Posted by: kerryl29 | November 16, 2010

Location, Location, Location

In mid-October I had the opportunity to spend a week with my camera gear in some new (for me) locations, which is always a treat. I spent a couple of days in the Canaan Valley area of West Virginia, three days in western Pennsylvania and three days in northeast Ohio.

(I had the benefit of Jim Moore‘s experience in both West Virginia (directly) and Pennsylvania (indirectly).  In Ohio, I had Jerry Jelinek as a guide.  The assistance from both of these individuals was invaluable and I can’t thank them enough.)

This week’s worth of photography reminded me that there are special images to be found in less than iconic locations.  I’ve hinted at this before and I’ll expand on the subject at length in a future entry (or series of entries), but suffice to say for the moment that the vast majority of North American landscape hot spots are in the western part of the continent.  This is not to say that there aren’t marvelous spots to shoot east of the Mississippi River nor is it to suggest that great images can’t be made in these environs, but it’s not a coincidence that western-based landscape photographers rarely venture east and that eastern-based ones flock to the west.  It’s also fair to opine that there are obvious reasons why this is so.

Bear Rocks Sunrise, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

And yet…this trip reminded me how many marvelous opportunities are being missed in these relatively overlooked regions.

There’s nothing conventional about the trip itinerary I put together:  the Canaan Valley in West Virginia; Ohiopyle, Laurel Hill and McConnells Mill State Parks in Pennsylvania; and the Cuyahoga Valley area in Ohio.  But I had information enough to know that plenty of images loomed, even if the shooting conditions were less than ideal (which turned out to be the case).  People in the region are aware of the chances that exist in these areas, but relatively few others are.

McConnells Mill, McConnells Mill State Park, Pennsylvania

The landscape opportunities in this part of the world are, with some exceptions, comparatively subtle.  Shooting here is–and this is another subject I’ll deal with at greater length in the future–more difficult than in iconic venues.  Compositions are typically less obvious and require more work to be teased out.  But they absolutely do exist and, in a way, successfully exploiting them has the habit of producing a level of satisfaction that’s challenging to articulate.

Though it isn’t inescapably obvious I doubt there would be much debate about whether it’s possible to produce compelling landscape imagery from a less-than-iconic milieu.  It’s probably more questionable, however, whether taking the time and trouble to do so is worth the effort.  My recent foray to West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio confirmed my pre-existing suspicions:  it absolutely is.

Lower Brandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

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Responses

  1. Kerry, I am happy that your autumn trip to my “neck of the woods” resulted in a desire to return.

    I believe your observation that creating good composition from less than iconic scenes is accurate. They do require more work and thoughtfulness. I believe that my haunts in WV and PA is a great place to learn and practice landscape photography.

    Indeed, one of the primary reasons I never relocated to more westerly environs as a young photographer was the challenge and difficulty presented in creating good photos in Appalachia. I hope to see you here again!

    • Jim–the subject of landscape photography in this general part of the world is a subject I intend to revisit at great length down the road.

      Re Appalachia…if I can pull it off, I hope to spend some time back in West Virginia early this coming October. I know I just barely scratched the surface this past fall.

  2. […] was an experience reminiscent of my trip last fall to West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  It’s always helpful to have a meaningful reminder […]

  3. […] fall, as part of my trip to points east, I was in the Canaan Valley for less than 48 hours.  The conditions for photography […]

  4. the angle on the old mill is intriguing–the foreground rocks lead my eye to the mill and the falls. it’s a very nice photo; nicely balanced and interesting

  5. beatifull light equilibrium on the sunset.

    • Thanks very much!


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