2010 Website Newsletter 2

New Book – Ohio Photography Guide

During April, I completed the writing for my new book, A Photographer’s Guide to Ohio, which will be published by Ohio University Press early in 2011. An introductory chapter provides a primer on digital landscape photography, followed by descriptions of about 150 Ohio photography locations, grouped into  six subject chapters: scenic vistas; waterfalls; natural areas and preserves; public gardens and arboretums; barns, bridges, mills and rural areas; and historical sites and murals. The book will be copy edited and designed by the talented folks at Ohio University Press over the next 6-9 months, then we will add some regional maps when the photography locations have been finalized. I will provide updates as the editorial schedule for the book unfolds.


The David Leach Research Station in Madison, Ohio, part of  The Holden Arboretum, provides one of the finest displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other flowering shrubs in the Midwest during late May and early June. This will be the focus of my program, Photographing Rhododendron Beauties, on Saturday, May 22, 2010. After a morning classroom session at Holden Arboretum on photographing flowering shrubs we will carpool to Madison to spend the afternoon enjoying and photographing the spectacular floral display at the Leach Research Station. An evening review/critique of participants’ photos will be held on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. For more information, visit Holden’s website: www.holdenarb.org

Leach Research Station, Madison, Ohio

Annuals and flowering shrubs, including an extensive display of lilacs, will provide wonderful photographic opportunities at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, where I will be conducting an evening slide presentation on Friday, May 28 followed by a two-day garden photography workshop on Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. The workshop is currently sold out, but space is still available for the evening presentation. For more information contact the Royal Botanical Gardens via their website, www.rbg.ca or call Nancy Lee-Colibaba at (905)-527-1158 ext. 510

Lilacs at Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario

If you have browsed my website or reviewed my previous website newsletters you’ll know that I’m very fond of dragonflies and damselflies, and spend many summer hours each year enjoying their fascinating behavior with the aid of close-focusing binoculars and documenting their gossamer-winged beauty, usually with my Nikon D2X, Sigma 180mm APO macro lens, and Nikon SB29 ringlight. Ohio has about 165 species of odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and so far I’ve managed to capture about a hundred on film and flash card. If you would like to learn more about these amazing insects, there are a couple of Ohio events coming up in July that may be of interest to you.

The Ohio Odonata Society (OOS) is a great organization to join if you would like to expand your knowledge of dragonflies and damselflies. In addition to meeting folks who are dragonfly experts you can enjoy several field trips scheduled during the summer to Ohio’s best dragonfly locations, plus several issues of  a newsletter, The Ohio Dragonflier. All this for an annual membership fee of just $5 per year…that’s a great value! This year OOS is joining forces with the Great Lakes Odonata members to host a meeting in central Ohio on Friday – Sunday, July 9-11. The cost for the entire program, which includes field trips each day to observe and photograph  dragonflies along Big Darby Creek and other central Ohio locations, plus evening slide programs and a cookout on Friday evening, is only $30, another great deal. I will be conducting a brief evening slide program on photographing dragonflies, as well as helping to lead one or two field trips. For more information, here’s a link to the current issue of The Ohio Dragonflier: http://www.marietta.edu/~odonata/newsletters/ohio_dragon_flier_20(2)2010.pdf

If you would like to attend a more in-depth program on observing and photographing dragonflies and damselflies – as well as butterflies and other photogenic insects – I will be conducting a one-day workshop, Digital Bugs, at The Holden Arboretum on Saturday, July 31. After a morning classroom session to help you understand and identify some of these beautiful insects, as well as detailed suggestions on how to photograph them, we will visit Holden’s Butterfly Garden, Corning Lake, Blueberry Pond and other good insect habitats to practice your photography skills. An evening session to share and critique your photos will be held at Holden on Wednesday, August 11.  To register for this workshop, or for more information, check out Holden’s website at:  http://www.holdenarb.org

Painted Skimmer, Ashtabula County, Ohio
Blue-fronted Dancer, Vermilion River, Ohio

