Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.
– Hermann Hesse

Is it really the end of another year? Already? A lot has been said about this year. The bottom line seems to be, life goes on. I’m pretty sure none of us signed a contract stating our lives would always be good. I actually would not sign something like that anyway. Just how good is good anyway? What’s the point of good if there is not bad to note the difference? 

For the past many years I have understood the age-old proposition that one learns more from mistakes than success.  Not that any given year is a mistake or a success. Every day holds the opportunity for both. I am not able to sum up an entire year into one word or one feeling. All I know is that I am happy and fortunate to have been able to walk the earth in 2020. I hope everyone has at least a little of that sentiment.  

December is now ready to close as I write this. I have found myself with many new ideas that are transforming into plans. I have not spent a large amount of time out in nature photographing the early winter landscape. I have been out a handful of times, but most were times of relaxation and personal enjoyment. A few pictures have been made, but December has been a low month for additions to the lightroom catalog. That’s okay, pictures taken or not every moment has been worthwhile. 

I have mentioned previously about some wintertime camping plans. Those plans have not faded and are still high on my “to do soon” list”. Besides the holidays the past couple of weeks and all that entails I have had to take a few days and perform what I have been calling my 60,000-mile checkup. To be precise it has been my 60-year checkup. The first week of December I turned 60 years of age. It was really just another day, but supposedly I was born 60 years previously on said day. I don’t really remember, but that is what I have always been told. 

I had planned to do this checkup for some time. Because, well, to be honest, I just don’t go to see a doctor very often. You know the old saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But now, at 60 I realize some things may be overdue for being checked out. Being in the troubleshooting and repair field for over 35 years I know the benefits of some preventive maintenance. I was overdue for some myself. 

A little general health maintenance, dental maintenance, and vision maintenance took some time from my normal routine that past few weeks. The most surprising was to find I had a partially detached retina. Like, what? I had not been to an optometrist for oh at least 20 years. I don’t and never have worn glasses (and don’t plan to) so when the doc started telling me what we were looking at I thought, hmm didn’t expect that. 

Evidently, this partially detached retina thing was not something that has happened anytime recently. He said it could have happened 20 years ago or more. Obviously, I have not had any issue that would make me think there was anything like that wrong. 

To make a long story short, the day I saw the optometrist he made an appointment for me with a retina specialist about an hour’s drive away. Here is the part that kind of amazes me. I drove an hour to the big city, by myself, had some laser eye surgery done to, as the retina doc put it, spot weld the retina down so it doesn’t move anymore, and then drove an hour back home. This all took place two days ago. Now all seems good. I knew some things had advanced in the field of medicine and technology in the last 20 years, but it still amazed me, to say the least. 

Okay, this has to be boring as heck, I don’t even like writing about it, but it is part of my monthly insight. Ha, insight, get it! Oh yeah, I got a crown on a tooth as well! Now I just need to determine if I really “need” to get a shingles vaccination. That’s all I’m going to say about “vaccinations”. And kind of sorry I just did.

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
– Henry Ford

Now for some more interesting stuff. I have been doing a lot of printing lately. Running the heck out of my Canon Pro 10 printer. I find printing photographs tremendous fun that provides loads of enjoyment. There are a few motives for me spending time printing besides the enjoyment. 

Anyone who frequents this website knows about the prints I offer for sale. From small to large and in various formats. Prints on paper, canvas, plaque mounts, and acrylic mounts. Nearly all prints that have been sold for years have been produced by a few outsourced printers. These are printmakers that I have come to trust and know will produce the prints, regardless of the format that will meet the standards I have set. That being, the best I can possibly provide.

This will still be the case for the time being. Offering various styles and formats of large prints will not go away. Truth is, whenever I outsource a print to be produced by a 3rd party printer I always feel like I am missing out on something. That being the printing part. There also is a little part of me that worries the print I get will not be quite as good as I had hoped. This is rarely the case, but it can happen. There have only been a few times over the years that I have had to have a print reprinted due to something not quite as I had wanted. This has always been due to something on my end. Things like, colors being slightly different from what I prepared and seen on my computer screen. Or sharpness being too much or not enough. 

These are things that can not be verified until you actually see the final print. Then, if something needs to be redone the only option is to reorder and wait. This is why I have religiously stuck with print producers that consistently produce the highest quality of prints. I am not one to find the cheaper option. When it comes to the prints I produce for customers quality is the one and the only thing I consider. 

