From Pornography to Photography

So…where do I start..

This is perhaps a much more personal blog entry for me to include and it has sat as a blank page, a draft with only the mere title attached to it for at least four months now.

The idea of meddling in a seemingly-forbidden topic when all I am here to do is share photography stories and advice. Something about it seems like career suicide yet it feels quite right to touch upon this subject.

It is something only my closest friends would know about, and something I definitely have not discussed in a public forum such as on this blog or elsewhere.

Society has normalized the idea of consuming high speed, online pornography to the fact where many people who defy this notion are seen as “weird or unnatural.”

Both pornography and photography happen to be visual mediums, and for the longest time I have accepted the tradeoff of risqué novelty over beautiful nature.

Yet this is a dangerous way to live when you have an addictive personality. Soon it begins to consume you whole over the years, yes years, since early adolescence. Many young millennial men and women in their 20’s and 30’s can relate, as we were exposed to this new form of entertainment and recreation.

On and off, it has robbed me of my creativity, energy and motivation countless times. Walking through daily life being constantly preoccupied by these intrusive thoughts. Seeing people around me as objects and body parts, I have hurt those who I brought in close to me for my own selfish gain.

To some extent, the problem isn’t what I consume, it is what I am substituting it for.

The lack of love and purpose in many relationships and my career were apparent over time. I found a quick fix for this, a seemingly easy and effective cure. This cure may have only lasted a really short time before turning me over, and then it took me a long time to realize this is not a healthy alternative. You simply cannot replace one for the other.

I started to realize that viewing pornography for me is akin to a slow death, where my memory, speech and social skills deteriorate till I am this numb and emotionally flat human. For example, stumbling over saying the simplest of sentences with friends and strangers alike, something that anyone can end up doing, is an insurmountable task of anxiety and fear.

My focus is fixated basically at all times whether alone or not on how to get that quick relief I seek. Soon it becomes a chase, where you’re chasing a bigger “high” until you crave more and more extreme forms.

Eventually this bubble bursts metaphorically speaking and nothing quite pleasures as much as the start. The compulsions start to lead your everyday choices; nothing else quite matters as much as “the next time you get off.”

So, what does any of this have to do with photography?

Photography and art has taught me over the years that I don’t need this garbage in my life. A cheap way to get off and see some novelty has tried to replace the long term work ethic and passion of taking photographs out in nature, starting up a small business and getting my work out into the general public.

When I am free of it, my focus and time management skills improve tenfold. Anxiety and worry about speaking in front of the camera or simply saying hello to a passerby whilst hiking seems to melt away. Learning about the different flora and fauna I see out when hiking and photographing becomes a better use of my time.

I’m not fixed nor am I broken, still I fall however each time I get back up with a newfound clarity as to how to tackle this issue. I owe photography and art for being the catalyst to my personal freedom and creative expression.

Every day brings me closer to being on the right track. Due to a lot of proper changes and personal habits changed over time, I am finding my way. The camera has always been there by my side to see this through, and this is a much healthier pursuit for me.

In a weird way, photography has been like therapy over the years to help pick me up like it always has during times of stress. A healthier “distraction” and to engage in something more productive whenever alone.

I am finding my way towards a greater life purpose and way to express myself in a healthier and constructive manner, and I am doing that from pornography to photography.

And plus, a nasty habit cannot stop me from creating beautiful imagery to share with the world.

For more information, please feel free to check out these online resources and communities.

Fight the New Drug

Your Brain on Porn

NoFap

Love People Use Things Podcast

Do you have a similar story or struggle of yours you’d like to share? Send me an email or leave a comment down below. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear with two other midwest outdoor photographers and yours truly.

Available in video form on YouTube and audio on Spotify, Google Podcasts and all your other favorite podcast apps.

Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography All Outdoors Photography Podcast

In today’s episode, we talk about all things abstracts, including Intentional Camera Movement, patterns, textures and other creative methods when out in the field. Enjoy the show! Show Notes: https://ryanltaylorphotography.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/is-photography-art/ About the Show Welcome to the All Outdoors Photography Podcast! This podcast is about all thing’s nature photography, including landscapes, wildlife, and macro. This show features two talented photographers. Henry Doyle and Ryan Taylor who all bring different experiences in photography to the podcast. This show is released weekly every Tuesday at 1pm EST. Follow the Show Email Us: alloutdoorsphotographypodcast@gmail.com Linktree (Links to all Podcast Platforms)- linktr.ee/AllOutdoorsPodcast Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jKBTmU YouTube- https://bit.ly/32WB5FJ Follow the Hosts We would appreciate if you checked us out on our individual social medias. Henry Doyle Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jHhIX0 YouTube- https://bit.ly/2X0XldT Ryan Taylor Instagram- https://bit.ly/32VgPUP YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD2WjwUKYz4dwkZrbOewkmw
  1. Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography
  2. Episode 17: Workflows – Plan, Shoot, Edit, Print
  3. Episode 16: Outdoor Portraiture with Rylan Meadows
  4. Episode 15: Bird Photography with Sean Hollowell
  5. All Outdoors Photography Podcast Episode 14: A Conversation about Conservation

Alone Together: Photography of the Pandemic

Holding on while letting go, this was outdoor photography truly in isolation.

