Today I went and ran in the woods.
Then I cam home and explored the woods at my house.
Today I went and ran in the woods.
Then I cam home and explored the woods at my house.
Once a year we all reach that date where we mark that we have been graced with yet another year on this earth. I am generally not a big celebrator of holidays or birthdays. I like low key things not big celebrations or doing something fancy. This year I had no real plans as to how I was going to spend my birthday. The only thing I knew was that the day after I was going to run a race with my friends. However, for the actual day of my birthday I really had nothing special planned. I basically just wanted to relax and enjoy the day with the simple parts of life.
I had thought that my wife and I could spend part of the day walking our dogs. So we took our foster pup, Comet for a walk. When we got back home however, he decided he was not going to be coming back in the house until he was good and ready. Eventually I was able to coax him back into the house with some sliced ham. He knows how to get what he wants. But the delay it took to get him back in the house made it harder to have time to walk the other dogs and do anything else in the day.
I had thought that I would like to go hike at one of my favorite state parks, Watkins Glen State Park, but when I visited the website it stated that the gorge trail was still closed due to snowy and icy conditions and that was what I really wanted to do. So I was not sure what I was going to do for the rest of my birthday. Luckily I have an amazing wife who knows me really well and knows that I love nature and I love buying plants to spruce up our yard to attract wildlife and other critters to our yard, so she suggested we head out to one of our favorite gardening places, Horning’s Greenhouse & Garden Centers. She also suggested that we could stop and get something to eat at another place I really enjoy Seneca Farms in Penn Yan. We toured around Horning’s checking out their already impressive for so early in the season selection of plants. When you love nature and you are also a photographer you do things like pick out plants specifically for their potential use in photography. I wanted plants that were already in bloom so that I had some photography subjects to work with on some potential photography projects I had been thinking about. I also picked out plants with blooms that looked particularly interesting to me. I picked out some that were new to me and some that were plants I was not familiar with. Then once we were done picking plants/photography subjects we went and ate.
I thought that since we were already up that way we could stop by a state park I enjoy that I thought would be a nice place for some photography. So we ventured on over to Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, NY. This park is nice because it has a nice long path along the northern border of Seneca Lake perfect for a walk or a run. We strolled along the path and I watched the birds, hoping that some of them would get close enough for some decent photography. The birds did not cooperate. My wife petted dogs. We took some photographs of the scenery. I even modeled a little in some photos for my wife, not something I normally volunteer to do but it was just such a nice day I figured why not.
After we were done at Seneca Lake State Park I realized it was just a short drive further to one of the best birding spots in our area, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, where eagles and osprey nest and you can see many different species of migratory birds this time of year. This was an unusual visit for me because normally when I go to Montezuma I am driving, which means I am driving a car, looking for birds, and balancing camera equipment all at once. This time my wife was driving and I actually sat behind her on the driver side, because most of the viewing opportunities would be on the driver side not the passenger side. It was a really nice change. It was like having my own private guided tour through the refuge with a chauffeur. We saw lots of different birds, most of which were too far away for good photographs. The lighting was also pretty terrible for photographs, but it was still a very enjoyable time watching the birds and enjoying nature. We did get to see one eagle perched in a tree and then take off. Seeing eagles is pretty much the highlight for my on any bird watching trip, so I was happy.
My birthday was a very enjoyable and fun day and I owe it all to my wife who knew I was getting disappointed when I thought we wouldn’t be able to walk all our dogs like I had wanted and still have time to do something else and then found out the trails I wanted to hike were closed. She suggested making a trip I hadn’t thought of and she was willing to roll with all my other ideas for things to do. She is always supportive of my adventures and ideas even when it is not my birthday. I could not have thought of a better way to spend my birthday this year then out exploring and enjoying nature with her.
I have been pretty fortunate as an artist. I have been able to have an exhibit featuring my artwork each of the past four years. I had an exhibit featuring my photography of shelter dogs at the Chemung County SPCA hosted at the Chemung County Historical Society. I had a joint exhibit with my father showcasing our wildlife art hosted by the Community Arts Of Elmira. Last year I had an exhibit featuring my photography from my running adventures hosted by the Tioga Arts Council. Currently I have an exhibit that I recently installed at the Hinkle Library at Alfred State College. This exhibit showcases a variety of the subject matter I have photographed in the last several years. The exhibit will be on display through April 2019 and possibly longer.
