I wanted to share some of the incredible experiences I had upon returning to the Hocking Hills of Ohio, from April 17 - 23. I love returning to this region because it is where my love for nature photography first got started, many years ago. It's also where I teach best because I am so familiar with the landscape and subject matter. For me Hocking has become more of an old, best friend versus just another location to visit and photograph. The added plus last week was the opportunity to once again serve on the judging panel for Shoot the Hills and have the opportunity to speak and present my work to the public in attendance at the weekend event.
This was the 10th year for Shoot the Hills. It's growing in popularity every year, drawing photographers from all over Ohio and the surrounding states. Funds raised go to support educational and preservation efforts within Hocking Hills State Park through Friends of Hocking Hills. Friends and fellow Photographers Barb and Jerry Jividen play a big role in both Friends of Hocking Hills and Shoot the Hills along with a dedicated group of hardworking volunteers, many of whom are also long time friends.
The biggest project spearheaded by Friends of Hocking Hills was in working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in rerouting the section of State Highway 664 to the far side of the parking area for Old Man's Cave. This was a HUGE improvement and highly beneficial, not only in terms of pedestrian safety but in eliminating the road noise issue down in the gorge and the run-off/deterioration from the almost constant traffic.
This year's entries during Shoot the Hills were just as impressive as those of years past. The winning images have been posted on the Friends of Hocking Hills Facebook page for Shoot the Hills. It was also a blast to be included in the list of guest speakers on Sunday morning. I've uploaded the PDF version of my slide show presentation - "Photography as Personal Journey" - for online viewing. The images I showed and talked about were mostly captured during the last two years with landscape imagery of coastal South Carolina and Hilton Head Island well represented. It was interesting to note the number of email messages I received following my presentation from Ohioans planning summer trips to Hilton Head and wanting tips on where to photograph nature and landscape subjects on and near the Island. I partially joke that I should be on some sort of commission/recognition program with the Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce based on how often I answer such emails and how my images of Hilton Head are encouraging visitors to look beyond golf and restaurants as a reason to visit and vacation. I am happy to play some small roll in perhaps preserving the natural beauty of the area and to help others see that is well worth protecting.
The other very rewarding experience of my recent trip back to Hocking Hills was in presenting another fun-filled workshop on nature photography, based at my home in Hocking, The Inn at Cedar Falls. I hosted a great group of energetic and talented photographers, many of whom were new to Hocking Hills. We had the opportunity to explore perfect spring conditions with wildflowers and waterfalls. This time around it was just a one-day workshop but still a ton of material and time teaching in the field resulted in more than a full day of nature photography. I am happy to announce that I have already reserved the meeting space at The Inn for two weekend workshops, one in August and the other in October. The dates are August 16 - 18 and October 25 - 27, at The Inn in Hocking Hills. I'm also working on arranging for a one-day workshop in Dayton - most likely Cox Arboretum - prior to the August program in Hocking Hills. Please email me if you would like to be added to my early reservation list. The cost of the weekend programs is $325 per person which includes guided instruction in the field and on the trails, classroom instruction on my favorite techniques for digital editing workflow, most meals and a complete workshop handbook. I anticipate both weekend programs in Hocking Hills to fill-up fast. Usually about half of my attendees are repeat workshop participants (and great friends too!).
Following my recent April workshop and Shoot the Hills last week I made time for a full day on my own out on the trails, capturing and composing the landscape that I've come to know so well. I do this because I make a point not to shoot on my own when teaching workshops. When I teach, I teach. When I shoot on my own, I shoot on my own. Just to have one day alone on the trails does amazing things in revitalizing my spirit and energizing my creative soul. It's what I love to do best and I am always, always thankful for the opportunity. Below are just a few of the images I captured during my spring visit back "home" in Hocking Hills, Ohio. Enjoy!