I look ahead to what the future may hold, and where my photography career will too.

It’s name needs no introduction, we were all somewhere that ill-fated early Spring of 2020.

The volume of my work took on a slightly edgier form of expression at this time, complete with dis-ease and the unsettling fact that everything I thought I knew about the future was not what it seemed.

One of my photos landed in the local newspaper amongst other imagery taken during the quarantine.

Like most people, I did not prepare for a global pandemic to occur. I thought the year was solidly planned out and my only task was to execute on those terms. Easy enough I thought..

A crisp early spring day and an entire former golf club property-turned mitigation bank is for me to photograph the wildlife in.

Instead of attending many social gatherings to network with other artists and having a booth at festivals, I was left with the singular act of what I am here for: photographing.

There was this troubling thought that what I was working on had lost some meaning. Will my photos matter or will any of us survive?

In fact, I recorded an episode of my podcast about this very topic.

With the spare time I had due to the cancellation of most festivals and the closing initially of galleries, I also wrapped up my ‘On Location’ video series during the stay-at-home order despite most people choosing to hike while shops and their workplaces were closed.

Starting with this video until the end, these were episodes recorded during lockdown times.

The dozen or so episodes were recorded during this time as I made headway on nearing the end of that longterm project.

The world was changing very fast and so my view of the world both before my eyes and the lens followed suit. Nature provided that necessary and temporary respite from current events and the news.

During this time, I truly learned how attuned my eye was to seeing like a lens would. No matter where I went, my vision was that of a photographer’s. As one can imagine this is equally as thrilling as it was maddening.

How did/has the pandemic affect(ed) your life and/or photography? Leave a comment down below and stay tuned for the next post.

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear with two other midwest outdoor photographers and yours truly.

Available in video form on YouTube and audio on Spotify, Google Podcasts and all your other favorite podcast apps.

Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography All Outdoors Photography Podcast

In today’s episode, we talk about all things abstracts, including Intentional Camera Movement, patterns, textures and other creative methods when out in the field. Enjoy the show! Show Notes: https://ryanltaylorphotography.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/is-photography-art/ About the Show Welcome to the All Outdoors Photography Podcast! This podcast is about all thing’s nature photography, including landscapes, wildlife, and macro. This show features two talented photographers. Henry Doyle and Ryan Taylor who all bring different experiences in photography to the podcast. This show is released weekly every Tuesday at 1pm EST. Follow the Show Email Us: alloutdoorsphotographypodcast@gmail.com Linktree (Links to all Podcast Platforms)- linktr.ee/AllOutdoorsPodcast Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jKBTmU YouTube- https://bit.ly/32WB5FJ Follow the Hosts We would appreciate if you checked us out on our individual social medias. Henry Doyle Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jHhIX0 YouTube- https://bit.ly/2X0XldT Ryan Taylor Instagram- https://bit.ly/32VgPUP YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD2WjwUKYz4dwkZrbOewkmw
  1. Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography
  2. Episode 17: Workflows – Plan, Shoot, Edit, Print
  3. Episode 16: Outdoor Portraiture with Rylan Meadows
  4. Episode 15: Bird Photography with Sean Hollowell
  5. All Outdoors Photography Podcast Episode 14: A Conversation about Conservation

I Hiked 27 Miles in a Day, This is What it Taught Me

I set foot on the trail at 8am, right on the dot. A small Osprey Daylite pack filled with snacks, three liters of water, my hatchet, multitool and a single trekking pole to keep me company.

The mist and atmosphere rolled over the hills as I began to thru-hike the Twin
Valley Trail for the second time this year
. Like the first time, the catch is that I will be starting and finishing it in a single day.

A very difficult yet doable thru-hike for me, I was very eager to begin.

One of the best views during the entire hike is here at the High View trailhead; my beginning and end for the day.

The Twin Valley Trail (TVT) is a scenic backpacking trail that crosses Germantown, Ohio in between Germantown Metropark and Twin Creek Metropark. These two metroparks in particular have become some of my favorite locations both for nature photography and especially hiking/backpacking.

I had reached over 10 miles pretty quickly but I was sweaty and very very sore. I had my doubts of whether to turn back uphill back to High View or make my way through the start of the connector trail.

Quitting would be too easy, and so I mustered all my strength and pressed on. I may have felt quite exhausted already from the first half at Twin Creek Metropark, yet I could still walk with relative ease. This was not to stop me!

Upon entering Germantown Metropark, I had reached the halfway point of my hike. About 14 miles in and I was starving, looking forward to having two pouches of warm oatmeal and some boiled water to drink. It wasn’t the most extravagant meal to have outdoors but it was very much satiating in calories.

I sat around for a bit as I borrowed this campsite table to reflect a bit about the trek so far. Writing in the journal a half of page of some thoughts..

“A cheery and sunny blue sky day. Not a single cloud in sight and a hefty breeze to boot. The first half of the hike was quite a feat to accomplish and I am already quite spent. Halfway to go and I should be done well before dark. It has heated up quite a bit for early October! By high noon the birds have seemed to mostly settle in besides a few very vocal jays high in the treetops and a kettle of buzzards soaring overhead. I hope I can make it.”

