Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Favorite Photos of 2021

Happy New Year and best wishes for good health for all in 2022.

You may have noticed that this photo challenge post is not on my usual Thursday schedule. I am excited and honored to be joining the Lens-Artists Challenge as a new team member beginning in 2022. I’ve enjoyed participating as both a follower and as a Guest Host in the past and look forward to being even more involved in this new role. A sincere thank you to Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti, and Tina for their warm welcome, and to all of you for your support and encouragement.

I will continue to post my challenge responses on Thursdays, but several times this year, I will be hosting the challenges which are always published on Saturdays at noon EST. This week, all of the team members are posting their favorite photos of 2021 on New Year’s Day.

Probably my favorite photo for the year came from a National Park in California that I’d never heard of until about a couple of days before we visited. Pinnacles National Park is small, indeed only five national parks are smaller. My photo features the pinnacles that are the park’s namesake. Created by a now dormant geologic fault, the rocks jut skyward. We arrived on a cloudy day with a very thin overcast. The sun was bright enough to create shadows, though. I couldn’t resist creating an altered reality by replacing the light overcast with a more dramatic sky. The openings in that replacement sky appeared to create those light and shadow patterns on the ground.

Peacegarden 2021-7

On the Canadian Border, the International Peace Garden draws thousands to this park that celebrates the friendship of the people of the United States with the people of Canada. The park is unique in that to enter the park from either country, you must leave that country, yet you do not actually enter the other country. The gardens have a demarcation line where you can actually have one foot in Canada and the other in the United States. Whatever, the flowers don’t care. They happily grow on either side of the line.

Durango RR Excursion-9

Regular readers know of my love for travel and transportation, and of my special attraction to trains of all types. One iconic excursion is the Durango-Silverton Railroad’s vintage steam engine trip through the Rocky Mountains. It is a popular attraction that drew so many visitors on the day we were there that they had to have two steam engines pull the train through the steepest sections of track. I don’t know what intrigued me more, the beautiful scenery or the sights, sounds, and smells of those beautiful old steam engines.

Mountain Goat-1

You can get high on Mount Evans without expending any effort (other than putting fuel in your vehicle), and you can climb with the mountain goats. When we arrived at the end of the road (at almost 14,200 feet (4,328 m) a small number of curious mountain goats had no fear of approaching the people and the vehicles parked there. My friend Fred, camera always at the ready, captured this little goat admiring a Tesla. No doubt the goat approves of the lack of emissions from the EV in the rare atmosphere at the top of one of Colorado’s 14’ers, peaks that rise above 14,000 feet. (4,267 m).

Trestle Bridge dronie pano-1

My favorite drone image of 2021 features another railroad structure. The Highline Trestle at Valley City, North Dakota was completed in 1908 and is one of the longest and highest railroad bridges in the country. It continues to be used daily, though we waited all morning in hopes that a train would cross while we were there. No such luck. The 3860 foot (1177 m) bridge rises over 160 feet (49 m) above the Sheyenne River valley.

For those who like to pixel-peep, click on any of the images above for a closer view and a glimpse of the metadata details. Alternatively, you can visit the album on my Flickr site here. Thanks again to the entire Lens-Artists team for inviting me to join them, and I look forward to my first challenge topic in February. Next week, Tina of Travels and Trifles will share a new theme to challenge us.

John Steiner


  1. Wonderful post John – I must admit I”m kind of sad you mentioned sky replacement on your opener because I’d NEVER have guessed! That’s a wonderful image as are the rest of your choices. Loved the image with the little goat studying the car 😊. We are excited to have your joining the team and look forward to your first challenge. In the meanwhile, all the best for a joy-filled. happy and healthy new year.

    • thank you, Tina!
      I know as an “artist”, I don’t have to reveal those creative secrets, but I do feel obligated to share when an image is truly altered reality. >grin<
      I am looking forward to 2022 and my new role here with Lens-Artists!

  2. I’m so glad you are now a part of Lens-Artists co-op. You are going to have so much fun. 😀 😀
    You have so many marvelous photos. I still got to admit the two from Colorado are my favorites … only because I know those places well and have bee on the train and Mt Evan’s road. Although there weren’t as many cars at the top. 😀 😀

    • Thank you, Cee! I am looking forward to participating.
      Mount Evans was pretty crowded when we got to the summit that day. The lot was full and there were only a couple of spaces left to park along the roadside.

  3. Congrats on your new gig, John – much deserved. The Pinnacles is a fascinating park. I first visited back in 1981. The fault slippage has left some of those pinnacle formations as you see them in the park, but the rest of the formation is a long distance away. They are the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct volcano that has moved 200 miles from its original location on the San Andreas Fault according to Wikipedia. Pretty impressive stuff!

  4. Congrats on the future hosting duties for Lens-Artists, John! Your photos are always great examples to share and encourage others to reach higher for fab photos. I remember that goat pic, such a great perspective! The image of the train is spectacular as well. I think this post should be connected to Sunday Stills, so please feel free to link it to my SS post today!

  5. Great pictures, John, and I especially like the curious little goat checking out the Tesla. It is great that you have become a member of the Lens-Artists team! Happy New Year.

  6. I liked your photo of the train, John. Nice composition and an interesting subject. Looking forward to more challenges from you and the rest of the team!

  7. What a wonderful post, John. I love the images and your thoughts that accompany them. We’re delighted you’re joining the L-A team. All the best to you in 2022!

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