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Field Notes: Map Check 2023

By Erik Hogan

At the beginning of 2023 my main outlet for sharing my photography was Instagram. These posts were re-shared on Facebook and I also tried some other social platforms such as Vero and 500px. I had varying degrees of success and some larger accounts occasionally shared a few of my photos.

We didn’t get any snow this year, but January started out chilly and foggy. I was at work on New Years Day and found both of these scenes.

On February 3 I went waterfall chasing with in South Carolina. I just bought a 10 stop ND filter for my main lens and experimented taking some very long exposures. These are Yellowbranch Falls and ‘The Veil’ at Brasstown Falls in the Sumter National Forest.

February 23 I discovered some blooming bloodroot at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

On March 7 I took a great image of the setting full worm moon. Unfortunately, I tried to focus stack the shot and there was a slight breeze that caused the daffodil to move slightly, resulting in an unfocused blur around the edge of the flower that I could not eliminate. Lesson learned.

March 10 I had a chance close encounter with an owl, which I wrote about in Field Notes XXXI.

Dyar’s Pasture is a interesting wetland area about 30 minutes South of Athens, Ga. I’ve been there several times, and when I visited on March 18 I took this long exposure showing the clouds moving across the morning sky.

The Tallulah Gorge is a massive canyon in Northeast Georgia, cradling the Tallulah River. The river is now controlled by a dam owned by Georgia Power, which periodically releases the water flow for kayakers or just for aesthetic reasons. April 1 was the first water release this year and I was there to catch some kayakers with my long lens.

I then went waterfall chasing again on April 19. This time it was to Raven Cliff Falls in North Georgia. This was a great location because there are several waterfalls to photograph along the Dodd Creek. I later wrote about the details of taking the photo at Raven Cliff Falls in Field Notes I and then published the adventure story of the trip in Field Notes XIII.

May 4 I went on my first backpacking trip of the year. I was hoping to find some blooming Catawba rhododendrons, but the location that I chose at Green Knob in the Middle Prong Wilderness of Western North Carolina was too high elevation this early in the year. I later wrote about the challenges of this trip in Field Notes III and published the adventure story of the trip in Field Notes XXXIV.

It was in late April and early May that I was becoming very disillusioned with social media. The experience was very shallow and seemed to be going nowhere. My images have been physically challenging to obtain and have taken a lot of work to process, not to mention the uncountable hours I’ve spent trying to learn how to do all of this. I would then post them on Instagram, for them to be seen for half a day before they vanished into the ether of cyberspace.

I believed I could do more and had the idea of writing essays to accompany my photos. I created Field Notes with my and sent out my first issue on May 9. Additionally, I set a goal to try to go on a 1 to 2 night backpacking trip once a month.

I was determined to photograph the Catawba rhododendrons, so June 6 - 8 I backpacked the Shining Rock Wilderness, North Carolina. It was still a little early in the high elevation, but I found some dang flowers! Field Notes VI and Field Notes VII. Field Notes was still new and, looking back, I believe I was trying to make these posts a behind the scenes look at my trips. I was saving my best photos for my portfolio site or social media, and I hadn’t really embraced the creative writing ‘adventure story’ format yet.

July 12 was an overnight trip to the Cohutta Wilderness in Northwest Georgia. This one had a huge number of crossings of the Conasauga River. The water was a relief from the mid summer heat, but the final climb to the top of Panther Creek was crushingly hot and humid. Field Notes XIand Field Notes XII.

August 22 I sought elevation as a relief from the summer temps. This was a 2 night trip to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area, Western North Carolina. This was another very tough trip. It hadn’t rained in a long time, so I tried to conserve water. This resulted in major cramps in my legs on day 1. The air was also very hazy on this trip due to massive wildfires in Canada. Field Notes XVIII,

Field Notes XIX, and Field Notes XX. In these issues I began to fully express the ‘adventure story,’ which I experience as the voice of Anthony Bourdain narrating the journey in my mind.

I planned a return trip to Shining Rock on October 25. I would follow a loop in the Southern portion of the wilderness, parts of which I hadn’t been to before. Just a few days before, I received some devastating news about my Mom’s health. It almost cancelled my trip and I wrestled with the knowledge this entire time. Field Notes XXVII, Field Notes XXVIII, Field Notes XXIX, and Shining Rock Film.

And so came November and December. Multiple factors came together to prevent me from going on another backpacking trip this year. Most of this was a very tight schedule, but I also wasn’t confident in how my cold weather gear would handle a cold snap in the mountains.

At this point I realized that I enjoy the writing process much more than I ever expected. It occurred to me that for the past 16 or more years a large portion of my job has been writing stories about events that happen to other people. Now that I turned that writing experience back towards my own interests, I re-awakened an idea of being a writer that led me to get my college degree in English Lit back in the late 1990’s.

So, for these couple of months were I didn’t travel, I focused on some creative writing experiments and made some interesting local photos of Athens, Georgia nature.

As 2023 draws to a close I am looking at the trails ahead. All I can think is that this journey has barely even begun and I’m ready to see what’s over the next ridge!

I cannot emphasize enough how excited I am to have you along for these journeys! My goal through my photography, writing, and film is to show how profoundly stunning the natural world is. It exists right outside all of our doors, and I hope that I’ve inspired you to seek it.

Erik Hogan is a photographer who primarily shoots landscape, wilderness, and nature scenes in the Athens area.

Follow on Instagram @erikhoganphotography Erik's sketchbook includes a look behind the scenes, with an option to purchase a limited number of prints through the link in his bio. htttps://

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The natural scenery is majestic geometry dash online


Jan 01

Your photographs are amazing.

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