Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

F-4 Phantom

F-4 Phantom
F-4 Phantom

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shooting Close to Home

The other day I pumped almost $30.00 worth of gas into my Jeep...for a half tank.  Every time my fuel bill arrives I choke and cough when I see the total...I could buy a new digital camera...just about every month...for what I'm forking over to the gas companies.  I remember and still long for the good old days when you could fill up you car for around $5.00 and have three uniformed attendants come out to check your oil, clean your windshield, and pump the gas.  When I first went off to college back in the dark ages my weekly spending money amounted to the huge sum of $10.00...from which I had to buy gas to get there and back...and use whatever was left for snacks and goodies or maybe even a movie.  But alas those days are long gone, and the cost of fuel now days sure puts a crimp in my ability to get out and about.  I must now plan carefully and the first thing I consider before making any kind of a photo trip is how much gas will it take and how much is it going to cost?  As a result I spend a lot more time photographing closer to home.

A few years ago I began a long term and continuing project called the Alvaton Collection...which consists of a series of photographs featuring the area around my home in Alvaton, Kentucky.  Most of the images in that collection were taken within a 15 to 20 minute drive from my home.

Shooting closer to home I've discovered has certain advantages. Travel costs are an obvious one but they also include things like getting to know the area more closely.  Doing so allows for quick travel to those special places.  Often I've left at daybreak and shot a series of images, then returned home before the rest of the family even knew I was gone.  One of the best reasons for shooting close to home is being able to return to a location over and over to take advantage of the changing light and seasons.

Over the years I've identified a number of locations that offer great photo potential all through the seasons.  They include places like old barns, fence rows, rustic farm country, abandoned homes, creeks and rivers, country roads, farming activity, small town charms, stately old trees, and beautiful rolling country.  All available within 20 minutes in any direction.  I can also step outside my back door, hike a short distance and be surrounded by cornfields, woods, wildflowers, and great skies.  Even so, I still look for that old country road that I've never driven down's amazing what new discoveries are found by doing such things.  Oddly enough, the country roads around here twist and turn and converge back upon themselves and seem to have no rhyme or reason to where and why they were laid out that way.  I've never been completely lost...but I have been a might turned around a time or two.

I suppose it is human nature to want to get away from home thinking that the photographic opportunity is always better someplace else.  My take on's not necessarily better, just different.  What's funny is on those rare occasions I can still get away and travel some distance and time, seems I end up showing the people I meet many of the photo's I took from home.

Back in 2008, on a lark I sent some proof sheets from the Alvaton Collection, plus a few others, to a number of magazine publishing companies...I promptly forgot about them.  Six months later I received an e-mail invitation to submit around 200 images from south central Kentucky for publishing consideration in the popular magazine 'Country'.  For several months I snapped away and finally compiled enough material to send to them...they were well received by the editor and he asked for a 1500 word essay to describe why this area is such a great place to live.  What materialized from all of this was a 10 page, 20 image spread inside their God's Country featured section published in the April/May issue 2009.

I suppose the moral of the story is this:  Take a closer look at what is nearest to home...explore its intricacies and become intimately familiar with the photographic potential in your home area...who knows, there just might be a treasure trove of opportunity just waiting for you to find.


1 comment:

Maryellen said...

Keith, I love your Alvaton Collection and enjoyed the issue in Country...thinking, wow, wish I lived there...and then it dawned on me, I already DO! So, yeah, I totally get what you're saying! We so often overlook the blessings and beauty right in front of and all around us! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome talent with us!