2023 was an incredible year for me and my photography. I had some great opportunities for some cool photos over the past twelve months. 

The most memorable part of the year, and the obvious highlight, was when my wife, daughter, and I decided to skip winter and head overseas.  We spend the winter months exploring Andalucía, Spain, and Portugal with our then 3-year-old daughter.  Greta was amazing the entire trip.  She had absolutely no issues with traveling or waking up in a new bed every couple of weeks, and she loved exploring all the history.  Her favorite thing to do was eat out at restaurants.  I think we ruined her for eating at home as she still asks to go to restaurants for just about every meal.  It was a great experience!

The rest of the year was just living life in Door County.  The summer months arrived soon after we returned from Europe, so my wedding season was off and running.  I had another great season doing that.

We had a few significant showings of the Northern Lights in the Spring and late Summer, which was stunning!  It was the type of show that is more common in the northern latitudes.  It was quite special to see a good show this far south, as most of the aurora activity simply resembles light pollution.  But this year, we had pulses, bands, and even overhead corona!

As I do every year, I took some time to collect some of my favorite photos that I captured during the past 12 months.  As you might expect, the vast majority of them are from our trip, but many are from around home in Door County as well.  

Except for the first photo, these are not in any particular order.  And these may not be my “best” photos from 2023, but they definitely are my favorite.

Running

This is my single favorite photo from 2023.

We traveled for months with our then 3-year-old daughter.  Greta was amazing the entire trip.  She had absolutely no issues with traveling or waking up in a new bed every couple of weeks, and she loved exploring all the history.  Her favorite thing to do was eat out at restaurants.  I think we ruined her for eating at home as she still asks to go to restaurants for just about every meal.

That brings me to this photo taken in Tavira on the southern Algarve coast of Portugal.  We are in a simple garden on one of our daily walks around town.  Greta had some extra energy to get out, so she started doing laps around the garden.  This photo was snapped as she ran down the path and right before she exited the frame, stuffy in hand. 

The fun and innocence of childhood.

Nigüelas

The small village of Nigüelas, Spain, is located high above the Valle de Lecrín at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  I shot this photo at sunset while on a walk on the road leading into the mountains.  It shows the village with the valley in the far distance.  Niguelas was where we stayed the longest while in Spain, so a photo like this holds personal memories for me.

Alhambra

The most impressive castle that I have seen is the mighty Alhambra.  Located in Granada, Spain, this is the site of the last battle of the Reconquista.  In 1492, the seven-hundred-year campaign to reclaim the Iberian peninsula ended with the surrender of this castle to the Catholic Monarchs.  The castle itself sits high above Granada with the Sierra Nevada mountains behind it.  This photo was taken from the Albaicín quarter where you can see a perfect view of the castle.

Lighting The Night

The winter season in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in Door County, is always a great time for photos.  The large freighters make their way to Downtown Sturgeon Bay to get repairs and upgrades and wait for the shipping season to resume.  I captured this photo from the banks of the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal as the Wilfred Sykes made her way into town.  Early in the morning, around 6am, the Sykes was heading into the canal on a somewhat foggy January morning.  Her lights illuminated the surroundings in a beautiful way.  It was almost eerie as the Sykes passed by my location as she was quite silent.  This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken of the winter fleet.

Almoral Twilight

Almoural Castle in central Portugal is one of my favorite castles that I have visited.  It’s not a large castle at all, but it is quite impressive nonetheless.  The castle was built on a hill of a small island on the Tagus River in the 1100’s.  It was used by the Knights Templar as an outpost to defend central Portugal from possible invaders.  This photo was taken shortly after sunset and shows some of the rocky terrain and the last light of the day.

Auroras over Anderson Dock

This was an incredible night in April 2023!  It was the second significant aurora showing of the year.  I was in Europe during the first show so I missed it.  I was a little bummed about that.  However, a few weeks after returning to the US, another solar storm hit Earth.  This was incredible!  Usually, auroras appear only on the horizon and resemble light pollution more than anything.  But this night was different.  It was quite amazing to watch the pulses, colors, and aurora movement overhead and in all directions.  There were even moments of overhead corona!  It was almost like being in the Arctic, where that kind of show is more common.  But to see this in Door County is an extremely rare and wonderful treat.  This photo is one of my favorite places in Door County to capture.  Anderson Dock.  Having a photo of amazing auroras and Anderson Dock instantly made this one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken.

