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.

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.

Adventure on the Near Horizon

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.

And one other side note, this week both Melissa and I are in a Handmade Prints show at the Markeim Arts Center in Haddonfield. I got a couple large cyanotypes in and Melissa got 3 lino prints in. Fun, fun!

Embracing Being Back

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.

My Instagram Simple

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.

At Home Down East

After about a week of meandering around the peninsula, I’m starting to get into the rhythm of this very special place. I’ve seen some spectacular sunrises and even more colorful sunsets, as well as walked silent under the stars. 

I really can’t say enough good things about the lesser traveled, Schoodic Peninsula. I’m no expert on what Mt. Desert Island holds (though we did take a day trip to explore the main loop and we plan on heading back a couple times at least), but I am extremely content with everything I am discovering right here by our home. It’s got rocky shoreline, wave-smoothed granite rocks, dramatic cliffs and a variety of forest types. In fact, the only thing I’ve noticed it is lacking is all the people. For me, this seclusion and sense of remoteness is the perfect environment.

This morning I woke up an hour before dawn and headed over to one of the boulder beaches for sunrise photos. The sky was lit with dramatic pinks, peaches and oranges, all mixing with the early morning twilight blues. As the sun peaked over the horizon the orange glow lit the rounded stone beach and the nearby cliffs, bathing them in fiery light. It’s never fun to have my alarm go off that early, but the results are worth it.

Good Morning from Acadia

We made it here at 2:45 yesterday afternoon, in just about 11 hours of travel, which isn’t bad considering a 4 year old and a 8 month old. We set up our home base for the next couple weeks in our apartment at the Schoodic Institute and then headed down to Schoodic Point to watch the waves crash. It’s a mesmerizing place and there is so much to explore in and amongst the rocky shoreline.

Our apartment is cozy and perfect. It’s got a small kitchen and dining area, a living room (where Jed is sleeping) and of course a bedroom. It’s just the kind of place to drink hot cups of tea or coffee in the mornings before we head out for the day, and to kick back and rest with a cup of hot chocolate after a full day of exploring.

My first impressions of the landscape? There are a lot of similarities to the Burren in Ireland. The juxtaposition of water and rock in this northern climate is striking in both locations. However, there are some key differences too that I think will make it even more fun to explore. The Maine stone has a lot more color to it, pinks and greens and blues. Also, the scrubby pine forest is pushed up as close as it can be to the water, whereas in Ireland, there were really no trees to speak of near the water’s edge. All this to say, it has many of the great things that keep me daydreaming about Ireland, plus some nuances of its own. I can’t wait to get hiking.

The (sort of) Calm before the Storm

These last few weeks have been sort of calm. I’ve been compiling my classes for the upcoming semester every night for a couple hours and doing some preliminary planning for my residency. But tomorrow, the semester starts for real and today I just got some news that is going to keep me a lot busier.

This semester, I’m listed to teach 6 classes for 2 different schools. 4 of those classes I’ve never taught before (2 of which, I developed). So that has led to quite a lot of prep work leading up to this semester. However, it looked like 1 or possibly 2 of those classes would not be running. That’s fine, that’s why I’m listed on so many. But today, I found out that those last 2 classes did indeed get enough students to run, so I’ll be teaching an incredibly full load of 6 classes, for 2 schools, at 4 different locations and 1 online. (For those of you keeping track, a typical “full load” for a full time professor is 2-3 classes).

So now, I’m feeling overwhelmed but blessed, because I know there are too many out there in higher ed that weren’t as fortunate with their classes running. Time to take a deep breath before I dive in. Something tells me it’s going to be a wild ride.

A short update on my game: Park Trails

I just received a small order of my Park Trails card game that I am now sending off to some reviewers and vendors. We’ve also contacted some local stores in Collingswood and Haddonfield, and they’re very interested in carrying it on their shelves. Hopefully we can get some wheels turning before Christmas. We’ll see.

The Road to Acadia

So if you look at the map, the part that most people associate with Acadia National Park is the large center island called Mount Desert Island. Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, and all the classic calendar shots are on that island. However, that is not primarily where I’ll be. The Schoodic Peninsula is that little spot of green over to the east, just below Winter Harbor. We’ll be staying at the very southern tip of that peninsula (schoodic point), walking distance from the waves crashing on granite shores. I’m sure we’ll make several day trips over to the main island, but it isn’t really my goal to recreate all the iconic Acadia shots, so I’m not really that concerned. There will be plenty to explore on schoodic (and several Maine locals have recently told me that’s there favorite spot in the park!)

