Delivered to You

As with most things in life, finishing up my Catoctin ebook took a little longer than expected. But now, I am happy to say that it is available through the Amazon Kindle store! I’m always amazed at how these books turn out. It has been such a helpful project for me to process my experiences over the years. Oh, and if you have Kindle unlimited, it’s yours for free, so check it out!

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And for those of you who have been following me for a while and are on my email list, I’ll be sending you a free copy of this ebook soon. How do you get on this list, you may ask? Just head to benpanter.com and subscribe to the monthly newsletter by putting in your email. It’s as simple as that.

So that took longer than planned, but the good news is that in the process, I was able to get my print store up and running. I have prints of my final 12 images from Catoctin available to purchase at several sizes, from 8×12 to 24×36 inches.

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Getting this store set up was an adventure in frustration all on its own. I had only recently started using Crated.com as my print store after my last residency. I go to log in to upload my Catoctin images and find out they have since shut down with very little warning! So I searched and searched and searched some more for another high quality print fulfillment service and online store…. and after many hours of finding dead ends I arrived at my current solution. I won’t say there aren’t quirks to it, but I think it will serve me well for the foreseeable future.

I’ve also been able to move over my Acadia Residency images to this new platform, so they are available for purchase as well. And soon, hopefully I will have Rocky Mountain, Toronto and Ireland images available as well. That is my fall goal. In the mean time, check out all the prints that are available. I’m really proud of them.

And of course, if you’re interested in seeing my work but don’t want to buy a print right now, just head over to my website and see my most recent work from Catoctin. Hopefully it will be enough to inspire a trip of your own to that park.

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The Journey’s End – Saying Goodbye to Catoctin

And we’re back home! Another adventure is in the books and it is time to get back to our semi-normal lives. It has once again been an incredible experience of being able to slowly explore everything Catoctin Mountain Park has to offer. This time more that any other residency has literally been at a child’s pace the entire time, meaning we spent a lot of time contemplating the little wonders along each path. Hopefully my photos were imbued with some of that sense.

The last couple days of our stay were a little on the rainy side, so we had to pick and choose our outing around storms, but we still managed to get in a lot of fishing and photography. Below are some spots we encountered just a few hours before driving home. I was especially happy to find an unsuspecting fly fisherman trying his luck along the stream since that is what it has been especially reserved for.

And so now I enter editing mode, looking through all the shots I captured. Of course I’ll be looking for the stand out images I can turn into prints, but I’ll also be searching for a narrative thread around which I can begin to create a book about this park and my experience.

Big Hikes and Little Streams

We’ve continued our adventures in Catoctin Mountain Park with great gusto! Melissa and Flint were here for the long weekend, but after they left it was up to Jed and I to explore the rest on our own. Yesterday we did a hike up to Cat Rock, which is actually in Cunningham Falls State Park. It was a lot of up for Jed, but he powered through and made it all the way to the top for our lunch. And there we were met with a few surprises. First, lots of millipedes, probably 4 to 5 inches each. I also managed to get close to one of the skinks, which normally run away so fast that they just look like a little brown and blue blur. But most exciting of all was this guy:

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Those of you who are up on your snake species will recognize this as a Copperhead, one of the two venomous snakes in the park (the other is a pine rattler). This was a very young one, probably just 14-16 inches long, and fortunately he didn’t move the whole time we were there, which was fine with us!

Jed and I have also been spending a little time on Big Hunting Creek. Jed’s been tossing in a line and I’ve been wandering the shoreline, searching for the right photos. I really think that these quiet wetland creeks are coming to define the park for me. Sure, it has some nice hikes to high lookouts, but it seems like the core experiences of the park are nestled in these valleys. At least that is where I have found the most life and peace.

So, we’re wrapping up our trip soon. I plan on visiting a few more of my favorite spots again between rain showers (the sun decided to hide in our last few days here) and then it will be back to home. I’m including a few shots below that I’m liking right now, with some simple edits tied out on them. It probably isn’t how they’ll end up, but at least you can see some of my experimentation in process.

