Nature photographers love to get an up close look at Mother Earth, and visitors to Fontenelle Forest can get a closer look at some photography by locals thanks to a new exhibit.
“Natural Exposure,” the exhibit on display at Fontenelle’s Baright Gallery, features photos taken by members of the forest’s photography club.
The Fontenelle Forest Photography Club started in 1986 when a naturalist at the forest got together with the head ranger and decided to start a camera club.
Members of the club say the intention of the club is to help members learn how to be a better photographer, but not necessarily to have their photos overly critiqued since members come with a broad range of expertise. Some are professional photographers while others may just want to take better pictures of their grandchildren.
“We all have a really good time looking at each other’s pictures and commenting on them, but most of us really would like to get a little bit better,” said Kathleen Crawford-Rose, who along with her husband and about 10 others was a founding member of the club.
There is one judged contest in June each year, and the group also has themed photos on display every month at Bellevue University. Those themes can be concepts as simple as “blue” or have to feature glass.
Crawford-Rose developed an interest in photography at an early age when someone gave her a Kodak Brownie box camera. She said right now she is into underwater photography, but she is most proud of a closeup of a flower she took several years ago.
It’s on display in her home.
Jay Davis, a professional photographer who is president of the photography club, said many of the newer members of the club are drawn to nature photography because technology has made the hobby more accessible. Cameras are easier to operate, and when using film each shot had to count while newer digital photo storage allows the photographer to take thousands of photos.
“Photography has become an everybody sport with the advent of cameras that are pretty easy to use,” he said.
“So they get satisfaction out of doing an art form that doesn’t require much more than your eyes and a little bit of computer skill.”
The club also brings in guest speakers who talk about things like different techniques and how best to use an iPhone.
Crawford-Rose said, “Everything has changed. It’s just not the same world at all.”
Listening to members talk about their favorite shots is always a treat, Davis said.
“When they talk about how they got their image it’s usually over the top,” he said. “Myself personally, I just sit back and smile and I find that to be very rewarding.”
Any member of Fontenelle Forest can join the photography club.
Fontenelle Forest’s mission is to inspire current and future generations to care for the natural world, Executive Director Merica Whitehall said, and the photography club and its work can help people see nature in a different light.
She pointed out a photo in the “Natural Exposures” exhibit of a tree frog with brilliant colors as an example.
“For a photographer to take the time to find that creature and then to get so close and take such a stunning picture, I think, inspires others as they walk out into the forest to take a little bit closer look to try and see what they might identify of beauty as well,” she said.
Whitehall’s favorite nature photography are the extreme closeups of anything from soil to fungi to a blade of grass with dew on it.
“I love getting those images that allow you to get really close to things because they reveal an intricacy and a complexity and a design and sort of a universe that is not as easily seen with the naked eye,” she said.