After the midday lunch I set out once again, crossing the spillway and bridge. Reaching the woodland edge meant that I saw more people being near a trailhead and that the hilly terrain would come back. Foliage was very vibrant and beautifully yellow in this section of the orange loop trail.

As I went northward uphill, I made it to the northernmost point of the TVT and where meadow dominates the landscape. The bright sun was beating down on me yet I was eager to check out the new trail expansion for the first time. This new section of the orange and purple loop trails adds a little under two more miles to my route for today.

By this point I was moving across the more remote areas going downhill at the metropark, crossing the dam effectively signaled my very close end to the hike.

Miraculously enough, my end time was right on the minute as to when I planned on being back to my car. From 8am to 5:30pm with eight and a half hours of hiking time. It’s the little serendipitous moments in life like that make it for me.

Also an interesting tidbit is that my three liters of water last till the very last mile which is something worth noting.

The total mileage was 27.38 and I happened to shave off about 20 minutes from my previous time as well for only going a little bit more distance.

So what did this hike teach me?

Let’s refer back to the title of this blog entry and answer why this day mattered.

I am much more capable than I think. No hike is too long, too tough.

Stretch before you hike! Your legs will get pretty sore soon after.

Don’t become so fixated on the end goal that you forget to enjoy the moment. What is a good hike but the miles traveled, hills climbed, and sweat poured to get to the end if you only remember making it to that end?

“Unplugging” from your devices for a while can be very beneficial for the soul. Smell the air, view the scenery, just be.

Things that start out feeling great, don’t always end so great. I am talking about

There’s a finish line and sometimes no one will be there to support you. Hiking and backpacking alone typically includes moments of solitude. You have to be your own cheerleader.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventurous day and that it inspires you to thru-hike your local parks and trails. Let me know where you have backpacked with a comment down below. Thanks for reading!

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear with two other midwest outdoor photographers and yours truly.

Available in video form on YouTube and audio on Spotify, Google Podcasts and all your other favorite podcast apps.

Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography All Outdoors Photography Podcast

In today’s episode, we talk about all things abstracts, including Intentional Camera Movement, patterns, textures and other creative methods when out in the field. Enjoy the show! Show Notes: https://ryanltaylorphotography.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/is-photography-art/ About the Show Welcome to the All Outdoors Photography Podcast! This podcast is about all thing’s nature photography, including landscapes, wildlife, and macro. This show features two talented photographers. Henry Doyle and Ryan Taylor who all bring different experiences in photography to the podcast. This show is released weekly every Tuesday at 1pm EST. Follow the Show Email Us: alloutdoorsphotographypodcast@gmail.com Linktree (Links to all Podcast Platforms)- linktr.ee/AllOutdoorsPodcast Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jKBTmU YouTube- https://bit.ly/32WB5FJ Follow the Hosts We would appreciate if you checked us out on our individual social medias. Henry Doyle Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jHhIX0 YouTube- https://bit.ly/2X0XldT Ryan Taylor Instagram- https://bit.ly/32VgPUP YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD2WjwUKYz4dwkZrbOewkmw
  1. Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography
  2. Episode 17: Workflows – Plan, Shoot, Edit, Print
  3. Episode 16: Outdoor Portraiture with Rylan Meadows
  4. Episode 15: Bird Photography with Sean Hollowell
  5. All Outdoors Photography Podcast Episode 14: A Conversation about Conservation

Are Phone Cameras the Future?

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” – Jay Maisel

More and more, I have opened up my mind and philosophy towards any and all cameras being the ‘right’ camera for me.

There was a time several years ago where I scoffed at the mere thought of using a phone to take photos, whether for a professional job or simply my own amusement.

In my mind, a phone handset cheapened the overall photography experience. It removed the pure aspect of setting the camera on a tripod, adjusting dials and knobs, making sure everything is to your liking and then taking the image.

Boy, was I wrong…

Below is a set of late spring, early summer blooms I took with my phone camera at Buck Creek State Park during May 2020.

Here we are in the year 2020 with phones being ubiquitous with photography, the simplicity of less control over settings and more emphasis on composition.

My handset of choice is a Samsung Galaxy S10, which has improved my phone photography experience tenfold. Your phone may be different although most modern smartphones have the same or similar capabilities.

While this isn’t a Samsung ad, I will say the device has a stunning set of lens-based optics. In total there are four lenses on the phone, three rear and one front.

Why so many lenses you may ask? Well each one fulfills a different focal length. Some are for standard viewing while others harbor a wide angle perspective.

Touch focusing is a breeze, using the big screen to act as a live-view mode like on a DSLR.

One of the lenses is a panorama lens. Instead of stitching panoramas on a computer and hoping all the different files are leveled and aligned, now I can simply rotate myself around a landscape to make a quick panorama with the device. To be frank, these phone panoramas are some of the best photos I’ve taken and are one of my favorite features to employ when out in the field.

Auto HDR will expose for sky and ground details in a single image, creating a bold and moody overcast day instead of blank overexposed lighting overhead.

