I tried to be more purposeful in my photography this year, both in topic and technique, with a mix of tripod and hand held. The photographic year started in January, with a new, and much longer, telephoto lens, that gave me more photographic reach than I’ve ever had. Along with the winter moon, the new glass helped me capture and identify a lot of the wildlife around the Hollow, including ducks, geese, herons, hawks, bluebirds, grosbeaks, warblers, turkeys, deer, and a red fox.
I’ve already blogged about using my new telephoto to capture shots of the wood ducks on our pond, and a couple of previous blog entries explain my week’s vacation shooting the 17 year cicada. My camera also helped me explore the vernal pools that characterize the 5 flat acres along the northern edge of the Hollow. In March and April, several small pools come alive with noisy amphibians and busy aquatic insects. While my in situ work wasn’t exactly ready for National Geographic, crawling around the muck in rubber boots, I at least managed to document the existence of fairy shrimp and blue-spotted salamander.
Most of the shots you’ve seen of small amphibians and aquatic insects in books and nature documentaries were taken under studio conditions in a tank (surprise). I collected a couple jars of salamander eggs, tadpoles and some caddis fly larvae. I set up a small plastic dish on a table, creating a makeshift studio to get some close-ups of these interesting little underwater creatures.
People are interesting, too. I took my camera to three different sporting events this year, starting indoors in March when the Holmes County Training Center Bucks played the Community All Stars.
In May, I spent a very wet afternoon shooting calf roping at a rodeo in Sugar Creek. The weather was terrible, but all the mud and water made for a lot of photographic drama. This was my first chance to try my new telephoto at a sporting event, and I thought it did a great job of focusing on the equine action.
In September, I went to the 25th Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival, at Muffin Field in Ohio Village (Columbus), this time shooting my lighter and less awkward 70-200 F4. Local amateur sporting events are great places to shoot—they usually let you have the run of the place, and there aren’t a lot of crowds to get into your way.
Columbus is also the home to one of the best state fairs in the country, and I had a pair of photos accepted into the fine arts exhibit. Elizabeth and I went to the Ohio state fair grounds to see the art, and then spent the rest of the afternoon looking at cows, pigs, and people.
Most of what I photographed this year was relatively close to home, but I ended up with an afternoon and several evenings to kill on a business trip to London. I brought my pocketable Sony RX100M4, and had a chance to grab some views of Canary Wharf from a burgeoning new neighborhood around the O2, which was a drab and muddy part of London when I biked through in 2009.
I brought my small camera along on a late November business trip to Vegas, where a co-worker and I took a short trip into the desert to visit Seven Magic Mountains, a surprisingly intriguing temporary art exhibition.
Always a sucker for signage, I managed to take a 1 hour tour of the Neon Museum.
I did one paid-for shoot in 2016, driving out to Pittsburgh to spend a very interesting late afternoon wandering around a former industrial site in a photo event organized by Matthew Christopher, whose Abandoned America Workshops are always interesting. Most of the obsolete Carrie Furnaces installation has been razed, but a pair of blast furnaces from the Homestead Steel Works are still standing. It was a fascinating place to visit, and unlike most of what I photographed this year, at least everything was standing still, making for a more contemplative, tripod-oriented photographic session.
I also organized a fall foliage session in Amish Country for my camera club. We started the day at The Farm at Walnut Creek, taking horse drawn wagon rides through a gauntlet of exotic ruminants, all looking for a handout.
After The Farm, the various club members split up, exploring southern Holmes county on their own, and visiting some of the sites and suggestions that I’d mapped out earlier that month, a variety of 1-room schools, old farm houses, and country churches.
It was a more colorful fall season than last year, with the oaks showing much more red this year than they did last year.
2016 was also an interesting chance to try a couple of practical photographic exercises. A neighbor put their house up for sale, and asked if I would take pictures for the realtor’s web site.
Another neighbor asked me to take head shots for her LinkedIn page (I’m not taking sole credit for her successful job search), and I spent several hours, at three different locations, doing a senior photo shoot.
At least through the various lenses of my several cameras, its been a great year.