The Heron Hike

My friend Jen informed me that the blue herons are returning to the area, and now is one of the best times to shoot.  Well, the males, anyway. They fly back to the area in advance to prepare the nests for the females who will come later. I even saw a few fighting over prime real estate. Others were squatting down two or three to a nest, making me wonder if they were trying to get the others to move out through passive-aggressive sticky notes and not washing dishes like a nasty college roommate. Either that, or they’re just two dude herons on back from Massachusetts who have decided to settle down and start a nest together, and maybe adopt a few eggs.

It’s worth mentioning that while I was out, I may have taken a step towards photo elitism out there.  I saw this a man with point-and-shoot trying to take pictures of the birds, and I wondered why he was even bothering with it. Something like that can’t get nearly the optical zoom one would need to shoot these birds from so far away, the sensor couldn’t be strong enough that there would have been any sort of clarity if he tried to enhance the image digitally, and there is no way that an automatic camera could have metered  correctly for the herons in the trees with so much sky blowing it out. And just was I was trying to wrap my head around this, a woman drove up in a minivan, roller her window down, and started shooting from the street with her iPhone! It blew my mind. Here I was with my Nikon D80, 70-300 lens, and monopod, and I still felt like I wasn’t properly equipped to get the shots I want. 

Now, I’m not saying that one can’t get good, or even great, photos without top-of-the-line gear. Sometimes what you’re shooting means that you won’t end up with an unintelligible mess of a photo. I know that some people feel the obligation to shoot certain experiences, and I get that. But, you’re really only distracting yourself from from what you’re living now for a piece of posterity that you won’t even recognize in a month if you even think to look back through the photos at all.

This goes for you pros too. I make it a point to put my camera down every now and again and just soak in what’s in front of me. Not every experience needs to have photos. Some of them just need to be lived.

Ducks On The Winter River

As a photographer, I’m always looking out for new locations, subjects, and experiences to shoot. However, I find that I am compelled to periodically return to a handful of subjects. As anyone following me will know, I the Cuyahoga River is a frequent subject on this site. I feel like I should have more of a problem with that than I do.

The riverfront is one of my absolute favorite places to walk, and it’s never the same twice. The sounds of the animals, the current of the river, the personalities of the people I pass on the path, the smell of the trees and soil, all meld to create what feels like a living, thriving, changing organism.

I have watched ducklings grow up and start families of their own. I witnessed trees older than the path beneath my feet die and be swept away by the raging waters of the spring thaw. I have seen layers of graffiti showed me confessions of love, battles against authority, and art that could not be contained by canvas.

So, I ask my fellow artists, if any of you have had the privilege of watching an environment grow. If you have, I would love to hear about it. If not, I encourage you, all of you, to take the time to understand the world around you; not just watch, but feel it. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll discover.


The Year In Review

A full year. Since I graduated. Since I proposed. Since I started freelancing. Since I started the site to keep myself in practice. I suppose that I should take a hard look back at 2013.

                Let’s start by looking at things from a purely objective standpoint and take a look at the numbers.

  • Numbers Total Hits: 9,709
  • Overall Average Hits Per Day: 27
  • Most Hits In A Single Day: 283
  • Total Number of Followers: 110
  • Total Number Of Posts: 205
  • 205 posts/ 365 Days= 56.1% of Daily Goal
  • Then again, I was working 60-80 hours a week the last two months of the year, so taking off November and December, we get 196 Posts /304 Days= 64.5%

 What do these numbers tell us? Well, they tell me that I need to do better. I While I have started writing, editing video, and dabbling more with graphic design, I haven’t come as far with branching my skills as I would have liked. And yes, I have been shooting daily, it hasn’t necessarily been what I want to be working on.

It might be fair to say that I’ve been… disconnected. After I graduated, I lost all of the resources available to me through the university. That doesn’t just include the photo gear and technology, but the connections though fellow students and teachers. Add all that to the fact that my car died early this year, and funds have been relatively low. So, with no money, no car, and no connections, it honestly felt like a year adrift.

But, those are just the numbers and the setup. What did this year in photos actually look like? (Be sure to click to open in theater mode. There’s a cut line for each one of these. )

Where does that leave me? I wouldn’t call the year empty, and I can’t say there was nothing fulfilling.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t grow, but I still feel like I could have been more. I feel like I’m falling behind my peers. All I can do is try to keep at getting myself off the ground this year.

I photographed this collision with my cell phone on my lunch break. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. The photograph was picked up by one of the local papers.

I photographed this collision with my cell phone on my lunch break. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. The photograph was picked up by one of the local papers.

Still, with everything I shot this year, one photo stands out more than anything I did. It was the photograph I took on my lunch break with cell phone of the car crash. It reminded me how much I can care; not just about news, but about people. I had just finished Dave LaBelle’s Lessons in Life and Death, and learned just how much photographs of tragedy can help those involved cope and come to terms with those events. I felt like I had a responsibility.  It reminded me that no matter where I am, or what I’m doing with my life, that drive for journalism, and news is always there. I’m never going to give up.