I love creating photography, but having an actual exhibit does not come natural for me. From the contacting venues to the planning, to the setup it is all as challenge for me. One of the biggest challenges of having an exhibit is choosing what artwork to showcase. Past exhibits I have done have had some sort of theme so that helps to narrow down the selection process. But, for this exhibit I wanted to display a variety of my past works of all types so that left the gate wide open for possibilities. I had some images that I knew I wanted to display such as my shelter dog photography and two images that to me have become representative of my work, a peregrine falcon and an Eurasian eagle owl other than that I didn’t so much as choose the images as just let my natural tendencies dictate what work I put on display.
The space at the Hinkle Library is nice and big. It is able to accommodate quite a few of my images. I was very happy with the amount of space I had. There were also glass display cases and a table that I could use to display smaller pieces that are on stands and photography books. I was really happy with those options because that is not something that is often available at other venues where I have had exhibits. With the large space and the number and variety of photographs I was able to bring for display I was very happy that my father, a talented artist in his own right, join me to set up my exhibit. My father has a much better eye for layout and formatting than I do. He is great at making sure my images are hung in a way that they are easier to see and have good spacing as well as arrangement. During the set up process I spread out the photographs along the wall with a rough idea of how I think I would like to arrange them and then we look at it and think over the arrangement and he makes recommendations to me for adjustments. My dad is great at getting the fine tuning and details correct for the exhibit, those are not my strong suit. He sees things that I do not see including ways to display pieces that I didn’t even see.
The way I ended up setting up the exhibit essentially had feature walls. Each wall of the exhibit featured a different subject matter. One wall was all of my larger 20 x 30 inch shelter dog photography. The opposing wall features my small woodland creatures with a transition into nature photography that continues on the adjoining wall as it transitions into scenic views of nature. On the wall that is directly across from you as you enter is a series of avian photography. In the center is a table and two glass display cases. The table features several of my photography books I have created as well as photo album to flip through and a large framed set of three images standing on the table. The display cases each feature some of my small metal print photographs that have stands for displaying on a desk or table as well as a larger framed photograph in the bottom that can be hung on a wall.
I am very happy with the way this exhibit turned out. I really did not know what to expect or have a good vision for what I was going to do with the space. It really came together in the process with the help of my dad. The photograph featuring shelter photography has always been and continues to be in service of supporting the Chemung County SPCA. For any purchase of those dog photography I will continue to donate 50% of the cost directly to the Chemung County SPCA as I have always done. Please stop in and check out this exhibit in this very nice space if you can. You will have an opportunity to see some things you may not have seen a other exhibits I have had.
If you want to see more opportunities like this please support my work through my Patreon page: KRNaturalPhoto.
In my previous article I talked about my training run out on the Hyner View Trail Challenge course. In that article I also shared some of the photographs I took during that run. This is a direct followup to that article. As a photographer and creator who combines that work with my running and just being out in nature in general there is a fraught relationship between getting out into nature the way I want and getting my gear there so I can shre it all with you. I have worked hard to find the best gear I can that can go with me the places I want to go in the ways I want to get there. Then finding the best strategies and additional gear to use in transportation of the photography gear is another factor. This year I think I have made a significant upgrade in my gear for transporting my camera equipment out into nature with the addition of new Ultimate Direction packs. So far so good. But there haven’t been many tests so far to date. This adventure out to Hyner was the first test of one of the backs I recently acquired. The pack itself worked fine. Sometimes the problem is not in the gear.
Sometimes the problem is operator error. I mentioned in the last article that I dropped one of my cameras. I have dropped cameras and gear in the past and most of the time you can get away with it because they are relatively durable. The camera I dropped is a small mirror less camera from Nikon. The camera itself appears to still work. The lens however appears to be broken. This is the second time I have had this lens break. I already replaced this lens once. This camera and lens set up is my go to for taking higher quality photographs out on running adventures. The fact that it is delicate is also one of the reasons I have started using GoPro cameras more. They are simply more durable. It is really a compromise I do not like. I want the features of the Nikon in the durability of the GoPro but it seems that is not meant to be. Having this setback with my camera gear is a huge bummer and quite a headache, but I was proud of myself for in the moment putting it out of my mind and enjoying the run even though I knew it would become an issue moving forward.
Drops happen like any other type of mistake in any other type of venture we pursue. You just have to try to roll with it. I am currently looking for solutions to the damaged lens issue with the Nikon. Perhaps replacing it with a different type of lens will be a better solution. In the mean time I will rely on more GoPro footage and photography from my Samsung Galaxy S8+ which is amazing coming from a phone. Trying to find the right balance of equipment and other gear and then not making mistakes to compound any issues is a continuous struggle. I am hoping that eventually a camera gear solution that fits my niche work here in this form will come along soon in a way I can take advantage of it. But until that happens I am stuck trying to make the best use of the options that exist in my reality.