I have made some plans for not only the new year but for some print option additions that I will be offering. In a nutshell, in the very near future, you will be seeing “Special Edition Prints” starting to come into existence. These offerings will be prints that I will personally print. I have and do print sizes up to 12×18 inches myself when they are to be on paper. The plan moving forward is to kick this up a notch or two so as to provide exceptional quality “plus” prints on paper. Not only up to 12×18 inch, which is the largest “standard” size I can print on the Canon Pro 10 printer, but to also offer panoramic format prints on paper up to 24 inches in length. Which I have been testing with success as well. The Canon Pro 10 is a 13-inch wide printer but can print a maximum length of 24 inches. 

The “plus” I just mentioned will be an addition to the print itself. With each print, there will be the “Photographic Story”. A short few paragraphs of additional information about the print and my experience in capturing the image. This will be provided along with the print itself in printed format.

This may seem all well and good, but there has been a tremendous amount of time put into this. The quality of prints has never been a question. The Pro 10 is an exceptional fine art printer. The only limitation obviously is its size limits. Time has therefore been spent testing papers. I have set some standards for what I am willing to offer. The most important being, prints will only be offered on true fine art, museum-quality, archival papers. This means a paper that is cotton and or fiber-based with no oba’s (optical brightening agents). Which has lead me to choose matte paper. There are a couple of satin finish papers that meet these specs, but I want to find the one fine art paper of the highest quality and then go about rigorously perfecting the printing on that paper.

This is a tip I recently learned about from Joe Cornish. He believes one should choose their media carefully then live with it and learn how to make it the best according to its characteristics. Only then can you determine what needs improving upon. Jumping from one type or manufactures paper to the next is simply chasing your tail. I have no doubt that it will take dozens if not many dozens of prints to get to know the exquisite characteristics of any given paper.

So fine art matte paper it will be. Matte papers of this quality are beautiful papers, not only in visual appearance but in physical handling as well. They just feel nice. Now, with that, there are many to chose from. I again have to make some decisions. My paper(s) of choice need to be readily available in the sizes I am needing and not so outrageously expensive that it makes them unappealing in the cost to quality aspect. Papers in the 13×19 inch size are somewhat common now. Papers in a 13 inch by longer than 19 inch are not.

Currently, I know of only one paper manufacturer that produces this type of fine art paper in this unique size. Red River Paper manufactures their Aurora Fine Art Natura paper in a 13×38 inch size. The largest I will be able to print will be 12×24 inches, but this paper meets the specifications in allowing me to do that. There is always the option to use larger paper and cut it to my specific size needed. That said, custom cutting of paper will be necessary for certain prints. But it would be nice to limit the need for cutting if possible. Just one more step that could cause issues. Note I say 12 inches as a maximum print width instead of 13 inches. This is due to an unprinted border that is needed for any print. Allowing handling as well as matting. 

I have been testing some papers that meet all my criteria for prints up to 18 inches in length. To date this has been; Canon Premium Fine Art Smooth, Canson Rag Photographique, Red River Aurora Fine Art Natural, Breathing Color Pura Smooth, and Moab Entrada Rag Natural. I have to stop at some point or testing papers would become a full-time endeavor. And a dang expensive one!

A few more decisions must be made before these offerings will be made available here on the website. I am confident this will take place no later than the end of January. They will roll out slowly with a few prints being added every few weeks or so. These will by no means be as plentiful as what you find in the gallery at present. I will be choosing specific images for printing that I personally feel are worthy of the special edition classification. So keep a lookout for “Special Edition Prints”. There will be more specific information about these as they become available.

I may be approaching the “rambling on” stage of this post. It might be best if I wrap this up for now. I just heard the weather forecast and it is calling for 4-5 inches of SNOW beginning around 3am. Which is just over 7 hours away! Yipee!!! I will need to turn in a little early tonight with hopes of a day exploring a snowy landscape tomorrow. The southern areas of the Kansas Flint Hills may receive a bit more. I have been missing the Flint Hills the past couple of months so this may be a wonderful excuse to spend the better part of a day reconnecting with my beloved homelands.

I will leave you all with one final thought. Life is tough at times because it is supposed to be. You are supposed to be strong and you need resistance to build that strength. In your mind, body, and soul. So never stop fighting for what you know is right, honorable, and just. 

As with photography, it is not about the photograph, but rather the journey you experience in the search. Life too is not about the end, but the courage you gain from continuing the journey.

Stay strong my friends. May you have a tremendously Happy and Prosperous New Year!

We acquire the strength we have overcome.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

winter landscape photography in the prairies