught at the Out of Chicago conference in June. My wife came with me and we ended up with a really nice view out of the room when we checked in around that evening. We were starving, but I pulled the “honey, just give me a minute to take a photo” card and came up with this one through the window. I shut all the lights in the room, and put the camera lens right up against the window to avoid reflections. About 40 minutes later, we left for dinner. Luckily my wife is used to the “honey just give me a minute to take a photo” phrase, and knew to manage her expectations of when we’d actually go eat 😉


Another Dunedin Sunset (Sony A6300, f/11, 1/40, ISO 200) – Remember when I said I was forced to shoot around home more often. Well here’s a couple from Dunedin, FL. Just up the road from the previous location. I had actually never been to this spot before either. It doesn’t have a lot of the things I look for in a great landscape. The foreground isn’t particular extraordinary, but I just love the colors I get when I shoot there.




New York Rooftop at the Ink 48 Hotel (Sony A7RII, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100) – This was taken in October while I was teaching at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York. The hotel we stayed at had a nice bar on the rooftop. They didn’t allow tripods, but I was able to pull out my Platypod and make a sharp photo. I wrote a little more about it here if you want to read the story.


Dyrhólaey Iceland (Sony A7RII, f/22, 1/10, ISO 100) – This is one of my favorites from the Iceland Trip. The sun was coming up and casting some gorgeous golden light on this little arch. With a little bit of timing, you can catch the waves crashing against the rocks and the sun lighting up the splash that it made.


Costa Rica Wildlife (Sony A7RII, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100) – There’s two photos for this one…Something really interesting happened during my trip to Costa Rica. I became more interested in wildlife photography. I’ve never much been in to photographing wildlife, but on this trip, I really started to enjoy it. On this day, we came across these monkey’s that seemed to pose for us at times. So cool! And on the drive back, it started raining and I grabbed the photo below.




Calliandra Haematocephala, AKA. Flower 🙂 (Sony A7RII, 70-200 with 2x Extender, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100) – While walking around the grounds of the Crocodile Bay resort in Costa Rica, I came across this one. I didn’t have my macro lens with me so I put the 70-200 on, with the 2x extender. I stood WAY WAY back so I was able to get some nice depth-of-field, and grabbed this shot.


Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains (Sony A7RII, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100) – I taught at the annual Great Smoky Mountain Photography Summit again this past October and managed to grab this photo one morning. I love the way the sun coming up lights up the trees, along with some nice rocks and water in the foreground.


Glacier National Park (Sony A7RII, f/11, 1/40, ISO 100) – This is one of the iconic locations and photos that you’d get while visiting Glacier NP. I’m by far not the first to take it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of my favorites from the trip.


Canon Beach, Oregon (Sony A7RII, f/22, 1/5, ISO 50) – Back when I worked for ON1, I took a trip out to Portland to visit the office. But I also made it out to Canon Beach for a day and grabbed this one. For me, I love the simplicity in the photo and the beautiful clouds reflecting in the water on the beach.


Swiftcurrent Falls, Glacier NP (Sony A7RII, f/16, 1/2, ISO 50) – You go to this area in Glacier NP to shoot Many Glacier (Below) at sunrise. But one of my favorites from the trip, was this little bridge nearby that faces the opposite direction.


Many Glacier, Glacier NP (Sony A7RII, f/16, 0.3 sec, ISO 100) – The above photo doesn’t mean that Many Glacier wasn’t a site to see at sunrise as well. It’s gorgeous as you watch the sun come up from behind you and peel across the peaks. And if you’re lucky enough to get a nice reflection, even better!


Ice Cave in Iceland (iPhone 6s Plus) – While we were in Iceland we visited an ice cave. While I love the ice cave photos, there was something so simple and beautiful about this photo I snapped with my iPhone.


Costa Rica Sunrise (Sony A7RII, 70-200 + 2x Extender, f/8, 1/100, ISO 100)  – While I really enjoyed photographing the wildlife in Costa Rica, that doesn’t mean I didn’t love my landscapes as well. This was taken at the dock that’s attached to the resort (Crocodile Bay Resort) where we stayed for the weekend on the Osa Peninsula. It’s actually way off in the distance, but I put my 70-200 with the 2x Extender on to zoom in on the light show that was going on in the distance.


Costa Rica Surfer (Sony A7RII, f/5.6, 1/8000, ISO 800) – There was a surfer getting ready to go out at one of the beaches we visited in Costa Rica. He had a pretty cool pre-surf routine and I was able to capture it. I saw him walking out and I actually could have moved closer and had an unobstructed view. But I deliberately frame him with these branches because I felt it helped tell the story a little better.