Better yet, there is even a “Pro Mode” that simulates the actual exposure settings on a DSLR! Features such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO plus many more are available at your disposal. Phones didn’t nearly have this much in the way of features even a couple years ago.

All of the images you have seen thus far have been taking with that S10 phone. If you like to see a curated feed of my portfolio, check out my Instagram below.

Rest assured, these were taken with an actual DSLR (either a Canon EOS 80D or Rebel T3)

And so to answer my initial question that which is the title of this blog entry.

In short, phones make photography a lot easier without removing the need for skill and technique. You still have to have knowledge in order to make a great photo under great light.

Phones make photography better, and to think that 2015 me would probably laugh at that statement is very telling of my growth. Further improving, never regressing.

Yes, phone cameras are the future, and the future is now.

Are you a hobbyist or professional photographer? Do you use a traditional DSLR or a phone for your picture taking? Let me know what you think in the comments down below. I look forward to hearing from you.

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear with two other midwest outdoor photographers and yours truly.

Available in video form on YouTube and audio on Spotify, Google Podcasts and all your other favorite podcast apps.

Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography All Outdoors Photography Podcast

In today’s episode, we talk about all things abstracts, including Intentional Camera Movement, patterns, textures and other creative methods when out in the field. Enjoy the show! Show Notes: https://ryanltaylorphotography.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/is-photography-art/ About the Show Welcome to the All Outdoors Photography Podcast! This podcast is about all thing’s nature photography, including landscapes, wildlife, and macro. This show features two talented photographers. Henry Doyle and Ryan Taylor who all bring different experiences in photography to the podcast. This show is released weekly every Tuesday at 1pm EST. Follow the Show Email Us: alloutdoorsphotographypodcast@gmail.com Linktree (Links to all Podcast Platforms)- linktr.ee/AllOutdoorsPodcast Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jKBTmU YouTube- https://bit.ly/32WB5FJ Follow the Hosts We would appreciate if you checked us out on our individual social medias. Henry Doyle Instagram- https://bit.ly/3jHhIX0 YouTube- https://bit.ly/2X0XldT Ryan Taylor Instagram- https://bit.ly/32VgPUP YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD2WjwUKYz4dwkZrbOewkmw
  1. Episode 18: Abstracts & Art Photography
  2. Episode 17: Workflows – Plan, Shoot, Edit, Print
  3. Episode 16: Outdoor Portraiture with Rylan Meadows
  4. Episode 15: Bird Photography with Sean Hollowell
  5. All Outdoors Photography Podcast Episode 14: A Conversation about Conservation

Confessions Of a Photographer

Confessions, guilty pleasures and the like. All photographers spanning all genres have them.

These are habits that we have possessed over time from using our cameras, whether unconsciously or not. They are quirks we’ve developed from some form or process of our photographic journeys. These confessions may be considered good or bad depending on the individual.

Don’t turn your back on your confessions, they can be telling of what’s working for you versus what’s not.

So without further ado, I am going to admit to a handful of my own which will hopefully spark an internal monologue within for you. In no particular order, let’s get started..

I love boring, flat light.

This can be quite a debate among photographers, as our artistic medium quite literally relies on light and the quality of it.

I cannot count on a single hand how many photo outings I’ve been on where the lighting was too direct, too harsh and very uninspiring. A lot of my more recent trips record my reactions on video camera.

I speak pretty often about my disdain for “bright, sunny midday light.” Many other photographers will echo the same statements and it makes sense as to why.

Look to the images above. Both daffodil shots are the same in every way except the quality of strength of light. Some viewers may say the sunlight “enlivens” the flower photo, while others will appreciate the more diffused appearance of the other image. You decide.

One of the best aspects of taking your own photographs is that ultimately you are in control of the outcome. I simply choose to spend most of my photography time when outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day. From there, the images I take satisfy me more than the more unpredictable blown-out highlights of high noon daylight.

My post processing workflow is very redundant and same-y.

This confession is more out of laziness and repetition than anything else. I have obtained a “cookie-cutter style” editing process over the years. I tend to use the same five or six global sliders without much else in the way of editing or enhancing anything else, regardless of the subject matter.

Some may say that this is simply a maturation of my editing style but when does that become a crutch? If every image you edit feels like a homogenized copycat of everything before, then maybe a shakeup is in order.

An image I edited with Skylum Luminar, and added a digital white mat with signature.

If you’re feeling frustrated then maybe try out a free trial to another post processing software? A completely new editing workflow means you have to relearn what you’ve known, therefore leading to new results. If you enjoy your free trial enough then consider purchasing said software.

I keep my polarizer filters on my lenses at all times.

I treat these in the same way a regular photographer would keep a UV filter on their lens(es). Circular polarizer (CPL) filters are integral to my workflow when out in the field as they help enhance my imagery.

Several CPL filter uses are the reduction of sun glare in a creek or any reflections, the saturation of colors in a deep blue sky or simply to use a slightly longer exposure.

This habit may have started out as pure laziness and yet I have come to appreciate the aesthetic on my photographs. The only exception happens to be wildlife imagery with a telephoto zoom lens where the widest aperture is typically desired.

