In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

My Best Images of 2023: the Nominees

Happy New Year! Once again I’m inviting you, my faithful blog readers, to help me choose my best photographs from the past year. I’ve posted 45 of my favorite images from 2023 below, in chronological order. After you look through these, please use the form at the bottom of this post to list your ten favorites.

Voting is closed! I’ll be posting the results soon.

You don’t have to list your ten favorites in any order; just pick up to ten images. (The numbers are in the captions underneath the photographs. Also, you can click on the images to see them larger.) Once the votes are in I’ll post the top ten or twelve on this blog.

As always, I reserve the right to override the votes if one of my favorites gets panned. But I’ve rarely had to exercise this power because my readers have excellent taste. 🙂

Thanks for your input — I appreciate your help!


Merry Christmas!

Half Dome, Glacier Point, and the Merced River at night, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Half Dome, Glacier Point, and the Merced River at night, Yosemite NP, California

To all of you who celebrate the day, Claudia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you have a wonderful holiday, full of peace, joy, and the love of family and friends.

I made this photograph on a magical, misty, snowy December night in Yosemite two years ago. I loved the pattern of clouds, with Orion poking through. It was such a beautiful night – but cold! I hope you’re someplace warmer tonight.

— Michael Frye

Autumn in the Redwoods

Redwood, maple, firs, and sunbeams, northern California, USA

Redwood, maple, firs, and sunbeams, northern California

We had a long, lingering autumn here on the west coast – especially in the Pacific Northwest. On our way up to Oregon in early November, Claudia and I stopped in some redwood groves to check on the fall color. And we found lots of it. It seemed like a good year for color throughout the Northwest, including the far northern corner of California where the biggest redwoods grow. Underneath the redwood canopy, vine maples and big-leaf maples – the same species found on the Olympic Peninsula, and throughout much of Oregon and Washington – can add splashes of color to the forest.

I had long wanted to photograph fall color in the redwoods, but it’s difficult to find the right conditions, especially since the best groves are a nine-hour drive from home. Some years the big-leaf maples just turn brown. And even if they do turn yellow the timing is highly variable. So we felt very lucky to find some good color this year.


Frames of Reflection Webinar Tomorrow


Tomorrow, December 7th, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, I’ll be one of the presenters in a free webinar hosted by the Out of Chicago team called Frames of Reflection: Unveiling Stories of 2023. I’ll be joining several other instructors for this event, including Kristin Ryan, Nick Page, Charlotte Gibb, and David Akoubian, and we’ll each be sharing a story about a photograph from the past year. Click here to register.

And if you can’t attend live, the webinar will be recorded and posted on the Out of Chicago blog.


Join Me at the Out of Grand Teton Photo Conference!


I’m excited to be joining the Out of Chicago team for another photo conference – this time in the Tetons! This is such an amazing and beautiful area, and I’m looking forward to going back. I’m also looking forward to teaching alongside a wonderful group of co-instructors – people like Jennifer Renwick, Nick Page, Charlotte Gibb, David Kingham, Eric Bennett, Chrissy Donadi, Joseph Rossbach, and many more.

We’ll be staying right inside the park at the Jackson Lake Lodge, with great views of the Tetons right from the grounds, plus a good chance of seeing moose in the willow flats below the lodge. And it’ll be a short drive from there to most of the best locations in the Tetons.


Taking Another Look

Swirling leaves, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Swirling leaves, Inyo NF, California. (See the text for a detailed description of this photo.)

In between our visits to the Pacific Northwest Claudia and I spent a little time in the Eastern Sierra, and close to home in Yosemite. Last year I was in New Zealand in October, and I missed our local autumn, so it was nice to catch a bit of autumn glow in some of our favorite places.

When photographing familiar locations it’s easy to get jaded and think, “I’ve done all this before.” But actually you haven’t. No place is ever exactly the same, because things are always changing. And you’ve changed too; you’re not the same person, or the same photographer, as the last time you were there.

When I go back to a familiar spot, I often ask myself what’s changed – what’s different about the conditions that might create new opportunities. What’s happening now that’s interesting or unusual? It could be the light, the weather, fall color, flowers, water levels, beavers flooding a grove of aspens, a riverbank eroding… nothing ever stays the same.



Sunbeams, mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Sunbeams, mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States. I know most people around the world don’t celebrate this holiday, or do so in a different form, or on a different day.

But regardless of whether you honor the traditions of this particular day, I think there’s value in gratitude – to giving thanks for all the things we have to be grateful for. We really should do that every day, but it’s good to have that reminder once a year.


Motion and Mood Along the Oregon Coast

Misty sunset on the Oregon Coast, USA

Misty sunset on the Oregon Coast. 73mm, 8 seconds at f/16, ISO 100, ND filter.

Claudia and I have been spending a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest this year, which is great, as I love this part of the world. We just finished a workshop along the Oregon Coast, and now we’re making our way to Bellingham, Washington, to visit our son and daughter-in-law, and stopping to see friends along the way.

The workshop was a lot of fun. A great group of people, and we saw some beautiful light, as well as big waves crashing against the shore.


Olympic Medley

Barred owl, Olympic NP, WA, USA

Barred owl, Olympic NP, Washington

My previous two posts focused on autumn color on the Olympic Peninsula, but it’s a diverse and beautiful area, and I made many photographs that didn’t involve fall color. The forests are quite photogenic even without fall leaves, plus some of my favorite images from the trip were made along the coast. And one of the highlights of our trip was photographing a barred owl.

We found this owl while driving along a back road early one morning. The owl took off from a log next to the road and flew into a nearby tree. I didn’t have my camera out, so we backed up to where the owl couldn’t see us. Then I stepped out of the car, grabbed my camera and 100-400mm lens, climbed into the passenger seat (the owl was on the right), and got everything set.


Olympic Autumn: Part Two

Vine maple and alders, autumn, Olympic NP, WA, USA

Vine maple and alders, autumn, Olympic NP, Washington

My previous post featured mostly images that combined fall color with the moss- and lichen-draped branches that Olympic National Park is known for. I like those juxtapositions, as they’re so characteristic of that area. But we found lots of other interesting juxtapositions as well.

One thing I kept looking for was groves of alders. Alders often form great patterns, with leaning, criss-crossing, light-colored trunks spotted with patches of moss or lichen. But while alders are deciduous trees, their leaves don’t turn color in the fall. Alders just drop their leaves while they’re still green. Even without that color, however, their patterns and structure make them worth photographing, and sometimes (like in the photo above) I was able to juxtapose maples with alder trunks. (Why don’t alder leaves turn color? No one really knows, but here’s one possible explanation.)