• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Photographic journey continues, from here to there


PHOTOGRAPHER Mark Carney shares images from his travels in “Here to There,” a photo exhibit at the Woodford County Library through May 29. Even as a kid, Carney was fascinated by visual art. It spoke to him. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

On his photographic journeys from here to there, Mark Carney brings along his tripod, numerous lenses and more than one camera because he never knows what he may see.

Carney sometimes has a general idea of the places he wants to see, but acknowledges “there’s a lot of things in between here and there to distract you.”

If something does catch his eye, he often has to apologize to his kids when he turns around and goes back.

Carney says he loves traveling to the American west, which he describes as the hardest place he’s ever photographed. He grew up in Texas and Oklahoma so he appreciates the barren landscapes of the region.

“It’s different. It’s a different kind of beauty,” he explains.

He says the harshness of a desert landscape in the southwest makes it more challenging to capture a quality image there.

“I like everything,” says Carney when asked what subjects he most enjoys shooting with his Nikon during an interview about his photo exhibit – “Here to There: The Photography of Mark Carney” – at the Woodford County Library through May 29.

“I like bizarre stuff,” he continues, “like that macro of that leaf there. That’s cool.”

Of capturing extreme close-ups of very small images (macro photography), Carney says, “There are little stories in there. There are things going on … It’s just fun.”

He also likes taking photos of cattle on a farm across the road from his home in southern Woodford County. And often, he manipulates an image on the computer screen to add a different dimension – almost creating a painting.

One of the black and white photos in his exhibit at the library shows how color can be distracting and, in this case, compete with the image of a solitary tree in southern Utah. He only regrets not being able to bring out the needles on that tree more.

“I love black and white. I always have. For the vast majority of things – especially landscapes,” he says, “it’s much more expressive.”

One of these days, he may revisit the image taken of that tree in Bryce Canyon, Utah, and stumble on a solution to add more visual punch to those needles.

On a trip to Italy, Carney took a photo of Michelangelo’s David.

Thousands of images exist of the statue, his upper body or head. Carney’s photo: “David’s Butt” – also featured in his exhibit at the library – offers a very different perspective of the symbol of Florence. Another photo taken in the Italian city looks more like a painting after he manipulates visual elements of the image to express what he sees or feels in that moment.

“The capture (of an image) is a great deal of fun, a lot of fun,” says Carney. “And when I’m sitting at the computer, that’s tremendous fun, too, because you’re tweaking things. You’re bringing things to life and twisting things around a little bit.

“It’s fun to pull things out (of an image). It’s fun to make it look cool. Like that bridge. That was a boring shot until I played with it some … It’s a painting-type of technique where you can blend things and twirl things around … and make texture pop,” he says.

Even as a kid, Carney remembers being fascinated by visual art. It spoke to him. Sure, he liked to create art using pen and ink or charcoal and pencils, but he loved photography.

Carney says he started taking photos when he was around 8 years old. A couple of years later, with a camera given to him by his grandfather, he discovered the relationship between shutter speed and exposure length in being able to capture different visual effects with a camera.

“That was just a magical experience … You could get a blurred water effect. Or you could get a crisp water effect,” he says.

Carney, who would like to make a trip to Iceland and capture its beauty someday, has lived in Woodford County with his wife, Anna, for more than 30 years.

Recently, the 63-year-old says he’s been “toying with the idea of getting back into film.”

“I learned a great deal working with film,” Carney explains. “And what Photoshop (an imaging and design app) is, is kind of like an extension of the darkroom.”

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