Don’t Forget Your Own Backyard

A snow photo taken after a winter storm in our West Chester backyard. The photo was toned in Photoshop.

There’s No Place Like Home

One of the great mistakes of new photographers happens when they examine photos that appear in the books of famous photographers, or see in some of the better photography magazines.  “Wow.” they say to themselves.  “I wish I could travel to some of those fabulous places.  I could take really great photos in a place like that.”

WRONG!!!  The fact is that if you can’t capture great photo opportunities right in your own backyard, you probably wouldn’t in those exotic locations either.  That is the same sort of mistake that budding photographers make when it comes to their photo equipment, especially their camera.  The fact is that a good photographer can can capture great photographs whether they are using a consumer camera or an expensive professional model.  A good photographer can find great photo opportunities in their backyard and surrounding areas.

This rather famous Jesus monument, known both as "Touchdown Jesus" and "Butter Jesus" stood on I75 between Cincinnati and Middletown OH. It was completely demolished by a lightning strrike a couple of years later

The trick is training your mind to watch for those great opportunities.  I started my photography life my freshman year of high school (late 60’s…Argh!!) when I saved enough money to buy a Minolta SRT101 35mm camera.  My very first photography course was a correspondence course offered by the New York Institute of Photography, for which I paid $600 in 1995.  One of my course assignments was to take a photo that demonstrated “action and motion.”  I shot my youngest son kicking a soccer ball, and finally chose a shot that I thought really pictured what the assignment was about.  Though I was really excited about this photo, I was surprised by the audio cassette tape that my photo instructor sent back to me as part of my assignment evaluation.  He told me that the photo did a really good job of capturing the assignment at hand, but that if I cropped the photo extremely tight, showing only my son’s legs with the shadows underneath, that the resulting photograph was an exceptional abstract.

He was right, and from that day forward I began to pay attention to not only the big picture that might lay before me, but to look at small parts of the scene for great opportunities to capture something unique.  Ali is extremely good at seeing photo ideas that I almost always overlook.   All of the photos you see in this blog entry were taken in our own backyard, or the neighborhood within a couple of miles of our home.

The top photo of the snow scene was taken in our backyard after a rather heavy snow storm.  It was toned in Photoshop and cropped in a panoramic format.  The second picture is of the famous Jesus statue that sat right off of I75 just north of the Traders World flea market between Cincinnati and Middletown OH.  Not much was done to this photo other than increasing the image contrast quite a bit over the original.  Of the photos shown in this article, this is probably the furthest from our home, setting about 5 miles away.

Sunset at intersection of West Chester Rd and Rt 42. Taken in the back parking lot of a business that sets about 2 miles from our home.

The sunset photo was captured one night when we were on the way home from my place of employment.  It was taken in the back parking lot of a business, and if you looked a few degrees to either side you would see all kinds of buildings.  The two rural photographs were taken about 3 miles from Ali’s home right after we started dating.  They were in Preble County, OH, not exactly a mecca forgreat landscape photography.  The attention she paid to composition really made for nice photographs of rather mundane landscapes.

The tree by the pond was taken in Blue Ash OH right across the street from the home of one of Ali’s lifelong friends, the the photo of the green sprig growing out of a new tree (or was it a shrub?) was taken in one of our neighbor’s backyard, and the flower pic was from our own yard.  The caterpillar was in our front yard.

For the silkworm cocoon shot,  Ali stood under the silkworm and shot up towards the sky.  I really like the look of it.

A Preble County OH road about 2 miles from Ali's home. This sets about 1/4 mile away from the farm scene shown in another photo.

A farm in Preble County OH about 2 miles from Ali's home.

A nice scene right across the stree from the Blue Ash OH home of one of Ali's life-long friends.

Flowers hanging from a limb in our West Chester backyard

A caterpillar hanging on a leaf. Taken in our backyard.

Silkworm Cocoons in our backyard.

A new sprig near a fence in our neighbor's back yard.

About clayandali
Trained as a research chemist, but have been involved with Entrepreneurship for over 30 years. I have been involved in photography for 41 years. Ali is a graduate of the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton, OH. She loves both portrait and landscape work.

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