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My 13 Best Photos of 2013

It’s the time of year that all bloggers start trotting out their “best of” posts to show off what they’ve been up to during the year. Since 2013 was quite an eventful year for me–one where I quit my job and travelled to 13 countries, only 4 of which I’d visited before–I felt that, of any year, this one would have some shots to show off to the world.

Picking only 13 photos has been a herculean task. I could have easily chosen them all from my month in Lapland or from my ten days in the picture-perfect Canadian Rockies. Instead, I combed through all 23,800  photos (not an easy task!) to try to find a selection that best describe my year. Here are my favourites, representing most of the months of the year (and all of my favourite destinations).

January: The Top of the Black Run

The Top of the Black Run

One of the few times Mt. Yotei was actually visible while we were in Niseko.

My trip to Japan over New Year’s was an eye-opening experience. Not only is Japan one of the craziest, most interesting places I’ve ever visited, but I also got to try my hand at snowboarding for the first time. Before you start thinking that I took to it really well — I didn’t. I enjoyed it and slowly worked my way up to making turns, but there’s no way I would have tackled this black run! Instead, I took my new winter boots — purchased for my trip to Lapland — on a test run and trudged to this slope from the top of the gondola. The view was very worth it, with Mt. Yotei, a Mt. Fuji-lookalike, clearly visible for the first time in days.

March: The Rorbuer of Reine (Norway)

The Rorbuer of Reine

What a feeling to wake up in one of these cabins with a view of the fjord from my bedroom window.

The coastline of northern Norway blew me away. From the minute I stepped off the ferry in the Lofoten Islands to my trip up to the blustery, snowy North Cape, I couldn’t believe how stunningly gorgeous everything around me was. These rorbuer, or fishermen’s cabins, are where I started my month-long Arctic sojourn, and I couldn’t have found a better place. From snorkeling in the fjords to walking in amongst the wooden racks filled with drying fish, I made the most of my time there and it’s a place I’ll never forget.

March: Pink, Green & Gold (Finland)

Pink, Green & Gold

Last minute decision to go on a tour to the middle of nowhere when I realised a geomagnetic storm was happening: best decision ever.

I couldn’t have a collection of my photos from this year without including at least one northern lights photo. The chance to see the lights was one of the main motivators behind my Lapland trip, and boy did I get to see them. On 10 out of 28 nights, including 8 out of 12 in Finland, the aurora’s green, pink, and purple hues danced across the sky and made me (almost) completely forget that I was standing outside in temperatures as low as -38ºC. It completely made up for not seeing them at all on my Lapland trip in 2012!

May: The Golden Gates of Herrenhausen (Germany)

The Golden Gates of Herrenhausen

After some initially cold and miserable weather, the skies cleared and the gardens of Herrehausen greeted us with open gates.

The first half of my visit to the Herrenhausen Gardens wasn’t as inspiring as it could have been. Huddled under one umbrella in heavy drizzle, my friend and I hurried from shelter to shelter in the gardens. The grey clouds pressed in on us and robbed the gorgeous flowerbeds of their vibrant colours. Then, as we ate lunch, the clouds completely lifted and we were greeted with blue skies and golden gates. I left quite impressed at the sheer scale and beauty of Hannover’s largest gardens.

May: Tour Eiffel (France)

Tour Eiffel

Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night was an awe-inspiring experience.

It’s a bit stereotypical for someone who visited Paris for the first time to show off their Eiffel Tower photos. However, seeing Gustave Eiffel’s most famous work was the highlight of my trip to Paris. It was even larger than I’d imagined, and standing underneath it as it lit up the angry clouds swirling around its top observation deck was truly awe-inspiring — s0 much so that I returned the next night at sunset to watch as the lights turned on, gradually illuminating the gorgeous structure.

June: This is Earl’s Court (England)

This is Earl's Court

“Change here for Piccadilly line services and District line services to other destinations.”

After having met up with a friend I’d met in New Zealand who is also keenly interested in photography, I was in the photo-taking mood when I arrived back at Earl’s Court. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the lit-up station and the constantly-passing District line trains, I knew I had to try to get a long exposure shot, despite my lack of tripod. Thank god for the tall wooden seats scattered all around the station where I could balance my camera and catch this photo.

