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  • Bethany Plonski

2022 Year in Review

At the end of each year I love to go back through all my photos to review favorite images and memories, and with the cruddy winter weather lately, I decided to start that process a bit earlier than usual. It was a good thing I did, because 2022 has been so full of fun photo moments that it was difficult to keep up with culling and editing, let alone narrowing things down to identify favorites.


I typically share the images I'm most excited about in blog posts and galleries throughout the year, so chances are you've already seen quite a few of my favorites, many of which came from my artist's residency at Hickory Knob State Park. For this post I've tried to pick photos that might not make it into blog posts or galleries for whatever reason.


One of the trends I noticed for 2022 is that I took a lot more photos of insects. I think this is partly due to the fact that I finally got a proper macro lens and partly due to my interest in gardening with native plants. I've shared some other insect photos in my pollinator post, and I'll write more about them eventually, but there are some really fascinating connections among animals, plants, and insects. And of course, I love the perspective shift that comes with exploring tiny worlds.

Still can't resist a dewy spiderweb...

Or a busy carpenter bee

Or pollen-dusted honeybee

Serendipitous snap of a dragonfly resting on a garden statue

Other things I can't resist: green anoles. These adorable little guys are hanging out everywhere, and they are so curious and funny.

Green anole hiding out on a giant hibiscus

Anoles must be good luck, because they led to a nice photo milestone for me this year: my first published image. The shot below was included in the Winter 2022 issue of Orion, a nature-focused literary magazine that I have been reading and admiring for quite some time. It is a truly beautiful publication, and I am so honored that they included this image in their Microcosms feature.

Green anole on rattlesnake master - my first published print image!

Another photo milestone from 2022: my first gallery experience and award. Four of my photos were selected for the Georgia Nature Photographers Association 2022 Natural Expressions Exhibit at the Alpharetta Arts Center, and one of them won a prize in the Macro Category. In addition to being a great learning experience that taught me about printing, framing, and displaying, it was delightful to see all the amazing images captured by GNPA photographers in the gallery.

Thank you to Julie Plonski for the photo!

This was a great year for flowers too, especially in my own yard. I planted a lot of new native plants this year, and while the calla lily below isn't a native, it is special to me because I received the bulbs as a gift and I've been waiting for them to flower for FIVE summers. I moved them to a different location this year, where they finally decided to grace me with their deep pink, almost burgundy flowers. I'm so glad they're finally happy!


Not one of my plants, but I loved the reflection and little specks of fairy moss around this waterlily

I also made an effort to visit places outside the Metro Atlanta Area in 2022, and it was a pleasure to explore more of Georgia's unique landscapes. I'm still organizing photos from Savannah, but you'll probably be seeing more travel posts from me soon.

Lone swallow flying through the fog at Phinizy Swamp

It's not often I would think to process a sunset in black and white, but for some reason I really loved it for this image.

Sunrise on Tybee Island

As always, there are plenty of beautiful sights to be seen all around my home too, like this shot from one of my favorite local parks.

I saw this sweet fawn and her mama at a local nature preserve and was floored when they both decided to lie down and rest even after noticing me below them on the trail. I seriously doubt any photograph could ever adequately capture the joy I felt knowing that two vulnerable animals had seen me and decided to trust that I wasn't a threat to them.

And then there are the birds. So many great bird encounters this year!

Cedar waxwing silhouette

Northern rough-winged swallow sassing a friend

American bittern, an unexpected visitor this spring

First capture of the elusive meadowlark

Little blue heron in calico plumage, marking the transition from its white juvenile coloring to the adult blue

I never tire of red-shouldered hawks (or their raucous squawks)

Love the way this cardinal stands out against the dead pine branches

I had no idea ducks even ate fish (and many don't), so imagine my surprise when I noticed a hooded merganser swallowing a rather large one. It took about three tries and well over a minute for him to choke it down, and it was pretty incredible to witness.

What a catch!

Another common bird I never tire of: the Eastern bluebird

More duck surprises. Mallard yoga?

And finally, one of my favorite moments of the entire year, from a visit to Savannah and Tybee Island. We were watching a mixed flock of gulls, black skimmers, and terns on the shore when suddenly they all took off at once. For a few seconds we were surrounded by shorebirds flapping and circling in every direction, and it was utterly chaotic but transcendent and glorious. Stay tuned, writer friends, because I'm sure there's a poem in there somewhere.


2022 exceeded my expectations for photos in pretty much every way. Here's hoping that 2023 will be just as generous!

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