Pictures of the Year 2011 - Jeff Horner

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Framed within the swirling rainbow colors of a glass and welded steel sculpture on the Whitman College campus, a lone bicyclist pedals through rainy streets of Walla Walla, Wash., May 24. The piece, titled "Imagination and Understanding: Phusis and Techne", is an outdoor work by artist Doug Ludlow and has been on the campus grounds since 2001.

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The Band Perry lead singer Kimberly Perry belts out a song while flanked by her brothers Neil, left, and Reid Aug. 31 in Walla Walla, Wash., at the 145th Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days. The sister and two brother band has emerged as one of the top country groups of the year, being nominated for a Grammy Award and winning awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards and CMT Awards. Here, they played before a record-breaking crowd at Washington state's oldest fair.

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Wa-Hi celebrates a home run en route to their stormy State 4A Softball Championship in Spokane.

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Nestled within the blossom of a small blue flower, a red ladybug offers a burst of warm color May 16 in Walla Walla, Wash., following a gray weekend that dumped nearly a month's worth of normal precipitation for May in just two days.

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While waiting for the start of the parade marking the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxillary Post 992 member Martha Logan glances through the back window of her bright yellow 1931 Model A Ford May 2 in Walla Walla, Wash., as she looks for her husband, driver and WW II veteran Buzz Logan, 85.

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Five-year-old Camrin Colunga's face goes from puzzled to pure joy in less than half-a-second as he first hears his mom, Shayna Colunga, call out "Look up, Camrin" to get his attention and he spots his dad, U.S. Army Sgt. Pedro Colonga unexpectedly standing next to his mom in his kindergarten classroom on April 14 in Walla Walla, Wash.

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A mantle of autumn leaves frames early morning traffic along Alder Street in Walla Walla, Wash., Oct. 17 as fall finally makes its colorful presence known in Southeastern Washington.

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Wa-Hi's Moe Handcox Jr., right, tries to pull in the one-handed reception through the grasp of AC Davis' Chris Chapman late in the second half of their Washington State Class 4A game at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla, Wash., on Sept. 30. The pass fell incomplete. At the time, the game was tied at 7-7 and still up in the air, but undefeated AC Davis pulled away with the 41-16 win.

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One hand for balance and one for the dig, Mac-Hi's Jolene Brannan flies sideways and times it to perfection as the kill becomes the save as the Pioneers down visiting Umatilla.

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A standing room only crowd looks on from the uppermost level of George Ball Court Feb. 18 as the Whitman College Men's basketball team beats nationally No. 1 ranked Whitworth College in Walla Walla, Wash. For Thomas Mulls, 8, whose head couldn't quite reach above the top rail, an adustment in viewing had to be made to watch Whitman pull off the upset win.

Photographs live long lives.

They linger in our collective subconcious, gather quiet dust in the corner of a drawer or hang - slightly crooked - on a cluttered wall of fame.

In a crowd of moments, carried forward with the flow of time, the good ones make us feel something a little bit profound. Whether joy, sadness or inspiration, they help in our often futile attempts to understand.

The not-so-good ones ripen with time and nostalgia, often serving as the last connections to our fleeting past.

They peel away the layers so we can bear witness to the individual slices; defining moments that serve to create the whole of what we are or the potential of what we can be.

Oftentimes, the rush of combined moments - time's flowing passage - disallows this. We see the rush of life fluidly, swimming in the infinite moments, finally tiring, exhausting itself, then drowning in the very process of living.

But the runaway train of living often forgets life. Forgets that big is made of the small. Grains of sand are as much a part of the beautiful white beach as the beach itself.

Photography serves to remind us that we are still young to this universe. Just a bunch of kids lying on a beach that our parents took us to, forgetting all about swimming in the bigger moments, ignoring everything, just looking at the individual grains of sand. Wondering where the sand had been.

Wondering, ultimately, where that grain of sand was going next.

Like the swirl of colors from the artist's rainbow, a photo holds a point in the journey's ebb and flow. It captures a cog in the bigger wheel, allowing a little precious time to reflect.

Footnotes left from the passing year.

Not all, but a few things that mattered.

A state softball championship. Being there for the home team beating the number-one ranked team in the nation. Catching a glimpse of rising music stars. Seeing the pure joy of a son when his father comes home early from service to his country.

Or, on a note that tests our ability to be better than the things we hate, experiencing the reactions to the end of a man whose name became synonymous with terrorism, death and destruction.

Moments, though, don't always have to carry community, national or international value. Oftentimes they shine because they are a personal triumph - the last second diving save, a defining moment where a play could go either way or simply finding a beautiful place to take a little rest.

The quiet moments.

Just doing the job.

Sometimes, in the frantic blur from the window of the runaway train, the moments get lost.

Photography gives us a frame to pause. A captured instant that defies time's movement and lives long after the instant has gone.

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