Shooting handheld can be lazy and feel “rushed.”

This may be one hot take for some, as I use a tripod for the majority of my work.

Using any kind of tripod or stabilization helps center and ground you in your environment.

A tripod allows my creativity to flourish as I shoot an image under pressure. The changing light diminishes quickly and yet the focus stays persistent. It’s almost as if that piece of gear garners improvement in my compositions.

Shooting handheld for me becomes too fast to make a difference, my prospective photos become mere snapshots and some feeling or integrity is lost in translation.

While I almost always choose to use a tripod, stripping that three-legged hindrance from the camera at times can be creatively freeing.

I stress the emphasis that my opinion on these matters changes back and forth, day by day. More often than not I reach for a tripod to ease my naturally shaky hands, sometimes using a monopod for wildlife photography. If you find yourself rushing to take as many images as possible. Slow. Down. See if a tripod helps in making you a more mindful photographer.

My compositions can often become stagnant.

I see the natural world sometimes with a consistent viewpoint. Once again this argument could be reinforced in that I have found my photographic style. But as the creator of your work you have to decide to make a change or to continue on with the visual look.

Juxtaposed or leading lines permeate much of my landscape compositions as well. Off-centered and isolated trees, meandering paths take precedence to my eyes.

At the end of the day, these confessions can be very telling of where your portfolio currently stands. It is important to reflect every once in a while to produce better photographs in the future!

So there you have it, these are a handful of ways that I happened to confess almost like photographic sin. What confessions and hard truths are you keeping secret? Leave them in a comment down below. I look forward to reading them.

Check out my newest endeavor with two other Midwest photographers.

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear.

Available in video form on YouTube and audio on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and your other favorite podcast apps.

Your Gear Doesn’t Matter

I am not quite inspired enough to discuss gear in full.

Although I’ve tried it to some mild success..

A 40-minute video is not what I had in mind..

To some extent, gear can become integral to producing quality photographs, whether for your job producing 1,000 megapixel billboard images or some 365 photo project where you’re posting them on Instagram.

However, does it really matter in the end?

The images I take with my Canon Rebel T3 versus my EOS 80D look almost identical at a glance. Pixel-peeping could prove otherwise but the regular phototaker may not notice nor care.

One of my favorite images is from May 2019 of this waterfall at a local state park. The entire hour and a half session of me working this beautiful landscape was done entirely with my first camera, the Rebel T3. At the time I was concerned at the quality however didn’t bother with switching the wide angle lens to my technically speaking “better” camera body.

I was losing a number of megapixels with this decision, as the 80D is 24MP while the Rebel T3 is 12MP.

At the risk of sounding crass, these are just numbers to me.

Gear only makes sense when it can truly improve the quality of the photos you take.

I simply wouldn’t take a waterfall long exposure like the one above nowadays if I didn’t have a polarizer filter, which I also used to take that image above.

To me, a filter like that is essential to my longer exposure work and it only made sense upgrading from cheap and hazy Vivitar CPL and ND filters to much better Hoya equivalents (sorry Vivitar.)

Upgrade when it is financially and reasonably sound, but understand that this new hardware will not improve your composition or vision.

Until then, use what you have, use what you know.

What are your opinions on camera gear? Do you love to talk about it or shirk the thought of it in conversation? Drop me a line down below. Thanks for reading.

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Exploring Motifs in Your Work

Motif (n); a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.

Color, light and form. What do you subconsciously see in most of your work?

As an outdoor photographer it goes without saying, but common themes tend to be natural organisms and various subjects.

Birds, insects, trees, water, weather, habitats, geology, so much to see. The mutual understanding of ecosystem and the relationships between them.

I choose these subjects because they envelop the pure elation and joy I have of hiking out in nature. They are things I enjoy searching for and finding with my eyes and camera.

Birds can be a symbol of freedom, with their bursts of color in the lake water or woodland greenery. They are always on the move and pose a challenge to your patience.

Trees to me have personality, and I seek those out every time when out in the field. The more characteristic trees make for more powerful shots!

Water is a powerful force from a trickle down a stream or a roaring waterfall. These smooth flowing subjects become a key asset to many landscapes I photograph.

These ‘motifs’ are ones that developed over years. Almost every budding photographer begins by shooting a little bit of everything. From this all-encompassing mode of seeing, their eyes are trained and developed to round out to certain qualities they most enjoy photographing.

As much as I could to be an everyman, jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none photographer. This overinflated notion is simply too far flung. I have never wanted that, and so choosing a niche, namely nature, is still large enough to diversify my work from peers. Some choose to specialize while some choose to diversify. You decide.

Consider what your work means to you and what it may mean to others, I share pictures of nature because I love being in it, learning about it and sharing it with others. This cycle is like fuel for my creativity and motivation.

I can only speak for myself and my experiences, and this journey of self-discovery is yours to take in finding what drives you to create.

One last sobering thought is to follow your intuition as it is never wrong, it will guide you to the things in life you want in front of your camera lens.

If you’re ever in doubt, remember this..

You are very well likely one shutter press away from your best photo yet.

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Valuing Your Time

Your time is valuable, your time is precious.

