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    Photo: Bradley W. Parks/OPB

OPB's Best Photos Of 2018


What are the images that define 2018 in for the Northwest? We look back at some of OPB's best photos of the past year.

Photos as a form of storytelling have taken on new meaning in this age of smartphones and social sharing.

Armed with cameras in our pockets, we’re bombarded with more images than ever before. But what images will stand to define 2018 in the Pacific Northwest for years to come? What images told their story most effectively?

At OPB, our goal is to illuminate a wider world. In 2018, our images helped take viewers inside the chaos and destruction of wildfires, a divisive political season, introduced a cadre of monks in the Columbia River Gorge, and of course highlighted the beautiful natural surroundings.

Here are the 10 photos (plus a few extras) that resonated the best with our audience on Instagram.


The End Of An Icon

The Charles Nelson House sits alone in a field of wheat.

The Charles Nelson House sits alone in a field of wheat.

Ian McCluskey/OPB

In July, the Substation Fire tore through the grasslands on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge. The nearly 80,000-acre wildfire destroyed crops, properties and a piece of Oregon history: the Charles Nelson House. For almost 80 years, the house stood abandoned and alone, a symbol of the state’s rugged past. Within the blink of an eye, it was gone forever.

The site of the Charles Nelson House, which was destroyed in the Substation Fire.

The site of the Charles Nelson House, which was destroyed in the Substation Fire.

Molly Solomon/OPB

Photographers: Ian McCluskey and Molly Solomon


The Ravaged

A member of the Wolf Creek Hotshots uses a drip torch to ignite the forest floor during a prescribed burn near Sisters, Oregon.

A member of the Wolf Creek Hotshots uses a drip torch to ignite the forest floor during a prescribed burn near Sisters, Oregon.

Jes Burns/OPB/EarthFix

Deadly wildfires have become increasingly common in the West in recent decades. One reason why: a backlog of forest management that allows fuel to build. Seeking to reduce the risks of deadly wildfires, lawmakers unveiled a plan in August that seeks to increase thining and prescribed burning in Western forests.

In this photo, a crew works on thining forestland and conducting prescribed burns to decrease fuel buildup in a ponderosa pine forest.

Photographer: Jes Burns


The End Of An Era

It was a somber goodbye to Kah-Nee-Ta for many. A young woman in traditional regalia marched on horseback to the final Saturday salmon bake with traditional dancing. 

It was a somber goodbye to Kah-Nee-Ta for many. A young woman in traditional regalia marched on horseback to the final Saturday salmon bake with traditional dancing. 

Emily Cureton/OPB

The tribally-owned Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and its spring-fed pool were beloved for generations as a gateway between the Warm Springs reservation and the rest of the world. It closed its doors this year after decades of serving guests and employing tribal members.

On closing weekend, people gathered for a celebration of culture and the end of an era.

Miss Warm Springs Thyreicia Simtustus prepares her horse Sting for the horse parade to mark Kah-Nee-Ta's last weekend. 

Miss Warm Springs Thyreicia Simtustus prepares her horse Sting for the horse parade to mark Kah-Nee-Ta’s last weekend. 

Emily Cureton/OPB

Photographer: Emily Cureton


Inner Peace

In White Salmon, Washington, monks have found a community that values the experience of having them around.

In White Salmon, Washington, monks have found a community that values the experience of having them around.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

For about a decade, forest-dwelling monks have kept an obscure Buddhist tradition alive in the Columbia River Gorge with the help of the White Salmon, Washington, community.

The monks cannot ask for or store excess food. They cannot possess or use money. They cannot farm. They can only eat what is given to them each day by the community.

Ray Klebba, right, hands tea to Ajahn Kassapo on alms round. Klebba and his partner, Shelley Baxter, contribute food to the monks throughout the week.

Ray Klebba, right, hands tea to Ajahn Kassapo on alms round. Klebba and his partner, Shelley Baxter, contribute food to the monks throughout the week.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

Photographer: Bradley W. Parks


To Lead Again

Gov. Kate Brown celebrates her Election Night victory at the Democratic Party of Oregon 2018 election party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.

Gov. Kate Brown celebrates her Election Night victory at the Democratic Party of Oregon 2018 election party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.

Jonathan Levinson/OPB

Oregon voters gave Gov. Kate Brown four more years in office in handing her victory in the most expensive political race in state history.

“We’re going to fight to protect our air, our water, our pristine coastline, no matter what the federal government does,” Brown told a cheering crowd at her victory party after Republican challenger Knute Buehler conceded the race. In the end, Brown captured 50 percent of the vote and continued the Democrats’ streak of controlling the governor’s office.

Photographer: Jonathan Levinson


Singing Fish

Neuroscientists Joe Sisneros and Allison Coffin search for midshipman fish, also known as 'singing fish,' underneath large rocks on the rocky shores of Hood Canal.

Neuroscientists Joe Sisneros and Allison Coffin search for midshipman fish, also known as ‘singing fish,’ underneath large rocks on the rocky shores of Hood Canal.

Cassandra Profita/OPB/EarthFix

Researchers in Washington are studying a fish that nests under rocks and sings at night to attract its mates: The midshipman fish. They say the ears of these singing fish could teach us how to improve our own hearing.

The photophores on the underside of the midshipman fish glow in the dark, and their pattern looks like the buttons on the naval uniform of a midshipman.

The photophores on the underside of the midshipman fish glow in the dark, and their pattern looks like the buttons on the naval uniform of a midshipman.

Cassandra Profita/OPB/EarthFix

Photographer: Cassandra Profita


Changing Of The Guard

Jo Ann Hardesty takes the podium after her win, Nov. 6, 2018.

Jo Ann Hardesty takes the podium after her win, Nov. 6, 2018.

