Thomas, WV – In the sixth installment of the multi-week segment highlighting winning photographers from Cortland’s annual photography contest, winners include Wendy Parks from Fairmont, West Virginia, Dr. David Proctor from Beverly, West Virginia and Van Slider from Paden City, West Virginia.
Wendy Parks; Fairmont, West Virginia
After getting her first Kodak in junior high almost fifty years ago, Wendy Parks has been hooked on photography. She got her first 35mm camera, a Minolta, about thirty-five years ago. These days she used a NikonD750 with a variety of lens from Nikon and Sigma.
Landscape photography is her go-to subject, but she tends to mix other outdoor elements as well. “Landscape photography is my favorite,” explains Parks. “I look for waterfalls, trees and flowers to round out my compositions. Basically, I love nature and the outdoors, and try to catch wildlife in my photographs when I can.”
So often, the photographers we’ve highlighted in this series contribute some of their best pieces to sheer luck – being in the right place at the right time. When describing what it took to capture her winning entry, Parks makes it sound rather serendipitous. “It was a shot of Smoke Hole Road. My husband and I were just driving along looking for wildlife or a water shot and I just saw ‘it’ and snapped the photo.” The rest is, well, a winning photograph.
It’s no wonder that Parks refers to photography as her ‘happy place’, her place to create. Once you find it, you want to return again and again. Her love of nature and the great outdoors is evident in her photographs. When viewing her work, her photos quickly become our ‘happy place’ too.
Dr. David Proctor; Beverly, West Virginia
You may recognize this photographer from his name, but just as likely from his relationship to another photographer in this series, his wife June Proctor.
Another photography veteran, Dr. Proctor, has been taking photos for over thirty-five years. Using a Nikon D750 and current favorite lens, a Nikon 16-35 F/4G Nikkor, this is Proctor’s first win in the annual Cortland photography contest. His landscape photos often become reminders of good times spent with family and the beauty and grace of West Virginia.
Taken on a casual stroll around the 4-H pond in Beverly, Proctor’s winning image, “Thankful For Another Day” underscores the need for photographers to keep their eyes wide open and a camera in hand. “In retrospect, I often laugh at some of the photographic opportunities I find in West Virginia,” explains Proctor. “Some ‘fun’ includes enjoying the controlled fall to the bottom of a ravine, then wondering if I will ever see civilization again as I begin to climb out.” Of course, one mans fun may be another mans folly. The life of a photographer, professional or hobbiest, is a life of adventure and beauty.
Proctor adds, “I appreciate the suspicious bulls in the field, as they snort and wonder what I am doing in their territory. And I laugh at the sight I must be after travelling to the creek and back, soaked to my knees, covered with burrs, dirt and the occasional tick. I have learned that beautiful or interesting photographs are often found where you make them. They are often just around the bend, down the creek a ways, or up the holler a bit. In West Virginia, we don’t have to travel far for great photographic opportunities.”
Van Slider; Paden City, West Virginia
A forty year veteran of photography, Van Slider has won distinction in Cortland’s Photography Contest in 2017, 2019 and again this year. Wielding a Canon 6D camera and Canon 16-35mm, Canon 70-22mm and Tamron 28-75mm lenses, Slider enjoys shooting streams and waterfalls.
“Many of my shots of streams and waterfalls require hiking to the location where I’m often the only person there,” explains Slider. “I enjoy walking through a forest while listening to the sound of running water and birds singing. It can be a time of solitude.”
“Reflection in Otter Creek”, is just one of three winning entries for Slider this year. “My wife Barbara and I were hiking along Otter Creek in the Monongahela National Forest on a beautiful, but windy, October afternoon,” reflects Slider. “Wind generally makes landscape photography difficult, but was beneficial for this particular shot. By setting my exposure to 1/60 of a second, I was able to club the reflection slightly and produce a painterly look to the image. Without the wind, the water would have been calm and the reflection sharp.”
The phrase, “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind. It’s sometimes easy to become numb to the natural beauty in West Virginia. As part of the official state slogan, ‘almost heaven’ sets West Virginia above all others. Slider tells a story that highlights that very distinction. “Years ago I stopped at the US 33 overlook to photograph Germany Valley on a beautiful autumn afternoon. As I was shooting, a couple pulled over in an RV with Iowa plates. A man got out and set up near me to photograph the wonderful scene before us. We talked shop, as photographers do, and he explained that he and his wife had planned to travel the Skyline Drive in Virginia, but changed their minds and randomly headed west on US 33. What sticks with me the most is his comment as he prepared to leave…’we don’t have anything like this in Iowa.’ As it turns out, one of the photographs I shot that day was used as the dust cover on a coffee table book produced by the West Virginia Department of Culture and History.”
“Photography has increased my appreciation of God’s Creation,” states Slider. “I would never have stood on mountaintops an hour before sunrise or hiked miles along a rushing stream to a waterfall if I hadn’t developed an interest in photography. In pursuit of memorable images, I’ve probably traveled nearly every country road in West Virginia, and loved every mile.”
COVID may have changed how Cortland presents their 2020 photography winners; the prints continue to be spectacular. As with previous years, both large- and small-scale prints from 2019 are available for purchase. The prints previewed in this article will be available for purchase in the fall of 2021. Please visit the Cortland Acres website at https://www.cortlandacres.org/2019-prints-for-sale or contact Dan Bucher at (304) 463-4181 for more information.