We created PhotoPills to help you guys turn your ideas into real photos...
This is our mission.
And because we know how much effort you put in your photos, we'd love to honor them.
So, in this article you'll find the best 36 photographs that the PhotoPills community has imagined, planned and captured in 2020.
If you crave being on this list next year, don't forget to submit your photos to the PhotoPills Awards! You'll be eligible to win a cash prize and most importantly, you'll boost the creativity of other PhotoPillers inspiring them to produce great images.
And as we do every year, we (the PhotoPills team) will choose the best photo from all the photos you've submitted. The winner will be awarded with the title PhotoPiller of the Year and $3,000 in cash... How cool is that?!
BTW! We're revealing the 2020 winner in this article :D
Also, you can find all the 365 featured photos in the PhotoPills Awards book. We're sure that it will prove a good source of inspiration for 2021.
Get this ebook for free now!
Get this ebook for free now!
PhotoPills Awards 2020
And if you want to learn how to take these amazing photos, study thoroughly the following guides:
- Milky Way Photography: The Definitive Guide
- Moon Photography: The Definitive Guide
- Sunset Photography: The Definitive Guide
There you will find everything you need to succeed!
If you're are looking for more ideas on what to photograph during 2021, have a look at this video:
And without further ado, these are the best photos of 2020 and the stories behind them...
"Think big and don't listen to people who tell you it can't be done. Life's too short to think small." - Tim Ferriss
1.The 2020 PhotoPiller of the Year
Photography is about telling a story
By seeing and analyzing the photos of this article you pretty much can't help but create images that do just that.
But you need to do it consciously. Or even better, intentionally.
"That's great Toni, but how do I take photos intentionally?"
Well, first of all it takes time...
Photography will always challenge you. And to overcome the unexpected, you should little by little gain control over your tools and your ideas. Over time and through experience you'll gain enough comfort and intuition to use your tools to express your ideas.
Then, you should stop comparing yourself (and your work) with other photographers. Do your thing. Be yourself.
Finally, don't rush your education, don't try to learn everything at the same time. Pick something. One technique at a time. Practice, practice, practice. And try and fail to learn it well.
Focus on a long and slow game.
That's the way to become a Master.
And that's exactly what Toni Sendra, our 2020 PhotoPiller of the Year, did.
You deserve the glory and the $3,000 cash prize :)
The story behind Toni Sendra's shot
As you can see, he captured a hypnotic shot of a sailboat sailing just where the Sun is rising causing what is known as the 'Omega effect'.
Its name comes from the shape of the Sun (or the Moon) which looks like the Greek letter omega (Ω). It's a refracted (inverted) mirage caused by the temperature difference between the air and the sea.
Toni is a regular Moon photographer and his initial idea was to capture the Omega effect with a rising Moon. He tried to capture it in June 2019 with the help of his friend and sailboat skipper Alex Grau, but he couldn't make it.
As we say, PhotoPillers never give up...
So after seeing a picture from his friend Juan Méndez of a sailboat with a setting Sun, he thought he could try something similar during Sunrise.
On September 11, 2020 he noticed while driving that the Sun was rising just like he wanted it to do. So he knew that the next morning was his chance to capture something big.
He called Alex so he could prepare the sailboat and sent him the plan he created with PhotoPills, including the GPS coordinates and the time of the day.
Toni was going to be shooting from the San Antonio de la Cullera beach in Valencia (Spain) and the boat had to be 3 km away (1.86 mi) so the Sun size would be big enough to cover the whole boat.
So knowing that the boat's mast was 16 m high (52.5 ft) looking for a shooting spot at 3 km away (1.86 mi), the Sun would have a relative size of 30 m (98.5 ft).
As Toni admits "what happened that morning [was] pure magic. It was one of those days when everything turns out right. These photos at sea level have a high chance of going wrong due to the atmospheric conditions, fog, haze... It's very frequent that they end up ruining a clean Sunrise or Moonrise over the horizon".
Apart from becoming the 2020 PhotoPiller of the Year, Toni Sendra's image was also featured as the NASA's September 21, 2020 Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Isn't it amazing?
2.The 36 best photos of 2020
The PhotoPillers mentioned in this article (36 to be more precise) created a masterpiece, with the little help of PhotoPills... ;)
That's why we decided to feature them in the PhotoPills Awards.