July: New Tiles From an Old City (Croatia)

New Tiles From an Old City

A closeup look at the red roofs of Dubrovnik.

Of all the scenic places I visited in my sailing trip up and down Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik was my favourite. The old city’s red roofs–which actually had two distinct colours based on whether they were pre-war or post-war tiles–contrasted beautifully with the glittering Adriatic Sea beyond. The cobbled streets and narrow alleyways were a joy to stroll along and often provided shelter from the sweltering heat. But my favourite part of my visit there was the walk along the city walls, where I could not only see panoramic vistas, but close up views of the architecture of the city as well.

Surprisingly, this photo is from my iPhone — the much deeper depth of field from its smaller sensor really benefited this photo.

August: Moraine in Monochrome

Moraine in Monochrome

Even the most colourful of locations sometimes beg to be photographed in black & white.

Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies — so much so that it used to feature on their $20 bill. Once you’ve battled the parking lot and walked up to the edge of the lake, it’s immediately obvious as to why. The lake is an otherworldly blue colour and often perfectly reflects the mountains at the end of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. However, when we were there, clouds were starting to pour over the mountains and threatened to blow out the sky completely — but not in black and white, where they looked quite broody.

August: A Peek of Emerald Lake (Canada)

A Peek of Emerald Lake

It’s hard to argue with whoever decided to name this gorgeous getaway in British Columbia.

This is by far my most popular photo on social media, which is surprising, since it’s my favourite photo from the year. Often the photos I like and the photos that become popular on social media are completely different!

I had no idea when I chose to book my family into the Emerald Lake Lodge–a lodge that is slightly off the standard beaten tourist track between Banff and Jasper–that we’d be staying somewhere so breathtaking. While there were definite frustrations in staying there–number one being that we couldn’t park anywhere close to the lodge itself–it was more than made up for by this view. While I captured photos of the lake from every possible angle, this quick shot, taken while waiting for the shuttle back to our car, was the best angle.

September: Riverfire 2013 (Australia)

Riverfire 2013

The waterfall, fireworks, and blue hour — my favourite parts of the Riverfire show.

As I recounted in my post about Riverfire, Brisbane’s annual fireworks show to end all fireworks show, I’m a big fan. I’ve staked out a spot at Wilson’s Outlook, right next to the Story Bridge, for four out of the last five years so I can get the best view in the house. This year, I was finally able to get a shot of the famous waterfall part of the show and layered it over a few other parts of the show to get my best photo of Riverfire yet. I think next year it will be time to move on to another location.

October: Incoming (Australia)


The incoming tide smashing over the rocks at Currumbin Beach.

Long exposure seascapes are one of my favourite scenes to capture, but as they require either being out on the beach late at night or early in the morning (as early as 3.30am in mid-summer in Brisbane), I haven’t captured nearly as many as I would like. This photo is the result of forcing myself out of bed at 3am to drive down to Currumbin, hoping that there would be a decent sunrise. I’d say it was worth it.

November: “Sunrise” at 9pm (Australia)

"Sunrise" at 9pm

It almost looks like sunrise…but this photo was actually shot under a full moon (and with me jumping around behind the camera trying to evade the mozzies!).

Unlike the last photo, I didn’t have to get up before the crack of dawn to get this shot. Despite the fact that it looks like I may have caught the end of an intense sunset (or the beginning of a sunrise), this photo was actually taken around 9pm under a full moon, facing the Brisbane Airport district. If you look closely enough, not only can you see a light trail of a plane taking off, but you can also see small bolts of lightning from the intense storm going on near the Gold Coast.


Sad Sunflower

I felt a bit like this when I realised that nearly all of the sunflowers — which I had driven over 2 hours to see — were already finished blooming!

December didn’t feature a lot of photos, since I had knee surgery at the end of November and therefore spent a lot more time on the couch than I’d like. However, a few days ago, I headed out to the sunflower fields near Warwick in the Southern Downs, having been assured that they were beautifully in bloom. They clearly had been, but by the time we got there, the flowers had mostly gone to seed. The odd bright yellow shock of petals could still be found (as in the background), but I thought this sunflower — already ‘drawn on’ before we got there — summed up our mood when we saw the fields, having driven 2 hours to get there!

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