Best 21 of 2021 by DEE POTTER
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Lost in Time Winter Homestead
A field of tall wheat buried in two feet of snow, and a long-forgotten homestead time forgot, while the elements of nature slowly reclaim for the soil from which it was made.
Seward, Alaska
Along the AK1 Seward Highway in Alaska, runs a single train track for both directions of the 60 miles between Whittier and Anchorage with stunning views of the Chugach Mountains and the Turnagain Arm seaway. I chose this location on this night as a sort of bon vouage to my mother, the incredibly talented Canadian fine artist, Diann Haist, who painted here for 22 years before passing away just the day before. This was one of my ways of sending her into infinity with peace and the beauty of a landscape she loved.
Sweet Dreams Toronto
Twilight has a soothing effect for people, even in the city; but with scarcely a soul in sight because of the pandemic lockdown, it can feel a little eerie, as well. And as we settle in our homes for a long winter's nap during this second total lockdown beginning one minute past midnight, I wish everyone good health, safety, and peace until we can meet again in the streets. Sweet dreams, Toronto.
Toronto Gold Reflection
Toronto gold in panoramic reflection. As the sun sets behind the Toronto skyline on this scorching hot summer evening, the Toronto skyline lights up for the approaching night in a sea of golden glimmer, and casts a shimmering reflection across the Toronto Harbour.
Night Moves
Driving home late one night, I was taken aback by the solitude of the Queen Street Bridge with almost no traffic except the occasional streetcar. It was very quiet and still with a light mist following a warm summer rain, and I couldn't help but notice the early 20th Century industrial-age feel of the scene, and had to juxtapose it with the 21st Century LED lighting of the new Toronto streetcars. Winner of Architecture Category 1 Runner-Up in 2021 500px Neil Dankoff Photography Competition.
Cooper
Meet Cooper... a Mini Golden Doodle, and his ball of the wild! He’s one of a fun group we call the “Wishing Well Dogs”, affectionately coined for our neighbourhood, and name of the park where we congregate. But on this snowy Family Day in February, we met for the first time at our local golf course, where I was asked to bring my trusty Nikon mirrorless camera, to capture the freedom on the dog’s faces as they ran amok on the barren fairways. The dogs were particularly excited about the new environment with their best pals, and although Cooper was the smallest of the pack, he was by far the most animated! 12Mar21 - 1ST PRIZE WINNER - 2021 Neil Dankoff International Photo Competition to be featured in the Kandy Gallery with locations in Toronto, Montreal, Memphis, and New York.
Beyond Kirkjufoss
View from the edge of Kirkjufoss (Church Falls), one of Iceland's most iconic scenes on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and named after Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) in the background, so-called for its steeple-like form and no doubt its commandiing presence on the landscape.
Misty Mountain Morning Blue
A quick stop off the Ring Road on Hvalnesviti near the Hvalnes Nature Reserve Beach and the Hvalnes Lighthouse in Eastern Iceland. It was too overcast to carry on to those more popular spots, but while all eyes were waiting for fog to clear a little on another Mordor-esque mountain to my camera-left, I spotted this fleeting beam of light hitting the mountainside in the distance and quickly spun my Z7 and refocused to capture it before it was gone. Thankfully, this lone SUV drove into frame at just the right time to illustrate the massive scale of this scene.
Kirkjufell Iceland
Kirkjufell: I was so excited to finally see this must-photograph location in person. I had seen hundreds of photos and was still awe-struck to be here. Arguably the most iconic location on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, and likely the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufellsfoss is situated 185 km from the capitol city of Reykjavík. The mountain's positioning with Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and its unique shape draws tourists from around the world. Somewhat resembling a house of worship, the name Kirkjufell accordingly means Church Mountain. And on this particular day, we arrived just as the rain was clearing off to the east to reward our timing with some kisses of light on the mountain top, and a rainbow to finish off the incredible scene.
Diamond Beach Treasure
Huge chunks of glacial ice famously float downstream from the inland icebergs of Jökulsárlón Lagoon, and wash up here on the silky black sand of Diamond Beach. But on this evening, the North Atlantic tide delivered something special directly to my feet: a full sized, 20 lb whale vertebrae. I felt blessed to capture it with the ice for over 5 minutes before another huge wave flooded the shore, along with my boots, to retrieve this magnificent artifact of a life that once ruled these waters.
Diamond in the Sand
Fresh ice ashore at Diamond Beach, Iceland. The name, Diamond Beach, is a made-up name for tourists, but quite fitting considering the sparkling jewels it harbors like this one. For those true to geography,thought, the real name of this magical place is either Vestri-Fellsfjara or Eystri-Fellsfjara depending on which side of the Jökulsá River you are. I was on the Eystri-Fellsfjara side to capture this image.
Rising Dawn
First light on the horizon at Reynisdrangar sea stacks and the Black Sand Beach of southeast Iceland.
Reynisdrangar Iceland
Towering off the black sand coast of Reynisfjara Beach near the village of Vík in south Iceland, stands Reynisdrangar, the magnificent black basalt columns featured in Season 7 of Game of Thrones as Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Taken at sunrise on a particularly windy morning, we were repeatedly warned of the imminent danger of treading too closely to the waves that have become infamous for washing people out to sea forever from right off the sand. I didn't have to be told twice and found safe shelter behind the rocks.
Seljalandsfoss Iceland
On our last, and what would become our longest single-day journey in Iceland starting before sunrise on Black Sand Beach and ending in the early following-morning hours on an erupting volcano, we stopped for photos and a good soaking here at Seljalandsfoss, a 60 meter (200 feet) waterfall situated on the south coast. Seljalandsfoss is on the river Seljalandsá (or Seljalands River), which begins under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. These sheer cliffs were notably once the South Iceland coastline, although the shore has now settled in the distance across a long stretch of lowlands, miles away. Incidentally, the volcano beneath the glacier Eyjafjallajökull where these waters began, was responsible for the infamous eruption that razed havoc for cross-Atlantic air-travel in 2010.