I learned this very well from reading through a rather unassuming-looking book, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

What is perhaps the bible of my creativity, I keep a paperback copy displayed above my photo book collection by the office desk. Ready to be deployed whenever motivation is at stake.

In short, the book speaks of creativity being in every person, and to unleash it is a matter of beating resistance. An invisible enemy meant to rob us of energy and focus.

When faced with writers block or a creative slump, I turn to this book often for inspiration. There is no need to force yourself to work on a project, yet a pick-me-up can save us all some time. This book is like the medicine we all need.

Time is a valuable commodity that can run out, much like our lives in having a shelf life. Equally as important is figuring out the best use of the time we have today, and while we are still here on this planet.

Whether you are juggling the lofty business goals you may have, or simply want that creative spark for going out and taking photos; I hope these words can help you in some way.

To start, ask yourself the following questions..

What matters most to you, right now?

Getting an image on someone’s wall takes time. This does not occur overnight.

Being able to allocate your time well when both in business dealings as well as out in the field is imperative to any success.

Let’s say that a recent company has contracted you to produce a certain amount of images within a deadline of a month. This would automatically be elevated to a higher status on your list of priorities.

While more rigid when it comes to business talk, the time spent out in the field can be much more freeing creatively interesting.

Let’s say there’s a very specific migratory bird species that only comes to your state for two weeks tops during May, and there’s also a wildflower that is in bloom from May through June.

If you wanted to photograph both the bird and the wildflower, what would take precedence? Naturally the bird would be a higher priority target shot to obtain for most people. Everything in life is a choice whether big or small.

These are basic examples but the sentiment is all the same;

Valuing your time as a photographer is the means to success.

What are both your short and long term goals?

To make money? To just simply get out there?

Hobbyist or professional, it does not matter. Having an idea of where you want your work to go is imperative to tangible goals being met.

I personally believe that you should do it for the love of it, and the money will come afterwards if you so choose to let it. The experience of being outdoors or wherever and being your most authentic self will carry over to others.

People will see the passion you have, that sparkle in your eyes and fervor to share it. The feeling of how important photo taking is to you.

But until then, you’ve got to hunker down and put in the work.

Doing what matters most, right now.

Holding a Common Buckeye butterfly that hung around with me at the festival booth.

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On Location: Favorite Moments

Personally for me, choosing favorites of anything is rather difficult. However, for this blog entry I made sure to shorten it down to some of my personal favorite moments throughout the video series, On Location.

Some of these are chosen for their deep emotional impact on me at the time, whether through excitement of a creative breakthrough or otherwise. Other moments were listed based on the technicalities of the resulting photograph, so you may say these are some of my favorite images taken during the video series as well.

Subject matter is wide and deep in scope, including various birds, sunrises and sunsets, abstracts and floral images.

For brevity’s sake, I will let the videos do the talking. So brew yourself a cup of tea and enjoy the stories I’m about to share..

Glen Helen Nature Preserve: White Tailed Deer

Eastwood Metropark: Mad River Run

Spring Lakes Park: Red Head Duck

Hills & Dales Metropark: Golf Course Sunset

Woodman Fen: Great Horned Owl

Dominick Lofino Park: Canada Goose Goslings

Bill Yeck Park: Fire Pink

Clifton Gorge: Yellow Throated Warbler / Scarlet Tanager

Ellis Park: Cloudscapes

John Bryan State Park: Waterfalls

Charleston Falls Preserve: Charleston Falls

Cedar Bog: Shadow Darner

Caesar Creek State Park: Horseshoe Falls

Huffman Prairie Flying Field: Prairie Sunset

Creekside Reserve: The Little Beaver Creek

Oakes Quarry: Quarry Sunset

Sweet Arrow Reserve: Leaf on Tree Trunk

Pearls Fen: “Staged” Leaf Shot

Englewood Metropark: Englewood Lake

Aullwood Audubon Center: Fog Woodland

George Rogers Clark Park: Waterfall

Spangler Nature Preserve: Tree Sparrow

Marianist Nature Preserve: Prairie Pit Sunrise

Twin Towers Park: Grassland Sunrise

Crains Run Nature Park: Yellow Rumped Warbler

Brukner Nature Center: Large Flowered Trillium

Backyard Bird Blind: Tufted Titmouse

…And here is the entire series in chronological order for you to enjoy!

Have you watched the entire series? Do you have a favorite video or location? Leave a comment down below or drop me a line. Thanks and make sure to get out there!

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Stay Local

I recently received an email from an artist deadline mailing list. This is a helpful resource for artist call-for-entries to local gallery exhibitions, craft fairs/festivals and contests.

In this case, it was an email for an artist grant, awarding up to 30 artists in any and all mediums a grant for $1,000 each.

The instructions were rather simple, pay a non-refundable $40 application fee, submit your Instagram handle, allow them to tag you on Facebook, upload 10 images and/or videos, and gain worldwide promotion and exposure. Sounds good?

And wait patiently for several months before they choose the winners.

I gave pause to this email for a day or two, then ultimately decided against it for my own reasons.

