I submitted my best shot of 2011 to Flickr’s “Your Best Shot 2011” this evening. With big thanks to you, of course.

A couple of weeks ago I included 10 of my favorite 2011 photographs and asked for your feedback. I got some blog comments, some emails and some recommendations in person. So thank you so much. Here’s the photograph I selected, mainly because of your feedback.

What a way to start the day

What a way to start the day

And here’s the story behind this photograph (if you’re wondering).

I spent almost two weeks in Las Vegas this past October and after a week of being there, I needed a creative outlet, so I borrowed a camera from a colleague/friend. I decided to venture out and shoot a different side of Vegas. One of these spots included sunrise in the Valley of Fire.

As usual, like most of my planning, there was very little prep work done. I had directions to the Valley of Fire and knew the gates would be open. Beyond that, I knew very little – especially conceivably important things a photographer should know, like ideal locations or stunning views. But ya’ll should know me by now. And if I’m really being honest, I came awfully close to just hitting snooze when the alarm went off at 4am.

This image is the perfect manifestation of my luck at times. I drove into the Valley of Fire as darkness slowly considered transitioning into light. I read signs, marveled at the sillhouettes of the rock formations and sipped coffee out of my travel mug. I was as usual, happily clueless. Driving down what I considered the main road the through the Valley, I noticed a new road to the left. And to quote Yogi Berra –

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

I turned left, weaved around some corners, and noticed a really interesting rock formation with an arch/hole. There was also a car parked already. Intrigued, I got out with my camera and one lens, scanned the ground for snakes, scorpions and other critters and walked around the formation for closer inspection.

I made it around the big rock without tripping or a snake bite and encountered a professional photographer. The real deal. Tripod, vest with 34 pockets and a moustache. I tipped my head to him and walked around his shot. That’s when I noticed what he was stalking. He was hunting the perfect shot. That moment when the moon would drop ever so slightly, and fit perfectly in the cradle of the awaiting rock archway. Good for him I thought. Lucky me I muttered under my breath.

We didn’t talk. And I felt absolutely no embarrassment when sans tripod, and standing right behind him and that impressive vest, I jumped up in the air to capture this shot. He may have looked at me with some level of judgement or disdain, but I just grinned as I looked at the captured image. Perfect I thought.

I left, careful not to interfere with his shot, wary of a gang of scorpions and hopped back in my Mum’s car. There I sipped on my coffee, got back on the main road and went on to more hapless discovery.

Like I said, this shot was entirely down to luck. Often with photography it’s down to the timing or being in the right place at the right time. Or in my case, just being the lucky fool. I don’t really mind, even if at times I resemble Inspector Clouseau. This approach has paid off so many times for me – especially when traveling.

Who knows what 2012 will bring?

Thanks again to everyone that took time to share their opinions on my photography and for continually reading my posts. It does mean a lot to me.