Adventurous Images: My Photographic Journey through 2023

From the numerous years I’ve been relentlessly capturing images, I’ve never had such an elevated level of anticipation for sharing a collection of photos like the ones from this year. Browsing through them, each of them instantly takes me back to the precious moment when I captured them. Rekindling my abundance of childish excitement along with my unique sense of aesthetics. This year’s adventures started with a twofold trip back home to Virginia. Finally got to spend time with my loved ones since the beginning of the pandemic. Along with getting back into Aviation photography after a lengthy 5-year hiatus. Next, I visited Miami for the first time and added another well-lit airshow to my seasoned inventory. From there I headed out to LA where I had my first flight in a helicopter. And did two incredible photo missions over LAX. I then had the rare opportunity to photograph a flying MiG-23 at Thunder over Michigan. Unfortunately, it was at that event that it suffered an in-flight emergency, forcing the crew to eject and destroying the rare MiG in the crash. Amazingly, both pilots along with no one on the ground were injured. Following that, I had my third helicopter photo flight. This time I got to orbit the Space Needle in Seattle, along with photographing a handful of major attractions in and around the surrounding area. And let’s not forget about the intense Seaplane spotting adventure on Union Lake. Also while there, I overcame my gripping fears of street photography in Pike Place Market and produced some of my most captivating photos to date. And then there was my unforgettable adventure down in Texas trying to capture the annual solar eclipse. Finally, I attended an all-helicopter event in the Los Angeles area with the instructor pilot from my first helicopter flight over LAX and one of his potential students. Throughout 2023 I’ve managed to get reunited with or stumbled upon a bunch of genuinely kind, passionate, and like-minded individuals. My foremost takeaway from 2023 is that if one wants to have a unique and memorable experience, one must spend money to make it happen. And I foresee myself in 2024 spending a shit ton to will some to fruition.

Links to Post

Air Power Over Hampton Roads

Weekend in Miami

Miami Air & Sea Show

Over the Runways: Part one and two

Return to Thunder

Seattle Adventures: Parts one, two and three

Texas Solar Eclipse

Wings over Houston

American Heroes Airshow

Click or tap (on mobile) thumbnail to view larger image

Gear used:

Canon EOS 90D DSLR



Canon EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8L USM

Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Canon EF 500mm F/4.5L USM

Sony ZV-1

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Until next post,


If you like what you see, consider hitting the “Like” button or maybe start to follow my little blog!

The Story Behind an Image, Part 9

Ever since 2004, I’ve had a passionate love affair with photography. And come to discover that I have a fondness for photos that come with a story. Over the years, I have shot a few of them. Here’s the next installment in “The Story Behind an Image” series.

Part 9: “Chasing the ‘Ring of Fire’: My Texas Solar Eclipse Adventure”

While unwinding after work on Thursday, I hopped online to see if there were any updates to the Wings over Houston airshow. Which I was going to attend on the upcoming weekend. According to the show’s website, the USAF A-10 demo team will not be there, fortunately the F-35 team will take its place. I went over to the show’s Facebook page to confirm the demo switch. And their latest post confirms the switch. The F-35 is going to look great in the light down in Houston. While am here, let’s scroll down to see what else is new. I came across a post stating that at the show they would be handing out solar glasses. Instantly thought, “Why the hell are they handing out solar glasses?” Upon further reading, they announce that on Saturday there will be an annual solar eclipse during the show. I immediately opened a new tab, and Googled “Solar eclipse in Texas”. With the exciting results, I shouted to my monitor “No fucking way!” There was going to be an annual solar eclipse and the path of totality over Houston was going to be 80% coverage. But three hours west in Corpus Christi it was going to be 100%. I’ve always wanted to photograph an eclipse from beginning to end. And not wanting to let this unique opportunity pass me by, I felt it was worth missing the Saturday airshow to head to Corpus Christi.

This led me down an informative rabbit hole, learned about the two types of eclipses and how they happen. This one is going to be an annular eclipse. This happens when the Moon is closer to Earth and doesn’t completely cover the Sun and produces a “Ring of Fire” around the Moon. After 30 minutes of watching various quality YouTube videos, I found that I’ll need a specialized solar filter to protect my camera sensor from the sun’s blinding light. That meant I could not look through the viewfinder with the solar filter in place. And I would have to use manual focus and shoot in “Live view” on the LCD screen. This is where you use the LCD screen to display what the camera’s sensor is seeing in real-time.