The Bahamas (iPhone 7 Plus) – And last but not least… this photo was taken off the deck of the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas (our annual family holiday cruise). Yep, it’s touristy. Yep, it’s not in great light. But I love it. Maybe because it reminds me of a great family vacation 🙂


Thanks for stopping by to check out my top photos of 2016. Have a link to your top photos? Feel free to post it here in the comments. I’d love to see ’em. I hope you enjoyed! Have a good one.



    Hi Matt – Lovely shots! We loved Iceland when we went (about four years ago now), and will definitely be going back at some point. I do a similar thing, and here are mine for the year:

    1. Author
      Matt K

      Thanks Richard – I love the one with the glowing lanterns about 3-4 images down. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alan D. Brunelle

    Thanks for sharing these Matt – I liked Canon Beach, Oregon the best – what a fantastic capture! Best wishes for 2017.

  3. Tammy

    Iceland is one of my favorite places and I love your pics from there. But my favorite from you this year is Cannon Beach. I love my home state of Oregon and you got a great shot of the reflections surrounding Haystack.

  4. Allan

    Spectacular Matt!

    Love Elkmont, Icelandic Arch, Swiftcurrent falls among many. Also love that despite the wall prints you can choose the ones that mean something to you even if not text book – soft spots and passions come in all shapes and sizes!

    Thanks for sharing and have a great 2017

  5. Chris Volf

    Thanks for sharing Matt. Your images are motivation to those of us that wait until travel takes us to new lands before really pursuing a photo challenge. Time to get out and see the neighborhood.

  6. Richard Siggins

    Hey Matt. Great collection of photos. Even with a lot fewer miles you still manages to get to some really cool places. Living where you do doesn’t hurt either. That chunk of ice also ended up on my collection of 2016 favorites on my blog. That was a great trip.

  7. Alex Latter

    Hi Matt.All great photos, but if you come to England we will take you to our home in Cornwall.
    Not only will you have a great time but we will take you to some great locations and the best
    of all at no charge.Cornwall is even better then Florida.

  8. Dr David Jones

    Had a great time shooting with you at Glacier NP Matt! Great photos all over the place. Hope we’ll meet up again down the road.

  9. Steve Madden

    Hi Matt! Gorgeous shots and it really is all about what you, the artist, like and enjoy. BTW, were you at all conflicted about shooting Canon Beach with a Sony camera??? ;>)

    1. Author
      Matt K

      Thanks Steve! I really appreciate it. I wasn’t conflicted but my camera turned an angry red and now I know why! 😉

  10. Pam

    Aha! I knew it! I’m from Safety Harbor and have thought I recognized the locations of your FL pictures throughout the years! They are beautifully done.

    1. Author
      Matt K

      Thanks Pam. Yep, that one is the pier in downtown Safety Harbor. A few of the others are really close in Dunedin. Once the kids head of too college, we’ll probably move somewhere over that way. Love it there!

  11. Tom Brooks


    Having used Capture NX2 to edit for many years, I’m now in the process of switching to Lightroom/Photoshop CC. It’s much more difficult to grasp than NX2 (being 71 probably doesn’t help), but I’m making progress with the help of your training videos. You have a very understandable and helpful teaching style.



    1. Author
      Matt K

      Thanks Tom. I think you’ll enjoy the switch. Once you get the LR Catalog/Import process under control, editing should be MUCH easier.

    2. Tom Brooks


      I have your Lightroom crash course; which is great. (1) Since that is the case, do you think I would benefit from the expanded edition of your Lightroom course? (2) Do you have or are planning to develop a similar expanded course for Photoshop CC?


  12. Jim Andrews

    Hi Matt:
    Beautiful shots!,, Love the ones you shot in Iceland. Just what is the secret to capture the mural effects your photos exhibit pose process. I am always striving to obtain that effect. I use LR 5.71 with. Photoshop elements. 13 plus On one suite.


  13. shireen


    Beautiful shots. My two favourites Safety Harbour sunrise and many glacier.

  14. Rick Hayes

    Love all of those shots Matt. Had to chuckle when I saw the sunrise shot at Many Glacier and the one from the little bridge. I have almost exactly the same two shots, but they were taken in the middle of the day (one of many hazy days we had during that trip in 2009 because of the numerous wildfires) while on a hike with my wife. What a difference in the drama of the scenes. Also had many other mountain shots but didn’t have any from that “iconic location” that you showed.

  15. Ron Rucker

    Hello Matt,
    I have been following you and your teachings for many years.. I love your choices of photo’s from this past year.. and fyi, you were at Cannon Beach.. although spelling was not a big deal.. we all knew where you were taking that shot.. Excellent capture of an iconic monolith..

Leave a Comment