The quiet of November. The cold of night slowly releasing to the remaining warmth of the day. Morning mist filling the valleys. Frost-covered leaves and bare branches silhouetting the oranges and purples of early sunsets. There’s a calmness to November; an ease of being, a peaceful disposition before the arrival of winter.
November has always been a welcome respite; that quiet and beautiful month of transition. It is an opportunity to return to my photographic roots among the towering Hemlocks of Hocking Hills and along prairie trails in twilight.
There’s a soft and slightly melancholy feel to the early nightfalls and horizons set to hues between orange and pink and migrating flocks overhead. I welcome the change and I’ve learned not to dread the arrival winter for it is in all the seasons and the in-between months when we are reminded that life is in a constant state of change. The soul was never designed to be a stationary object but flows with tides and the waxing and waning of the Moon.
Change is to be embraced. It’s good. It’s necessary. It’s how we grow. What remains consistent is the energy of love and grace that stays with all the winds of change. Let us all be fully and completely present in all that change brings us and during the calm beauty of November to stop and be grateful for all we’ve be blessed with in our lives.
There’s now a “workshop only” option for the Night Sky Photography Workshop set for November 4-5 2016 at The Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills Ohio. $50 for Friday evening only and $89 for Friday evening and Saturday morning. The full package that includes meals and two nights accommodations at The Inn starts at $524 for two people. I’m looking forward to returning to the ‘Hills and sharing my love for nature photography and the beautiful, dark sky of Hocking Hills. To reserve your spot please call The Inn @ 1-800-65-FALLS. For more information please visit https://innatcedarfalls.com/group-events/workshops/
Only by peace can the human heart gain sovereignty over the darkness of fear and the desires of the ego. The world grasps and holds at what is only temporal, as if life is a mere game of competitive oneupmanship. The winners. The losers. The accounting and counting of what eventually amounts to nothingness. But the truth of the soul is a love that transcends this world, where the only measure is the heart’s capacity for the sheer honesty of its beauty and being and destiny. We are not sent to our fates by a cold and uncaring God. It is rather by our own choosing do we recede into darkness or proceed into light. Only by peace can the heart lead the way forward. The conscious decision to follow that path is a holy power, a divine gift. In the years that fall behind us may we all gain the awareness that is peace and acceptance and join our hearts in the grandeur that is love everlasting.
Saturday August 27 2016 @ Cox Arboretum MetroPark near Dayton Ohio. Full day workshop. 8AM to 5PM
Cost: $89 per person which includes Panera box lunch and refreshments. Transportation and overnight accommodations are not included. Payment is made the morning of the program, by cash, check or VISA/MC. All that is needed for registration is your email address for pre-workshop notifications. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late summer in the gardens at Cox Arboretum offer a wide variety of nature subjects, from butterflies to sunflowers and tall wildflowers of the Ohio meadow. With this workshop I will be providing my best tips and tools for capturing nature and landscapes images for fine art photography using the DSLR camera, guiding students in the journey toward gaining more creative control with their cameras versus relying on automatic settings. This workshop will be a balance between classroom instruction on digital editing in the MeadWestvaco Theater room and field instruction on the trails and in the gardens of Cox Arboretum. We will be photographing both wide and intimate landscapes as well as natural details discovered within the park.
* My top ten tips for best results in landscape photography
* Pro techniques for optimal results with close-up (macro) nature photography
* Move into the creative zone and away from full auto
* The “zen” of fulfilling nature photography
* Learn to “see” the light
* How to “work” a location with proper approach and patience
* Best tools and lenses for pro results
* The benefits of working from creative angles
* Best practices and software for outstanding digital editing
* How to get your images noticed and ultimately sold and published
Plus my workshops are just plain FUN. Learning the art and craft of nature photography does not have to be tedious and stressful. Far from it. It should always be a fun and rewarding experience.
My Favorite Photograph of 2015. I was recently asked to identify and write a short blog post about what I consider my favorite image from 2015. Here’s my reply –
To most it may not be much – just a beautiful spring sky and new color in the trees. But to me is what this image has come to symbolize due to timing, setting and subject, but mostly timing. And not timing in the sense of capturing the light at that particular hour or season but timing in the sense of the context of my approach and what I was feeling when I released the shutter button.
It was one year ago, April 26 2015. Just one month prior to that date – March 27 – my mother had passed away at the age of 79. She had struggled with the declining health that comes with Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 20 years.
The scene of this sky and trees was directly above her hillside garden at the Kettering, Ohio home she shared with my dad since 1989.
Her garden was her soul and everything that grew in it was an extension of her heart.
You see that’s who first awakened my love for nature (and subsequently, nature and landscape photography) so very, very long ago. Well, for as long back as I can remember. It was through those distinct seasons growing up in Southwestern Ohio when I recall seeing my mom in her element. She became lost in her gardening, with two impeccable rose gardens and a backyard full of carefully arranged and cared-for annuals and perennials, interspersed and bordered by Locust, Maple and Pine. Spring through fall, mom was in her garden. The local gardening club came for tours due to her attention to detail and expert knowledge on what could grow well here and not there and what provided the best visual presentation as seasons progressed.
Mom was not a fan of winter in Ohio though, especially after Christmas. I like to think it was just too hard of a wait for her spirit and need to be among all things green and growing.
Mom passed away on a Friday just at the end of March. Spring was just barely getting a foothold. A couple weeks later, when spring went into full motion across the Ohio fields, gardens and woodlands, it was the most beautiful of Ohio springs I can remember. It was mom.
The songbirds loved her garden too, and mom loved songbirds. I remember when I was just six or seven and how mom shared her excitement with me over the pair of Cardinals (her favorite) who had built a nest in the tree just outside the laundry room window. Each day she take me to the window to check on the progress, of first eggs and then baby Cardinals, and then leaving the nest.
Before I was ten I could tell the difference between a House and Carolina Wren and could pick-out the call of Robin, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Starling, Sparrow, Finch and a variety of woodpeckers. And should an owl make an appearance – such as a giant Great Horned – well that was something to truly celebrate.
This image is much more than just sky and trees. It’s more than the technical specs of the camera and lens (if you must know it’s a Canon 1D Mark III with a Canon 17-35mm f2.8 lens). It goes deeper than its composition and color. This photograph is of love.
Photography is a visual connection to the stories that interweave our spirits and give representation to that eternal grace of soul feeling. When that visual connection is so deeply rooted in the love that binds family, then every image becomes cherished in the gallery of the heart.
Spring came beautiful in 2015 and it wasn’t long before evening fall during summer in mom’s garden was full of fireflies and the songs of cricket and Katydid.
The love we leave behind will always take root in the gardens we tend to during our brief journey together. With care we tend the soil and cultivate our heart songs, for in another spring a mother will take her young son to the window and look wide-eyed at the Cardinal’s eggs in the nest in the tree outside, and above a brilliant spring sky will swirl with clouds and Red Bud trees. And the call of a lone Mourning Dove will come on a morning breeze.
The bare rawness of winter has a way of revealing character, a stripping away to what is perhaps hidden in the grandeur of the other seasons. There is a quiet beauty to it too, like the hush between falling snow and nothing but the whisper of cold night air under winter stars. We need winter where the heart speaks loudest. Not in want of the other seasons but in the truth made known in fortitude, patient endurance and the revealing of what resides on the base layer of our being.
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