Best Photographs of 2019

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Another great year at Matt Cuda Nature Photography!  This year was certainly the year of firsts as far as species photographed.  I was able to photograph several species which I had never even seen in the wild before.  As is my tradition, this article will take a look at what I think were my best images for the year.  I hope you enjoy it!  I start with #1 being my best image.

#1 - Fluffy Eurasian Eagle Owl, CRC, NC
March 30, 2019,  Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF 300mm f4 L, 300mm, f4.5, 1/500, ISO 1000

During an event at the CRC, I was able to capture this image of a Eurasian eagle owl, who was fluffed out to the max.  This is one of the serendipitous moments where God is smiling on your day.  This guy was so fluffed out, in fact, that I had a hard time keeping the fluff in the frame!

#2 - Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Forsyth County, NC 
June 6, 2019,  Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Sigma 150-600 C, 252mm, f13, 1/1250, ISO 8000

Hummingbirds will almost always make my top ten, as I love to photograph them.  This guy posed perfectly against the pink flower background for this shot.  I love the wing position and relationship of the subject to the flowers.

#3 - Blue Morpho Butterfly, Butterfly Garden
July 27, 2019,  Sony A7 III, Canon 100mm Macro, 100mm, f5.6, 1/640, ISO 4000

Although macro is not my forte, I do love to photograph insects when I can.  This image, with its slight tilt and extreme sharpness always pulls me in for a closer look.  It is for that reason that it made the list.

#4 - Mountain Lion, NC
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 300mm f4

I didn't have all the meta-data handy for this one, so I apologize on that, but I fell in love with this image of a mountain lion in black and white.  I love the engagement of the subject with the viewer.  I always look for eye contact from my subject.

#5 - Florida Alligator, Merritt Island, FL
November 16, 2019,  Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF 600mm, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 320

Gators are a common presence in Florida, so it is important to find an uncommon or engaging way to present them to the viewer.  This alligator, again is engaging the viewer with an eye to eye contact.

#6 - Elk in Fog - Cataloochee, NC
September 15th, 2019,  Sony A7 III, Sigma 150-600 C, 238mm, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 2500

Wild elk make a great subject and I particularly like them in partial fog.  This beautiful specimen has the perfect turn and his front leg up.  This makes the image more interesting and engaging to viewers.

#7 - Cattle Egret Eating Lizard, Merritt Island, FL
November 17 2019,  Sony A7 III, Sigma 150-600 C, 421mm, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 3200

The perfectionist in me didn't want to put this in the top 10 because of the head turn and the junk in the lower portion of the background particularly.  However, when I have a situation where there is high action and good technical quality, I know it can be a real winner.  The bottom line is that I love the subject here and I just couldn't leave it out.

#8 - Snarling Red Wolf, NC Zoo
December 21, 2019,  Sony A7 III, Sigma 150-600 C, 600mm, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 2000

There are days when captive animals are just on fire as photographic subjects.  You can't depend on it, but it will happen.  This pair of red wolves were fighting over some meat and the alpha (pictured below) was winning.  Here you see him in full snarl while looking back toward the beta male.

#9 - Springtime Dark-eyed Junco, Forsyth County, NC
Spring 2019, Canon EOS R, Sigma 150-600 C, 531mm, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 1000

I made this image while testing the Canon EOS R.  This junco was perched so perfectly on this blooming plum tree.  The blooms really accentuate the bland nature of  her feathers.  

#10 - Anhinga with Speared Fish, Merritt Island, NC
July 17, 2018, Canon EOS 7D Mark II,  Sigma 150-600mm 516mm, f6.3, 1/500, ISO 800

Again, the perfectionist in me did not like the head turn, but I decided this image had enough action to make the top 10.

I hope you enjoyed this years top 10 list.  I encourage you to do the same with your images as it is a great practice to help you decide what you did right and what you need to improve on for 2020.

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