Continuing on with my personal favorites from 2013 . . . Such an amazing year with so much to be thankful for, photographically and personally.
Broken Rock Trail Falls, Hocking Hills Ohio. April 2013. I had returned to Ohio for a short visit after moving to Texas, to Hocking Hills to teach a one-day spring workshop at The Inn at Cedar Falls and to be a judge/guest speaker at the 2013 Shoot the Hills event. It was a spectacular spring in Southeastern Ohio and the streams and waterfalls were flush with flowing water. When I am in Hocking Hills, most often to teach workshops, I try to always set aside at least one day to get out and shoot on my own. When I am teaching I am completely devoted to the task of instructing and guiding my students. This image was one of many that I captured during that day out on the trail by myself, on the Monday following the Shoot the Hills weekend. I was blessed with pristine spring conditions. The light was ethereal coming through the Hemlocks and into the gorges. It was an intimate connection to the place I know best as home when it comes to my love of nature and landscape photography. Broken Rock Trail Falls is off the beaten path and a little bit of a challenge to get to but that’s why I love this scene so much. It’s a closeness, a connection, in quiet and peace.
Late August on the Farm. Raptor Ridge, Beavercreek Township, Ohio. August 27 2013. By this time in late summer I had settled-in to my routine and the rhythm of the days on my eight acres of farmland in Greene County. Sunsets came late and were almost always colorful due to my vantage point providing access to a wide-open western horizon. I loved working with these overgrown farm fields as foreground subjects in my landscape images. In South Carolina it was almost always the dunes, ocean or marshland. Here it was fields of tall grass, hills and woodlands. Most often, following a full day of cutting the property on an old, 1970′s John Deere tractor, I would take off on the ATV with my Canon 1D Mark III strapped over my shoulder, scouting for vantage points. This one was from near where my dirt drive exits onto Trebien Road. This image holds the sweet memory of summer. There’s just something innocent and nostalgic about it with a tinge of sadness. It would about one week following this evening when I would suffer a second heart attack, in the farmhouse, this one classified as “major.” If I had not had the first heart attack and two stents, plus the nitro pills from 2010, this image very well could have been one of my last. The next day I was in the cath lab at Miami Valley Hospital for a third stent, this time a much longer and more painful procedure because the blockage on the LAD artery was very large. I am thankful for the help and support of my brothers who were there at the hospital and the love and support of my girlfriend Rebecca. I still haven’t got my head around that experience. Come to think of it, I never quite got my head around the one that happened three years prior! Each day holds so many blessings and so much for which to be thankful for. Never take them or the ones you love and hold close for granted.
On the Day of Your Departure. August morning on Raptor Ridge. August 11, 2013. In early August I introduced my new home on the farm to my younger daughter, Chloe, and my son Philip. I wasn’t sure how this place would be received but both loved it, as would my older daughter Emma when she came to visit during Christmas (the group photo below which was the ultimate Christmas gift for me). One of my best memories of the summer was the sight and sound of Chloe, age 12, flying through the fields, woods and down the dirt road on the ATV, singing and laughing the entire time. This part of the property is what I call the “hollow” which is a valley below the house surrounded my woods on the other three sides. In previous homes the homeowner’s association would have had a fit if these kind of tracks tore up the grass. This time, I AM the homeowner’s association ! For me this image tells more than one story, the first being of the joy and imagination of kids just being kids and just having fun (at the end of the tracks, between the trees, there is a great jump before going out into the open field).
The other story is more bittersweet and personal. On the morning of that Sunday, when both Chloe and Philip were scheduled to fly back to Texas and Florida respectively, a beautiful fog came in over the farm, just at sunrise. I was soon out with camera and in bare feet. capturing the light burning through the mist. The problem with having so much fun with your children when they come for short visits is the pain and quietness after they depart. I’ve been through it so much but I have to get use to it. Instead I’ve learned to let the sadness just flow and then plan for their return. I’m far from being a perfect dad and my moving around has not exactly been the most stable of patterns, but in my heart is a love for my children that is always strong, always enduring and always hopeful.
When the Light Echoes. November sunrise over Raptor Ridge. November 15, 2013. Most nature and landscape photographers chase the brilliant colors of October when it comes to photography in autumn. I do too, but in Ohio I’ve come to appreciate the haunting light of November contrasted with the shapes and forms of bare branches. Here is the true turning of the seasons. I’m blessed to live in a house that is situated on a hilltop and a back porch and kitchen door/window that overlooks my hollow and the southeastern horizon, and beautiful Locust and huge Maple trees surrounding the home. Mornings are a special time for me. Yes, I have a typical routine of coffee and breakfast but more importantly I enjoy the value of spending those quiet hours in daily readings, prayer and thought. The sunrise each morning right outside my kitchen door here on Raptor Ridge is like a curtain opening to a grand stage of another day of unexpected blessings. On this particular morning in mid-November I was treated to something truly special. I consider this possibly my best image of 2013. The story told is one of the peaceful endurance of love and patience, and of hope.
Moonrise and Thunderhead. Kettering, Ohio. July 14, 2013. This is one of the few Ohio summer landscape images that was not captured on my property at Raptor Ridge in Greene County. Instead this from a cornfield/roadside near Wilmington Pike in Kettering, Ohio. I had been shopping at a nearby Kroger grocery story when I noticed this big thunderhead from a storm that was off on the western horizon. All I needed was a decent foreground free of homes and power lines. This field, across from the Quail Run Kettering Tennis Center, did nicely. As the storm clouds broke the half Moon shown through with the thunderhead illuminated by the light of the setting sun below. For me this image speaks of summers in Ohio, of the music of Crickets, Katydids and distant thunder.
The Classic. Ohio landscape in black and white. Trebein Road, Xenia, Ohio. November 22, 2013. This image was the result of some planning, I admit. That’s because it was a scene I had noticed when I first moved to the area last summer. Every time I’d drive down that way on Trebein Road, on my way to State Route 35 from my house, it kept calling me to be photographed. This is very similar to a scene I know quite well in Hocking Hills, Ohio. The trees nestled between hills was hard to resist. It was just a matter of waiting for the right kind of sky to fit the subject and foreground. I love working with patterns in my landscapes, especially roads and fences. It was a rainy, cold day in November when the opportunity finally presented itself. Once in camera I knew I had captured what I had been after in my mind’s eye since late June, and the conversion to black and white communicates fall in Ohio quite well simply through the play of light and shadow.
Dandelion Wine. Raptor Ridge. September 11, 2013. Perhaps a bit cliche, I know, but the Dandelion silhouette is one of my favorites from the summer. It’s the coming harvest during those days of gold when sunsets just seem to linger a bit longer and the days aren’t so quick to come to an end.
Every season holds special memories. As the years go by the memories become more cherished and as a result the experience of the gift of here and now is more valued. Through all the moving around, through all the worry and fear, hope endures in the grace of simple gratitude.
I may never become the most successful photographer in the world but the treasures I’ve been blessed with through experience, art and love are immeasurable. And there is still so very, very much more . . .