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Published: Sunday, 3/10/2013

TOLEDO MAGAZINE

Photographer Art Weber believes good light is as critical as location

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

September dawn along the Maumee River as seen from the Fallen Timbers Monument. September dawn along the Maumee River as seen from the Fallen Timbers Monument.
PHOTO BY ART WEBER Enlarge

The ordinary, the commonplace, or the ho-hum photograph can suddenly become suitable for framing when the light is just right. Light can take the mundane and transform it into a masterpiece.

With light as an ally, the camera — just a box with a hole in it — can capture nature and its stunning landscapes, and preserve those magical moments so they can be shared with all.

Art Weber, who spent 30 years with the Metroparks as its public information manager, knows the value of a dazzling image. He’s likely shot hundreds of thousands of frames in a career that spans the film and digital eras, and has taken him from tracking panthers in the Everglades, to recording the longest day of the year in the Yukon, to uncovering the treasures of the Metroparks.

PHOTO GALLERY: Natural Lighting by Art Weber

“You can talk a lot about great places or stunning wildlife, but when you nail it with an image, it leaves an indelible picture in people’s minds,” said Mr. Weber, who has been with the National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark for the past decade. 

The Huntsville, Ala., native grew up in South Toledo and graduated from Bowsher High School and the University of Toledo. He now lives in Whitehouse.

In school, Mr. Weber aspired to be an engineer, but he got turned off on math at Bowsher and he ended up on the yearbook staff, almost by accident.

“Then I realized I loved photography and writing,” said Mr. Weber, who moved into journalism at UT. While still in college, Mr. Weber found out about a job opening at the Metroparks, where he was responsible for spreading the message of the park system through the written word and pictures.

“Everything in my life is this planned accident,” Mr. Weber said. “I love both writing and photography, and both of them open such great doors. I’m not the best photographer or the best writer, but I think I can fill a niche promoting what we have here.”

While writers can usually put their creations together in a variety of environments, Mr. Weber said photographers have to be a patient lot, ready to trip the shutter when the right instant presents itself.

“Most shots you sort of semi-plan for, by putting yourself in a good situation,” Mr. Weber said. And then the photographer relies on the light to provide an assist. 

One of Mr. Weber’s most prized shots is an image of a large burr oak that sits right outside his office window at Secor Metropark. To the untrained eye, it is just a tree — until the factors surrounding it make it something spectacular.

“I pictured this shot for years before it actually happened,” Mr. Weber said. “The tree has a lot of character, but with the right light, and fog or snow, I thought this thing would just pop.”

Mr. Weber said his parents were “not outdoors people,” but they instilled an appreciation of the outdoors in him. “They loved the Metroparks, and I was there frequently as a kid.”

Mr. Weber is still there, preaching the gospel of this treasured network of greenspace, through words and images. “We need to celebrate what we have,” said Mr. Weber, who instructs many on nature photography through small-group seminars and workshops at the center.

“The goal is to demystify photography. It’s not about what equipment you own, it’s a matter of how you use it.” And when the subject is intriguing, the surroundings captivating, and the light in a cooperative mood, then that ultimate, signature shot can materialize.



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