Arts and Entertainment

Redmond photographer Kevin Merchant's work focuses on wildlife; Will be presented in Enumclaw's Gallery 2011

Kevin Merchant
Kevin Merchant's Gallery 2011 exhibit focuses on wildlife photography.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Gary LaTurner

The city of Enumclaw’s Gallery 2011 presents Redmond photographer Kevin Merchant and his exhibit In Pursuit of Beauty.

The exhibit opens today, Wednesday, and continues through April 5 in Council Chambers at Enumclaw City Hall.

Merchant travels to take pictures rather than taking pictures when he travels.

“When I began pursuing my passion for photography as a business, the tag line “the pursuit of beauty” resonated with what I had been doing for the past 20 years,” Merchant said in a city press release.

“Twenty-six years later on now, and it is still the beauty of the landscape and wildlife that drives me to go out with my camera. My wish list for places to visit grows longer rather than shorter as time goes by.

“By nature, I am not a morning person, but early morning light on the landscape can be so sublime - the colors, shadows, and low-angle light. Sometimes, it’s a brief few minutes, and other times the light show is drawn out long enough to get lost in the moment. These fleeting moments are what I pursue as an artist.

And more importantly, share them with others. In fact, it is the idea of sharing that really started me down this path. While out hiking and climbing in the Washington Cascades, I wanted to bring back a taste of what I saw. At first, more often than not, the results were mediocre. This photography thing was not so easy to master. But, over time persistence began paying off and the craft of image-making grew.

Composition skills became more refined. Subtraction is a key to a successful image – knowing what to eliminate is sometimes more important than knowing what to include. ‘What do you want your viewer to see’ in what can be an otherwise chaotic landscape is the question to ask.”

Merchant said around 2005, digital bodies were reaching the point where resolution matched 35mm film quality, and he switched to digital and invested in a super telephoto lenses.

“I plunged into the pursuit of wildlife photography with the same vigor I had pursued the landscape,” he said. “Wildlife photography is one of those tantalizing areas that presents two major barriers – cost of equipment and time in the field. I soon realized that birds were more difficult than large mammals, simply because many are so small and move quickly.

“Successful bird images are both elusive and rewarding at the same time. It is an amazing time when all of the elements come together – light, willing subject, location, and me being there. On top of that, just being able to spend time so close to these magnificent creatures has become a reward in itself. Sometimes the story behind the image is almost as interesting as the image itself. The challenge of wildlife photography, unlike landscape photography, is that even when you show up at the right place at the right time, the wildlife doesn’t always appear. I guess that’s why it’s called ‘wild’ life.  And, for me, it is “the pursuit of beauty.”

Hours for the exhibition space are 8 a. m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery is closed to the public on Tuesday of each week for municipal court proceedings. For information, call Enumclaw Cultural Programs office at 360-802-0239.

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