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2018 has been a year of excitement

It’s hard to believe we’ve made another trip around the sun. As I look back at the year that has gone by I realize how fortunate I am. It all starts with my wife Robin, the rock of my life from which everything emanates. Without her at my side my life would suck. I appreciate her love, caring, support, intelligence and wackiness. 

I am always grateful for having good health. Everything isn’t perfect, I ache much more than when I was younger, I don’t have the stamina I once had but I’m not going to complain to anyone other than Robin. Both of us get fast irregular heart beats known as AFib which won’t kill you but is irritating and can zap your energy. We both had ablation procedures this year to stop the AFib and it has worked great. 

Professionally 2018 was a banner year. I am focused more intently on photography workshops and getting away from doing as many art shows. I only did about 10 shows this year and I’m doing less next year. Art shows are tough, both mentally and physically, you never know if you are going to hit a home run or strike out. The worst part is to make a true living on art shows you have to travel to where the good ones are and that means too much time away from home. Last year I did 24 shows, many times leaving on Thursday and coming back late Sunday or on Monday. That isn’t the life style I want to lead.

Leading photography workshops requires a great deal of travel also, especially the long foreign trips, but it turns out I was home more days this year than last year. My first trip of 2018 was to Iceland in March and it was so successful that I planned another trip in July. It sold out in two days so I added another trip in August. It sold out quickly also and I could have filled another one but then I’d be on the road too much. Iceland is a beautiful place, I’m going back twice in 2019, in February and again in August. It is a little hard to describe Iceland but I love visual simplicity and the landscapes there are fairly treeless but it doesn’t look barren.

Besides the two Iceland trips I’ll be going to Italy twice for workshops in 2019. I’ll be in Venice in March during Carnival and then in Tuscany in May while the fields are filled with red poppies. Italy is always an exciting place to go and I really look forward to it.

Earlier this month I made a quick trip to southern Chile, if there is such a thing as a quick trip. With all the connecting flights it took about 24 hours to get to my destination of Pucon. That part of Chile is the beautiful lake region, which is at the edge of the Andes Mountains and is dominated by an active volcano that always has steam billowing out. Like Iceland, the volcanic activity creates many hot springs and amazing landscapes but unlike Iceland there are lots of trees, many of them massive. I went to this part of Chile because there will be a total solar eclipse there in December of 2020 and I wanted to scout locations for a workshop then. I can tell you now that is going to be an unforgettable trip. I’ll be heading to a different part of Chile for an eclipse in July, that will be exciting too.

One of my favorite places in the U.S. is Acadia National Park in Maine. Summer there is packed with tourists so I like to do a workshop in June before the place fills up with people. One of the great things of Acadia is sunrise on the rocky coast, it can be spectacular. But being that far north in June means the sun comes up mighty early. Getting up around 4 a.m. each day is tough but always worth the effort. I give the group a couple of hours off during the day to catch a nap before going back out for sunset. It is always a fun trip.

But of course my favorite place is Vermont, Robin and I have a house in Woodstock, one of the prettiest towns in New England. Vermont is a special place, the people are down to earth, everyone drives the speed limit and there are no billboards. Everything adds up to a different lifestyle that is more relaxed. My Vermont Winter Wonderland workshop is always lots of fun even with the brutal cold the first night. I did a astrophotography in August and it was absolutely great. We had the bonus of the International Space Station flying over each night and that added something special to standing out in a field and seeing the billions of stars. Fall foliage in Vermont is always special and this year was no different. Not only are the leaves great but I get people from all over coming, this year from Amsterdam, Ecuador, Los Angeles, Seattle, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. Of course I’ll be doing all those workshops again in 2019.

My big investment for 2018 was buying a 12 passenger Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter van for workshops. It is great being able to have everyone together as we travel between locations. It has enabled me to do excursions into New York City and offer people an easy way to get around. Fellow photographer and friend Ron Lake has been my NYC driver so I can be with the group while he finds a place to park the van. It has been a lot of fun and I’ll be doing several more New York trips in 2019 along with other places including Philadelphia and Washington, DC. 

2018 was my 40th year as a professional photographer. I started working full time at the city newspaper in Muncie, IN, during my junior year at Ball State University. It has taken me to places I never dreamed of going, met people I would never have me and been to events that I couldn’t have imagined. I got a lovely Christmas card from my cousin Carol noting my travel this year and she pointed out that I gone a long way from my little hometown of Spencerville. I’m amazed that I went from Iceland to southern Chile this year but I’ve not gone far from the values I learned from my parents, family and friends back in that little town of 300 people. 

I have put together a gallery of some of my favorite photos from 2018, which is below. Click on a photo to be taken to a larger version where you can click on arrows on the right or left to scroll through the photos. If you click on the little “i” in the lower left you’ll see where the photos were made.

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