Winter is a very fickle season. It is especially fickle in regions with a more temperate climate that have changing seasons. Seasons can seem to change overnight. Seasons may seem to change well before it is time according to the calendar. Seasons may even change and then revert to the prior season. Sometimes it can seem like we skip entire seasons all together, with transformation straight from winter to summer and then from summer back to winter. Wait, where did spring and fall go?
A lot of people complain about winter. I enjoy winter. I even enjoy winter photographically. It can often seem like winter offers fewer options for photography, which may be true, but it offers an opportunity to hone ones craft around what remains. The most challenging part of photographing winter is that very variable that makes winter definitively winter and not any other season. That is the snow. Photographing winter without snow is just not the same. So the biggest challenge in a climate where snow may or may not be present or may or may not last even an entire day is being able to get out there and get those photos of the beautiful white stuff.
This is especially difficult as someone who is a pat time photographer who is growing their business. I do as much photography as I can but I still have a day job I have to report to every weekday. There are many days I wake up, look out my windows, and see the white frosting of snow draped over the trees and I just fall in love with my environment all over again. Then I am snapped out of my revelry because I realize I have to go into the office, which for me requires a one hour commute each way, and I will not likely get a chance to photograph that dreamy landscape. It is dark when I get up in the morning and often dark when I get back home during the winter months.
The best time in my opinion to photograph a winter scene is just after the storm when the snow is soft, clinging to the trees and fresh, and undisturbed on the ground. As a photographer that is chasing the dream of a perfect photo in every spare moment I am not in the office it is not very often when I am able to go out right after a storm to take advantage of this scenario. Even worse, in my region the temperatures can fluctuate so much that you can wake up in the morning to nice powdery snow and then arrive home to try to photograph it for thereto only be puddles remaining.
The other photograph I often chase in winter is a snow-filled landscape with a bright sunny sky overhead. This is not something that I am often able to realize with my time crunch and fluctuating temperatures. Either I am not available for photography on the days and times it is sunny or it gets sunny and the snow quickly melts away. I have been able to capture this scenario at times but it is one of my goals to capture this scene in different locations more frequently.
When you have limitations, you have to be able to adapt. I have adapted for my winter photography. While I still chase these other goals, I incorporate other different types of winter photography into my portfolio. Photography of shadows shown against the white background of snow can be interesting. I take close up photographs of smaller parts of a big scene in the snow. Braving the cold and photographing frozen bodies of water can result in some excellent shots. Another option is instead of waiting for the snow to settle and photographing the peaceful aftermath of the storm, go out into the storm and photograph the weather as it is happening. This can create a sense of drama.
No matter how you are able to do it just get out there and create photographs.
My 2018 year in art was interesting. Mostly interesting because of what didn’t happen rather than what did happen. I started off the year with an opportunity to volunteer at a local organization and lead a photography group during an even for them, but I managed to bungle the paperwork process and didn’t get everything submitted in time to be able to be a volunteer at that event. I did eventually get the paper work submitted so hopefully if the opportunity presents itself again then I will be able to volunteer with them.
Below is a list of 8 goals I have for the 2018 year.
My number one goal was to have another art exhibit in 2018 and I had those plans already in development prior to 2018 so that made for a cheap and easy goal to list. This exhibit went well. I was very happy with it. I worked with the Tioga Arts Council and presented an exhibit title “A Runners World”. The exhibit featured photography all from my adventures in running. We had a good turnout at the event and I even met a couple of local runners. The only down side was I didn’t sell any artwork from the event. It is possible I will have another exhibit in 2019 as I was talking with an exhibitor in 2018 regarding possibilities.
My two goals relating to publishing article didn’t not go as I had hoped. I wanted to publish more work both photography related and non-photography related in print publications. I began the year writing article and sending out query letters to a wide variety of publishers. Unfortunately I did not make any headway in this process and it became clear to me that maybe publishing my work via this route was not meant to be right now. It is hard work finding publishers and querying them regarding your work. I really wanted to focus on writing and putting my work out there for people more than anything. So to that end I began focusing more on publishing my writing not only here but on my Medium page at https://medium.com/@krnaturalphoto. I have been writing on Medium for a while and I publish some of my content from this website there as well as content that does not fit into my work here. So if you are interested in checking out other types of content I create I strongly encourage you to check out my work there as well.
