2023 A Year in Review

2023 felt different. A little slower, but still rewarding. One of my usual winter activities, snowshoeing at Mount Rainier, came to an abrupt end when staffing issues at the park meant it was closed during my free days. I moved in with my girlfriend in the fall. This meant my end of summer into early fall was filled with packing and unpacking and all that goes along with integrating two households into one. The photo outings just weren’t as common this past year. But when I look back on 2023, I enjoyed my time outdoors and revisiting the beautiful locations I call home.

Last year’s “Best of 2022” post started off with a layered mountain image from Mount Rainier looking north. This year, I revisited this location with the intent of trying again. The haze and light weren’t quite what I was looking for in 2022, and upon arrival this past summer, I wasn’t overly optimistic as I couldn’t see Mount Baker to the north. But as the angle of light lowered, the haze faded away.

More layers, but this time from Death Valley. Before my December workshop, I spent time looking down on the Mesquite Sand Dunes running timelapse at sunrise and sunset. The transition during this phase happened so fast that despite my camera capturing images every 8-10 seconds, the image before and after this one were noticeably different.

Last layer image, I swear! This is an area I have photographed before but from a slightly different vantage point higher up. Further down, the layers are much more photogenic. I used my 200-600mm lens at roughly 400mm and captured the sun through various phases as it rose. I liked the feel of it fully revealed.

Hurricane Hilary was officially downgraded into a tropical storm by the time it reached Death Valley, but Lake Manly lasted for several months. My visit in December was  the first time I had seen water here since 2011. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this panorama at sunset. Salt formations were entirely dissolved but near the edge, I found some textures to work with and used my 12-24mm lens to accentuate them.

The above two images were taken on a memorable outing to Spray Park in Mount Rainier National Park. On the way to the meadows higher up, a pit stop to Spray Falls was in order. The intricate and delicate details capture my imagination. My previous visit here to the meadows was marked by more snow than flowers, a thick cloud cover, and pesky mosquitoes. While the sunset didn’t “blow up”, small patches of lupine, a glowing mountain, and a visiting deer made up for the lack of color.

Eastern Washington is full of expansive rolling hills. It’s what the “Palouse region” is known for. After a decade of exploring, I always find joy in finding serendipitous subjects. Finding this horsetail at a sunrise location was a treat. I had first photographed some at the end of my 2022 Palouse workshop. I patiently waited for the sun to come up and illuminate the dew drops. And my favorite barn continues to house barn owls and this time through, I some some fluffy juveniles inside the barn.

A winter freeze and a frozen puddle…in my driveway. Probably my favorite image with the shortest travel distance in my entire life.

Continuing with the “local” theme. I am living closer to the city which means I will be visiting some of my favorite skyline vistas and searching for new ones. These next two images are parts of amazing timelapse sequences I will someday share.

I won’t call Skagit Valley “local” just yet, but it does feel like a place I could retire. I made a big purchase in December and you may see more wildlife in my portfolio and posts online. Still getting the hang of it, but I enjoy the challenge. These three images are of northern harriers and a short-eared owl. Of course, I am a landscape photographer at heart, so when the distant mountains lit up at sunset, my 850mm focal length and a three quick frames created a nice panorama.

Finally, 2023 marked the first time I have compiled a short story timelapse reel from Mount Rainier. It was a labor of love and I’m looking forward to sharing another this year of Seattle. May your photo experiences be amazing this year!

Best to you all,

Jim Patterson

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