The abandoned homestead in the high desert of the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area of New Mexico. The only sounds being the wind and the occasional Raven. Weathered and worn I love discovering and photographing the small details that when combined tell a much larger story – a story of an individual or family out on the edge of civilization. Perhaps more appropriately the details combine to form questions. Who lived here ? Why did they leave ? What happened ? Why did they choose to live so far out in the middle of nowhere ?
Sometimes the photographer, in capturing textures and compositions that catch his or her eye, inadvertently plays the role of detective and evidence gatherer. Scraps of clues left on the desert landscape. Maybe the real story is forever lost to the shadows and seasonal light that graces the scene of what remains, day after day. The slow working hands of time return to the ground and air the evidence of memory and a life lived.
Thanks in large part to relatively cool temperatures and more than usual rainfall this time of year, opportunities abound for nature photography on the Ohio landscape. The tall grass prairies found in several of Dayton’s Five Rivers MetroParks provide a variety of subjects, including colorful and interesting insects, songbirds and early summer wildflowers. Just a couple of days ago, while running the three-mile loop trail at Sugarcreek MetroPark, I came upon a female Box Turtle. Even though I was minus my usual assortment of camera gear, it was fun just to stop and observe this colorful reptile, actually more of a tortoise than a turtle given the fact that they rarely venture into water. Like all the natural subjects in local, state and national park areas, my golden rule is to take nothing away but photographs. Our parks and their inhabitants need all of the help and protection we can, and should, provide.
From the back deck of my home I have a wonderful vantage point of the eastern horizon, perfect for capturing sunrises during the summer. Still my all-time, personal favorite location for dawn and sunrise photography is the hilltop behind the Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills. My back deck in Centerville is a good subsitute when I’m not there at the Inn in what I and others like to refer to as a “sacred place.”
Sunrise for landscape photography is a pure pleasure that I relish in. The peaceful beauty can not be matched. It’s God’s way of saying to us “here, another blessing of a new day, to start again, to renew.”
The following two images were captured in the cool stillness of dawn on the early morning of Monday, August 3d, 2009. I was well up before the light began in the eastern sky. I was greeted with the sight of Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) following my old friend of winter – Orion. The first harbinger of the cooler, golden days of autumn has arrived.
And then again what a difference a day makes. Pre-dawn this morning, August 4, 2009 and I’m awakened by the most spectacular show of lightening and sound of thunder seen yet this year. From the covered safety of my kitchen window I set-up my Canon 1D Mark III with a Canon 28-70mm f.2.8 lens on the tripod and fired 30-second exposure after 30-second exposure, hoping to capture just the right lightening strike. The following image came closest to what I had in mind –
Here again I’m reinforced with the belief that the artist captures best that which is closest to home, and oftentimes the most striking of nature and landscape photographs result from the subtle and oftentimes overlooked beauty that lies just out the front or back doors. This coming Saturday, August 8th, I will be presenting more images and talking about how the best photographs can be obtained just outside in one’s backyard at Dayton’s Wegerzyn Gardens. This is a one and half hour program on the basics of nature photography, being offered free to the public through Five Rivers MetroParks. It’s also a follow-up to the same program I presented to about 40 people at Wegerzyn on July 11th. The problem is that since then an article ran in the Dayton Daily News (with the headline error of “Local Artist to Present Free Workshops” – Five Rivers does; Jim Crotty does not), along with the fact that my number was given to register versus that of the Park office, my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m estimating the turn-out to be twice that of July 11th. There’s only going to be so much I can cover in such a short amount of time to such a large group, but I will do my best.