I have been saying for a while now that I want to get back to photographing shelter animals, however to date I still have not been able to make that happen. I just haven’t successfully found a way to make this work with my photography right now. I love the work there and it means so much to me I am determined to find a way to get back to that work eventually. Even though I did not get in to the shelters to photograph new animals I was able to arrange a fundraiser for our local Chemung County SPCA at one of my favorite local business that are super supportive Four Fights Distilling where we had a feature of my photography on exhibit where any sales of my artwork would result in me donating %50 to the shelter and Four Fights made a donation and the SPCA had adoptable dogs there. The best new from this event is that it resulted in some dogs finding new homes and that is the best news I could have hoped for. So while it was not truly my goal setting out the year I am calling it a huge win for those dogs and my soul thanks to the Chemung SPCA and the support of Four Fights Distilling.
Another big goal I had for 2018 was to start teaching photography classes. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. I planned one class and then I lost momentum and it ended at that. I still have several ideas for classes in the works that I am developing on paper and in my head. This is something that I still want to do but other priorities taking over pushed it to the back burner in 2018. I am hoping to resurrect this goal for 2019. I just need to turn the ideas in my head into action. This is one of my biggest challenges, turning my ideas into actions.
Patreon is an aspect of my work that I really need to work harder to expand. I see a huge potential future there and I am hoping it is the way of the future for my work. I made small gains there in 2018 and I am hoping to expand it further in 2019. I will probably write more extensively on this topic in the future. Yet another aspect where I have lots of ideas that I need to turn into actions.
The one goal for 2018 that really subsumed everything else and took center stage was writing a book. This has been a huge idea and project growing in my mind. I have made huge strides on this in 2018. I spent some time almost every day working in some fashion on this project. I have a completed query letter to send out, a completed book proposal to send out to interested parties, and I have over 50,000 words of a book written. The book is by no means done but it is far closer than I ever imagined it being. It is to the point where I can almost actually envision it coming into being. It is much more than some dream now. It is almost an actual thing now. However, all the work I put into this book contributed significantly to my other goals not really being realized in 2018, but I think considering how much I accomplished on this front I think I can accept that.
So thinking about my book project at the close of 2018 that is where I will pick up with my goals for 2019. I have started to send out query letters to writing agents to find an agent that will help me find a publisher for my book. I have written to and heard back from a few agents already. So far none have expressed interest in my book. I will continue to reach out to agents. If you happen to know anyone who is interested in working with a new author to publish a fun book get in touch with me. So my goal for 2019 regarding the book is to secure and agent and hopefully a publisher for the book, however that may be pushing it. I would also like to complete a rough 1st completed draft of the book by the end of the year. This is my number one goal for the year.
Another goal for 2019 is that even if I do not teach a class in 2019 I want to write down and formalize my ideas for what types of photography classes I would teach and begin making plans to set up the process for teaching classes.
If you have read about my running goals this goal ties back into my running. I want to spend more time capturing footage of my running adventures. This includes both photography and video. Then I want to use this artwork in my writing and other artistic pursuits.
So my biggest goal for my art in 2019 is that while I am running the running itself is secondary to the enjoyment of nature and creating art while I am out on the trail or otherwise engaged in running. Running allows me to do more with my photography so it is important to me but all the aspects one tends to think about while running like pace, time, and distance are really not relevant to my overall pursuits. I need to put them in their place where they belong and focus on why I am engaged in this activity and that is to enjoy nature and capture it. I want to spend more time recording my running adventure with my cameras and then writing about them. This goes for training runs as well as my races. Everyone wants to do the best they can at a race, but for me I want to focus more on enjoying the experience to its fullest this year. The time isn’t really that important and what really is the difference between a few minutes slower especially if I get more joy out of it and can create more art. It is not like I am winning any races. I am out there trying to have fun. That is their purpose. I need to get back to that simple pursuit. I am planning several races that are new to me this year and should allow me to capture entirely new scenes this year. I will capture scenes of the nature that I am enjoying as well as scenes of my fellow runners who I am blessed to be out on the trail with. I am also running a few races that I have run in the past and natural inclination is to try to run those races faster, but instead I am going to try to run them more joyful than last year. I will likely write more posts about my plans for these events as I clarify more about what I want to do exactly. One thing I really need to get worked out is how I will make my camera gear and running gear mesh for these adventures, but I recently acquired a new running pack that I think will really help.
My other big goal for 2019 is to grow my support for my work on Patreon. This will really allow me to create the artwork and complete the projects that I have envisioned. Without support on Patreon I won’t be able to make it happen. I am developing a strategy for this with more details to come soon as I mentioned previously. So if you like what you are reading please support my work for as little as $1 a month to help me bring this work into existence. https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto
I am looking forward to what 2019 may have in store. I think it will be really fun to pursue these dreams and make them reality.