Review of a photography exhibit- Nat Wildlife Visitors Center

February 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Review of a photography exhibit by members of the Central Maryland Photographers Guild (CMPG) - link to the show announcement


Disclaimer: I am not an 'art critic' but I am a fairly experienced photographer and have gotten over the years a good sense of what about an image keeps me from really enjoying it. And that is how I approach these reviews, I look at all the characteristics of the shows and the images that affect how I see them.
And if I say something technically specific about the gallery, framing or images, it is because those are the characteristics that kept me from appreciating the images as completely as I wished ot the maker wanted.

In preparation for a look at this show I was able to look first at an on-line gallery of images that would be displayed.  Looking at a display on the computer screen means that each image is viewed separately against a dark background with transmitted light where I could look and enjoy without anything else or any other image crowding in on my concentration.

Looking at those same images actually displayed, printed in a variety of ways, framed differently and (some) mounted above eye level and the variety of sizes, matting and framing made viewing these difficult to do. With the radical differences in styles of frame and matting, often right up close to each other, it was difficult for me to concentrate on each individual picture and isolate it from its close neighbor. Those pictures in the upper row really couldn't be seen as up close as I'd like and thus their impact on me was diminished. I actually returned and viewed these again on the online gallery to firm up my opinions.   This is obviously not the fault of the artists or their organization but it did point out how the environment affects the non-casual viewer. 

I had two overall impressions. First, while all the pictures and the prints were well executed and presented, the objective for a few of the makers seemed only to capture a clear, well focused shot of some piece of nature and not so much to present a beautifully composed image.  That being said, most of these shown were successful in their technical execution and some were really credible examples of creating art.

I picked out three pictures that to me were extremely successful in their specific genre, capturing not only the content but the mood and the spirit.

The first is a picture of a hawk posed, intently looking over its shoulder back towards the photographer. The bird is at the left third of the frame and the right side is laced with the branches of neighboring tree. The depth of field isolates the bird in the branches and the maker has decided very effectively to use a white vignette to imply the cold and frost. The position of the hawk, and its stance, emphasized the alertness of the animal as it seeks a prey and its placement with the empty two thirds of the canvas open to its gaze, enforces the impression. 

The other two pictures are basically quite wonderful images but small technical points impacted my enjoyment as I looked at each them.

This picture of a tree in its autumn foliage thrusting up through a morning mist, all set against a mostly green background of shrubs and undergrowth is quietly impressive. Although the leaves on the underlying shrubs may contribute some of the magenta tinge in the mist, there seems to be too much of that magenta tint that suffuses the mist and draws my eye and makes me aware of questioning that. Still, all that being said, very nicely seen, composed and rendered.

And the last image is an incredibly nice capture of an upthrusting branch of a shrub with the seed pod draped with dew-encrusted spider webs – all perfectly sharp and gleaming. My eye was drawn away from the upthrust twig  to the right half, a set of out of focus seed pods that were large and, to me, distracting. A crop to a portrait mode, removing some of that distracting right side and allowing a little more space at the top would make this an exquisite shot – truly one for anyone's portfolio.

See the show, two dozen quite lovely and well presented pictures,  well worth the trip down the lovely half mile drive through the beautiful woods to see this quite nice collection of images from a local group.

At the Hollingsworth Art Gallery of National Wildlife Visitor Center, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop Laurel, MD 20708-4027, 301/497-5580, open 9-4:30 until March 15

The Central Maryland Photographers’ Guild is an organization for photographers of all skill levels. They meet once a month and the schedule and directions may be found at



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