In years past, I've written all the boring stat stuff first. This year, I'll show the year's top photos first and then you can skip over the boring numbers at the end.
Brent's top 20 photos of 2013
There are several reasons why I might include a photo here. Some of the photos may look they don't belong in a "best of the year" post, but they may be important to me for other reasons. Some of these are my favorite composed shots of my favorite subjects. Some of these are interesting effects while overcoming challenges to get a usable photo. Here we go:
As someone who loves photos, it would make sense that one of my favorite things to collect is post cards. I began to find many 70+ year old post cards to this place and upon further research I found this amazing natural wonder was a must see tourist attraction in the 1930s. This year I asked around and I didn't have a single friend who had ever heard of this place. Even crazier, I bet half of my friends had driven within a quarter mile of this place, and it's still open to the public and easily accessible. My mind was preoccupied with this place until a sunny spring day when I took the day off work just to come out here. I may never do it, but someday I want to write a book on all of the hidden gems in and around the area, just like this one.
CSX 5318 Crosses the Nickajack Lake Causeway
Perhaps I over-rate this photo, but this was the first photo where I was able to take advantage of the super-super zoom of my Canon SX40, which I purchased to supplement my nicer dSLR. I could not have gotten this photo with my more expensive camera. Plus, I just think it's cool how you have lake, tracks, lake and mountains, plus some vapors.
Tri-State Spot in the News: Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama
This isn't the most exciting photo, but what it lacks in pizazz, it makes up for it in news-worthiness. (And, I didn't even realize it at the time!) All of this made for my favorite photo write-up of the year.
Tennessee Mountain Highway - Marion County
There's not much I can say about this one, I just like the curvy mountain road
The Delta Queen at Night - Chattanooga
A few photos back, I talked about my Canon SX40. I take photos where I push my limits of my camera all the time. Here, I specifically wanted to do it with my "lesser" point-and-shoot and I left in the car my camera which was better equipped for this kind of thing. Sadly, this was also the last time I was able to do this as when I was photographing the waterfall two photos down, I dropped the SX40 in the stream and I broke it for good.
The Full Moon Rises over the Cumberland Plateau
Every once in a while, you see something that you've never seen before and wonder if it's really that rare. For those of you that don't know your astronomy, the moon is full when it's on the other side of the Earth from the Sun. So, when we get close to the longest day of the year, both the sun and the full moon can be in the sky at the same time, but on different sides of the sky. The setting sun produces a warm glow at a time of day we photographers call the Golden Hour. On a clear day at dusk, the sky can be a color that I can only think to describe as "Mixed Berry Yogurt." While the execution here isn't perfect, I don't know if I'll ever be in a position to see this again.
Wetumpka Falls - near Ledford Mill
Yes, this was the waterfall that killed my backup camera Canon SX40. But, if I had left while pouting instead of taking some photos with my good camera, I would have missed out on photos like this. It's what the SX40 would have wanted.
Fentress County Courthouse Reflection Upon US Flag in Store Window - Jamestown, TN
This was an artistic idea that jumped out at me. It made me wonder why I don't think to do this kind of thing more often.
Union Camp Falls
There's a running joke around photographers. "That's a great photo. I bet you have an expensive camera." We hear it all the time. Yet, nobody ever goes to a restaurant and says "That was a great meal. I bet you have an expensive oven." See, you have to know how to use it. With that in mind, this photo was taken actually after sunset.
Steam Train Panning - Southern #630 at TVRM Railfest 2013
Until the 2013 Railfest, I had never seen a steam train in action, or at least not during my adult photography years. I didn't ride the train since I was there to photograph it. I planned my whole day around where I would be when it was coming and going, looking for the best staging locations. However, when the train returned to the station from it's excursion, I didn't know where to be as I ended up changing my spot several times. I ended up too close for what I was hoping to accomplish. Instead, I got this action shot which turned out to be my favorite of the day.
Coffee County Fair 2013: Astro Wheel at dusk
The next few were taken at the county fair in Manchester. I like blurred motion photos of ferris wheels, especially classic ones such as the 1967 Astro Wheel.
2013 Coffee Co. Fair: Astro Wheel in the Day
Not to get too technical here, but one of the camera toys I had this year was a variable neutral density filter. An ND filter help you blur the motion of something that would normally not be that way. I wanted to blur the motion of a ferris wheel in the daytime since it's something I'd never seen anyone try before. While I liked this result
, this still image while using the filter is the one to me which really popped! The colors are vibrant and I like how the sky is dark to light across the sky. (This happened because a variable ND filter is really two stacked linear polarizers, which can cause weird things.)
2013 Coffee Co. Fair: Spider Ride
Most people only try to get blurred motion pics of the wheels, but I think the other rides can certainly provide interesting and colorful results.
This may have been my riskiest photo of the year as I'm leaning quite a bit past the guard rail. However, there's just no way to get a better photo unless you know someone who lives on the other side of the gorge.
The Tivoli Theater - Chattanooga, TN
I finally had a chance to get a picture of this spectacular marquee lit up at dusk. I wasn't really fully in a legal place to park, so I had to set up and get out in about a minute.