Aurora and the Galaxy

In September 2023, a fantastic showing of the aurora borealis appeared over Door County for the third significant aurora show of 2023.  I headed out around 10pm and drove north to see what might happen.  On nights when the auroras are strong, the beach of Newport State Park can be a fine place to watch due to the dark skies.  It’s an International Dark Sky Park, after all.  I love this photo because I was able to capture the tail of the Milky Way over the aurora and trees of Newport State Park.  

Wings of the Aurora

Another photo from the solar storm of March 2023.  This one was taken from Gills Rock and shows the aurora dancing over Garret Bay.  The shape almost resembles wings.  The coolest part of this photo is that my camera wasn’t even facing north!  I was looking west, and maybe even a little south of west, and the aurora was still high in the sky.

Alfama Night

Walking the streets of an old town in a European capital city is a great experience.  You can feel the history of the old streets around you.  You may also come across random and simple scenes such as this.  An empty table sits at the end of a dark walkway.

Light and Pillars

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba.  In Córdoba, Spain is the most beautiful and interesting cathedrals that I have ever visited.  The history of this building is quite the story as it changed hands between religious groups many times over its 1300-year history.  Originally, it was the sight of a Visigoth Christian church before being built into a large mosque in the 700s when the Moors controlled the region.  When the site was captured by the Christians during the Reconquista, it was converted to a catholic church.  Eventually, a large Renaissance cathedral was built in the center.  As the story goes, when the church decided to build a cathedral in the space, they knew that they had to make it grand to compare with the incredible Muslim designs.  They pulled it off as the building perfectly matched ornate Christian designs and beautiful Muslim architecture. 

This photo shows the stunning “forest” of pillars that surround the building.  Light was coming through the high windows and illuminating the inside of the cathedral in the most interesting way.  

This building was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited.  I went back three times just to walk around, spell the incense, and take in the beauty of the place.

Castle on the Mountain

Looking from Granada towards Alhambra will reveal one of the most impressive views of any castle in the world. The castle is high above the city with the OG Sierra Nevada mountains behind it.  Afternoon light will hit the many faces of the castle in a very interesting way.  Lighting up only certain faces of the walls.  I got extremely lucky to have such beautiful light during my visit.

Morning at Gibraltar

This shot isn’t from a drone.  This was taken from the balcony of our Airbnb in La Línea de la Concepción in southern Spain.  In the distance, you will see the impressive rock of Gibraltar.  This piece of the United Kingdom, situated on the Iberian Peninsula has always fascinated me and I have always wanted to visit.  We made it happen during our trip.  We stayed in the Spanish border town and crossed the border to visit the territory.  This photo shows a very peaceful sunrise and morning looking towards Gibralter.

Cathedral over Alfama

On a morning walk through the Alfama district of Lisbon, the morning sunlight illuminated the church high above the rest of the city.  What I love about this photo is the contrasting light as the church is bright while the streets remain in shadow.

Dark Monastary

I just love the moody interior of the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal.  Exposing for the highlights left just enough of the interior lights to give this photos a bit of mystery.

Under the Bridge

Getting up close to the Great Lakes freighters as they go through Sturgeon Bay’s downtown bridges is a highlight of every winter.  This shot was taken as the ship made her way through the Michigan Street bridge and approached Bay Shipbuilding.  In order to capture this photo, I sent my drone up and flew it low over the water in a spot that perfectly lined up with the bridge and ship.

Exploring Albaicín

This shot is of my 3 year old daughter leading the way down the narrow streets and alleyways of the Albaicín neighborhood of Granada, Spain.

Color Andaluz

There is nothing spectacular, epic, or otherwise unique about this photo.  But I actually went back to add this one in the list after this post was completed.  I just felt that it needed to be included in my list of favorites.  This is a simple photo that shows the colors that are so common on the streets of Spain, especially in the small villages.  In addition to the color, this was the first photo that I took after crossing the border into Spain.  It kicked off six weeks of amazing photos and experiences.