Rest at the Edge

Last night I got the chance to hike up to Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock by myself while Melissa watched the boys after dinner. I took the much steeper trail than what Jed and I had taken earlier to Wolf Rock, but it was more direct. It was slightly strenuous, but it was nice to be completely alone. In fact, I only saw 4 other hikers the whole time, and they were all leaving the trail just as I was starting up.

I revisited Wolf Rock, this time approaching from a different angle, getting much closer to the “wolf” itself. I can definitely see how it got its name. I think if I were in to climbing, I would have been tempted to climb it or one of the many other places along that ridge.

Then I proceeded on to Chimney Rock. It has probably the best view of the park and consists of several tall rocks protruding out on a high ridge. It was great to have time to slowly explore my way around the rocks and figure out a way to the top. I found that I had to navigate through a narrow cut through the rock in order to get to the very edge. Once there I kicked back and enjoyed a little time at the edge, looking over the whole mountain and valley. Below I shared a few photos snapped with my phone along the way.

Catoctin Excitement on the Weekend

We have been keeping busy! Jed and I have been hiking and fishing every day, slowly but surely reaching all corners of the park. And now Melissa and Flint are here for a long weekend of even more hiking, camping, art and of course, s’mores. I’ll just share a few images I’ve been making because it’s time to fix dinner and the trails are calling my name!

Experimental Directions

I’m writing this on Wednesday evening, sitting in the library and soaking in the cool after a hot day (90!). Jed and I have managed to explore a lot of the park and despite some scrapes and bruises, he’s powered through and done an awesome job (next time you see him you should tell him so). Today we even did the Wolf Rock hike. It’s not too far in terms of mileage (3 miles round trip), but there is significant elevation gain and lots of rocky, uneven terrain. I didn’t get the chance to edit any of those photos yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to post them later.

Now I’m at the point where it would be helpful to decide what type of imagery I want to focus on for the park. That will help my decision making process for what I hike to much easier. So, I’ll share with you 1 style of editing I’ve been trying out. One feature of Catoctin that has jumped out is the vibrant green everywhere. I’m not sure if it is always like that or if it’s just the time of year, but the leaves, grass and every plant in between seems to be the same shade of bright yellow-green. So much so that it’s almost overwhelming in color photos. So I’ve been experimenting with a digital process that emulates black and white infrared photography. Now, to any purists out there, it’s probably not even close to the real thing, but if I view it not as emulation but rather just one more possibility for how I process a digital image, then I’m fine with the results. So, I’ll post some samples below. Let me know what you think.

Little Explorations in Catoctin

We’re now full tilt exploring Catoctin. Yesterday we hiked to Cunningham Falls. Melissa carried Flint, I carried all the camera stuff and Jed blazed the trail. The falls were impressive, but since it was a weekend it was pretty crowded. I think Jed and I will take an alternate route there another day this week.

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Blue Blazes Whiskey Still trail

Melissa and Flint headed back home last night because she’s still working, but she’ll be back for a long weekend next week. This morning Jed and I went to Hunting Creek Lake and he fished for a little (but came up empty). Then we explored a little of the William Houck Campground and the surrounding area before heading home. In the afternoon we hiked the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still trail, which is where I’ll be leading my photography walk later next week. It’s just an easy trail meandering along a gentle stream, but I’m looking forward to the walking tour I’ll be delivering to hopefully inspire some budding photographers.

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William Houck Recreation Area

Last, I thought I should mention all the wildlife we’ve seen so far. Nothing huge, but lots of variety for only a couple days. In no particular order: Pileated Woodpecker, Baltimore Oriel, Eastern Milksnake, a giant millipede, and then of course frogs, trout and a salamander. Hopefully there is more yet to come!

Arrived in Catoctin!

We’re here!

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.

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The forest struck us as an incredible shade of yellow green.

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.

Off to more fun!

Another Adventure Begun

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.

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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.

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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.