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Interpreting the landscape

December 31, 2011
By Cindy Votruba (cvotruba@marshallindependent.com) , Marshall Independent

For his latest photography project, Gene Stukel of Granite Falls has been trying to capture a different image a day.

And he's kept that up for most of the year.

Stukel's photography will be on display from Jan. 12 through March 2 at the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council's art gallery in Marshall.

Stukel, who is self-taught, has done photography since 1974, mainly shooting weddings, he said.

"It's been the last six to seven years I've gotten into landscape," Stukel said. "It's something I wanted to do." Stukel was a high school social studies teacher for more than 30 years and said he has more time to devote to his photography.

Stukel said he goes to Ely, the North Shore and Michigan's upper peninsula to shoot landscapes as well as other areas.

"We (also) go out west to Montana and Wyoming," Stukel said.

But sometimes, Stukel doesn't have to go far to get a good landscape photo.

"When you start looking closer to home, when the weather is right, there are a lot of good opportunities (to shoot) in southwest Minnesota," Stukel said.

For example, he said, there's the Minnesota River Valley.

"I'm interested in old farm sites," Stukel said.

There's a lot of birding activity around the area as well, including finches and orioles, Stukel said.

"I get calls from people saying that 'I saw this,'" Stukel said.

Earlier this year, Stukel received a grant from SMAHC to develop his landscape photography.

"The SMAHC grant has been a shot in the arm," he said.

For the last three years, Stukel has been part of a photography group that meets monthly. One of the challenges the group had was to take a different photo a day. Others dropped out after four to five days, he said, he's up to more than 200.

"I think that puts positive pressure on me, so that I have something new and different," he said. And he hasn't taken any people photographs or self-portraits, he said. He figures he can continue the challenge for the year.

A number of those shots from his "challenge" will be in the SMAHC exhibit, Stukel said.

Stukel said he uses a bit of manipulation in his photography.

"All of them have been tweaked a little bit," he said.

Stukel's done different variations of manipulation, such as sandwiching seven to nine images together, he said.

"That's the hard part, trying to figure out what's going to work," he said.

Stukel said he's gotten good feedback from people, telling him that his photography has gotten better, even if he does work with the photo a little bit.

"Not everybody buys into manipulation," Stukel said.

In his artist statement for SMAHC, Stukel describes his landscape project, saying the landscape can be "seen and felt."

"I believe that creating and observing images has to do with one's frame of reference and perspective," he wrote. "We all see the landscape in different ways, creating endless possibilities for its interpretation. The interpretation of a landscape image can be further expanded by a photographer's manipulations of the image encouraging the viewer to react and comment."

 
 

 

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