Written in the Rocks

Although I’m not a lover of hard rock music, I have a photographic soft spot for basalt, granite, sandstone, shale, limestone and other geologic formations. The myriad of shapes, textures, and colors of rock can be very appealing from an artistic viewpoint, and rocks-unlike trees, shrubs, flowers and critters-don’t usually move while you’re trying to photograph them. This means you can fine-tune your photographic rock compositions without worrying that your subject is about to sway in the breeze or fly away. Many of America’s greatest landscape photographers, including Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Edward Weston, and David Muench, trained their cameras on rocks, from mountains to pebbles, to produce some of their most famous photographs.  Ansel Adams photographed the epic granite landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, especially Yosemite National Park, while Eliot Porter showcased the coastal beauty of Maine in many of his intimate images. Edward Weston revealed the beauty in rock patterns along the California coast, and David Muench has traveled the length and breadth of the United States, photographing rock exposures large and small, as well as American Indian petroglyphs and pictographs throughout the Desert Southwest.

Not all of these monumental photographic efforts were met with enthusiasm and support. During the 1930s, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were derided by the French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who exclaimed “The world is falling to pieces, and all Adams and Weston photograph is rocks and trees.” Adams responded that there was “always a person in my photographs – the photographer”,  and his epic imagery of places like Yosemite undoubtedly helped organizations like The Sierra Club gather the support needed to preserve these American wonderlands as part of our National Park System.  Edward Weston was more blunt, and responded in his Daybooks:  ” It seems so utterly naive that landscape – not that of the pictorial school – is not considered of “social significance” when it has a far more important bearing on the human race of a given locale than excrescences called cities.”

Sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Examine any of the epic scenic photographs of Ansel Adams, David Muench, Tom Till, or Jack Dykinga, and you will see that they are invariably characterized by great lighting, usually early or late in the day, or during stormy or misty weather (e.g. “Clearing Winter Storm in Yosemite National Park” by Ansel Adams). Virtually none were taken during periods of flat, overcast weather, or from mid-morning to mid-afternoon on sunny days, when the lighting is garish and colors are washed out. Homeric rock vistas need grand lighting to do them justice. The photo of Bryce Canyon National Park shown above was taken in the late evening with a Sinar F 4×5-inch camera during a visit to Utah in April, 1983. The Ektachrome color transparency is still pristine after 27 years. The unique rock pinnacles at Bryce Canyon, known as “hoodoos”, were formed by differential erosion of the Claron Formation.

Metamorphic Rock at Pemaquid Point, Maine

One of my favorite places to photograph rock formations is along the Maine coast, and nowhere are the rock outcroppings more photogenic than at Pemaquid Point, east of Boothbay in  Muscongus Bay. An attractive 1827 lighthouse and a Fisherman’s Museum stand at the end of the longest (“pema”) finger (“quid”) of land along the Maine Coast, tipped by a quarter-mile outcropping of metamorphic rock that in places looks as if it has been squeezed from a toothpaste tube. This digital photograph, taken in June, 2009 during a photography workshop, was composed using my Nikon D2X and 12-24mm lens, at a wide-angle setting of 14mm (about 20mm in 35mm parlance). The camera was positioned close to a graphic section of rock, and I included a sliver of sky to provide depth and a sense of place. The sky was partly sunny, and I waited until a cloud softened the sunlight and eliminated most of the shadows on the rocks.

Sandstone Near Gray's Arch, Red River Gorge, Kentucky

The photograph above was inspired by a photograph taken by Eliot Porter near Gray’s Arch in the Red River Gorge, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky. I visited this remote Appalachian region in the late 1980s, hiked to Gray’s Arch, and found this section of eroded Corbin sandstone near the arch along the Rough Trail. The gray inclusions in the sandstone are iron oxide tubes formed by a geologic process called Liesagang weathering. This sandstone formation was directly overhead on the ceiling of a rock overhang, and I struggled to manipulate my Sinar 4×5-inch view camera into a vertical position so I could compose the photograph. The overhang was in shade, and the exposure required a shutter speed of more than ten seconds.