Each photo belongs to one of these categories:
- Night photography. Prove your talent under the dark sky capturing the Milky Ways, Star Trails, Meteor Showers, planet conjunctions, northern lights, light painting photos...
- Moon photography. It's all about the Moon! (Full Moons, thin Moons, Supermoons, Moon silhouettes, Moonrises, Moonsets, lunar eclipses...).
- Sun photography. Any photo that does not involve the night sky or the Moon (Sunrises, Sunsets, golden hours, blue hours, twilights, solar eclipses, Sun silhouettes...).
So if you're into landscape, astro, night, travel, architecture, wedding, product or fashion photography, make sure you share your photos with us... ;)
And now, are you ready to see the PhotoPillers' 2020 legendary photos?
Sunrise in Nynäshamn - Philip Slotte
"This was taken on the last sunrise of 2019 in my hometown of Nynäshamn, Sweden."
Star Trails on the road - Marcin Zajac
"In motion. The night sky spinning around the North Star while cars drive through the Bixby Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway in Central California. This is my first attempt at capturing star trails caused by the Earth's rotation. This image is constructed from almost 3.5 hours worth of exposures (5 mins each) while I tried not to freeze during a crystal clear, but cold night in Big Sur."
The Moon and the windmills of Consuegra - Juan López Ruiz
"Moonrise on December 11, 2019 over the windmills of Consuegra at Sunset."
Solar eclipse - Michael Ostaszewski
"From 2017 I had a dream to photograph a man over the eclipse. But I wanted something new, something special. I realized that the eclipse on 2nd July 2019 would be almost a perfect match with the 50th Apollo 11 anniversary. Then I started to think what I could do. I realized that there was the opportunity to photograph a man along with the Moon and the Sun's corona during the total solar Eclipse. After several months of planning and a lot of preparation I and my friend Wojtek Suchwałko were in Chile searching for the perfect place to make this shot. I used the photopills app to plan the photo. After a few days of scouting we decided to shoot in the Andes near the road that goes from La Serrena to Paso de Agua Negra. Everything was perfect! The final photo is a HDR made from 7 exposures, all taken under 2 seconds. The composition is 100% real and you can see this on a video on my Facebook page or Instagram or YouTube. It was a huge adventure and it took a lot of effort to make this happen. But it was worth it!"
Milky Way reflection over Uyuni - Jheison Huerta
"It's a panorama composed by 15 single frames that show the milky way arc reflected on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. In this picture you also can see: Jupiter, Magellanic Clouds, Sirio, Saturn and the milky way core. After the rain season, the Salar becomes the largest natural mirror in the world with 10,000 km²."
Full Moon behind the Mallorca Cathedral - Jaume Llinàs
"Flying buttresses and pinnacles, the perfect stage for a full Moon."
Red earthshine - Yuri Beletsky
"A moment of tranquility :) I captured this scene a few days ago in the South of Chile when we were absolutely lucky to witness a crystal clear sky. The color of the twilight sky was simply gorgeous and the Moon was silver shining just above the horizon. It took us a while to scout this place but I am so glad we did! I used PhotoPills all to plan the composition and I'm really happy it worked out pretty well. Unfortunately I didn't have a mighty tele-lens with me, and I ended up using a Nikkor 70-200mm lens instead. My heavy duty Fotopro was just what I needed."
Bivouac under the snow and the Milky Way - Pablo Ruiz García
"360 degree panorama in 2 vertical rows. Bivouac in the snow under the winter Milky Way, next to the Veronica Cabin Refuge. In Picos de Europa, at an altitude of 2300m."
Spinaker Tower at Sunset - Trevor Owen
"Portsmouth's Spinaker Tower at sunset, taken from Hayling Island, about 6km away. A cold and windy night out after work but worth the stomp down the waterlogged Hayling Billy track for the sunset. It's always beautiful looking west across Portsmouth."
Color circumpolar - Mario Konang
"If you have doubts which way might be correct for the future ... anyway if you go east or west ... earth will go on rotating. This is how it looks when you sit outside at night for about 4 hours and watch the stars "moving" at firmament."
Moonset behind Monserrat - Miquel
"Moonset behind Montserrat mountain."
Sunrise at The Caddell's Folly - Trevor Owen
"I would like to take you to one of the hidden spots of Meath.
