Best Photos of 2013

Each year a photographer whose blog I follow has a contest in which he collects “best of” collections from other photographers and publishes them in his blog. Jim Goldstein is an excellent photographer and has a great blog which you can find here. He challenges photographers to whittle down their portfolio from the previous year and display those images on their blogs or websites. He then links to them to allow his audience to sample other photographers’ work. It’s a generous gesture on his part and always creates an interesting challenge for me. I started with thirty or more images and struggled to narrow my choices down to ten. I’ve left out entire trips just to get down to these. But, these truly are my favorite images from 2013. I haven’t even had a chance to blog about a few of them yet. So, with no further ado, please peruse and enjoy these images of mine from the past year. May 2014 be equally as challenging and enjoyable. And, may each of you have a truly joyous Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year.

Door and Bicycle

An ornate door and a bicycle parked at the entry to an office building in La Spezia, Italy

Dragonfly and Summer Garden

A dragonfly rests at the edge of a water lily pond

Full Moon and Passing Clouds

The full moon rises through a cloud layer painted by the last rays of the setting sun

La Sagrada Familia Reflection

An interior shot of the interior of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Last Light on Malibu Pier

Clouds lit by the setting sun turn pink over the pier at Malibu, California

Late Afternoon Light on Rosemary Beach

Low hanging clouds and the sky take on a golden hue while interacting with the late afternoon light over the Gulf of Mexico

Sunset in the Finger Lakes

An epic sunset reflected in beautiful Lake Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes region of New York

The Wave - Detail

A detail of the incomparable Wave in Coyote Buttes North in northern Arizona

Vernazza and Harbor

Vernazza and her colorful fishing fleet as viewed from her harbor

Watkins Glen State Park



Best of 2012

Several photographers that I follow recommend an exercise to conclude each year. They encourage other photographers to review their work from the previous year and choose their ten or twelve best images from that year. This exercise may originate from the best known photographer, Ansel Adams. He noted that “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” Now, I’m not saying that these images are significant or that they are worthy of Ansel Adams, but they are my best for 2012.

There are lots of very interesting photography sites I follow. One of them that will post many photographers best work for the year is Jim Goldstein. Thanks to him for posting others’ work. I can say that it is difficult to narrow down to twelves images out of the thousands that I shot this year. So, in no particular order, here are my best for 2012.

Cadillac Emblem

A Cadillac V8 emblem from Old Car City

Crepucular Rays over the Palouse

As the sun passed behind a bank of clouds, these crepuscular rays were formed over the Palouse

Fall's Majesty Reflected in Sims Pond

Early morning light creates a glow in the foliage surrounding Sims Pond

Golden Light from Clingmans Dome

The filtered light of the setting sun created a golden hue in the sky over the Smokies

Grandfather Mountain Sunrise

The sunrise as viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain in mid-October

In Memory of Charles Ross

The original cemetery in Apalachicola, Florida contains many ancient and beautiful gravestones

Last Color on the Chimneys

Late afternoon light slants across the Chimneys illuminating a few trees still clinging to their fall colors

Lions Gate Bridge

A black and white version of an image of Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver

Palouse Falls Sunset

Beautiful Palouse Falls under the glow of pink hued clouds at sunset

The Governor Stone at Dawn

The sailboat Governor Stone rests at anchor on the Apalachicola waterfront just before the sun rises over the horizon

The Tree of Life

An old sycamore tree in full fall color hangs over Big Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Whitman County Growers

A farm and surrounding landscape as viewed from Steptoe Butte in Washington State’s incomparable Palouse region


Sunrise at Otter Cliffs

I told a bit of the story in my last post about arriving at this beach early only to find it already crowded with photographers. Now, I don’t mind standing cheek to jowl with other photographers. I’ve generally found photographers to be kind, generous, friendly, and willing to share lots of useful information. After all, if you are going to stand next to someone for sometimes hours on end, you might as well have a good time with them.

Now, what I can’t abide is the rogue photographer who just won’t play by the rules. For example, a couple of years back I was at Mesa Arch to shoot the sunrise. I was the second person there and moved into a position that was good for me, but didn’t interrupt the other guy who got there first. As we waited more and more people arrived and began to set up. That was no problem. It was a big problem when one guy decided that his ideal location was virtually on top of Mesa Arch and in all of our shots. Fortunately, he quickly moved back to another position.

On this cold, windy morning more and more photographers arrived after the first batch of us were set up. I think there were two different photography tour groups along with many other independent shooters. Other than a few people almost taking a tumble on the damp, round rocks almost everyone played well with others. Unfortunately, not everyone could abide by the unspoken but inviable rule that you never ever set up your tripod in another photographers shot. One guy decided to set up 100 feet in front of the entire group so he could have the shot that he had envisioned. And, to make matters worse, he did so just as the sky was brightening and the sun was about to rise!

Now, remember what I said about photographers being the friendly, genial types? Well, that only applies if everyone is abiding by the rules. Once this guy set up in a spot that would ruin all of our shots, things became less than friendly. There were some isolated calls to him to move – just in case he couldn’t see fifty other people behind him. When he didn’t respond to those, the isolated calls became a chorus of boos and catcalls letting him know who had arrived first. There were even a few who let him know that the escalation would be to begin throwing a few well-placed rocks in his direction if he didn’t decide to move. Finally, after some gesturing and retorts, he got the point and moved back in place and out of our shots. Photographer harmony was restored and we could get down to business.

You can see the layer of clouds that is hovering just above the horizon. The sun rose in that space and warmed the underside of the cloud layer, the surface of the water, the cliffs, and even the smooth rocks on the beach in front of us. I took frame after frame of the scene trying to capture the beauty of the moment. It was apparent that the glow would last only as long as it took the sun to rise from the horizon and until it passed behind the cloud layer. As it turned out, that window was about fifteen minutes.

This image was made early in that window. It is a composite of five different images shot at one top apart and blended with Photomatix Pro’s Exposure Blending tool. By gaining the extra four stops of light I was able to hold the shadow detail in the rocks and trees while not overexposing the warmly lit cliffs. I really love how the entire series of images came out. This one is my favorite from that memorable morning.