Petrified Wood, Escalante, Utah

In the world of rock, things are not always what they seem to be. The material shown in the photograph above, taken near Escalante in southern Utah, is petrified wood, a fossil wood in which the organic material has been replaced with minerals, especially silicates. The red and yellow materials  shown in the photograph are probably iron oxides. In this photo the subject is just a few inches across, and a 105mm Nikon Micro-Nikkor lens was used to capture this abstract using Kodachrome 25 transparency film.

Metamorphic Rock, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

On my return trip home from Maine last summer, I visited Shelburne Falls in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. There is a Bridge of Flowers over the Deerfield River in the center of the town, and an amazing rock outcropping, with dozens of potholes, at the base of Salmon Falls. Although swimming in this area is discouraged by the local police force, I had no problem clambering down onto the rocks to take photographs. The gneiss and basalt rock which occur at the base of the falls was formed 14,000 years ago, folded, faulted, and metamorphosed into the beautiful patterns shown in the photo above, taken with my Nikon D2x camera and my standard 16-85mm Zoom Nikkor lens.

Millstones Near Marietta, Ohio

While visiting a friend in Marietta, Ohio I found out that sandstone was once quarried extensively in the surrounding area to make millstones. Known as the Upper Marietta Sandstone, this fine-grained rock had the qualities needed to produce the millstones used to grind cornmeal and other grains in the many grist mills that once existed in the Buckeye State. I hiked to one of the old quarries west of Marietta, and photographed the pile of old millstones using my Fuji GX680 view camera, 65mm wide-angle Fujinon lens, and Velvia film.

The maestro of rock photography is undoubtedly Bill Atkinson, the developer of the original Apple Macintosh user interface and an outstanding landscape photographer with a fabulous website: http://www.billatkinson.com/Homepage.pl Bill is also a master digital printer, but he has stopped teaching workshops in order to concentrate on other personal photography projects. In recent years, Atkinson has explored the miniature landscapes hidden within stones. By photographing cut and polished rocks with special camera and lighting equipment, he has created an extensive collection of rock images that look more like abstract paintings than photographs. These photographs are featured in Atkinson’s photography book, “Within the Stone.” I introduced Bill to the folks at Browntrout Publishers, who published “Within the Stone” from their San Mateo headquarters, close to where Bill lives in northern California. The photographs in this book are absolutely breathtaking, and I recommend it highly if you are a lover of fine rocks!

Rocks are not hard (no pun intended) to photograph, and the main challenge is finding photogenic outcroppings of rock that are accessible. If you live in Florida you will be hard pressed to find good rocks to photograph, and if you live in the mother lode of rocks – the Desert Southwest states of Utah and Arizona – you will hardly know where to begin your rock photography explorations. A good place to start is to Google “roadside geology of …(statename)” to explore the geology books that have been written about many states for the layperson. Two of my favorites are Glaciers & Granite: A Guide to Maine’s Landscape & Geology, by David L. Kendall (North Country Press, 1987) and Roadside Geology of Ohio, by Mark J. Camp (Macmillan Press, 2006).

New Website Home Page

We’ve redesigned the website home page to make it more visually attractive and easier to navigate to the major sections of the website. You can select a gallery from the list at the top of the page, or click on an image in the moving slideshow below. The other key pages, such as workshops and slide programs, can be accessed by a single click directly from the home page, and you can also go directly to the current newsletter. Thanks as always to Jon Wilhelm, who designed my website. If you need a website, or want to update the one you already have, contact Jon at everythingbutceramics@yahoo.com

During mid-June, I’m planning a 10-day photo trip to West Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The southern Appalachians are one of my favorite photography destinations, especially in early summer, when Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, and flame azalea bloom in the mountains and a profusion of wildflowers fill the woods and meadows. I’ll be sure to share some of my favorite images from this trip in the next website newsletter.

Enjoy the last of spring!

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