Skútafoss Iceland
A rainy day in Hornafjörður, Eastern Iceland, was the perfect time for a cave shoot. Skútafoss is beautiful little waterfall about a mile up river from the road and perfectly placed at the mouth of this cave for easy shelter and a nice vantage point to photograph the unique scenery even in unfavorable weather.
Skógafoss Iceland
At 200 feet high, Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls; more than 20 feet taller than Niagara Falls, on average. The enormity and beauty draws people two hours from Reykjavík just for selfies at this remarkable place. In fact, there are thousands of photos online of Skogafoss in full view and in all its glory, but for me, to capture the true power and awe of this iconic cataract, my friend, here, gracious agreed to step up to the falls and embrace the deafening roar long enough for me to freeze the torrential impact.
Rough in the Diamond
Huge chunks of glacial ice famously float downstream from the inland icebergs of Jökulsárlón Lagoon, and wash up here on the silky black sand of Diamond Beach. But on this evening, the North Atlantic tide delivered this full sized, 20 lb whale vertebrae right to my feet. I felt honored to capture it with the ice for over 5 minutes before this final wave flooded the shore and washed it back out to sea. This was the last photo before it disappeared.
Sun Voyager - Iceland
Having a little free time on my last full day in Iceland, the sun was out after an afternoon rain, and the colourful clouds called to a few of us who'd just had the most incredible photography journey across the country together to venture down to the waterfront to shoot this attraction in the amazing light. Reykjavik’s famous seaside sculpture is called "Solfar" or "Sun Voyager". Created by Icelandic sculptor, Jon Gunnar Arnason, Solfar was the winning entry in a 1986 competition to commemorate Reykjavik's 200th anniversary, and unveiled at full size in on August 18, 1990. Although it's often referred to as a Viking ship heading toward Mt. Esja across the bay, it's rather the artist's ode to the sun, symbolizing light and hope. The stainless steel structure stands 9 m high × 7 m wide × 18 m long (29.5 ft × 22.9 ft × 59 ft), so, no matter what your interpretation of this now-iconic Reykjavik tourist must-see, it's absolutely magnificent to experience up close, in person. GPS: 64.14761 N, -21.922288 W
Hofskirkja Turf Church - Iceland
Hofskirkja is the last of the old churches to be built in this traditional turf style, and one of only six remaining in Iceland. Historical records tell of a church at Hof in Öræfi for over 700 years with the earliest mention of a church on this site from 1343. The foundation of this particular church was built in 1883-1885. And on this rainy day, the misty mountain backdrop and the lone mushroom in the foreground created an enchanting scene not unlike what parishioners must have marvelled at in centuries past.
Jurassic Lava
It's incredible to witness a volcano erupting in front of you as we did for the very first time here at Geldingadalir Volcano, Grindavik, Iceland, but to watch as it paints the landscape in masterful mosaic art is breathtaking! Incidentally, no volcanic eruption had occurred for 800 years on the Reykjanes Peninsula until 19 March 2021 when a fissure vent appeared here in Geldingadalir to the south of Fagradalsfjall mountain. The 2021 eruption was effusive and last emitted fresh lava on 18 September 2021. This photo was taken at 1:46 AM on 18 September 2021.
Womb of Mother Earth
Erupting Geldingadalir Volcano in Grindavik, Iceland, from 498m above. No volcanic eruption had occurred for 800 years on the Reykjanes Peninsula until 19 March 2021 when a fissure vent appeared here, and gave us a spectacular show until the September 18th, 2021 when this shot was taken.

These are my picks for the Best 21 of 2021. As you will see here, the highlight of my year was a journey across Iceland in September to capture some of the most incredible landscapes anywhere in the world. While I scarcely had the lighting conditions I would have preferred, I was so excited just to see these locations in person that I still feel that joy every time I look at these images. And the ones I've chosen here have been the best received across all digital platforms and social media. As for the others, admittedly, one image here I shot in 2020 ("Night Moves" featuring the light trail of a Toronto streetcar passing through an iron bridge), but it placed 1st Runner Up for Architecture in the Neil Dankoff 500px International Photography Competition in the Summer of 2021 , so I had to include it. In fact, 2021 was also the very first year I entered major competitions. I was honoured to place 3 times in 3 competitions, all of which were judged without the photographer's name visible to the panel, which made them even more special for me, and I was especially thrilled to win 1st Place in the Children and Pets Category with "Cooper" (aka "Ball of the Wild" shot in February 2021) in the 2021 Neil Dankoff International Photography Competition for which it was printed on metal and exhibited for a month in the Kandy Gallery at Yorkdale Shopping Centre as part of the prize package. The third photo recognized in competition was "Toronto Gold Reflection" for which I was given Honourable Mention in the City Category in the Fall Neil Dankoff 500px International Photography Competition. I hope you like them, too! :D

Lost in Time Winter Homestead Seward, Alaska Sweet Dreams Toronto Toronto Gold Reflection Night Moves Cooper Beyond Kirkjufoss Misty Mountain Morning Blue Kirkjufell Iceland Diamond Beach Treasure Diamond in the Sand Rising Dawn Reynisdrangar Iceland Seljalandsfoss Iceland Skútafoss Iceland Skógafoss Iceland Rough in the Diamond Sun Voyager - Iceland Hofskirkja Turf Church - Iceland Jurassic Lava Womb of Mother Earth
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