We arrived in Thurmont MD at Catoctin Mountain Park yesterday evening. It was pouring raining the whole drive, but when we got here the rain let up enough for us to go on our first exploration hike on Thurmont Vista trail. It’s a quick half mile up to the top of a ridge that overlooks the town of Thurmont far below.
Our first impression was that the forest is an incredible shade of yellow green. I think since the tree trunks were still all dark from the rain, the leaves really jumped out at us as being astoundingly vivid.
We’re excited today to meet with the park rangers and get the lay of the land a little better. I’m looking forward to all the sights and adventures we’ll find in the coming weeks and I’m happy to be sharing them with you. I won’t have regular access to internet, so I can’t promise every day updates, but I will be posting as often as possible, especially to Instagram. So be sure you’re following along @bpanter.
The countdown is now officially less than 1 week and our excitement is about to pop. My 5 year old is most excited, just barely edging me out due to the fact that he does not still have to administer and grade final exams. Still, while these next few days will be especially hectic for me as I close out a semester and prepare for this residency, I feel as though I am preparing for 2 weeks of peace in the woods.
Most of my residencies thus far have felt very busy leading up to them, and even to a degree during them. I think it is such an honor to be selected for these opportunities that I feel a lot of responsibility to pack every moment full. Now, I’m not saying I don’t feel that responsibility now, but I think the smaller scale of Catoctin Mountain Park is going to allow for an easier pace. It is only about 8 square miles of land total, criss crossed with lots of short hiking trails. I think I’m also getting better at pacing myself during these residencies, realizing that it is not a race to see it all, but rather an opportunity for thoughtful work to be made through careful observation. And that is the situation that I make my best art in anyway.
In some other exciting news, I’ve recently published all my residency ebooks to the Amazon Kindle store. So if you’ve got a Fire tablet or the Kindle app on any of your devices, you can purchase a copy. And if you are a part of the Kindle unlimited plan, you can download these for FREE! And of course I plan to create a new book to coincide with this Catoctin residency, so I’m sure that will be added to this list sometime this summer.
Finally, I’ve also been making progress on my prints store through Crated.com. I’ve got about 3/4 of my Acadia images available for purchase and I’m hopeful that I can finish those images up before I leave for Catoctin. And my plan is to go back through all my old residency images and slowly begin making them available for sale as well. So, if you’re interested, check out my crated page and see what work I have available.
I’m not sure how often I will be posting during the residency, but I promise to do as much as possible (no wifi in the cabin). I also plan to be posting to Instagram regularly, so if you don’t already follow me @bpanter, there’s no time like the present.
I’ve finally completed a fairly significant item on my to do list: an ebook highlighting my photos and my experience of being artist in residence for Acadia National Park. I’ve created a photo ebook for every residency I’ve been a part of; a practice I plan on continuing.
This time I tried to approach my composition of the book from a slightly different perspective. Rather than orchestrate the book around the linear narrative of my time in the park, I instead chose my top 10 locations and wrote some quick stories to accompany my photos. Since the Schoodic Peninsula is a lesser known portion of Acadia, I kind of see it as an unofficial guide to the must see portions of that area of the park.
I’m also working on getting this ebook in the Kindle bookstore on Amazon, along with the ebooks from my last 3 residencies. I haven’t decided on the price I’ll be offering them for just yet, but the good news is, you don’t need to worry about it. If you’re on my mailing list, I plan on sending out a free copy to your inbox very shortly. If you aren’t on my mailing list yet to receive a monthly newsletter from me, head over to my website, benpanter.com, scroll down to the bottom and enter in your email. Then I’ll be happy to include you in this giveaway.
And as a side note, I did make this same ebook as a print book as well, though I haven’t decided yet if I’ll make that available to buy, or just order a copy for my own records. If you haven’t ever made a book through Blurb.com, I’d highly recommend it. The process is simple and rewarding.
I’m also working on getting my favorite images ready to print. It is not easy to narrow down thousands of photos, down to hundreds of potentials to be edited, down to a hundred for a book, down to just a handful to make available as prints. Below are just a few of my favorites. Ultimately I’d like to keep it to just about 15 of the true, stand out images.
I’ve always slacked when it comes to getting images ready to print and sell on my site. I’m always one to try a diy solution rather than something off the shelf, but I’m learning that in some areas, it’s just not worth it. So, I’m looking into more automated print selling solutions. One that I recently started checking out is Crated.com. I really like that they focus on just selling prints, rather than lots of other random tchotchkes like they do at redbubble and society6. Crated prices seem really reasonable, and of course they claim great print quality. Have you every ordered a print from them. I’d be very curious to hear your experience.
I got some exciting news this past weekend! Both Melissa and I were accepted as artists in residence at Catoctin Mountain Park this summer. It’s always such a painful waiting game when you apply for things like this, but we got the good news and now we’ve got to start planning because it’s not that far away.
I’m particularly excited about this opportunity because it represents some things that feel familiar and others that will cover new ground. The familiar is the 2 week residency in a wilderness setting. I’m fortunate enough to have done several residencies over the past few years that follow a similar format, and it will be a welcome return of 2 weeks dedicated to nothing but art making.
The new will be the experience of a residency at the State Park level. I’ve had residencies at both Rocky Mountain and Acadia national parks, and I think the smaller scale (and crowds) of the state park will be a refreshing change. And of course there is still a lot about the specifics that I don’t know. We’ll get a cabin in the park for 2 weeks, and there will be at least 1 educational program in there somewhere, but aside from that, there’s still much to be discovered. Exciting times!
One of those things to be learned is much more about what the park has to offer. One interesting thing that I already know is that the presidential retreat Camp David is inside the boundaries of the park. Crazy! Aside from that, lots of a Appalachian goodness to explore, but I’m sure I’ll earn more as we get closer.
I’m in the absolute final stages of production for the image I’ll be sharing with Acadia National Park. I was hoping to do another social media post through the park’s feed like I did with Rocky Mountain, but they told me they just lost their local social media person, so they couldn’t make it happen. Oh well, better luck next time.
All that to say, it has been a process just getting to this point. I am a huge fan of the software I use for image editing, Adobe Lightroom, but I’ve recently realized something rather profound. Despite being an awesome image editing software and photography workflow tool, it can’t make up for my personal flaws.
Lightroom is an awesome organizational tool, but I have to be the one to set up and use my organizational system. It is an incredible editing tool, but only I can invest the time in perfecting my images (and sometimes more importantly, deciding which images not to edit). Sigh… some days I become painfully aware of my own limits and blind spots.
But still, it is often moments like this that offer some clarity. They allow some introspection that solidify or reframe why I am doing what I’m doing. It’s never fun coming to this place, but it is always worth walking through it.
I’ve been home for a week and a half now, after spending 2 weeks in the park. It’s hard to admit to reality after you’ve had the opportunity of living in an ideal place. I’ve been so busy getting back into the regular flow of work and teaching that I have not edited a single image on my camera yet.
However, I have been editing and posting a lot of the images I took with my phone, and I’ve been very pleased with how they came out. Iphones are truly amazing devices, and pairing them with a little photography ingenuity and know-how can yield some incredible results. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my phone as a camera because I definitely shoot a different kind of image with it than with my dslr. It’s the same reason that I like shooting with large format cameras or pinhole cameras; the device itself causes me to shoot different images.
So if you haven’t seen any of my instagram shots, you can find me @bpanter. Now as I find time I’ll start editing my dslr shots, the plus side of which is that I get to re-live the whole experience again and again.