Nate Sjol/OPB

With her win on Election Night, Jo Ann Hardesty made history as the first woman of color elected to serve on Portland City Council. Hardesty’s election is expected to result in the Council adopting more liberal policies, particularly on issues related to homelessness and police oversight.

“I thought this was a city of compassionate people, empathetic people, people who believed we can do better than jail cells for people who are houseless,” she told the Election Night crowd, before hopping off the stage to get her dance on.

Photographer: Nate Sjol


Bunny Mystery

Cannon Beach bunnies are easy to get close to. They're simply not scared by humans.

Cannon Beach bunnies are easy to get close to. They’re simply not scared by humans.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Cannon Beach Police launched an investigation in November to figure out who, or what, was killing the coastal city’s feral rabbits. The rabbits are a source of civic strife, with some of the residents seeing them as charming guests and others viewing them as pests who vandalize gardens.

There are thousands of bunnies living in Cannon Beach. One resident said she counted 74 on one brief drive through town.

There are thousands of bunnies living in Cannon Beach. One resident said she counted 74 on one brief drive through town.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Photographer: Kristian Foden-Vencil


Dangers On The Water

Port Orford, Oregon, fisherman Rodney Fisher tugs at the line to pull up one of his crab pots. 

Port Orford, Oregon, fisherman Rodney Fisher tugs at the line to pull up one of his crab pots. 

Arya Surowidjojo/OPB

While politicians at the state and federal levels battle over their responses to climate change, a fishing town on Oregon’s South Coast attempts to rise above toxic algae and a volatile ocean economy.

“There aren’t a lot of other options. When your annual cycle includes this large influx of financing at a certain time of year and that doesn’t happen, you start to hurt,” Port of Port Orford Commission President Tom Calvanese said of the city’s reliance on its fishing and crabbing industry.

A crab pot with caught Dungeness crab inside, off the port of Port Orford. 

A crab pot with caught Dungeness crab inside, off the port of Port Orford. 

Arya Surowidjojo/OPB

Photographer: Arya Surowidjojo


Fire Camp

Fire crews come from all over the country to fight big fires. Everyone at the camp works 18 hour days for two weeks, and then gets two days of rest. There can be hundreds of firefighters sleeping in tents at any fire camp. That means a lot of port-a-potties, hand washing stations, and portable showers.

Fire crews come from all over the country to fight big fires. Everyone at the camp works 18 hour days for two weeks, and then gets two days of rest. There can be hundreds of firefighters sleeping in tents at any fire camp. That means a lot of port-a-potties, hand washing stations, and portable showers.

Sage Van Wing/OPB

During a busy firefighting season, there could be dozens of fires burning at any given moment in Oregon alone. What makes it possible for wildland firefighters to do the work they do battling those blazes? A very well-organized incident command team set up as a small city on the edge of the wilderness.

This summer, the “Think Out Loud” team visited a wildfire incident command camp near Grants Pass, Oregon.

For every major fire, a small city must be set up to support the firefighting effort. Air-conditioned yurts house the command team setting up a communications network, medical facilities, weather forecasting, finance, etc.

For every major fire, a small city must be set up to support the firefighting effort. Air-conditioned yurts house the command team setting up a communications network, medical facilities, weather forecasting, finance, etc.

Sage Van Wing/OPB

Photographer: Sage Van Wing


Honorable Mentions

Baduizm Forever

Always stylish, Erykah Badu rocked a fist full of rings during her sold-out performance at Portland's Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Always stylish, Erykah Badu rocked a fist full of rings during her sold-out performance at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Bryan M. Vance/OPB

The undefinable Erykah Badu rolled into town this April as part of the annual Soul’d Out Music Festival. The queen of neo-soul brought the vibes (and an epic pair of kicks).

It's gotta be the shoes.

It’s gotta be the shoes.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

Photographers: Bryan M. Vance and Bradley W. Parks


Justice For Quanice

Venus Hayes speaks to media outside the Portland mayor's office Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Hayes delivered notice of intent to sue the city and the Portland Police Bureau over the 2017 fatal police shooting of her 17-year-old son, Quanice Hayes.

Venus Hayes speaks to media outside the Portland mayor’s office Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Hayes delivered notice of intent to sue the city and the Portland Police Bureau over the 2017 fatal police shooting of her 17-year-old son, Quanice Hayes.

Bryan M. Vance/OPB

One day before the one-year anniversary of when a Portland Police officer shot and killed Quanice Hayes, his family hand-delivered a letter declaring its intent to sue the city of Portland.

Photographer: Bryan M. Vance


Martians In Portland

Tribe Mars shot at The Jupiter Next hotel in SE Portland.

Tribe Mars shot at The Jupiter Next hotel in SE Portland.

David Stuckey/OPB

Musical genres are fading in today’s artistic landscape. Pop is country. Soul is pop. Jazz is hip-hop. Hip-hop is jazz. The trend of an almost gumbo-like musical future is becoming the new normal. Genre-blending Portland band Tribe Mars’ music is a peek into that reality.

Photographer: David Stuckey


Critical Vote

Richard and Erlene Stratton eat at Casey's Diner on October 22 2018 in Roseburg, Oregon. They've lived in Douglas County and been gun owners for over 80 years and said they would probably vote for the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance on the ballot.

Richard and Erlene Stratton eat at Casey’s Diner on October 22 2018 in Roseburg, Oregon. They’ve lived in Douglas County and been gun owners for over 80 years and said they would probably vote for the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance on the ballot.

Jonathan Levinson /OPB

Richard and Erlene Stratton discuss voting while enjoying a meal at Casey’s Diner on Oct. 22, 2018, in Roseburg, Oregon. Residents in Douglas County, where Roseburg is located, approved a so-called “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance” in November.

Photographer: Jonathan Levinson


Best of 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting Photography