TOP 15 IMAGES OF 2023 - January 5, 2024
Welcome to my list of my Top 15 photos of 2023! These images represent places I’ve traveled, showing some new photographic subject interest (barns!), and my love of color. This year I bumped it up to 15...because I can! It is challenging to choose my favorites of the year. Each image was chosen because of the subject matter, the historical significance, the colors, or…just because there is something about the scene that calls to me.
For some stats: Seven of my Top 15 images were taken with my drone, so about half. I truly do love my drone and hope to do more with it, especially with video in 2024 (I just purchased Final Cut Pro and having some learning to do!). Six are from Detroit. And one barn! And two with comeback stories. Also…four of the images in my Top 15 are never before seen, can you tell which ones? Don’t worry, you won't have to guess, I’ll tell you in the photo stories below!
Without further ado, here are my Top 15 with the story behind each image. Thanks to all of you who have followed my work and liked/commented/purchased my images in the past year! Looking forward to new adventures in 2024!
1. Smoky Mountains Sunrise, Onalufti Overlook
Let's start off my list with the last trip I took this fall to the Smoky Mountains National Park. While we missed peak fall color, we still found many locations to visit and photograph in the area. I had never been to the Smokies, and it was everything I thought it would be. The layered effect of the mountain tops were magical. And, none more magical than during a sunrise! We got up at 4:30am to make the hour trip to the overlook, with the small chance there would be clouds for one hour during sunrise. The whole trip was completely blue skies, no clouds predicted whatsoever. We knew this was our window to use some clouds in a scene and took the chance. As soon as we pulled into the parking spot and I looked up, I knew we made the right decision. We waited for the color to develop, and this was my favorite scene of the morning. This is a never-before seen image. See more images from my trip here.
2. Chicago Abandoned L Station
This image is a re-do of the same scene I took several years ago. This time, we were visiting with my friend Bruce, who surprisingly had never photographed Chicago. So, we had to take him to this scene. This scene is a compilation of the L trains (this time we captured both one coming and going), neighborhood people walking/biking through scene, and even a pigeon! This is a never-before seen image.
3. Iowa State Capitol Law Library
I didn't think I would make it to Iowa to photograph this law library in this lifetime. I had seen a photo of it online years ago, skeptical I would ever have the time to drive eight hours to photograph it. However, I have crazy photo friends who are willing to go with me (Looking at you Scott Shields! Crazier was this was his second time there!). I had processed and shared a couple of images of the library after my trip, but this one I processed a few days ago. I typically like my architecture lines straight, but this wide scene called to me, even though it was tilted. You can see more images of the law library here.
4. West Canfield Historic District Mansions, Detroit
I discovered these mansions while driving down Canfield street after a real estate photo shoot. I cannot believe I have never been on this part of Canfield before (between Second and Third Ave). What beautiful homes on this street! In 2023 I revisited 3-4 times to get the light and shots I wanted.
5. John Deere Tractor with Sunflower Field
I came across this scene quite by accident. I found it along a dirt road off of Van Dyke in Richmond after I spent the day in Romeo photographing barns. It just seemed...too perfect. I wondered if someone set up this scene for a photo shoot? This shot was captured with my drone, which gave me the height I needed to get more of the sunflowers into the scene between the tractor and silos.
6. Ypsilanti Downtown Colorful Storefronts
Okay, this was chosen just because I always loved the colors of these Ypsilanti storefronts. After a real estate shoot in the area, I was driving through downtown and stopped to get this shot. My drone was definitely needed to get the height to capture the buildings from top to bottom.
7. Iowa Secrest 1883 Octagon Barn
From my Iowa/Illinois trip, this barn is one of dozens of barns photographed on this trip. This octagon barn was on my list and we were fortunate the caretaker was present to allow us on the property to photograph it. We weren't able to see the interior, but hopefully on a future trip! The Iowa Barn Foundation does a wonderful job of sharing the history of its barns, as well as publicly sharing locations. You can see other barn photos from my trip here.
8. Marine Terminal Cold Storage Warehouse, Detroit
Starting in May 2023 the Marine Terminal demolition started, and it is now completely gone, relegated to the pile of demolished buildings in Detroit. In January my friend Fritz and I entered for the last time as we captured this cold storage machinery area on the first floor, one of my favorite areas of the building. The machinery was unique, especially the large wheels, which were almost taller than me! On this visit I only used my Laowa 20mm shift lens to take both horizontal and vertical panoramas. This scene is a vertical panorama, capturing all the pipes that ran along the room's ceiling, and never before shared. Throughout 2023 I came back several times to document the demolition with both photos and video. In 2024 I will be gaining skills to edit video so I can share all the video I've been capturing around Detroit. Stay tuned! See more images I've taken of the Marine Terminal here.
9. Book Tower Renovation
While some buildings have met their fate, others have been brought back to life. Thanks to Dan Gilbert, the Book Tower is now open for business! It was another wonderful Detroit comeback story. As I had only been inside while it was abandoned, it was truly magical to walk through the lobby and see it firsthand after so many years of vacancy. I didn't even realize until I was recently reading about the restoration that this glass rotunda even existed! You can see other photos I've taken of the Book Tower both before and after the restoration.
10. Fort Gratiot Lighthouse with Freighter
Even though I love visiting lighthouses, I don't photograph them very often. This summer Bryan, Dana and I took a trip to Port Huron to visit the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Huron Lightship Museum (you can find info on both here). I love how there is a lighthouse only an hour away from our home. We definitely plan to visit more often, and there is even a sandy beachfront! Not to mention a great place to watch freighters float by from Lake Huron to the St Clair River.
11. Cadillac Place, Detroit
This image was taken while photographing for a client in the Netherlands, an avid car fan who wanted a photo of what was once the original General Motors headquarters in the New Center area of Detroit. This was just barely possible since I had to be right next to a large pine tree in the median along West Grand Blvd. I was fortunate though to have a breeze giving movement to the flag.
12. Tennessee Abandoned Farmhouse and Red Barn
This abandoned farmhouse in Rutledge was found while researching locations for my Smokies trip. I knew I had to see this one! We visited as we made our way back from the Smokies, driving through northern Tennessee towards home. If it wasn't for the new looking locked gate at the front of the property, I would have been tempted to go inside the house. But, we didn't. I'm more conservative in rural areas, you never know who may come barreling down the road.
13. Iowa State Capitol Building Staircase
One of my favorite images of 2023 for sure, this staircase was captured with my newly purchased Laowa 11mm Ultra Wide lens. The Iowa State Capitol building is worth stopping to visit if you ever find ourself in Des Moines. You get to see not only the capitol building, but the law library as well.
14. Flat Iron Building in Fog
Captured on a foggy New Year's Day in Detroit. I made a creative choice and used selective color to put emphasis on the flat iron building. This is a vertical panorama using my Laowa shift lens, captured from the parking garage across the street. Detroit looks amazing in the fog!
15. Train Station Lit Up at Dusk with Detroit Skyline
The train station was well on its way to becoming another Detroit comeback story when Ford Motor Company purchased it in 2018. The building is planned to open to the public in 2024. For those of us who have seen it in its derelict state, we are on pins and needles waiting to see what they have done with it. This is an image captured in December using my drone. To see the train station lit up is just incredible.