Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stone Mountain’s Rock Outcrops, Forests, Streams and Lakes are the Focus of New Photography Exhibit at Fernbank Museum

Fernbank Museum of Natural History reveals the natural beauty seen within Stone Mountain’s parks and nature trails in the new exhibition Scenic Stone Mountain: Photographs by Larry Winslett, on view from February 14 through May 17, 2009.

Scenic Stone Mountain features 51 color photographs taken by Winslett during 30 years of exploration of the mountain. The photographs reveal the personal and intimate connection Winslett feels with Stone Mountain.

“They [the photographs] have been part of a spiritual journey to connect with nature and share that connection with the viewer,” Winslett says about the exhibition. “It is my sincere hope that these images capture some of the beauty and mystery that is to be found in Stone Mountain Park.”

The collection reveals much beyond the granite outcrop seen rising above the Atlanta skyline. From sunsets to blooming flowers, and from Native mortars to winter scenes reflected on Venable Lake, the exhibition offers many sights familiar to park regulars and some vistas that are unknown to all but a few. The majority of the photographs were taken throughout Stone Mountain’s Natural District, which is accessible to visitors, but other photos showcase the restricted areas of the famous mountain, including the steep South slopes and quarries.

When Winslett first started his photography career, he lived and worked near the mountain, finding inspiration in the rock outcrops, forests, streams and lakes surrounding Stone Mountain—natural features that can rarely be found in one park, especially in an urban area.

“Every afternoon, I would walk there, with camera, and I quickly realized what a special place it is for photography. Over time I have learned a lot about both nature and photography at the mountain. It will always be a special place to me,” he says.

He says that as an artist, it’s difficult to choose a favorite photograph from Scenic Stone Mountain, but he admits autumn provides some beautiful scenery.

“The fall shots are some of my favorites,” Winslett says. “The great tree diversity in the park helps it have one of the better fall color displays in Georgia.”

The park is also home to hundreds of species of flowering plants and boasts one of the highest concentrations of biological and habitat diversity in the state. Winslett says he hopes the exhibition will open people’s eyes to how much beauty exists here and will also help lend inspiration to protect Georgia’s remaining wild places.

“Most people see my Stone Mountain photos and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize there was any nature left there,’” Winslett says. “Most people who haven’t really explored it think the park is totally developed, when in reality the majority of it is off-limits to development, and there has been a major commitment to preserve those areas by the state and park managers.”

Winslett studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography and learned by studying with several well-known nature photographers, including John Shaw and David Middleton, but he says experience has been his biggest teacher.

“When I first started in nature photography, I would go out and say, ‘Today I’m going to get this shot or that shot,’” Winslett says. “That almost never worked out.

“With nature photography, at least for me, the more time I spend with the subject or place, the more possibilities begin to open up. Very often, if you are open to it, something totally unexpected will reveal itself to you. For me, it gets very intimate—it’s then that I usually get the shots I like best.”

Scenic Stone Mountain: Photographs by Larry Winslett is on view at Fernbank Museum of Natural History from February 14 through May 17, 2009. The exhibition is included with Museum admission. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for students and seniors, $13 for children ages 3-12, and free for children ages 2 years old and younger and for Museum members.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road in Atlanta. Tickets are available by phone at 404.929.6400 or online at fernbankmuseum.org
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