The end of the year is right around the corner so it’s time for me to search through my 2023 exposures for my favourites taken since January 1st. This year, I got the list down to 15 frames which I’m listing here in chronological order.
In the second week of January, I took one of my reasonably frequent trips downtown to capture skyline images with the drone. On that particular night, the sunset glow was fantastic resulting in this amazing golden light reflected from the buildings on Cesar Chavez Blvd.
A week after taking the previous picture, I found myself in Kansas visiting my son and we took a day trip into Kansas City to see the sights. I had seen this view many times online and was keen to capture my own version of it so we hung out on the overlook at the top of the stairs at the World War 1 monument during sunset. Union Station was lit up to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs’ upcoming Super Bowl appearance which added an interesting twist to the scene.
We skip forward to a horribly hot June, now, with this image taken at the annual Pride celebration in Dripping Springs, Texas. This young lady was helping on the ticket desk and, completely spontaneously, struck a colourful pose when I pointed my camera at her.
In the middle of the year, I treated myself to a second drone, a DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro which I intend to use mainly while traveling because its light weight means I can fly it in various countries without needing a license. I took it out for a test flight in downtown Austin early on a Sunday morning in July and captured some images that I really love including this one showing the top of the city’s iconic Frost Bank Tower. For a tiny drone, I’m very impressed by its capabilities!
In early August, I had to do a super-early airport run one day so decided to take the opportunity to capture some images around the Blanton Museum of Art with its newly installed “Petals” in the courtyard between the two buildings. The new structures offer a great frame for views of the Capitol. I’ll need to go back again, though, since construction on the new Capitol Mall was still ongoing at this point resulting in a somewhat unsightly plywood wall across the newly-pedestrianized street up towards the Capitol building.
In September, we treated ourselves to a fantastic small ship cruise from south eastern Alaska down the inner passage through British Columbia to Seattle. During the voyage, we visited a couple of glaciers including this one. The scale here is absolutely daunting with the face of the glacier rising 1500 feet above the water and conveying that size is really difficult. This is the frame which I felt did a reasonable job of showing just how huge everything is in the area. The zodiac here is still about a quarter of a mile from the rock and ice wall behind it.
One of the ports of call during our cruise was the fishing town of Petersburg, Alaska. While there, I took part in a photo walk around the fishing pier and this ended up being one of the highlights of the trip, at least photographically. Photo walks are always fun, social experiences but I usually take part in local, Austin ones where we’re photographing areas I already know well. In this case, it was a brand new location to me with so many interesting subjects that I was like a kid in a sweet shop. On top of that, we were being led by a National Geographic photographer (Paul Anderson) who offered insightful observations and guidance, critiqued our work, and produced a show of his own photo walk images afterwards.
Towards the end of our summer cruise, we spent a day in Victoria, British Columbia. Our small boat was berthed next to the huge Norwegian Sun which was decorated with wonderfully colorful patterns along its hull. I’m a sucker for abstracts and the reflections of the sunlit colors on the surface of the water was just too fantastic to pass up.
The following day saw us in the port of Friday Harbor, Washington. While walking along the pontoons to get to shore, this white boat and the reflection of its bow in the calm water caught my eye. I love the clean, graphical nature of this image and the fact that you have to look at it for a while before figuring out exactly what it’s showing.
Back in Austin, it was football season so I was, once again, in action photographing the Longhorn Band. This image, showing trumpeter Natalie Chavez (who, incidentally, was one of 4 players in the band that I’ve know for years since they came up through the Dripping Springs school bands along with my kids) during the Longhorns’ game against Kansas on September 30th. In an attempt to get out of a creative funk, I was trying something different so took this with a fisheye lens and flash, looking into the sun for a very dramatic effect. Apparently at least one other person likes this image because it was selected to be hung as part of the 2024 Texas Photographic Society Members Only Show.
In early October, I headed to Dallas with the Longhorn Band to cover the annual Red River Showdown game between UT and the OU Sooners. It was a late morning kick-off so I figured I may have a chance to fly a drone at sunset and capture some Dallas skylines. I picked a launch site based on some online suggestions and, although it turned out to be farther from the actual skyline than I really wanted, it offered a great opportunity to capture the city with a maze of interstate highways in the foreground. This flight also marked a milestone as the first time I’ve applied for FAA permission to fly in controlled airspace. In the end, the process was very simple but I did find myself having to watch out for a whole lot more private air traffic than usual!
The week after the Dallas trip, I headed up to Vermont for our annual NxNW photography trip. The colours weren’t as good as usual this year but the views were still gorgeous. The trip was somewhat spoiled by the fact that I went down with COVID while there (I only had very minor symptoms but it was enough to make me lose a day through tiredness) and passed it on to pretty much all the others.
October was a busy month. While still recovering from my COVID (though testing negative before anyone wonders about me passing it on to even more folks), I attended the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. I didn’t have a credential and was attending alone for the first time so it was a rather less fun experience than usual but I did get a decent number of photos of fans that I am happy with. This one of Papa Ferrari, a character who is seen at many races, and the Longhorn Band, as they waited at the base of the T1 hill to enter the home stretch for the national anthem, was definitely my favourite.
The UT color guard had new flags for the half time show on November 4th, just prior to Veteran’s Day and I loved them as a background to a row of trumpeters as they waited on the sidelines for the start of the show.
My last pick for the year echoes my first – another drone shot of the Austin skyline taken at dusk. This image, taken only a couple of weeks ago, is a panorama built from 10 exposures and shows this year’s collection of skyscrapers. I’m sure next year’s image will be busier still as a couple of new towers are currently under construction.
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