Iceland, Croatia, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Peru, Oregon, Utah, the list could go on. In no particular order, these are places that I would love to visit with my camera. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend a small amount of time in a couple of those spots, and those visits did nothing but whet my appetite to return. You’ve probably seen breathtaking photographs taken in some of those places. There’s a reason that so many landscape photographers spend so much time and money to get to them. So, I find myself relating to the duck in the picture above, trying to paddle my way back to Mt. Hood.
The reality, however, is that those kind of trips are few and far between for me. I will never see some of the places that I think about visiting. And that’s alright. There’s plenty of stuff to shoot right around here.
I was reminded of that some time ago as I listened to an episode of the Photog Adventures Podcast. It’s hosted by two guys who live in Utah. Yep, the same Utah I mentioned above, surrounded by stunning national parks and states with more stunning scenery. They go out regularly to shoot landscapes and astrophotography. I enjoy listening to them. For whatever reason, they determined to leave Utah for a photo trip to North Carolina. They shot waterfalls, the coast and the Blue Ridge Parkway. At one point, they were about two hours from me.
Listening to them talk about North Carolina was amazing. They were fascinated by the most mundane things – at least to those of us who live in this part of the country. An example? Trees. They couldn’t get over the trees. I believe one of them even used the word “claustrophobic” as he explained the density of the woods around him. They marveled at the “wildflower fields”. They made their visit in the early fall, so I was a bit confused about those fields until I understood that they were talking about the flower plantings that the Department of Transportation did down the middle of the interstate. Here we refer to those things as “ways to keep the DOT from having to mow the grass all summer”. Yes, they are nice to look at, but if you live here, you hardly notice them at all.
And that’s my point.
As much as I would love to visit those faraway places, there is plenty to shoot right here. After all, if people are willing to fly across the country to stand in the middle of the interstate to take a picture, there must be something worthwhile here, right? And there must be something near you, too. So maybe the best place to start with our photography is our own back yard.
I found this bridge exactly 2.5 miles from my house (as the crow flies). No. It’s not the Columbia River Gorge or icebergs off the coast of Iceland. The shot will win no prizes. But it’s proximity to my house makes it – in some way – even more significant to me.
So what’s in your neighborhood? Or along your highways? Or down the road? I’ve decided to spend some more time exploring photography in my own back yard, with my eyes – and my mind – open, and my camera in my hand.