REENFIELD — Photographers Mark and Nancy Leslie typically like to shoot architecture and people, but their current exhibition isn’t any of that.
“Nature and Things” is hanging now through the end of October in the Window Gallery at the Creative Arts and Event Center, 2 W. Main St., Greenfield.
The photographs are of things people see every day without necessarily noticing their beauty.
“Photography offers a new way of looking at things,” Nancy Leslie said.
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Nancy Leslie recalls a photo shoot at a horse farm. She’d been hired to photograph a horse pulling a cart.
The chosen location was a dirt road bordered by greenery, lined with lavender phlox. While waiting for the horse and cart to turn around, she noticed bees in the phlox, their legs loaded with pollen, and began shooting pictures.
“It was a moment in nature that people see all the time but rarely think of capturing on film,” she said.
She enjoys photographing things that have been sitting out in the weather: old equipment that hasn’t been used in years, a vine-covered automobile and dilapidated barns. Nancy Leslie has a favorite junk shop near the couple’s vacation home in Michigan where she has taken a lot of photographs. She has photographed some pieces in the shop more than once, and if an image is particularly haunting to her, she sometimes buys it.
She points to a photograph of a concrete face with a finger to its lips as if it were asking for quiet. She has photographed this several times, but when she finally decided to buy it, it was gone.
Whereas Nancy Leslie came from the artistic side of photography, Mark Leslie came from the geeky side. He grew up taking photographs with film, developing his own photos; he even had a darkroom in his house while growing up. He has all of his cameras that he used from childhood on up on display in his home.
One of the Leslies’ favorite past times is to go on a photo safari. Sometimes they set out with a destination or a subject in mind, and sometimes they don’t. One of their safaris was to the old Moscow Bridge in Moscow, Indiana. The two of them climbed all over the bridge, and under it, taking hundreds of photos. When the bridge was destroyed by a tornado in 2008, the Leslies loaned their photographs to the community to help rebuild and recreate the bridge to what it was before the storm.
They are philosophical when it comes to the changes digital photography has brought. Since both of them were graphic designers, they immediately began to experiment with digital photography and to test the limits of what was photographically possible with good equipment. There was no more scanning of photos, no more lag time waiting for photos to come back from processing and developing, and the results of the photo shoot were available almost immediately.
“I know just what I want the image to look like,” Nancy Leslie said. “How to crop it and how to get the best out of the image.”
Mark Leslie also sings the praises of digital photography.
“You can see immediately what you’re getting with the settings that you’re using,” Mark Leslie said.
When Mark Leslie takes photos, he takes hundreds. He is constantly honing his craft. He has taken up to 1,500 photos to get one that’s good.
“Sometimes you know it when you see it; other times you know there’s something here, but you’re going to have to work to reveal it,” he said.
Mark Leslie loves what photography has taught him to do — to look at things with fresh eyes, to explore a subject even though it may be very familiar. He loves sharing the feeling that certain photographs give him.
To hang this show, “Nature and Things,” the Leslies went through boxes and boxes to find photos that fit their theme.
There’s no doubt photography has added depth to their relationship.
“It’s one more thing we can talk about,” Mark Leslie said. “We get opinions from each other.”
And neither goes anywhere without their cameras. Photography is something they often experience together.
“Sometimes the experience is just for you,” Nancy Leslie said, “and sometimes it’s just for your camera.”
Out of all the photos in all the boxes and the photos hanging on the walls of the gallery, which photos are their favorites?
“My favorite photo is always the one I just took,” Mark Leslie said.
Mark and Nancy Leslie’s latest photography exhibit, “Nature and Things,” is on display at the Creative Arts and Event Center, 2 W. Main St., Greenfield.