A Look Back at 2023

Another blink, another year gone. It seems like each year increases its speed exponentially thus increasing my panic of not jamming enough into the allotted 365 days. Time is infinite, my existence is not. 2023 had many moments of extremes, pure joy and of deep sadness and high frustration. I got to visit Death Valley for the very first time and had to cancel a trip to Morocco due to the earthquake that hit Marrakesh and heavily damaged the ancient part of the city. Tragically, over 2900 people perished and 5500 injured. I went to Acadia National Park twice, in the spring and autumn and got to experience the changing vistas of this beautiful place. Chasing the Milky Way proved to be an adventure in frustration due to the incessant cloud cover that plagued New England. 2023 ended with a new book published on the ins and outs of infrared photography. Here are some of my favorite photographs of 2023.

Death Valley National Park

I didn’t know what to expect in Death Valley. I just knew the basics. It is very arid; it has the lowest point in North America (282 feet below sea level) and is very dark. Rather lame knowledge overall. What I discovered is that it is a vast, surreal, and otherworldly place, full of incredible sights. In my opinion, poorly named. The poster child of misnomer.

Pre-dawn at the mudflats. The driftwood lent texture and dimension to the scene. These are focus stacked images using my camera’s focus stacking utility and assembled in Helicon Focus.

Death Valley Mudflats

Another piece of driftwood that looked like a type of dinosaur. The mudflats are a world of textures.

These mudflats are also very reflective. The colors of a pink vest reflecting off the mud.

I was praying for clear nights during my visit but was only afforded 2 nights of clarity. Below, the wagons of Harmony Borax under starlit skies. There was substantial airglow, and you can see the northern end of the Milky Way over the wagons.

Harmony Borax Wagons

Zabriskie Point at dawn. The colors seem to change as if I’m watching a Polaroid develop as sunlight emerges over the horizon. My gosh, what an experience!

Death Valley

Later that morning, I spotted cars coming down the road. Their diminutive size gave perspective to the scene.

The sand dunes are another feature of Death Valley that mesmerize and reinforce the fact we are but tiny (and often annoying) gnats on the face of Earth.

This one appears to be a black and white image, but it isn’t. A tiny bit of the orange color of the dune peeks through the center of the frame. The wind blowing the sand makes the dune have an ethereal quality.

Alabama Hills

I admit, I am a sucker for snowcapped mountains. I get fixated on them and it is often difficult to turn my camera to something else when I am in their presence. Case in point, here are the Eastern Sierra mountains dressed in snow. Color me giddy. Two days after I photographed this area, they were hit with a massive snowstorm.

Bathed in predawn pink skies.

Late afternoon golden hour hues. This is one of those places you stand and just stare at the scene. Oh, those mountains!

As always, if there is a clear sky forecast, I will be chasing stars. Here’s the Boot Arch draped in starlight.

I’m still going through my images from the trip. I tend to process a handful then reassess the images much later. I often discover images I originally overlooked. I look forward to revisiting this magnificent place in the near future.

Acadia National Park

For me, this park is an old friend. A friend that I am always in step with, no matter how long the time span between visits. I get into my groove as if I never left yet seeing it as if I’ve never visited before.

Sunset in Acadia.

It is one of my favorite places to chase the Milky Way thanks to the beautiful foregrounds and dark skies. In the spring, the Milky Way is arched as can be seen below peeking through the pine trees.

This particular autumn night the surf was crashing loudly below. The wind was so fierce I had to hold my tripod tightly. At this time of year, the Milky Way is upright.

Intentional camera movement (ICM) is a lot of fun anywhere. I use ICM a lot on flowers as I am not much of a flower photographer. It lets me capture the feeling of them without insulting them as I feel I do when I point my camera at them.

Lupins are a spring favorite in New England. Here’s a bed of these beauties in Acadia.

I love old glass. This was shot with a Russian Helios lens that has a wonderful spiral bokeh and imparts a glow.

Comet C 2022 E3 (ZTF)

There is star gazing, planet gazing, Milky Way chasing and then there are comets. I am like a 5-year-old getting amped for Christmas when a comet becomes visible. In 2020, I spent the entire month of July chasing Comet Neowise. In 2023, Comet C 2022 E3 became visible and thus became my obsession. After many frustrating cloudy nights, I was able to photograph it as it lined up near Mars. It was the only night I could see it.

Rhode Island

I spent most of my time at Beavertail Lighthouse either teaching Milky Way workshops or shooting with friends. This was one of my favorite nights at the lighthouse. Clear skies and the Milky Way with a touch of cloud action. Heaven.


I photographed a lot of infrared in 2023. I tend to be double fisted most of the time, normal camera in one hand and an infrared camera in the other. I don’t have a favorite filter but tend to shoot everything from full-spectrum (no filter) right through 720 nm and everything in between.

This was a super foggy day in Acadia. Most of the week I was in Acadia had an ethereal softness to it thanks to the fog. I packed all my gear and forgot my infrared filter pouch. As they say, shoot with what you have so that’s what I did. The image below is a full spectrum shot.

Acadia in Autumn. Another foggy day with a good helping of rain. Rain never stops me. All I need is a rain poncho and a cover for my camera. This was shot with a 720 nm filter. Infrared makes the fog even more magical in my opinion.

I’m always trying new filters out. This is a variable infrared filter in use at a park near my home. I got creative in post-processing and selectively masked out areas to bring out the pink color. It is a fun little filter to play with.

One of the many things I love about photography is it gives you a tangible perspective of time passing. The instants captured are a time machine. I hope you enjoyed these moments of 2023.

All images and text © Silvana Della Camera

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