While Ansel Adams took a similar image out far in Yellowstone National Park in 1942, I took this tribute image at a location about 15 minutes away from my house.

So why did I decide against this?

On the fence a bit, I decided that valuing my time and money was the biggest concern.

Every choice in life involves a risk, whether major or minor. The application fee for me was not worth spending the $40 for a potential $1,000 or more. The 20 minutes or so to fill out the app was not worth it either.

You have to choose your battles, and the chances of winning the grant versus not were to big to take this chance.

This 2,120 lake is a bit of drive to get to, but the drive out is worth it and beats most locations that I’ve been to even farther away.

To go back to the title, staying local has become integral to my overall success as a photographer for a multitude of reasons.

I have applied to many online photo contests only to not see any ROI (return of investment) whereas there is a more personal satisfaction in getting into a well-renowned gallery cooperative in town.

This has simply been my experience, whether the quality of my work has not been enough or not. Sticking to being closer to home has given more opportunities.

By working this way, I have met other local artists and creatives to network with, something the internet isn’t quite good at frankly.

These contests are judging your work purely on its merit alone, however a personality and a face behind the art can provide so much more context.

Testing out a new backpacking tent…in my backyard of all places.

I am a member of a long-running gallery co-op in my county. This is one I had my sights on joining someday, and so I ultimately got my foot in the door by submitting work to an open community show.

That’s a good first step, but I went further with the idea and joined the other members at the gallery reception. Dressing nice, being social-able and friendly while talking to the members. The night was a success.

Only after networking and meeting them did I submit an application, after receiving encouragement from some of them.

This got me farther than any submission to a faceless photo contest. The personal satisfaction of the local scene meant my name got out.

The same themes apply greatly to photographing the outdoors. The grandest of national and state parks far away from home are stunning to say the least, yet a budding photographer does not need them to pursue their work.

Beautiful creations can be made anywhere you are located.

How bad do you want it? You will find a way.

Think small, start small, at one point early in my journey. I had dreamt of being a contributor to a very “geographic” organization. So much so that that was my initial goal.

Defining success is a catch-all game as everyone is different. The notion that “making it” is something to ponder for your own personal goal.

Years into my career, I could frankly care less about the bigger picture.

If you are struggling to create or promote your craft, get along with the idea of thinking small, starting small. Stay local…you don’t need exotic.

Just like a poorly-composed photo, re-frame and recompose. The results will turn out better.

I hope you enjoyed this opinion piece! If you disagree or have a comment, leave it down below! I’d love to hear someone else’s story of success on a bigger scale.

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Nature Photography as an Introvert

So there I was, standing in the middle of the red pines and rain drops. I still had cell signal that far out there however I had not seen another human being for hours.

I had just had my video camera and tripod take a hit and subsequent plunge from onto the boardwalk and then the surrounding water. Barely only ankle deep, this shallow marsh land submerged over $1,500 worth of gear. Trying to shake this off was turning out to be not easy.

The tried and true approach to drying off waterlogged gear. Bags of rice.

No one else around to see my costly mistake, my self-blunder.

Once again I asked myself the painstaking question often at these times..

What am I doing out here?

Moments of self-discovery like this compel me to find out why I am driven to create, often in isolation. Yet on this particular day I had been fighting the elements and my own personal struggles in order to create a ‘perfect’ video.

Creation for me is often an experience best done and fully realized when alone, yet in this instance a good thing can sometimes be too much for a person.

And so due to fear and frustration, I concluded to take two weeks off from going out with the camera. Much like a personal “punishment” or a temporary respite.

In that time without a proper DSLR camera in hand, I ended up realizing how much having a camera means to me.

Life doesn’t feel the same without a camera in hand.

As my work has evolved and my character has matured, I realized over time that my true calling, my true happiness is only felt when I have a camera.

The physical act of going out in the field is what I crave, no matter the stress about weather or other hardships, this is all just obstacles. And like difficulties they all just fall away in the face of true passion, hard work and dedication.

Photographing something allows me to get out of my head, as if the camera is a tool, a distraction. A pleasant way of saying ‘pause’ on all other obligations and ruminations. This is essential to my wellbeing, photography is therapy and the camera is the medicine, the meditation.

In the abstract, a camera is a device to slow down and distance yourself from other woes in life, whether that is something outside of photography or in your personal life. For this day, it was from dropping your camera on a boardwalk and subsequently in the water earlier in the day.

This could’ve been the end of that day, but I’ve learned to work with what I have. It didn’t matter if it was raining quite heavily, the goal was to finish the video and produce some quality photographs. Never was it a question of whether or not to give up, I had come too far in the past several years of setbacks to just throw in the towel now.

I still had another DSLR to use, and an extension tube and small telephoto zoom lens to work with. Sometimes you have to get creative, and so I set out again through the nature preserve.

One of the last photos I took from the camera/lens earlier in the day.

So why does all of this matter to an introvert? Well, these experiences where found out when in isolation. They were tests to my character and a challenge in order to test limits.

Introverts tend to reflect more, as I am here in writing this blog entry weeks after the incident. However in the moment, my heart and intuition said to keep going despite the odds. Introversion leans towards self reliance and calculated problem solving, like I did by finding a plastic bag and rice from my bean bag support to dry off this gear.