Now how in the hell am I going to get a solar filter before Saturday morning? At the time it was too late to contact any camera shops here in Detroit as well as in Houston. Come Friday morning, I feverishly called all the local camera shops to no avail. Then I found Houston Camera Exchange and they had exactly what I needed. I explained my time-sensitive situation to the salesperson. That I was going to be landing there around 6 pm, but I had to pick up my rental car, and then drive there to pick it up. He quickly replied, “With Friday afternoon traffic, that’s not going to happen.” I even asked if they could mail it overnight to my hotel but even that couldn’t guarantee it showing up in time. Running out of ideas, I googled “Pick up service in Houston” and came across TaskRabbit. According to their website, A same-day service platform instantly connects you with skilled Taskers to help with cleaning, furniture assembly, home repairs, running errands, and more. There I easily found a local “Tasker”, and Venmo him his hourly rate along with the amount to buy the solar filter from Houston Camera Exchange. Then drop it off at the front desk of my hotel so the staff could hold it for me until I check in later that evening.

With that done, I would need a tripod to steady the lens and camera body during shooting. The one I have is over 10 years old, not in the best of condition as well as it is not very sturdy. I knew there was a Best Buy near the hotel in Houston. And I could easily drive over and pick one up. With everything packed and ready, I headed down to DTW, boarded my flight, and arrived a little after 6 p.m. I got my checked bag from baggage claim then it was a quick bus ride over to the rental car center. Got CarPlay running in the rental and made my way to my hotel. With the snail-paced afternoon traffic, I got to my hotel in Pearland at about 8:25 pm and Best Buy closed at 9. I quickly dropped off my bags and gear in the room, then headed over before they closed along with finding some quick and easy dinner.

Entering with a hurried pace, I headed over to the photography section to browse their selection of tripods. The only one they had was a delicate-looking vlogging tripod for $150. And I heard myself say, “You got to be kidding me?” It was this or nothing. At this point, it was the last piece of gear needed for this epic solar event and Best Buy was my only option at the time of day. After picking up some grilled teriyaki chicken from Panda Express, I headed back to my hotel. Once there, it was time to eat along with figuring out what time to leave to get to Corpus Christi half an hour before the eclipse began so that it would give me some time to set up. I also had to find a location to shoot the eclipse from. Since I’m a sucker for flowers, the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center just outside of Corpus Christi would be a perfect place to photograph the eclipse. With that set and after such a long and frantic day, it was time for bed.

Woke up the next morning excited for the day’s solar event. Before heading out, I wanted to pick up some snacks and water for the road trip ahead. But first I showered, began getting dressed, and exclaimed out loud, “Where the fuck are my socks!” I was so sidetracked by all the events leading up to this as well as being excited about the eclipse, that I had forgotten to pack them. So, guess what else I added to my list of provisions before starting the trek to Corpus Christi.

Finally on the road with some new snazzy socks, enjoying the sunrise while the suburb slowly transitioned into vast Texan fields. Guided by the “Road Bitch” (the voice of Google Maps) I began to settle into the drive, set the cruise control, and kept a lookout for somewhere to stop for breakfast. Was thinking of a Burger King, McDonald’s, or heck even a larger gas station. But mile after mile, there was nothing. Worst case scenario, I would just get something in or around Corpus Christi. I’ll munch on some snacks to hold me over until then. At least the weather was looking good for the eclipse. There were one or two small clouds here and there but nothing that could foul up shooting.

Two hours in and according to Google Maps, I was about 80 miles away from Corpus Christi. As I came over a hill in the road, I was unexpectedly greeted with a solid wall of clouds all the way to the horizon. My sense of urgency to stop rapidly increased. With no exits in sight, I frantically hit the hazards, stomped on the brakes, and pulled off to the side of the road. I instantly pulled up the weather forecast for Corpus Christi on my phone and saw it was currently overcast but was supposed to clear up around 2 p.m. Which sucks because the timing of the eclipse was from 10:30 to 12:30. And I started to beat myself up for not checking it before hitting the road this morning. I quickly shut that train of thought down and focused on what’s my next move.