The Caddell's Folly.
Here is a bit of a story about this place.
The Caddells were one of the few Catholic families to retain ownership to landed estates in Ireland. The main branch of the Caddell family settled on the Meath side of the Delvin river, in the 12th century. The Caddell were aristocrats who lived at Naul village in Co Dublin between the 13th and 19th century. A monument known locally as Caddell's Folly, was erected during the period of the Irish Potato Famine by Richard Caddell. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-49 led to the building of many 'Follies'. The society of the day held that reward without labour was misguided. However, to hire the needy for work on useful projects would deprive existing workers of their jobs. Thus, construction projects termed 'famine follies' came to be built. These include: roads in the middle of nowhere, between two seemingly random points; screen and estate walls and piers in the middle of bogs. Another story relates that Richard Caddell had a falling out with the organising committee of the nearby Bellewestown Races but rather than grace them with his presence he chose to stand on the roof of his folly and view the racing from there."
Milky Way arch over the Grignetta shelter - Stefano Pellegrini
"The hiking to the top of Grignetta was not easy, first for the 20kg of backpack (with all the shooting gear and what needed for the night) second because the sky was covered by black clouds. Fortunately once I was on top the wind started to move them and at 9 pm all the sky was pristine and clear. My aim was to make a Milky Way panorama with in the middle the super-cool shelter that is on the top of the peak, looking like a lunar module. Thanks to @Photopills I prepared the frame, and I discovered that the best moment in terms of composition was at 3 am. Unfortunately, I also discovered that the galactic core was exactly over the city of Lecco, so I was very worried that the light-pollution could make the shoot impossible. The final picture is a combination of 2 six-shot-panorama: one for the foreground and one for the stars, plus 3 shoot for me and the light of my torch. As always I was prepared to make a timeblend for the foreground (as I made also on Cinque Torri) but this time due to the light pollution was not needed: the light at 11 pm was enough that I had to make an HDR instead. At 3 am finally I inclined the camera up just a bit to do the second panorama, judging from there the sky was burned out, but I was able to recover it in Lightroom. I spent the next 2 night hours up there and the next morning I went down at 5 am."
Parishenge at the Arc du Triomphe - Carole Coiffier
"Parishenge May 11, 2020."
Full Moon behind the Edge NYC sky deck - Jeff Casey
"Edge NYC observation deck in Hudson Yards."
Milky Way over a rock arch - Pablo Ruiz García
"Milky Way panorama, next to a spectacular natural arch formation in the Picos de Europa. Planned with PhotoPills to have the Galactic Center just under the arch."
Solar eclipse silhouettes - Kareem Khalaf
"Solar Eclipse this morning. One shot only at 25.5º at 07:43. Distance: 450 m."
Moon silhouette - Paco Farero
"Photo taken during the lockdown, very close to my house in La Pedriza, with a cork oak that lives among rocks."
Comet Neowise over Heastone Rock - Chris Olivas
"Chasing comet Neowise on the headstone in Joshua Tree National Park."
Full Moon and Jupiter with its moons - Dani Sanz
"Photo of the Full Moon with Jupiter and its moons, taken thanks to PhotoPills plan."
Sunburst behind the Sassolungo - Davide Donati
"This photo was taken during a sunrise in autumn. When we arrived, the cold blue hour showed us a thin blanket of fog that helped us make moody photos. After the first sunrise, the sun disappeared behind the mountain, so we used PhotoPills to determine the trajectory of the sun, it showed us that this kind of photo was possible."
Comet Neowise over Stonehenge - Declan Deval
"My first time seeing and photographing a comet and it really delivered. This is made up of a single 15s exposure for the stones and 10+ 30s tracked exposures for the sky (the comet was directly above the stones). The whole night really delivered as we got to see and photograph the Milky Way, the comet Neowise, and then got a phenomenal show of some noctilucent clouds closer to Sunrise."
Full Moon rising behind Cape Byron Lighthouse - Bob Charlton
"4 months of planning with the help of PhotoPills helped me capture the full moon rising up behind Cape Byron Lighthouse which is the most Easterly point of Australia."
