Facebook and nature: an unlikely duo

I try to set some goals for my photography each year. It may be to make images of a certain type of subject such as still life objects or macro images. It may be to try out some new techniques such as fill-in flash or “dragging the shutter” to create a sense of motion in a photo. It could be to visit new locations to discover what possibilities it would hold for new and interesting subjects.

This year my goal was to visit new nature areas and local parks. It all started with seeing a newspaper article about two Grand Rapids, Michigan, area women who decided to share their love of wildflowers, walking, and local parks. Barb Beck and Judy Bergma created a Facebook page called Michigan Wildflowers. They published a small booklet showing a variety of spring wildflowers and which parks we were likely to find them in. The booklet and the Facebook page were the venue for a “Spring Wildflower Scavenger Hunt.” They encouraged readers to post photos of their findings on their Facebook page and tell us what park they were found it. In many cases readers called on Barb and Judy to help identify a wildflower they had photographed and posted.

In my estimation their venture was wildly successful. While on the prowl for wildflowers, I saw many families walking through the parks, booklets in hand, trying to find and identify the 30 spring flowers in the scavenger hunt booklet. Kids were excited to go on a treasure hunt, and parents were thrilled to see their kids interested in the outdoors. As a photographer, there was another huge benefit. I was able to get daily feedback on what flowers were blooming in a particular park on a given day or week. Many times I changed my weekend plans to visit a particular park based on what other flower hunters reported on the Facebook page.

There is a lot that can be said about how social networking can bring us together as fellow humans. In this example, social media was the impetus towards getting hundreds of people to venture out into nature–perhaps the antithesis of being behind a computer.

Following are some photos from various new parks I had not visited before this year–and a couple places I visit regularly. There are some from Spring, Summer and Fall.  Enjoy!

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My blog featured in SHUTTERBUG magazine October 2011

My photo blog was featured in the October 2011 issue of SHUTTERBUG Magazine. You can see it here at Shutterbug’s website.

SHUTTERBUG WEB PROFILES: by Joe Farace

SHUTTERBUG Magazine web profile October 2011 

The Blog-of-the-Month is Bill Vriesema’s Selective Focus. It’s a photoblog in the classic sense, featuring lots of big photographs along with some narrative. The site uses a WordPress template from Photocrati (www.photocrati.com) that is clean, easy to read, and places the emphasis exactly where it belongs—on the photographs. He even has a Galleries section featuring eight collections of images. As a longtime fan of lighthouse photographs, I jumped into Michigan Lighthouses first and was rewarded with a terrific collection of images displayed really BIG, so you can appreciate them. What’s great about these photographs, aside from Vriesema’s overall sense of color and design, is the drama of these images. There are lots of white caps and breaking waves; not at all like the placid lighthouse photographs I’ve seen—and loved—in the past.

Closer to home (my home anyway) is Arizona Scenes that offers up landscape as well as flora and fauna photos captured using that same punchy color Vriesema employs elsewhere. Changing gears, he moves to the quiet and solitude of his Woods and Water collection, featuring close-ups of nature as well as some woodland landscape images that feature the unmistakable Vriesema touch. There’s more here, so be sure to visit all the rest of his collections. In About, Vriesema says, “Photography gives me a way to share myself.” He does just that by offering “Categories” of posts, including lessons and my favorite, “Visual Metaphors” which contains a sensitive selection of images along with his thoughts on them that are well worth reading.

Wood metal and paint images at Center Art Gallery

I am honored that the Calvin Center Art Gallery is hosting a series of my photos now through May 27!

Here is the announcement:

From April 4-May 27 the Center Art Gallery presents Bill Vriesema’s “wood, metal & paint series” of photographs in the hallway gallery of the Covenant Fine Arts Center.    He writes, “rotting wood, rusty metal, and chipping paint are all signs of neglect and decay. Yet, taken out of their larger context and isolated by the lens, bold color, patterns and texture show a beauty that we often miss.”
Bill has been shooting photographs for almost 40 years and is currently on the CIT staff here at Calvin College.
For those of you who cannot see these in person, I am including them here on my blog:

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Frozen motion

I feel very honored to have won the Grand Prize in the Ludington Area Center for the Arts online contest! The photo is called “Frozen motion.”

I shot this photo back in November of 2010 in downtown Lowell. I went downwhich processes area farmer’s grains into flour, there is a railroad spur and a parking lot. In that vacant lot there were some scattered puddles of ice and leaves blowing around. It is there that I came across several leaves frozen into the ice.

This image in particular was striking as it looks as if the wind itself has left its prints in the ice. It reminded me a bit of how a cartoonist would indicate an object is moving in the pane. The lines create the illusion of motion. That, of course, is the irony with this image. The ice indicates motion–but the leave is as stuck in place as it can be.

Here are some other shots I took that afternoon:

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03/07/2011: My friends at the High Calling Focus blog jut published an interview with me entitled A Winning Photograph.