Was starting to feel the onset of hangry. It would be good to get a bite to eat, slow down, and reassess my current dilemma. I remember seeing a gas station a few miles back on the opposite side of the highway. So, I “Whipped a Shitty” and headed to the station. I thought about driving back and just shooting the eclipse somewhere in the Houston area. Unfortunately, by the time I would get back, the eclipse would’ve been done and over with. And trying to make the best lemonade I could with my newly picked batch of lemons, I figured I’d shoot the eclipse from here, wherever here was. It wouldn’t be 100% coverage, but it would be higher than in Houston and the sky wasn’t overcast here.

After arriving at the gas station, I picked up a quick bite to eat and googled “Parks near me”. And the only one for miles was quiet little Jaycee Park less than 4 miles away. Also, I picked up some solar glasses there for my protection while viewing the eclipse. With my level of excitement going back up, I made my way over to the small quiet park. Once there, as I was getting out of the car, I quickly realized that it was windy as shit! Which is not good for trying to stabilize any size telephoto lens on a smallish vlogging tripod. I brought my 2x teleconverter to attach to my 100-400mm Mk 2, to increase my reach and making my focal length 800mm

To decrease the wind from shaking the shit out of my lens/body combo, I decided to use the car as much of a wind barrier as possible. Which meant shooting from the passenger side with the front door open. After about 15 minutes of struggling with the wind and 800mm of focal length mounted on the frail tripod, finding and manually focusing in on the Sun in Live View, I came up with a pretty janky system to keep the Sun and moon in the center of the frame. And to add to the silliness, the Live viewing kept cutting off after about 20 seconds due to no autofocus. Fun times! Just as I got everything figured out, the eclipse started. While taking a closer look at the view screen, I thought there were some dust spots on the screen itself or something on the solar filter. I first checked the filter, and it was free from dust. With a microfiber cloth, I tried cleaning the screen itself, but they were not coming off. Slightly embarrassing to admit but that’s when I knew the lens was in focus and those were sunspots.

Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to capture the “Ring of Fire” from my location, I still wanted to catch as much of the eclipse sequence as possible. So, I took two or three shots every few minutes. The whole time moving and adjusting the tripod to keep the Sun and the moon centered. From the beginning to the end of the eclipse, their movements were surprisingly quite noticeable. All the while keeping an eye on the shutter speeds. Again, I was surprised that I was getting such high shutter speeds shooting through the solar filter. Which if you haven’t seen one, it looks like a super thin piece of aluminum foil that only the power of the Sun can shine through.

Then as the maximum coverage approached, Mother Nature had to start throwing some shade on the celestial event. She pushed a high thin cloud bank in front of the eclipse. I only noticed it because the shutter speeds were dropping while sitting on one of the car’s floor mats as a cushion from the asphalt parking lot. I tried my best to shoot in between the patchy clouds when the shutter speeds were higher. And as luck would have it, the clouds broke up as the eclipse approached its end. During the two hours, I shot over 300 images. With all I had to go through to get to this point, I hoped at least one of them would be sharp and shareable. But shooting in windy conditions, on not the sturdiest tripod, along with manually focusing 800mm in Live View… I wasn’t very hopeful.

Once the eclipse was over, I carefully packed up my gear, typed in the address of my hotel into Google Maps, and had a pleasant and uneventful trip back. After a satisfying Texas BBQ dinner, I reviewed my images via the view screen. I checked them for sharpness and felt much better about my images. But the real test is when I get home and look at them on a calibrated monitor. From finding out about the eclipse, trying to get a solar filter, not checking the weather forecast, to struggling with all of Mother Nature’s shenanigans, it was a worthwhile but challenging and memorable experience. So, without further delay, here’s my series of images of the 2023 annual solar eclipse from Jaycee Park in Ganado, Texas.

Click or tap image below to view larger.

Until next post,


Gear used:

Canon EOS 90D DSLR

Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Canon EF 2X II Extender

Mr. Star Guy White Light Solar Filter 77mm

JOBY RangePod Tripod for Camera and Vlogging


< The Story behind an Image part 8

If you like what you see, consider hitting the “Like” button or maybe start to follow my little blog!