It is time once again for my end of the year photography wrap up, and last year's baker's dozen has risen to 15, and it was really hard to keep it at that.
During my 2013 Winter Walk-Off I passed Hund's ReCycle Factory, and on a cold, gray and depressing day it made me smile to see these colors.
In April I took a series of photos from an ancient crabapple growing where I work at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It is a very special tree at any time of the year, but standing underneath it in full bloom is to enter another world.
After talking about it for a year and half, two friends and I ventured to Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Unlike other animal parks I have visited, you can get really close to the birds there, as close as the birds will let you. When I was making this list, three of the photos from my trip that day made it to the final casting call before having to be cut.
It is almost impossible to take a bad photo of a blooming lotus. They are one of nature's sexiest flowers, and we have a stone bridge at work in the Japanese Garden that allows visitors to get right in there among the blossoms.
A trip to nearby Fort Monroe produced lots of photos for July's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I always devote that month's photos to the crape myrtle, my favorite tree. However, this photo is devoid of blooms of any sort, and I can't entirely tell you why I like it so much. Maybe its the water, the glimpse of the old fort and its moat, it could be the perspective, or it could be that it is seems un-Virginia like.
This summer I took a learning trip with the Tidewater Master Naturalist to Cedar Island, one of the barrier islands on Virginia's Eastern Shore. On the way over I spotted a trawler on the beach and the captain mentioned it was a wreck. Once on the beach the photographer in me made a beeline to the trawler, finger on the shutter button the whole way there.
Early August found me in Charlottesville for a quick trip. I spent one morning wondering the nearly empty University of Virginia campus, and it was the first time I was ever able to enter the Rotunda, the centerpiece of Mr. Jefferson's vision. At the top of the building is the school's original library with an oculus in the domed ceiling metaphorically letting light and knowledge into a dark and ignorant world.
Mrs. George H. Pring
My trip to Longwood Gardens this summer produced scads of photos. It has me wondering if I really saw the garden, or if I only saw it through my viewfinder. This shot was taken on my belly at water level outside the garden's Conservatory where water lilies are displayed. I like the way water, plants and light work together in this shot, to me they convey the exotic warmth of the tropics.
This shot was taken soon after the one above. As I was photographing waterlilies, I saw a group of Amish ladies enter the garden, children in tow. One of Longwood's docents or volunteers was working in the garden and engaged the two children with one of the lily flowers that had recently been cut. I pretended to take flower photos while I instead focused on the group of people at just the right time. My timing and luck were perfect and produced what is perhaps my favorite photograph of the year. They could not have posed any better if I had asked them.
My brother, my son, and I took another photo-productive trip to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. I love poking around places with atmosphere, especially if these places are old and in some sort of decay, and I hit the jackpot with this one.
One of the things I love most about my job is that I normally get to learn or experience something different every day. In August I was present when one of the garden's statues returned from storage and was placed on its pedestal after a long absence. It involved conservators and men with cranes, one of whom had been working with his hands for many years.
My friend Anne is an accomplished artist, and I think everything she encounters is studied with a gifted eye. In August we encountered the carcass of an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin on a beach in North Carolina. It was one of many that died along the coast this summer.
After the last photo, I am glad a more positive animal shot made the list. In late September I was fortunate enough to be at First Landing State Park when a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle, named St. Louis, was returned to the sea.
In another bit of good timing, I was able to go kayaking at Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg just at peak fall color. I am surprised that this was the only shot taken from my kayak that made my final 15, last year there were several. Believe it or not, but the color in this shot was not put there by me.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we headed to my parent's place on Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore. On a morning walk to the shore of Metompkin Bay, I was able to capture a shot of hackberry trees at a bend in the dirt road leading to the water. While hackberries are not the most photogenic tree, I have many pictures of these, I like their shape and I like where they grow. The only thing missing from the photo is my old dog Loretta, she always waited right here for me to catch up.
If you would like to see all of this year's contestants, just click here for my Flickr set, and if you want to see previous year's finalists, 2012's are here, and 2011's are here.
Do you have photos from 2013 that you are particularly proud of, or that speak to you in a special way? If so, then I welcome you to share them on your own blog (or Facebook page, but only if you must). If you do, please come back and leave a comment with a link to your page. I would really appreciate it. Thanks, and I hope all of you have a happy and photo op filled new year.