An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

December 28, 2013

My Ten Favorite Photos from 2013

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.

Hund's
(2/16/13)
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.
Hund's

Grandmother Malus
(4/12/13)
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.
Grandmother Malus (3)

Budgerigar Parakeet
(6/15/13)
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.
Budgerigar Parakeet (2)

Nelumbo
(6/19/13)
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.
Nelumbo (7)

Fort Monroe
(7/14/13)
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.
Fort Monroe (31)

Cedar Island
(7/20/13)
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.
Cedar Island (5)

Oculus
(8/4/13)
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.
Oculus

Mrs. George H. Pring
(8/8/13)
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.
Conservatory - Waterlily Display - Nymphaea 'Mrs. George H. Pring'

Good Timing
(8/8/13)
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.
Conservatory - Waterlily Display - Good Timing (1)

Cellblock 7
(8/10/13)
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.
Cellblock (7)

Rembrandt Hands
(8/22/13)
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.
Rembrandt Hands

Carcass
(8/24/13)
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.
Carcass (5)

St. Louis
(9/28/13)
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.
St. Louis Returns (12)

Waller Mill
(11/3/13)
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.
Waller Mill Park (11)

Sunrise Hackberry
(11/29/13)
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.
Sunrise Hackberry (1)

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.

46 comments:

  1. Les -- These are wonderful photos of a momentous year.

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    1. Thanks Sybil, it didn't feel momentous, not bad, but not momentous.

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  2. Beautiful photos. I think my favorite is the hackberry trees, also not one of my favorite trees. But your photo shows their beauty.

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    1. The hackberry sat on my memory card unseen until this week, and I really liked how it came out.

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  3. I remember a few of these from posts during the year. It is an unforgettable experience to be able to walk under old trees like the crabapple you shot. And the hands are a classic; a reminder about the value of working with our hands and not just our heads. Happy New Year.

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    1. Linda, I am not even sure the owner of those hands know they were photographed, but they speak to a lifetime of work.

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  4. Outstanding images Les. My favorite is the Prison, believe it or not. Thanks for sharing and offering a meme for others. It seems I didn't take as many photos this year as in years past. Hope to remedy that this year. http://greggosgarden.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-favorite-images-from-2013.html

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    1. Greggo, thanks for providing a link to your photos. I will try to take a look soon.

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  5. Congrats on a beautiful photo year!

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  6. Happy new year Les. Thanks for giving me some motivation to get back into the blogging saddle. Just put up a '10 favorites ... ' post including photos, scans and videos: http://ellishollow.remarc.com/?p=1939

    Love the variety of your photos. It's so hard to pick a favorite. Crabapple is great 'right place, right time' shot, but with my penchant for close-ups, I gotta go with the lotus.

    Looking forward to more next year.

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    1. Craig, the viewing public has missed your scans and your photos as well. Thank you for playing along.

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  7. Each one of these photos is captivating. I usually do a collage of photos but after seeing this, in the future, I think I will showcase the photos. Love them all. Here is my collection:
    http://ledgeandgardens.typepad.com/ledge_and_gardens/2013/12/the-year-in-pictures-2013.html

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    1. Layanee, thanks for the link.. I think a collage is a good way to approach this, and I look forward to stopping by for a look.

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  8. Beautiful images, I too like the hackberry trees. Happy New Year! jd

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    1. Happy new year to you as well JD. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. People add so much to garden photos, and I love the Amish family you captured. The hands are also very nice. Heck, they're all beautiful. Thanks for keeping this meme going, Les. I've joined in with 10 picks too: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=24435

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    1. Thanks for joining Pam. I look forward to see your photos.

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  10. I love your photos! The Amish family shot is amazing. I've been taking pictures with a DSLR camera for the past year, so I'm finally able to participate with your meme. Here's my link: http://www.gravylessons.com/2014/01/my-ten-favorite-photos-from-2013.html Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Gravy, I am so glad you are playing along. I will stop by soon to see your photos.

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  11. Hello Les! I used your meme as an excuse to summarize a whole year in 10 (well 12) photos. I definitely have a way to go on learning more about good pictures, but these sum up the year for me. I loved seeing yours!

    http://gardeninguptoeleven.blogspot.com/2014/01/2013-wrap-up.html

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    1. Renee, thanks for stopping by and for providing the link. I will hopefully get around to seeing your post very soon.

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  12. All really stunning Les! I love Grandmother Malus the best. Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy new year to you too Carol!

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  13. National Geographic-quality photos, all of them! The photo of the Amish moms, kids, and the garden worker is fabulous, as is the shot of the pond before it. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks Beth, you have made my head swell. I hope you have a happy new year as well.

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  14. Everytime you do this I think I am going to do it too but somehow there is never the time. Your choices for this year are so diverse and beautiful, thanks for sharing them and Happy New Year.

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    1. Happy new year to you as well Carolyn. I with you on the lack of time, for many things.

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  15. I loved the water lilies pictures and the pictures of the fall colors at Waller Park too. They were spectacular. I like the penitentiary shot too. It looks like a set from Supernatural.

    I'm participating this year. My link: http://sweetbay103.blogspot.com/2014/01/favorite-pictures-of-2013.html

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    1. Thanks for jumping in Sweetbay. Hopefully I will get by and see your choices soon. I've been told that the penitentiary has appeared on numerous shows.

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    1. Thanks Jay! It was my favorite.

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    2. JAYNE, sorry about the name abbreviation.

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  17. Beautiful images, how do you narrow it down? My favorite is the little parakeets. Having a parrot myself, I see so much thought on their part. It is like they are thinking, "How do we show our best side for his photos?"

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    1. Thanks Donna. I didn't pick the photos based solely on their technical quality, they had to speak to me first. I was very surprised by the bird photos. I went just hoping to have a nice day, and didn't realize that I would get so many good photos, as I have a clouded history with animal photos (other than dogs).

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  18. Les, you have had a wonderful year! I was wondering if any dogs would make the list, and there is Loretta's spirit at the end. Thanks for sharing these.

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    1. Lynn, Loretta was in many of my photos, but only I can see her.

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  19. Happy New Year! What a nice mix of images Les- some happy, some sad and all beautiful in their own way! The penitentiary was shocking. That human beings were ever forced to live in such a grim place, even if they were criminals, is frightening. The dead dolphin is so sad. The happy turtle image and the beautiful Longwood Garden images were a nice counterbalance.

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    1. Jennifer, I hope people don't mind that all my photos are pretty, but I think photography, or any art form for that matter, is better when it shows the balance in life. Thanks for sharing your link below, I look forward to your photos.

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  20. All of your photos are exceptional and it is hard to choose a favorite. I do really love the one of the "Rembrandt hands" as well as the one of the penitentiary . Here are some of mine: http://phillipoliver.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-2013-garden-look-back.html

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    1. Thanks Phillip, I like the hands as well. That was just one of many very special days at work during the past year.

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    2. ... and I look forward to see your photos. Thanks for posting the link.

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  21. I put together a 10 best post Les. Here is a link: http://threedogsinagarden.blogspot.ca/2014/01/spring-flowering-trees-in-all-their.html

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  22. Hi, I found you through Jennifer (three dogs in a garden), I’d love to come back here and read some past posts when I got time, your favourite photos are all beautiful but I loved the old hands and the Amish people – and yet as a gardener I adore water lily photos, and the lotus flower was just amazing. I haven’t got a post of 10 favourite photos but might make one later in the month. Have to ponder a bit about what to choose, after all – I took nearly 4000 photos of my garden in 2013….

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