Hi everyone! It looks like we’re just about ready to close the door on another year, so I thought I’d recap some of my favorite images, workshops, and techniques that I learned in 2013. As a photographer, I think it’s really important to always look at new creative techniques and things you can try in the field to get images that stand out. Sometimes, that can be as simple as trying to photograph something you’ve already captured in a different way. Other times, it might be learning new software tools for creative post-processing. Let’s take a recap through 2013, shall we?
January: Death Valley National Park
I took a week-long trip to Death Valley National Park with some great friends, and we had a fantastic time capturing the rugged landscape. Some of my favorite shots were from Racetrack Playa and when we did some night photography amongst the Joshua trees. I’d done light-painting before, but it was great to be out somewhere were it was possible to capture the Milky Way, too.
April: Trinidad Birding and Colonial Williamsburg Workshop.
I returned to the island of Trinidad, where I spent several weeks in the late 1990s doing field work for my doctoral dissertation. This time, I had my 600mm lens and Nikon D4, and I enjoyed the challenge of photographing small, fast-moving birds. Later in April, I joined up with Deborah Sandidge to teach a creative photography workshop in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. We covered lots of fun and creative techniques, including HDR, monochrome, and texture-blending.
May: Warbirds and South Texas Birding
We had some surprise visitors to Colorado Springs in May, as a group of WWII aircraft were in town to perform for the USAFA graduation ceremonies. The aircraft were on public display for a few days, so I went to check them out. Also in May, I returned to south Texas for my annual South Texas Birding Experience photo safari. We had an amazing time photographing birds from the meticulously set-up private blinds, and enjoyed home-cooked meals every day!
June: South Dakota Badlands
This year, I was joined by Deborah Sandidge for my annual Badlands Photo Safari. As we drove to South Dakota, we made a side trip to Carhenge in Nebraska. It’s now on my list of favorite shooting locations! Right before this trip, I got a Singh-Ray 10-stop ND filter, which is perfect for daytime long exposures. The moving clouds in South Dakota were perfect for creating dynamic landscape images via long exposure. Also on this trip, I had my first real chance to try out an infrared camera. I knew it was another technique that I could add to my creative kit.
July-August: Eastern Colorado and Infrared Photography
I spent much of the summer learning how to process infrared digital images. I had my Nikon 1 V1 converted to “Super-Color” (590nm) infrared, and I set out to explore the world with this fantastic technique. I learned that not every image works in infrared, but when you get a good subject, it can be really powerful. I also went back to my favorite spot in Eastern Colorado, the wind farm near Limon. Here I had a spectacular full moon in the twilight hours.
September: Fall in the Rockies
It was a challenging summer in Colorado. First we had devastating fires in June, and then September brought the most rain we’d ever seen. The roads to Rocky Mountain National Park were washed out, and the town of Estes Park was devastated by flooding and mudslides. I relocated my fall photo safari to Buena Vista, Colorado, where we photographed the Collegiate Peaks, passes, and ghost towns. It was a great trip and a location I’ll be sure to return to.
October: New York City and Blue Hour Monday
I love photographing in Manhattan. That’s one reason why I like to attend the Photo Plus Expo. I was able to meet up with a lot of friends and colleagues, and also get out to some fun spots for creative photo opportunities. I once again had a chance to lead a photo walk with Deborah Sandidge, and this year we were at the iconic Flatiron Building. We also photographed the lower Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park, a perfect place for twilight and long exposure photography. When I got back from NYC, Google released Analog Efex Pro for the Nik Collection. I found it to be great for creating an old-time feel for some of my city photos. Deborah and I also started a weekly photo theme on Google Plus, called “Blue Hour Monday.” Each Monday, we encourage everyone to post and share their favorite blue-hour shots using the hashtag, #bluehourmonday.
December: Aerial Photography with a Quadcopter
I just had to try this out! I got a Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter that I’m currently learning how to fly! It might not be a D800, but it sure is fun and provides a whole new perspective to location photography! Look for a full write up and review soon.
Looking ahead to 2014
With winter coming on fast (especially here), I’m already getting excited for the new year and new adventures. I will once again be teaming up with Deborah Sandidge for several workshops next year, including the Badlands of South Dakota. We’ve also started up a new workshop series, called “Digital Underground,” which will be urban-oriented. Our first workshop for that series is planned for Las Vegas in April 2014. We plan to add a few more locations throughout the year, too! I’m also working on new educational content based around Lightroom, infrared photography, and Analog Efex Pro. Thanks for checking in here with me and I wish everyone the very best for the new year!