Christ Church Episcopal - Rugby, TN
This year, I accomplished several places off of my Tennessee bucket list. One of the places I looked forward to the most was the quaint little town of Rugby. The community has preserved about a dozen Victorian era buildings and this colorful church is the most popular. It was built by Cornelius Onderdonk and I just like that name.
Hamptons of Skullbone, TN
Sometimes the towns on my Tennessee bucket list consist of one intersection and one store. This store has quite a bit of character and charm, plus a neat story. And, I got there in the morning so the sun was hitting it perfect.
Reelfoot Lake in Autumn
I learned about Reelfoot Lake in my 4th grade Tennessee geography class and it took me nearly 25 years to get out there. Sadly, I was only able to stay about an hour but I loved my time there. Much of what I know about photography is self-taught, often by looking at someone else's picture that I love and figuring out how they did it. For this photo, I held the camera about an inch above the water to make the nearby water in the foreground extra blurred, conveying a greater sense of depth.
Greyhound Half Way Station - Jackson, TN
The subject of many images from my photostream is nostalgia, although rarely do any of these places outside of Nashville have any personal meaning to me before I photograph them. This is a rare exception. Growing up, my family would spend every Christmas in the Dallas suburbs to be with my grandmother. In the Christmas of 1986, the rest of my family took the car because they were able to get away sooner leaving my dad and I needing alternate transportation when my school break came up. For the first (and so far only) time I traveled by bus alongside my dad. We departed downtown Nashville late and made a scheduled stop here close to midnight. This is also the only place I've ever used a Pay Toilet.
Perry Co. Courthouse at Night - Linden, TN
This photo is a combination of two of my recent photo objectives. 1) Take great photos of every county courthouse in Middle Tennessee. 2) Take photos just after sunset when the sky is colorful. With #1, my aim is to become the go to source for small town mid Tennessee stock photo needs. Getting a great picture of each county courthouse is crucial in that regard. While some courthouses are ornate, others were built at a time when counties were cutting back on spending for their public buildings. This makes it a challenge to find something that stands out when the building itself is more plain. On #2, I used to think that the photo opportunities dry up when the sun goes down. That's true for a lot of places, but there are still things we can do at night. Even better is a few minutes after sundown when there's still color in the sky. If I ever get to produce a coffee table book, it will probably be on courthouses in Middle Tennessee and this photo would be in there.
So What was my most popular photo in 2013?
Flickr has a term called interestingness where they use a secret formula to determine what my most interesting photo is. My photo of the abandoned train station in Jamestown, TN really took off. The photo has 66 Favorites and 5,900 views. This photo became so popular, it leapfrogged all my other most popular photos to become my all-time best. This saddens me just a bit, not that there's anything wrong with this photo, but I'm just not sure I want this to define my career.
Now that you have the best photos out of the way, what can you bore everyone with?
This may be the part where you stop reading. I am a professional number cruncher, so this kind of thing is my cup of tea and probably not yours. I record it for posterity sake.
In 2013, I took just a bit fewer than 11,000 photos. That may sound like a lot, but it's about half of what I've done other years.
Most of my publishing-worthy photos are uploaded to flickr. I now have a total of 7,987 of which about 500 were uploaded in 2013. These photos have been viewed collectively 3,689,328 times with about 1,400,000 views in 2012. During the year, Flickr changed what's considered a "view" making more things count than what used to. As a number cruncher, this irritates me. (By comparison, last year I had about 1/3 as many views.)
2010 was the first year of my website, SeeMidTN.com. While my hit counter only shows 2455, I could be a little disheartened. Apparently a lot of people are finding content on my website via google searches and not seeing the home page. My webhost's stats show last year I had 13,984 unique visitors who made 37,336 visits viewing a total of 216,860 page views with 426,779 total hits. The most popular time to visit is 6 AM on Wednesdays. 573 visitors stayed for over an hour. (I suppose these are my biggest fans.) My desire is for the website to grow exponentially, and the more content that gets added, the more visits I should get every year. The goal is for the ads on the site to start paying off someday as well as the increased exposure causing me to be the first person found when looking for a stock photo of a specific place. I set up a Facebook account which now has 46 fans and a twitter feed with 31 followers. These were set up as a set-it-and-forget-it tools that re-post my other content, but still has room for growth.
The highlight of my website is the daily blog. After four years, the hit counter says I've had 46,349 visitors with over 12,000 of those were in 2013. Blogger reports I had 143,954 page views in 4 years, with about 58,000 in 2013, a number which continues to grow. I even had 51 hits from the country of Poland.
I also have a YouTube channel. Most of my good content is recordings of my dad's early music groups. All-time, I have 511,186 views with about 37,000 in 2012. The most popular video has always been "What a Friend we have in Jesus" which was recorded in a 2007 reunion concert of 70's chorale students. That video has 35,622 views all-time, which is a number that somehow went down from last year. A new stat they offer: My videos have been watched for 74,515 minutes.