By the end of the day, I learned all of this by working through the actions and consequences. The day was my mess to work through, and I did it with these beautiful spring ephemerals photos as a result.

(From left to right: Virginia Bluebells, Toadshade Trillium, Large Flowered Trillium, Large Flowered Trillium, Rue Anemone, Dutchmans Breeches)

“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

― Charles Bukowski

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A Cycling / Birding Adventure

Early on in my birding and nature photography adventures, I would use whatever means to travel to natural locations around the area.

A bicycle was one of my primary ways to get me around, and for a bit of throwback, I decided to try it again.

Using a bicycle or even your own feet allows for greater mobility than an automobile would. You can park and get into smaller spaces a vehicle simply can’t fit into. Starting and stopping is a lot easier on a bike whether that’s along a sidewalk or former railroad right-of-way (bike trail.)

Environmentalists could also argue the emissions and pollution that are saved from using the manpower of a bicycle over a car or truck. It simply doesn’t make too much sense to use a car to drive several minutes away when a car does just as well.

Probably one of the most important of all, birdsong is definitely more audible pedaling a bike against the wind than cruising down the street with a loud engine car.

Arriving at the first location and getting the gear set up.

So on May 1st during the peak of bird migration back up to the north, I set out at noon to some local places. These are locations where I got my start in nature and wildlife photography.

I am very familiar with these places, having gone to them many many times at all seasons in the past four years.

Each of the five locations I visited has an attached eBird checklist for those curious to see everything I recorded from the day. The photos are ones I shot with my phone (Samsung Galaxy S10.)

Enjoy!

To start, these first three locations happen to all be connected via footpaths, allowing me to park and lock my bicycle and travel on foot with binoculars and telephoto lens in hand.

Phillips Park

eBird Checklist

Featuring a classic Ohio red barn, a small pond, and some treelines and a service road path to wander by. I spent less than half an hour here and saw typical species for the location, including barn swallows which are attracted to nesting under the gazebo or inside the barn roof. Nest boxes are present in the open fields here however I did not see nor hear any Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens or Tree Swallows.

Only eight species were what I was capable of identifying, however there were no doubt more at this spot. A couple of photos of common species satisfied me enough for the time and so I walked down.

Beaver Creek Wetland Nature Reserve

eBird Checklist

I spent much more time and miles hiked here, and due in part to the changing habitats I found more variety. Winding through a wetland and marsh means waterfowl could be seen, as I saw several Mallard ducks. Numerous hawks like Red-Shouldered were flying and calling overhead on this bright and sunny day. I began to see and hear more migratory birds, namely vireos, Baltimore Orioles and Northern Parulas.

The photographic highlight was a high key closeup portrait of a Blue Grey Gnatcatcher set against a deep blue sky. Several woodpeckers were also common to see and hear in the wet woods throughout the reserve, including their calls and drumming. I managed some great images and close looks of Song Sparrows, Baltimore Oriole, and an Eastern Towhee. Overall a success at 21 species for an hour and a half.

Dane Mutter Prairie

eBird Checklist

This small conservation easement is primarily prairie habitat as the name suggests, and I was here for half an hour only. Highlights were seeing a Red Shouldered Hawk on the ground getting mobbed by a Red Winged Blackbird. Upon entering this section I heard a single Eastern Meadowlark, however could not spot it in the mowed grasslands. American Goldfinches were unsurprisingly very present here, flying to and from the treelines to the tall grasses. The males were easier to spot with their vibrant yellow breeding plumage. To top if off, a handful of Common Yellowthroats were giving their “wichity wichity wichity” call while hidden from sight.

For some reason I have bad luck with ticks at this location no matter how cautious I am, one was stuck to my calf after getting home. Always check your legs in the spring and summer!

Glen Thompson State Reserve

eBird Checklist

Situated along a state scenic river, I anticipated many warblers and other migrants to be here. My best luck was a decent look and a photo through the tree branches of a Orchard Oriole (a life bird for me!) A Red Bellied Woodpecker was making quick work of a tree, chipping away pieces of bark to either feed on insects or to establish a nest cavity. Some more very close looks at Blue Grey Gnatcatchers held my interest during my visit. Overall a very successful hour spent at this hidden gem in my county.

Creekside Reserve

eBird Checklist

This personal favorite location of mine is severely under birded yet can contain a surprise or two to the trained eye/ear. To beef up my list for the day, I spotted several common species such as Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher and Killdeer. The best photo from this area was towards the end of the trail. A single individual that was very patient and perched high up in the treetops. A female Rose Breasted Grosbeak set against a very azure evening sky.

All in all, six year (2020) birds and and one of those being a lifer made for an excellent afternoon out.

I am very excited not only by some of the bird sightings from the day, but the amount of quality photos too! Here is a sampling of some of my favorites.

(From left to right starting at top left: Song Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Orchard Oriole, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, Rose Breasted Grosbeak.)

Have you ever birded via bicycle? How did it turn out?

I have found the experience to be rather enjoyable, different enough to try at least once or twice.

Make sure to get out there and bird your local places!

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