Favorite Photos of 2023

Field Note #3

Many photographers use the opportunity of the New Year to post what they consider to be their best photos of the previous year. I've decided to post some of my favorite photos of the year. These are the images that left an indelible mark on my memories of one of the stranger years of my photo career. Two bad knees limited my hiking ability (I'm on the mend from knee replacement surgeries in August and December of last year, so bring on 2024!), and my decision to give the art festival market a try consumed much more time than I had anticipated. My goal was to get into four shows, and I ended up being selected for eight, although I had to bow out of the last one when my first knee surgery took precedence. So here follows some of my favorite memories of 2023, most of which were shared with my lovely wife, Cindy.

The incredible sandstone monoliths of Fisher Towers stand in stark contrast to the wintry alpine view of the La Sal Mountains...
Fisher Towers and the La Sal Mountains

I loved the juxtaposition of the imposing sandstone monoliths of Fisher Towers and the cold, wintry counterpoint of the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Styx put on an excellent show at the Paramount in February of 2023, dusting off many of their best songs from a catalog that...
Tommy Shaw of Styx

I started my photo career shooting concerts, so it was a bit of reliving the past when Styx came to town. I had photographed them decades ago on a few occasions, so it was fun to rekindle the excitement of trophy hunting big stars on stage – even if it was only with my cell phone camera!

The full moon rises behind the Capitol Dome, the seat of legislative power in Denver, Colorado.
State Capitol Moonrise

I'm not really sure what inspired me to go downtown and try to photograph the moonrise over the State Capitol, but I liked the result.

The twin summits of Mount Sopris rise above breaking clouds after a night of snow.
Mount Sopris Above the Clouds

We stayed with friends in Carbondale, and when we left we decided to take the long way home. An overnight storm had begun to clear, and the twin summits of Mount Sopris looked splendid in all their winter glory.

A desert bighorn ram keeps watch over his sandstone kingdom.
Desert Bighorn Ram

I'm not a wildlife photographer per se, but I rarely pass up the opportunity to photograph animals if they happen to be accessible when I'm in my usual landscape photographer mode. I spent lots of time photographing this majestic beast. I think he looks fabulous in his rocky realm.

After rain fell most of the night, morning fog spills into Monument Canyon, swirling around the monolithic sandstone structures...
Monumental Monoliths

The day after photographing lots of desert bighorns at Colorado National Monument, I was rewarded with this dynamic scene, with fog spilling into Monument Canyon and surrounding some of the monument's more famous features.

The setting sun paints the sky in warm hues as the blue sky overhead spreads its blue light across the white sand palette below...
Blue & Gold

I took a solo trip to Arizona for a photography conference, and on the way there I spent an evening at White Sands National Park. I was intrigued by the divergent hues of this scene as the sun set behind the San Andres Mountains.

Sunset colors over the mountains of the Teton Range create a spectacular scene.
Nez Perce Peak Sunset

Cindy had a goal to enter Yellowstone National Park on the day the south entrance road opened, so we timed a trip to do just that. The day before we spent the night in Grand Teton National Park, and enjoyed a colorful sunset over the Teton Range.

The colorful thermal features of Middle Geyser Basin include Yellowstone's most colorful feature, the Grand Prismatic spring...
Grand Prismatic Rainbow of Colors

We successfully entered Yellowstone on opening day for the south entrance, and saw many fantastical geothermal sights, none more spectacular than the Grand Prismatic spring.

Waipo'o Falls crashes over cliffs in Waimea Canyon State Park.
Waipo'o Falls (vertical)

Our spring break trip took us to Hawaii (a first for me), and I found the view of Waimea Canyon to be one of the most incredible views I've ever seen. Waipo'o Falls was a treat, and I returned to this viewpoint to photograph it on a few occasions. The whole trip was fantastic, but it wasn't until after the fact that we realized how little time we spent on any of Hawaii's incredible beaches. I guess because we're mountain people, we gravitated to many higher elevation destinations on the three islands we visited.

I learned long ago that it's nice to have locations close to home that I can visit and photograph regularly, because I know there...
Rainbow & Passing Storm

On a July trip up to Mount Evans we watched a quick storm pass over the summit, and watched as it headed for the plains, dropping a nice rainbow from its base along the way.

Daisies flourish along the shore of the San Miguel River near Telluride.
Daisy Portrait

I'm not very good – or maybe just not very prolific – at photographing intimate scenes, preferring to photograph big, dynamic grand landscape images, but every once in a while a scene will present itself that even a clod like me can recognize. A group of daisies along a creek near Telluride provided just such an opportunity.

Jenkins Mountain catches the sun's late rays above a small lake in Taylor Park. In the distance a moose cow grazes on succulents...
Jenkins Mountain Reflection

On a camping trip with friends in July, there was a mama moose with two small calves splashing about in this lake below the Sawatch Range. I like wildlife photos that show animals in their element, and I thought this one fit the bill.

Bomber Peak and North Timpanogos rise above stunning red maples and gold aspens as fall colors hit their stride in the Wasatch...
North Timpanogos with Maples & Aspens

As mentioned in Field Note #1, I took a gamble and drove to Utah's Wasatch Range for fall colors. Those maples sure offer something extra that Colorado lacks.

Colorful autumn cottonwoods line the banks of a usually dry wash as oddly shaped sandstone formations rise beyond.
Courthouse Wash Cottonwoods Panorama

Good timing for cottonwoods in Arches National Park.

Gold autumn leaves accentuate a stately cottonwood tree in Zion National Park.
Canyon Cottonwood

This is one of my favorite fall photos of 2023. I really like the rich gold of the cottonwoods, with the backdrop of those beautiful sandstone cliffs in the distance.

A grand scene unfolds under the warming colors of the setting sun in Capitol Reef. Juxtaposed against the dramatic sandstone...
Desert, Canyons, Mesas & Mountains

I've spent a lot of time studying this photo, there's just so much going on! Mother Nature did the hard work of pitting so many divergent geologic characteristics against one another in a single scene, I was just there to record it on one delightful evening.

flight, planes, jets, horizontal
Blue Angels in Tight Formation

Cindy and I decided that we'd forego extending one of our fall color trips and instead attended the Grand Junction Regional Airshow. Great choice! I love photographing demonstration teams like the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, and the former put on a great show as the headliner. (The Thunderbirds did not perform at this show, but I did photograph them at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony back in May.)

flight, planes, jets, horizontal
Watch Your Six!

One of the performers at the show was this A-10 Thunderbolt (or Warthog, as it's affectionately known), and I happened to catch it in the frame with a Lufthansa commercial airliner.

I was so awestruck by the waterfall appearing at Yosemite Falls on my first outing that I decided to try to  photograph it again...
Rainbow Falls #2

Perhaps my very favorite photo of the year was this one, with the cascading waters of Upper Yosemite Falls creating a rainbow. This was another image posted in my first blog post, you can read more about the experience there.

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I could have included more photos in this post, but I didn't want to create a near-endless stream of "favorites." This selection gives you a sense of what I was able to create in my "off" year.

Posted in 2023, Favorites and tagged 2023, favorites.