By MARIE GILBERT
5:56 PM EST, January 23, 2013
It’s nighttime on the fabled Outer Banks of North Carolina and a stretch of road from Frisco to Hatteras is swathed in darkness.
A few yards from the asphalt are sea oats, sand dunes and half-buried wood-and-wire fences.
But in these late hours, nothing is visible.
During the day, soft clouds burn pink above the water and, in certain spots, wild mustangs graze on sea grass.
This narrow band of sand known as the Outer Banks is a place of serenity and natural beauty — the kind of setting that beckons artists and photographers.
But not in the darkness. Not unless you’re Bruce Wilder.
Having dabbled in photography since he was a child, the Keedysville resident often has a vision of the image he hopes to creates.
In this case, he decided to do a little light painting -— not with an easel and brush, but by using a photographic technique that involves casting light on and around subjects in the dark during a time exposure.
The result was an image that captured Best Photograph By a Washington County Photographer at the 80th annual Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon.
Wilder’s photograph, along with other juried entries, will be on view Saturday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, April 14, at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.
An opening reception and awards ceremony will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the museum.
Judging for the juried competition took place in December, with juror Regina DeLuise narrowing down the winners from 421 entries. DeLuise is the chairwoman of photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
In conjunction with the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon, an exhibit of DeLuise’s work will be on view in the Baer Gallery Saturday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, April 14.
Wilder said he has been participating in the salon since 1986 and took second prize for a pictorial in 1988.
“I had many more images accepted through the years, but in 2005 I took Best of Show, plus second and third in figure studies,” he said. “That was a big year for me.”
Now, he can add Best Photograph By a Washington County Photographer to his salon wins.
Wilder said he doesn’t know what caught the juror’s eye this year, “but I can say I had a real good feeling about this image right after I saw it on the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen of my camera.”
The photograph was taken in September during a visit to the Outer Banks, he said.
“I passed there a few times during the day, saw the sea oats on the dune and got the vision for the light painting,” he said. “I went back after dark; (this) was my fourth try.”
Wilder said he has been fascinated by the light-painting process since attending a seminar with Dave Black, a photographer, educator and author who specializes in the technique.
“I have had a few successes. But this is my best, so far,” he said.
Wilder can trace his interest in photography back to his childhood.
“My dad was always taking pictures, so my interest grew from that experience,” he said. “For years, all I took were black-and-white images that I developed and printed in my own darkroom. When digital came along, I began doing more color work.”
Wilder said his family moved to Washington County in 1960 and he graduated from South Hagerstown High School in 1969. After living near Washington, D.C., from 1970 to 1978, he moved back to this area, settling in South Washington County, where he lives today.
Wilder has a studio in Boonsboro, he said, and, recently, has focused on portrait and fine art figure work.
“I have also done many landscapes,” he said, including two Antietam Battlefield images that were commissioned by Meritus Medical Center.
“These are true darkroom silver gelatin prints taken with my 2 1/4(-inch) Haselblad,” he added.
The owner of Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, Wilder admitted he might be considered a professional photographer, but he added, “It’s not my main job.”
For the past several years, he has done the author photo on the back covers of novels written by his wife, award-winning writer Nora Roberts.
“This has moved me up to pro status, but I don’t actively seek photo work. I don’t do weddings, although I’ve been asked many times,” he said.
When the Antietam Review was being published, Wilder said he was a frequent contributor. He also has had a show of his figure work at his studio and offers samples of his photography at Turn the Page Bookstore and Gifts Inn Boonsboro.
Wilder said he feels honored to have been chosen as a winner in the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon.
“I have always counted the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon as one of the most prestigious in the area,” he noted.
But don’t expect him to rest on his laurels.
“I plan on experimenting with this light painting technique more in the future,” he said. “I have many ideas.”
If you go ...
WHAT: 80th annual Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon
WHEN: Opening reception and awards ceremony, 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27; Show open Saturday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, April 14
WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, off Virginia Avenue, Hagerstown
CONTACT: For more information, go to www.wcmfa.org.
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