Sun setting behind the Virxe Do Porto - Daniel Viñé
"Since I discovered La Virxe Do Porto in 2011, I fell in love with it. A place I have come back quite often. Although until now I had not taken any photos that I really like. Exploring the area a little before sunset, looking for a possible framing, I found a corner that I especially liked. Yes, it was risky, I could come out with nothing. But I made my bet. I wanted to go back home with something different from a place that has been shot a thousand times. And this is the result."
Sailboat with an Omega Sunset - Toni Sendra
"Sailing through an Omega Sunrise. We tried this image a year ago with the Moon, but technical problems at the very last moment prevented us from taking the imagined photo... and a few days ago, after seeing the fantastic photo of my friend @j.mendez.fotografia, we decided to try our luck with the Sun. Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. That morning the sun seemed to come to say goodbye to the summer, the end of this certainly strange summer, but in which we have also enjoyed very special moments. The Slainte Sailing is a top competition sailboat that belongs to my friend @alexsail. Fast as the wind when it crosses the Mediterranean. The mirage known as the Sun Omega is caused by hot air and a strong temperature gradient just above the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Thank you very much Alex, and the rest of the crew, for joining my crazy plans without thinking it twice!!! On the beach next to me, enjoying the views while we shot the cameras, there were @leo_ferrer52 and @mariaje0301, and at the controls of the drone, the great @salvaalario. Planned with @photopills. This one is on you grandmother ❤️❤️❤️"
Milky Way arch over the Barcience castle - Luis Cajete
"Starry night in Barcience. Milky way arch over the Barcience castle in Toledo. It's a 2-row panorama with some shots to save the town's highlights. I hope you like it."
Full Moon behind the belltower - Josep Benejam Enrich
"February 9 Full Moon rising aligned with the belltower of the Cathedral of Menorca."
Full Moon over an industrial chimney - Jesús Manzaneque
"The heat produced by the chimney together with the lateral wind made it appear that part of the Moon was on fire."
Sunset silhouettes - Amit Solanki
"What is the weight of the Sun?"
Milky Way at the end of the road - Jaime Gil
"The Milky Way planned with PhotoPills for the vertical alignment."
Sunrise behind the One World Trade Center - Alyssa
"Sunrise behind One World Trade Center, taken 25 miles away."
Milky Way aligned with the Salinas de Fuencaliente - Pablo Ruiz García
"One night in the Salinas de Fuencaliente. Taking advantage of the lines of the salt flats and the already vertical Milky Way to find an interesting composition. Made in August last summer. The sky was taken with a star tracker."
Full Moon rising behind the Campo de Criptana windmills - Jesús Manzaneque Arteaga
"The Moonrise direction that day was perfect to center it with this group of six windmills. I took advantage of the great weather conditions to shoot it."
Solar flare - Mariano Srur
"Detail of a prominence or solar flare, in addition to the chromosphere and the crown of our star, during the December 14 eclipse. Thanks to PhotoPills I was able to precisely plan this photo."
Native American petroglyphs under the Geminids - Igal Brener
"Went out to southern NM on Sunday night with son (@here_or_anywhere), the day of the peak of the Geminids meteor shower. Clouds were on and off but I left 2 bodies shooting all night. It was ~18F so it was really cold, and camping out was no fun. We chose a park full of Native American petroglyphs for foreground. Epic (and cold) trip! Photo details: -Sony a7RIII+Tamron 28-200, @28mm&2.8. -Background: 10 stacked images in SLS, 10 sec/ISO 1600 -Foreground: 15 sec, light painted -Meteor frames: 30 sec, iso 1600, f2.8 Everything assembled in photoshop; meteor frames were rotated accordingly using Polaris and the other stars."
Elliott and E.T. silhouette behind a Full Moon - Kike Bustos
3.Join the quest and become a legend!
I'm a big advocate of seeing other photographers' work as the primary source of inspiration.
That's why I believe the PhotoPills Awards is a great tool.
However, don't leave creativity and authenticity out of the equation.
By all means see what other photographers have done in order to learn from them, but when it comes to producing your own images, it might just be best to listen to yourself.
Nurture your craft.
Innovate instead of imitating.
Adapt what you see to what you are, what you feel and what you want to tell.
As a photographer, you're a storyteller.
Join the quest to find your own voice... And once you've mastered this art, share it with other PhotoPillers.
Use your own work to inspire the rest of the tribe.
And become a legend!