The other spot I would like to explore, though I’m not sure if it’ll happen, is down to the far southwest, Isle au Haut. It is by far the most remote and least visited portion of the park, which makes it inherently interesting to me. But getting there is a bit of a pain (couple hours in a car and then a ferry), and honestly if I’m going to make the trip I’d like to stay over night to get more shooting in. However, there are only 5 camping spots on the island (no b & b for me), and they require reservation. I’m hoping there aren’t any major weather issues on my trip, but there could be a hurricane, so I’m not really too keen to reserve something just yet. I think I’ll just bring the basic camping gear and ask about availability when I get there.


Countdown to Acadia 2

So, I’m about a month out from heading to Acadia for a couple weeks for the artist residency. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. For so long it has been that thing that will be happening in a long time and recently I’ve been so focused on getting all my classes up and running for the start of the semester that I haven’t really had much time to think or plan. I’m sure once the semester starts I won’t have any extra time, so it’ll probably only sink in once I’ve actually started driving north.

There is one thing I’ve been mulling over a little though, and that is the question: how mobile am I going to be? Am I going to be traversing the whole park, hitting every hot spot at the golden hours? Or am I going to stay stationary as much as possible, and settle into the landscape directly around the Schoodic Institute?

I think my residency time in Ireland taught me to really appreciate a slower pace of creating. I was there for a month and didn’t have a car. All my favorite work that I created was walking distance from where I was living. The same was true in Toronto.

In Rocky Mountain I did travel more. I think I was trying find deeper wilderness areas where there were very few or no other people. I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish in my time there, but it had a very different quality than the other two. More hurried, less contemplative.

So, it’s clear which way I’m leaning right now. Staying close to home, really spending time in slow, careful observation. But at the same time, I feel compelled to go and see the most iconic sights. You know, the ones that have been shot a million times before from all different angles in every feasible lighting scenario. So yes, I want to see them, but realistically, what am I going to do that looks significantly different than the thousands of shots that already exist? 

Yes, I’ll visit those locations, but I’m not going to make it my focus. I will move slow, observe details and respond to the space that is closest to me, in order to make work that is most in tune with the park itself.

And on a final note, I am running a small pre-order of a few select items that I’ll be producing during the residency. Click here to take a look and find something you’d like to order.

Countdown to Acadia

As the summer starts to draw to a close, it is suddenly dawning on me… this residency in Acadia National Park is now rapidly approaching! When I first found out I had been selected it seemed like it was so far away, but now I’m realizing it’s time to start making real plans.

Part of this realization of course is that I also need to get everything squared away with the classes I teach for the time I’m away. I’ve begun laying out my fall semester courses, and now it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps and planning out the details of each lesson. It is going to be an exceedingly busy fall for me, so planning is of the utmost importance.

And I can feel that I’m starting to get excited…. and a little nervous. Nervous in a good way I guess. I’m simply trying to figure out my plan of attack, but at the same time, I keep being reminded that there is so much I don’t know about the park that it’s hard to plan ahead much. There are a few big items and locations I simply must visit, but that more answers the question of where I’ll be going, which is almost secondary to what I’ll be doing. 

I’ll definitely have my digital gear with me, but I’d like to bring some kind of film gear too, and some video equipment, possibly some audio stuff, and recently I’ve been dreaming about doing some printmaking (huh??). And knowing me, I’ll just bring it all and see what happens. So yes, I’m getting excited for the sights, sounds and experience of the park.

And, on a related note to getting prepared, I’ve just published a pre-order that allows anyone to pre-order some of my work from the residency. There’s several options and prices to choose from, so check it out and see if there’s anything you’ve got to have.

Goin’ Someplace Special Project

This semester, on top of teaching two classes at RCBC (Intro to Art and Photo 101), I had another opportunity to do a teaching residency through Rutgers – Camden Center for the Arts. For 9 weeks, once a week I’ve been visiting 4 3rd grade classrooms in a Camden charter school. Whenever I get an opportunity like this, I always want to lead the kids in a project that they would never be able to do if I wasn’t visiting, and since my wife is a k-3 art teacher, I have a pretty good idea of the range of projects that elementary students typically accomplish.
So, the project I led them in was a 3 color reduction print-making project of their self portraits. Week by week I led each student through the process. Some of the steps are fairly advanced for 3rd graders to be doing together in a group setting, but I think the final results are awesome. To finish it off, I digitized each of their prints and combined them into a 3×13 foot banner displaying every student that did the project. The text, “we are going someplace special” relates to the book that went along with this project “Goin’ Someplace Special”.
I’m proud of these students for sticking with it even when it got tough and I think this banner will make for a great addition to the school.

Below I’m including some of the best individual prints.